The Donation Maximization Blog

Using Online Data to Optimize Your Nonprofit Clients' Marketing Efforts

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As an agency representing nonprofit clients in the 21st century, it should go without saying that you’re going to be engaging in marketing and fundraising efforts on all types of platforms for your client. From social media and email blasts to direct mail and print campaigns, it’s important to get your client’s message across consistently and efficiently. Many people tout the benefits of online marketing as opposed to traditional, and those benefits have a lot to do with the price. Social media posts and email blasts are very inexpensive to distribute, while traditional marketing can require a more significant investment.

Traditional marketing still works, though, especially when done right. By implementing what the agency has learned from the data it has gathered online, you’ll be able to increase conversion on your mailings and other traditional marketing techniques. This will make your client happy by boosting their ROI and improving their overall fundraising efforts.

Gather Great Data

Your agency won’t get anywhere with marketing optimization unless it has great data with which to work. This starts with making sure any form or survey you ask your clients’ donors or prospects to fill out is formatted in a way that ensures the data you collect will be of a high quality. Quality data is uniform, complete and current. Employ techniques like drop-down menus and required fields to ensure you’re getting good data, and make sure you update your information in a timely manner -- you don’t want to make marketing decisions for your nonprofit client based on 10-year-old data.

You should also always track what’s worked for your client in the past. This may require asking your client to provide you with both anecdotal and metric-based information from previous campaigns that may have taken place prior to your engagement with them. Once your agency starts sending out emails and mailers on behalf of the client, you can start tracking everything you would for other clients, from open and response rates to clickthroughs and mail responses.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

When putting together a traditional fundraising piece on behalf of your client, such as a mailer or a print advertisement, you want to use what you’ve learned from your online marketing efforts and the data that is available to you. Of course, in every mailing, it’s wise to adhere to general best practices for nonprofit fundraising as well, but for specific content, each nonprofit is different and you need to implement what you’ve learned from your tests and demographic data.

The key here is to take advantage of the information you gather with your email efforts, which are free to you, to inform and improve your direct mail efforts, which require some investment. If an email campaign with a certain phrasing or headline didn’t garner many results for your client, you don’t want to use the same phrasing when you’re spending a good chunk of money on a mail campaign. Additionally, you can find ways to translate internet-esque marketing into your traditional mailers just for the interest factor.

Use Data to Segment Your Donors

In the past, data segmentation has been about breaking your client’s donors and prospects into small groups based on demographic lines, including age and financial backgrounds. Instead of sending one mailer to everyone on a nonprofit’s contact list, the agency could send out two different mailers based on the income level of the neighborhoods the mailers would be going to, or based on the age of the recipient, or four based on each cross-section of those two factors.

Now, though, you can segment all the way down to each individual. Every person is different and no two people will react in exactly the same way to the same messaging. ExactAsk’s personalized ask amounts system takes into consideration all the publicly-available data online as well as the data your agency’s nonprofit provides and targets marketing pieces to the specific person who’s going to be reading it. In addition to increasing ROI, this can also lead to a stronger connection between the nonprofit you represent and their donors.

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