Personal. Reliable. Trustworthy. Useful. These are all words that have recently been used to describe direct mail. Direct mail is a powerful marketing and fundraising tool. A key to its success lies in tracking response and measuring results. If you have no way of knowing what a recipient does once they receive your mailer, you can’t know the true value that mailer holds for your target audience. So, what do we measure? And how do we make mail trackable and measurable? The following measurements and tracking strategies can apply to for profit businesses and nonprofit organizations alike.
One of the biggest reasons people don’t give is from a feeling of futility—how can my contribution really make a difference?
To turn this feeling around, you must show a donor how important they as an individual are to your cause. A personal way to do so that continues to get results is direct mail. A direct mail piece that sends the right message, to the right recipient, at the right time, is a compelling and effective way to connect with your target audience.
But what makes a powerful mail piece?
Let’s look at a recent appeal mailing from Giffords PAC, an organization working to end gun violence founded by former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.
Charitable giving has long been a part of the human experience. The first record of individuals giving back was in 2500 BCE, when the Hebrews instated a mandatory tax used to benefit the poor. In the U.S., philanthropy dates to 1643, when Harvard held the first American fundraising drive, raising 500 pounds.
In 2016, a total of $390.05 billion was gifted to charities around the world. The history of charitable giving is not only long, but full of change. And it’s not done changing yet.
The fundraising landscape is constantly shifting, as new technologies and demographic trends affect both the ways donors give and who is giving. A recent trend is the dominance of the “Modern Donor.”
The 2018 Modern Donor Contours Report describes this group as a combination of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennial donors. Modern Donors have taken over the giving process from the Silent Generation, donors age 72 and over. This group has defined the giving process in the past. But younger generations are changing the methods the average donor uses to give and the ways that nonprofits need to fundraise.
Promotional products have been around for a long time. And they’re becoming ever more prevalent and desired. 80% of us have at least one promotional product, and over half will use that item at least once per week. Promo is a sure-fire way to enhance marketing strategy, helping nonprofits to achieve goals and generate more fundraising dollars.
One of the biggest hurdles of direct mail? Getting people to open the envelope.
Postcards and self-mailers have the advantage of standalone, eye catching content. The graphics are immediately visible, compelling the recipient to read on.
But for many mail pieces, an envelope is essential. Using an envelope doesn’t have to be limiting, however. In fact, today’s printing technology allows envelopes to be more personalized and attractive than ever before. Customization turns envelopes from basic commodities to effective direct marketing tools.
Why Direct Mail?
In our digitally saturated world, direct mail stands out:
Consumers regularly rate direct mail as more personal than email
Creative & Customized Envelopes: Reach More of Your Audience
Basic return address printed envelopes have long been a standard for many businesses. While they get the job done, inkjet technology has made it possible to completely customize envelopes, making your campaigns more personal, relevant, and compelling for your audience.
Some reasons to personalize envelopes for your business or organization include:
Generally, envelopes have the information necessary to get the mail piece to the recipient. But there’s a lot of white space left over that can be used to include a compelling call to action. You may not always open envelopes, but you’re sure to look at the outside to see who the mail piece is from. An envelope is a highly visible space available to tee-up the theme or message of your campaign.
Improve Open & Response Rates
Creative envelopes not only enhance visibility. They also raise curiosity, making recipients more likely to open and respond to your message. You can use the envelope to create a sense of urgency, letting recipients know there is a limited amount of time in which to respond.
Send a Timely Message
Customized envelopes have the advantage of timeliness. You can print for a specific theme, referencing your current campaign or a seasonal or time sensitive offer.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Giving a unique touch to your mailings separates you from your competition. In a mailbox of white envelopes, an envelope with color and interesting graphics stands out, making you more memorable than your competitors.
Segment, Budget, Personalize
The ability to customize means that you can create envelope designs that are more personal to the recipient. Maybe your mailing is targeted to past customers, or to your top donors. Whoever your target audience may be, you can make your envelopes specific to that group and the goals you have for them. With Variable Data Printing, you can even print each individual’s name on the envelope as part of the call to action.
