Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Boost Fundraising E-mail Results With Smart Timing

At the end of each year, nonprofits send out their big fundraising e-mail campaigns, and each year questions of optimal timing are debated. Research results from Next After, a nonprofit consultancy and research lab, may offer helpful guidance. A big problem for year-end donor appeals is the fight for attention amid the seasonal commercial e-mail blitz that jams inboxes. Timing is everything to avoid getting lost in the clutter. Many nonprofits focus on the Giving Tuesday opportunity, and 23% more e-mails are sent on Giving Tuesday than on Dec. 31, per Next After--yet 48.7% of nonprofit revenue comes in the last week of the year, Dec. 25-31. And 20% comes just on New Year's Eve. In fact, 581% more average additional revenue is generated on Dec. 31 than on Giving Tuesday. No wonder Next After suggests focusing on that final December week. Another sign of a missed opportunity: Despite December's donor haul, 22% of nonprofits studied send no e-mails in December, and most send about four e-mails. So experts advise dialing up the volume in the lucrative December time period! Day-of-the-week and time-of-day targeting matter, too. E-mailers who choose to send messages in the Tuesday through Friday period and blast between 7 a.m. and noon will wade through the heaviest e-mail volumes, per the research. So off-peak e-mail delivery--such as afternoon or evening--can help avoid the seasonal e-mail rush. And weekends clearly represent a neglected opportunity: Not only is overall e-mail volume lighter, but Next After notes a 50% higher gift amount on weekends. For more data and examples of real-life nonprofit testing, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/optimize-timing-of-year-end-fundraising-e-mails/

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nonprofits Enter Year-end Fundraising Season

With a third of annual giving occurring in December, over half of nonprofits starting year-end plans in October, and direct mail the leading fundraising channel, October often sees final tweaks to direct marketing plans. So nonprofit marketers may want to check their current campaigns against the four-step master plan recently offered by fundraising consultant Gail Perry on her blog. Step 1: Set goals for each donor segment, and don't forget lucrative leading-donor annual gifts, lapsed donors and board members. Step 2: Select channels for a multi-pronged appeal, integrating direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, social media, website, and video creative--and design a consistent message for all. Step 3: Gather resources and set a budget. Step 4: Set a timeline and calendar. Of course, smaller fundraisers often bemoan budget limitations at this point. A guest post by Damian O'Broin for the Institute of Fundraising offers a bracing response. Greatness is not a function of size, it’s a function of attitude, he argues, citing donor surveys. The things that matter most to donors don’t depend on big budgets and lots of staff but on good, donor-centric fundraising practices: thanking promptly and properly; showing progress and impact; getting to know supporters and responding to their needs; empowering supporters; and asking consistently. Even modest direct marketing campaigns, assuming they are well targeted, can use these practices to boost response. For details and tips of Perry's year-end master plan, see our complete blog post at http://www.acculistusa.com/nonprofits-crucial-year-end-fundraising-drives-have-begun/

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Use Social Sharing to Rev Direct Mail Response

Integrating the targeted power of direct mail with the viral power of social media can turbocharge results, and a recent article in Target Marketing magazine offers some good case studies as models for how direct mailers can harness social sharing to significantly boost response. Article author Summer Gould cites two examples: 1) Chick-fil-A, which integrated social sharing with a mailing of 5,000 plastic postcards for a whopping 279.8% response to grow its store traffic and customer database, and 2) Stein Mart, which used viral social sharing with a 20,000-postcard mailing to earn 150.58% response for a referral program and in-store redemption. Put simply, the formula involves directing the target audience of a proven direct mail package to a landing page/social page to provide data, get a reward and share the promotion. But of course, it's not simple. The secret to success lies in executing the details, starting with eye-catching, call-to-action design for the direct mail and the landing page and social media creatives. The goal is to not only push response but capture customer data for reward delivery and database growth. It means defining the objectives, the target audience and the desired data capture carefully. Most of all, it means developing a killer offer, which has to be the same for mail and social venues. It has to be the right offer for the right audience at the right time. It must grab attention, drive action, and inspire viral sharing. Of course, sharing is helped by extra incentives offered to any who share, from coupons to freebies to whatever wows the target audience. Although the case studies both come from retail marketing, the lessons can apply to other verticals, including nonprofits. For links to the case studies, see our post at http://www.acculistusa.com/social-sharing-can-turbocharge-direct-mail-response/

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Always Be Testing: Even the Best Mail Control Tires

Successful direct mail marketers seek to optimize response by constantly testing creative (as well as lists), because they know that even the best control package can lose its punch and need refurbishing or replacing. Since direct mail testing can be expensive, especially multivariate testing, it is important to think through why response to a proven control can flag and what changes are worth testing. A recent Target Marketing magazine article, by direct marketing consultant Gary Hennerberg, addresses the issue by reminding marketers of basics: The control has succeeded better than other mailing packages because, using the right list, the marketer has matched the offer's emotional hot buttons and unique selling proposition to the prospects' awareness of both their problem and the marketer's solution at the time. But that alignment between prospect and promotion is not static. After mailing the same direct mail control package over and over (or using the same digital message), the majority of targeted prospects have either seen your pitch or been educated by other media, so your message may no longer fit with their knowledge and needs. "If you don’t stay on top of this changing awareness and understanding, your direct mail control package, or messaging in other channels, fatigues, and you’ll wonder why," Hennerberg warns. He suggests marketers commit to a program 1) assessing prospect awareness of the problem solved by the marketed product or service; 2) creating multiple creative approaches that align with different prospect awareness levels; and 3) testing creatives (headlines, leads, formats, etc.) against each other and the control to find the sweet spot. For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/always-be-testing-even-the-best-mail-control-gets-tired/

