1. Consumers in the Real World Communicate Across Channels
Sometimes they use multiple media simultaneously to browse and purchase. Are you promoting a consistent message that builds across channels? If people find you on your website, will they find the same ‘brand’ they find in your direct mail? Your Facebook page? Is everything driving towards the same goals of awareness, interest, involvement and investment (depending upon where your target market is at this point in time)? Are you giving potential constituents the choice to learn about/connect with you in all the mediums they occupy? Are you pointing them back/forth between your channels?
2. Do You Track and Crunch Data Across Channels?
Only when you observe constituent behavior across all the channels they peruse will you begin to discern trends as to what channel mix works best for different types of audiences. Information alone is not knowledge. Raw data is simply that: raw. So how to ‘cook’ it? First, everyone has to be in the same kitchen. This means thinking about ways to marry different databases scattered throughout an organization, especially those that store data related to the same constituents (e.g., fundraising, marketing, alumni relations, admissions, clients, volunteers… not to mention online and offline donations). For fundraisers used to thinking their fundraising database is ‘all there is’, it’s time to get hip to customer relationship management (CRM) and cloud solutions (e.g., if you have Blackbaud you may also want to take a look at Salesforce, Papilia or Convio (actually just purchased by Blackbaud), to name a few options). Rather than throw our hands up in the air because the task is daunting, or we think it’s just too expensive, it may be worth some research and/or hiring a data management consultant to help consider the choices. Identifying new best practices (and perhaps borrowing from the world of for-profit business) is challenging work; yet it’s better than drowning in a useless sea of unchewable data.
3. How Does Social Media Impact Your Target Market?
Almost daily, someone asks me whether social media is worth it since it doesn’t make a lot of money. Maybe not yet, but it certainly builds relationships. And this is really the essential precondition to all sales and fundraising. And what’s really exciting about the medium is that we can listen, learn what our constituents value and then tailor content to meet their needs. This shows them that we know them – and people love to be heard. In addition, there’s a real time quality that makes interaction feel genuine and transparent. People value this personally, and they trust it enough to give us feedback and share it with their friends. This builds our audiences in a way other media cannot. So let’s get clear on our social media objectives. If we believe that increasing our fan base will lead to increased awareness, influence and support, then this is a viable objective.
4. Do You Acknowledge Mobile?
For the most part, nonprofits are not doing this well right now. We tend to think only about text to give programs, forgetting that all the folks who own smart phones are also browsing and accessing email, blogs, FB, twitter and websites from their phone. Forrester Research Inc.’s U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast 2011-2016 (September 2011) predicts that mobile commerce will top $31 billion in five years, and marketers will be spending $8.2 billion marketing in the channel. Reggie Brady , direct and email marketing consultant, suggests this means considering significant changes to email programs: “It’s likely that 20 percent of B-to-B emails are read on mobile, and estimates are that 16 percent of consumers are reading on mobile,” she says. “Email design has to change, since many mobile environments do a lackluster job at rendering. Shorten the width of your template, put the most important content or offers on the left and raise font sizes. Remember that mobile users who want to interact with your call-to-action button need enough space around the button so that their fingers can click.”
We’ve always known acquisition is more expensive than retention. This is true in spades during a recession, so it’s even more important for us to focus on strengthening the bonds we have with our current supporters. If we don’t continue to provide relevant, interesting content and engaging opportunities for our fans, they’re going to break up with us. In fact, more than half of Facebook users, according to a recent study “The Social Breakup,” have liked a brand and then later decided to stop reading the company’s posts, visiting the Facebook page or looking at the website. Social media, because it’s so immediate and interactive, is well-suited to engagement and retention marketing. And when we do this simultaneously across multiple channels, we strengthen our reach and the power of our message. The more we listen, collect/store data and use the data to segment and personalize our approaches, the more we can show supporters we know them.