No Overstock or Rush
When you print custom envelopes at the time of production, your printer can produce just enough for your mailing. That way, you won’t have to worry about storing overstock, or having a pile of extra envelopes specific to a campaign that you won’t be able to use again. On the flip side, you won’t have to stress about coming up short and placing a rush order. If the printer needs a few extras to finish the job, they can print more at no added cost to you.
The creativity of your imagination is the only limit when it comes to printing envelopes. Custom sizes, stocks, and colors are all available, making it easy to create a stand out envelope for your next campaign.
Ready to step up your direct mail? At Paw Print, we can assist you every step of the way, from designing your mail piece to printing to mailing fulfillment. Contact us today to get started!
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When you consider the word “branding,” what comes to mind? You may think of well-known companies like Apple or Target, that advertise on a large scale and whose characteristics are immediately recognizable to most of us, who come into frequent contact with them.
But the concept of branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for large companies. And, it’s an essential piece of increasing awareness for nonprofits as well.
The obvious reason for nonprofit organizations to spread awareness of their brand is to increase donations and build a reliable donor base. However, according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are stepping up their brand management in order “to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play: driving broad long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.”
Why Should You Build a Brand?
Like any other entity, your nonprofit has a unique set of goals, characteristics, and stories. When you bring these together to form a recognizable and repeatable persona, you have a brand. The first thing most people think of when they hear the word brand or branding, is an entity’s logo. While this is one branding element, it’s only the beginning. The style, graphics, and words your organization uses to communicate all convey your brand.
But what can branding do for your nonprofit?
Creating a brand around your nonprofit allows you to separate yourself from the crowd. There are a lot of nonprofits out there (over 4,000 in VT alone!) and invariably there are other organizations with the same general mission as yours. To make a connection with donors and bring precious fundraising dollars your way, you must tell a story that illustrates the unique mission of your nonprofit.
Illustrate Your Goals
Helping donors to understand the specific goals your organization is working to achieve is a critical reason for developing a brand. Branding allows you to project your mission as an indelible piece of your organization. Potential donors can recognize these goals as the core of your brand, helping to reinforce your purpose.
Nonprofits follow the same sales and marketing rules as businesses—it’s going to take multiple touches before a potential donor will make a gift. They will have to encounter your organization several times until it becomes familiar to them. Having a brand allows you to create one cohesive image that you can present to the world. The more a potential donor sees that image, the more recognizable you become, and the more likely they are to engage with you. Branding can also give you a professional image, increasing your sense of authority.
Strengthen Internal Identity
The Stanford publication referred to branding as a way to reinforce internal identity. While your brand works to become familiar to potential donors, establishing a brand also helps to give your employees, volunteers, and board members something to rally around. They will feel like part of a team, helping to strengthen internal bonds.
Importance of Consistent Branding
A key piece of developing a brand is consistency. By constantly presenting your nonprofit using the same language, imagery, and message, you’re helping to build awareness and create a reliable image for your audience.
You should update all your marketing and fundraising materials to reflect your branding. Your social media content should echo what a visitor to your website or a recipient of your postcard will see. Consistency helps to establish the notion that you have clear, defined goals, and the experience and authority to achieve them.
Consistency can also apply to the frequency of your communications. You may have more activity leading up to an event, but work to stay in regular contact with your audience without being overwhelming. For instance, you could send one mailing per month, rather than several mailings during your campaign period and none the rest of the year.
The Power of Print
Like many nonprofits, you may be using direct mail for your fundraising campaigns. If so, you know that direct mail is an effective way to spread awareness and increase gifts. In part, this is due to the physical nature of a mail piece in our digitally saturated world. It reflects the power of print to connect with an audience—print boasts a 70% higher recall than digital.
In addition to direct mail, do you have other print collateral, such as business cards, brochures, banners/signs, or letterhead? These are all elements that contribute to the building of your brand. Where do you source these from?
By collaborating with a single source for all your printing, you can ensure that the donor experience is consistent. Each print piece can be consistent in terms of color, paper stock, and the overall look and feel.
Also, when you work closely with a source for something as important as fundraising, that source truly comes to know your organization, and can suggest avenues to explore that will accurately and effectively reflect your organization.