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Event Marketing Channels, Attendees Not in Sync

Where should trade show and conference marketers go fishing for potential audience? In a multi-channel world, it can be challenging to balance online, e-mail, print and social media for best results. Now a recent survey by XING Events, as reported by MarketingProfs, shows interesting gaps between where event marketers are casting their nets and where potential attendees pool to research events. According the the XING Events study, which is based on a global survey of 2,621 event attendees and 1,630 event organizers, event attendees most often learn about work-related events through word-of-mouth mention by friends and acquaintances (66%) and via e-mail newsletters (59%). Fewer event attendees (20%) report being influenced by ads for print and online professional publishing. Online search has more impact when the audience is already aware of the event; for example, 49% say they use online search to find details about trade shows or conferences they already have heard about (via word-of-mouth, e-mail or print). Just 22% learn about an event by doing keyword searches. However, an even smaller portion (16%) of event attendees report that they use social media to research events. Event marketers don't exactly mirror attendees' preferences. About 89% of surveyed event organizers say they market their events through their own websites, culling search traffic. Some 76% say they market through e-mail newsletters, which is in line with attendee activity. The surprise is that 73% of event pros say they promote via social media even though it is not where most of the audience is currently looking for event information. And about 47% use traditional print channels. Despite its current lower usage among event attendees, social media is the marketing channel that most event marketers (65%) plan to grow in future. For more on the survey, see our blog post at http://www.acculistusa.com/survey-mismatches-in-event-marketing-channels-attendee-interest/

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Format Matters: Text E-mails Outdo HTML Versions

There's an ongoing debate in e-mail marketing over which format option will optimize results: simple text-based e-mails or fancier html versions. Marketo recently reported some surprising findings on this point: Analysis shows text-based e-mails perform significantly better than their more creative HTML counterparts. Although both formats have the same open rate, text-based e-mails have 21% higher unique click-to-open rates on the offer link and 17% higher unique click-through rates on the offer link, according to the Marketo study. So should marketers dump their html creatives? Not so fast. Why did the text-based versions win more response? The Marketo study found that text-based e-mails' fewer visual distractions focus response on the call-to-action link. In HTML versions, nearly 16% of clicks went to other links (such as logos) instead of the main call-to-action link, per Marketo. Other research shows that text e-mails are also viewed as more personal by recipients, who see the visually rich html e-mails as clearly commercial. Finally, text-based versions have a better chance of delivery since the messages are less likely to be caught in spam filters or to have mobile viewing issues. On the other hand, a key drawback of plain text formats, with no html, is that there is no tracking of open rates or clicks. Text-based e-mails without any html design elements also lack engaging visual impact for branding or product promotion, have less ability to break information into easy-to-read/scan sections or columns, and have fewer tools for directing CTA attention. So html e-mails continue to be used because of advantages that make them the right choice for campaigns relying on branding, richer messaging and detailed metrics. For example, html allows incorporation of branded images and logos that may yield higher conversion rates for some verticals. An html e-mail also can package more information in digestible, easy-to-read bites. It can direct action via color, clickable text and buttons. Most important, html offers tracking of opens and clicks for marketing metrics! For links to more detail, see http://www.acculistusa.com/seeking-e-mail-response-marketers-face-text-vs-html-choice/

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Data-Rich Segmentation Revs Nonprofit Mail Results

Effective data use is key to nonprofit direct mail success, yet some fundraisers question the need for a more sophisticated data approach, of course. So we'll pass along a recent NonProfitPRO blog post by Chris Pritcher, of Merkle's Quantitative Marketing Group, which challenges overly narrow views of donor data. Too often, using data to understand the donor base is limited to one of two categories, Pritcher notes: 1) RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) data and giving history, or 2) donor demographics and behavioral measures, ranging from factors such as wealth or related interests/purchases to applying behavior-lifestyle systems such as Prizm. Whether the data is first-party or third-party sourced, each approach has its limitations. RFM often silos data from a single channel, for example, even though donors live in a multi-channel world. RFM also focuses mainly on short-term financial action, ignoring donors, especially Millennials, whose giving is maximized through an interactive, long-term relationship. Meanwhile, though donor demographics can help avoid low-opportunity lists and segments, demographics in isolation may be too general for effective response targeting. Wealth data indicates who has money but not who is willing to give that money to a specific cause, as Pritcher points out. Pritcher urges fundraisers to embrace "multi-dimensional segmentation" over the either/or data approach above. Nonprofits can analyze donor actions (both financial and non-financial) along with data such as demographics, wealth, donations to other organizations, etc., to create more actionable segments. For some basic tips for multidimensional segmentation success, see our complete post at http://www.acculistusa.com/fundraising-mail-benefits-from-data-rich-list-segmentation/