Want to talk about building your brand? Paw Print can assist with all your printing, mailing, design and promotional product needs. Contact us today!
Digital developments are changing the way many non-profits fundraise. If you aren’t making use of digital channels to reach your donors, you risk falling behind.
While digital is vital to success, the most effective fundraising campaigns make use of direct mail and digital resources to create a cohesive donor experience, increase gifts, and be more impactful.
Here are 5 reasons to implement digital strategies into your next fundraising campaign:
1) Increase Your Reach
Direct mail is popular because it’s personal. There’s a lot to be said for being able to hold something in your hand, especially when it’s been personalized to you. We are inundated with so many emails throughout the day, and it’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle. At the same time, we’re receiving fewer pieces of physical mail. When we do receive mail, it gets our attention. According to MobileCause.com, donors are 3 times more likely to give online due to receiving a piece of direct mail versus an email.
Direct mail is effective for making a connection with donors. And it’s even more effective when combined with other methods of communication. It’s likely that your donor base is a diverse group that wants to receive communications in different ways. Donors may be more likely to give online after receiving direct mail. But they also are more likely to act on direct mail if they are getting your message across multiple channels.
2) Create a Cohesive Experience
Because you have so many channels at your disposal, and you know that receiving messages across platforms increases giving, it’s important to be consistent with the look and feel across platforms. That means the same language, tone, imagery, color scheme, message, etc. should be reflected in each piece of fundraising material that you produce.
If you want to make online giving a part of your strategy, start by creating a landing page on your website consistent with your mailing. You can use the mailing to get the donor’s attention. Then, drive them to go to the landing page to learn more, engage with you, and ultimately make a donation. You can continue the theme throughout your email, social media, and other print communications.
One way to make the donor experience more compelling is to have a story at the core of your message. Maybe it’s a specific individual or group who has benefited from your organization. You can tell their story through video, imagery, and quotes, using these throughout your communications and campaign period. The repetition of these elements also helps to instill a sense of familiarity with your organization.
3) Make it Easy to Give
According to Nonprofit Source.com, 25% of donors complete their donations on a mobile device. And, 51% of high-wealth donors prefer giving online. Statistics consistently show that online giving is growing from year to year and that donors appreciate the ease of giving digitally.
However, simply having an online giving platform doesn’t mean you’re creating the best possible giving experience for your donors. Put yourself in their shoes, and go through the process of donating through your site or app. If there are many steps to making the donation, or your platform does not work for mobile devices, you may want to make some changes. Look into using QR codes or text to give to make your donors’ mobile experience even more user-friendly.
4) Step Up Response Rates
Would you be surprised to learn that annually, 1.3 billion pieces of mail fail to reach the intended recipient? Or that 20% of addresses on nonprofit mailing lists are outdated? This means that 1/5 of the direct mail pieces you send out have the potential to be a dead end, with your message not reaching the recipient.
That’s why list hygiene is so important. Mailing to bad addresses not only decreases your reach. It also costs you money and gives you a lower campaign response rate. Plus, it’s simply ineffective. Having a smaller, more accurate list ensures that you’re investing your resources more wisely.
One effective investment to make to improve the quality of your mailing list is to add an Ancillary Services Endorsement on the mail piece at least once per year. By adding “Return Service Requested” to the mailing panel, the post office will return both undeliverable and change of address pieces for you to update your list from. You’ll pay the going postage rate for the returned pieces. But considering the money wasted on undeliverable pieces you are not aware of, this is money well-spent.
You can use digital communications to encourage donors to update contact and address info throughout the year, while keeping them apprised of the goings on at your organization.
5) Provide Value
Donors give because they feel a connection with your organization or mission. This means that your communications with them must be more than just an ask.
Send direct mail simply to stay in touch with donors and provide them with updates about your nonprofit. You can use digital resources to engage donors beyond the giving process. Create a blog for your organization that encourages donors to comment and share. A blog also helps to establish your authority when you write about topics that affect or are related to your nonprofit’s mission. You can direct donors to your blog through both direct mail and digital channels, helping them to understand the goals you’re working to achieve and creating more motivation to give. Blogging is also one of the best SEO strengthening tools in your digital marketing and fundraising toolbox.
Donor acquisition is one of the most important functions of nonprofit fundraising. Your donors make the good work you do possible. Without a regular and tactical practice of enlisting new donors , both socially and financially, your organization would be challenged to stay afloat.
It goes without saying that stewarding your current donor base is essential—they’re the ones who’ve continued to champion your cause and are more likely to give consistently, and grow their gifts, over time.
Conversely, compelling new donors to give is more difficult than maintaining a relationship with a regular donor. However, it’s important to not leave donor acquisition efforts for hard times. Your donor base is constantly changing, and your approach to acquiring new donors should be constant as well.
Connecting with Out of State Donors
A significant component of attracting new donors, and maintaining current donors for that matter, is conveying a clear value proposition that you deliver. What ties them to your cause? Your organization? Your purpose? How you talk to donors depends largely upon what messages they are receptive to.
For nonprofits that serve a local community or an entire state, it’s likely that the bulk of your donors live locally. However, over time your donor base will change as people change employment, retire, and transition to out of state residence, either full-time or seasonally.
You may currently have or want to reach out to donors who you determine have ties to your service area. A good place to start is with former residents and also part-time residents who regularly visit your area but live elsewhere seasonally.
It’s easier to determine motivation for contributors who live near your organization. You may see them at events, and their contribution could be a natural desire to create a better community where they will live and work.
But out of state donors can be more elusive. And the message you use to reach them will probably need to be different than those of local constituents. Determining their connection to your organization or location is a critical piece of that message.
To acquire these non or semi-local donors, you need to dig a little deeper to try to make a connection with them due to their removed primary residence. Why have they decided to pay additional property taxes to maintain a presence in your locale? An important set of data for acquiring donors near and far gets personal. Ask questions such as:
What social values are important to you?
Why do you give?
What does it mean to you to contribute to your community?
What is unique or memorable about the community you once resided in before moving?
Do location, community, financial, family or other qualities influence your decision to have a second home here?
What does “making a positive difference” mean to you?
These kinds of questions can be asked of both current and potential donors to better understand your out of state donor base and where you fit into their lives. You may not ask these questions in such a direct manner. But you’ll want to get people thinking about these topics in a way that initiates a response with the information you’re looking for.
Acquiring Donors with Direct Mail
So how do you do this? As with any campaign, you first need to know what you want to achieve. Evaluate past data to set clear, specific goals.
Do you want to acquire a specific number of new donors? Do you want to increase donor acquisition by a percentage from year to year? Even if you’re seeing positive trends regarding new donors, it’s important to keep improving. When you have a goal in mind for a campaign, it’s easier to judge whether the campaign was effective. Goals also allow you to understand how your data is changing over time.
Whether you’re looking to acquire new donors or bring lapsed donors back into the fold, the easiest way to determine what matters to them is to simply ask. While much of your fundraising content may focus on asking for a financial gift, you could approach this kind of campaign without addressing that angle.
Instead, use direct mail as the basis for an introduction or reintroduction to the potential donor. If you can, acknowledge their connection to you and to your region. Maybe they own property here, or have business and investments tied to the region. Also speak to your role. What do you do for your community?
Use that connection to promote a compelling reason/purpose for these individuals to give. Develop a short series of questions that will help you to better understand what matters to these potential donors and what your organization means to them. A best practice with this kind of campaign is to create a landing page on your website tied to the direct mail piece, where recipients can go to submit their responses.
You can build upon this initial mailing with subsequent mailings to engage the donor, build awareness and trust, and make the ask for financial contribution.
Building a list of potential donors and effectively reaching them with a compelling campaign takes time. Donors will interact with you multiple times before making a gift. It’s important to keep up a consistent strategy, so that your message is sure to be heard.
It’s a question that marketers and fundraisers regularly ask themselves. You may have a general idea of the types of people who are purchasing your products or giving to your cause. But crafting compelling messages requires a deeper knowledge of what resonates with your constituents. The most effective campaigns are those that reach people on a relevant, personal level.
To create content that an audience connects and engages with, you need to understand what motivates them to act. Look beyond basic demographics, like age, gender, location, and income (though those are important to know). Think about what your typical customer needs—what will help them achieve a desire or resolve a fear? And, what are those desires and fears?
Once you know what drives your customers, current and potential, you can craft marketing messages that speak to and resonate with them. To learn what those messages are, you can consider specifics about what you’re offering. Why would someone buy this item? What are they hoping to achieve? Or, why would someone give to my organization? What outcomes are they hoping to achieve or be a part of?
The best way to understand what your audience wants and what matters to them is to talk to them. Send an email campaign asking your list what topics or offers they’d like to see more from you. Reach out on social media, encouraging people to share their opinions on blog posts and hot topics. Better yet, sit down face to face with a top client and talk about their needs and experiences, and how you can help them get where they want to be. This kind of information is invaluable as you work to better reach your customers and enhance their trust in you.
How Does Your Audience Consume Content?
One piece of knowing your audience is understanding how they consume media and access your content. Your current marketing strategy may consist of a blog, email list, and a social media page or two. You’re proud of the content you produce, both visually and for the quality of the information.
But it’s important to remember that marketing is a constantly changing playing field. By sticking with methods you’ve used for a long time without understanding their effectiveness, you may be investing time and money into a channel or strategy that just isn’t performing.
It’s not to say that your current strategy isn’t working. It’s just important to make sure that it is, and to be aware of which channels have the greatest reach with your audience.
Take a good look at your marketing channels and ask yourself questions. How are people finding your blog? Are they going directly to your blog page, clicking an email link, or finding the post on social media? Are recipients opening your emails? How are people engaging with you?
Also think about your target audience. Are they using email? Are they on Facebook? If you want to connect with older folks, for instance, focusing on Facebook might not be as effective as direct mail.
Your current audience could also be different than the audience you’re looking to reach. Maybe your customer base largely consists of an older demographic, and you want to reach more millennials. If so, it’s important to recognize that a strategy that worked for one group may not work as well with another and to determine, over time, what channels to invest in to ensure you’re reaching your intended audience.
You want to gain a better understanding of what your audience finds compelling. But where to start?
Before you take on any new marketing strategies, you need to know what’s currently working for you and what isn’t. Tracking your marketing is essential for improving response rates and achieving new goals.
Depending on the marketing channels you use, there are different ways to track effectiveness. On social media, it’s relatively easy to see what types of posts are performing best with your followers. What content is getting the most shares and comments? Those are the types of posts you want to share more often.
If you’re using email automation software, there are usually metrics available that track data. These include open and click-through rates, unsubscribes, and bounces. For your website, you can use an application like Google Analytics to understand how many visitors are coming to your page, how they get there, and what pages/links they go to on your site.
Direct mail can also be very trackable. Include a coupon or return envelope that the recipient will have to return to you. Or try using a code that must be entered online to receive the offer. When you know how many pieces of mail led to an action, you can determine what content generates a response.
Email and direct mail are also effective for A/B testing. This involves creating two versions of a campaign that differ by one element. For email, it could be two different subject lines, or two different offers or images for direct mail. Try sending out each version in equal quantities. Then, you can track which email is opened more or which imagery or words lead to more gifts from donors.
In addition to reaching more people more effectively, tracking makes it easier to work toward and achieve marketing goals. Setting specific goals for your business or organization is important. Say you want to increase customer retention rates by 15%. Tracking customer data allows you to monitor exactly who is purchasing from you and how certain content or offers are affecting return business.
Now that you know the importance of tracking, you can take on new campaigns with measurement in mind.
A benefit of having more knowledge is being able to better target your audience. As you get to know your constituents, you’ll likely find several different groups within the larger group of your customer base. Rather than sending a generic message to your whole list, you can now craft multiple messages around what will motivate each group. Sending more targeted, relevant messages to your audience will increase response rates and engagement with you.
Targeting is possible across marketing channels. With direct mail, you can segment your mailing list into groups. Instead of a single mailing, you can create multiple versions of your mail piece with different wording, imagery, or offers, sending a different version to each group based on their needs and interests. You could also send a mailing to just one group if you have something specific for them.
Email is similar. Lists can be segmented based on how often recipients want to receive content from you, the types of content they want to receive, whether they are part of a customer loyalty program, etc. On your blog, you can create content for a variety of categories based on customer interests. At Paw Print, we write blog posts that are B2B and B2C related, and other posts with information specific to our nonprofit clients.
While social media posts appear to all your followers, you can target any ads that appear on social media sites. Today’s algorithms allow targeted ads that will appear to very specific audiences, such as women between 35 and 50 who are interested in travel.
Need help reaching your audience? At Paw Print & Mail, we’re prepared to assist you with developing marketing strategies that are targeted for your intended audience. From direct mail to copywriting to promotional products and content marketing, we have the tools to make your message heard. Contact us today!
One of the most important pieces of the nonprofit fundraising puzzle is discovering new and creative ways to thank your donors. Promotional products are an increasingly popular way to say thank you to donors while also spreading awareness of your organization.
When you add promo to your fundraising strategy, you may want to do so by developing a gift program. Presenting your top donors with a special gift in the form of a promotional product can solidify your relationship with them. And, when you provide a donor with a quality item they’ll be using frequently, you’re helping to spread the word about your organization even further.
What to Remember
A good practice to follow when gifting promotional products is to use the gift as a surprise. Depending on what the item is, you can present it before the donation is made or after. However, you want to avoid presenting the item in a transactional way, as in, give $50 to receive this mug. A study conducted at Yale found that we feel positive about giving when it instills a sense of altruism in us, a feeling that we’ve selflessly done something to help others. We’re giving to get that feeling. But, when we know that our contribution will be rewarded in some way (my dollars for this mug) we tend to feel selfish rather than selfless, leading us to give less.
Instead, presenting a potential donor with a gift before a donation is made instills a sense of reciprocity. And surprising donors with something special after they’ve selflessly given helps build a positive feeling for your organization.
In addition to when you present the gift, consider how you will present it. The language you use is important. Donors will feel more positive about the gift if you present it as a tool to further your mission. You can tell the donor how their use of the item will help to spread awareness of your organization, increasing their engagement with you and making them eager to use the gift you’ve given.
Top Gifts to Thank Top Donors
While you may have varying levels of gifts to thank all your donors, your top donors deserve something special. These are the individuals who consistently make game-changing contributions to your organization. This often means financially, but it may also be someone who invests their time and expertise into helping your organization to grow and its beneficiaries to shine.
Whomever you are looking to thank, here are some gifts your donors will appreciate:
Journals and portfolios are a popular item on today’s promo market. With a range of sizes and styles, it’s easy to find an item that fits with your brand and your message. Decorating a journal with a deboss or hot foil stamp is a subtle and professional way to brand, giving the item added texture and depth.
There’s no getting around it—we spend a lot of time in front of screens. However, there are still times when only a hand-written note will do. You can make the writing experience enjoyable for your donors by presenting them with a higher-end metal or hardwood pen. Decorating the pen with an etching will give it a classy look.
A high-quality apparel item embroidered with your logo is something many donors would love to receive, and to wear. Apparel is the most popular group of items in the promo industry. And it represents a major way to spread awareness about your organization. You could present your top donors with an embroidered jacket, vest, hat, scarf or socks. They’ll be sure to wear the item throughout the day, bringing your name with them to everyone they meet.
I use a water bottle and a travel mug nearly every day. It’s likely many of your donors do as well. It’s important to me that these items are durable and functional, and that they are representative of myself and the things that matter to me. Presenting your top donors with a stainless steel etched tumbler or water bottle is sure to make an impression, both on your donors and their friends, families, and coworkers.
Want to make your gift even more personal? Some products can be decorated using variable data printing methods. This means that in addition to including your nonprofit’s logo or tagline on the gift, you can personalize each item with the name or initials of the donor. If you want to wow your donors with a unique gift, this is the way to go.
Paw Print & Mail offers a wide variety of promotional products, and we’re ready assist you with finding the right promo for your donors. Explore our online catalog, or contact us today and start promoting your nonprofit with promotional products.
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