E-mail Regaining Its Lead Role in Fundraising Digital Strategy

In 2017, e-mail is expected to regain its lead role in the digital efforts of nonprofit fundraisers, per numerous nonprofit marketing pros. Certainly, AccuList USA is ready to support that trend with a proprietary compilation of the top fundraising direct mail and opt-in e-mail lists  (check out our free download). In addition to smart list selection, fundraisers and fundraising consultants can make the most of a renewed e-mail focus with tactics like those provided in a recent post for thedatabank.com by Michael Stein, a nonprofit consultant and digital strategist.

Plan for a Successful E-mail Reboot

To maximize response, e-mail outreach in 2017 may require nonprofits to reboot, refresh and rethink, says Stein.  He urges marketers to address four basic issues before blasting out e-mails: Check to see if your e-mail template or e-newsletter needs a creative refresh; make sure the e-mail works well for mobile viewers; consider a rewrite of your welcome e-mail to new subscribers for better engagement; and develop new creative and messaging ideas to test for boosted e-mail fundraising appeal.

‘Mobilize,’ Personalize, Automate

Mobile readiness is essential for wooing donors, especially given, as Stein cites, the recent Movable Ink report that, across industries, 69% of e-mail opens were on a mobile device. A good mobile experience should extend from the e-mail subject line to the website landing page and, most importantly, to the donation page, advises Stein. Personalizing is another proven way to maximize e-mail response, and that means more than dropping in a first-name greeting. It means digital messaging with relevant, timely content based on smart e-mail list segmentation, using data such as event attendance, website downloads, and donation amount or frequency. Finally, marketers need e-mail automation, especially for timely engagement of new e-mail subscribers and donors. Automated responses should include key transactions such as e-mail subscription, event signups, and online giving, since these are often the most opened and read e-mails, says Stein.

Make It Graphic & Multi-channel

Testing by nonprofits has shown that use of graphics and video significantly boosts fundraising response rates. So write fewer words and show more images, urges Stein. Use a graphic to present a call to action or embed a video to replace a paragraph, for example. Finally, e-mail’s fundraising effectiveness is higher when it is part of an integrated multi-channel effort. That should include social media platforms since including social media advertising in digital campaigns often delivers a lift in revenues taken in by e-mails and websites.

For more advice from Stein, go to https://www.thedatabank.com/2017/03/harness-the-latest-giving-trends-for-digital-fundraising-success/ And if you like infographics and want benchmark data on what other nonprofits are doing with e-mail, check out http://blog.winspireme.com/nonprofit-email-marketing-infographic-ebook.

 

Fundraising Pros Forecast 2017 Trends for Direct Mail

For nonprofits, 2017 offers an avalanche of political and technological changes, yet we don’t see any trend sweeping direct mail or e-mail out from under fundraising marketers just yet. Certainly, AccuList USA’s top fundraising mailing lists, based on proprietary research, continue to deliver donors and dollars to clients.

In fact, NonProfit PRO magazine recently found relevant mailing insights when it asked nonprofit pros nationwide for 2017 fundraising trend predictions. A few nuggets from its “40 NonProfit Trends for 2017” include:

Digital & Analog Can Grow Together

Marketers should see digital and non-digital communications as symbiotic rather than competitive. Indeed, Roger Craver and Tom Belford, editors of The Agitator, predicted that the continued rise of digital technology and data will paradoxically foster an increase in “old fashioned” pre-digital methods of communication and relationship building, such as direct mail, printed “thank you” notes, personal phone calls and print newsletters. Why? Because old-fashioned non-digital communications “provide a key—and currently missing—fundraising ingredient: a human, real-life interaction between an organization and its donors.”

Integrating Not Just Multiplying Channels

Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, principal of Clairification, advised nonprofits to recognize that they are now dealing with an all-encompassing “Generation Connected” (GenC) and must be in multiple spaces simultaneously—but with consistent and integrated messaging. Merely fundraising through multiple channels does not equal integration from the consumer’s perspective, she warns;  integration requires coordinated images, messages and offers across channels to avoid muddling the brand.

Going for Mailing Depth Over Volume

Direct mail is still a top fundraising tool—but not if used as a blunt instrument. Nick Ellinger, vice president of marketing strategy at DonorVoice, noted recent Dutch research that found 63% of the revenues of an additional nonprofit mailing aren’t new revenues but rather cannibalized from the revenues of other communications. However, by investing in donor knowledge and targeting, customization and personalization rather than just mail volume, test programs report stable gross revenue and a significant increase in net revenue in year one (or year two at worst), Ellinger reported.

Direct Mail’s Not Dead & Neither Is E-mail

Eric Rardin, vice president of business development for Care2, predicted that e-mail will only increase in importance in 2017. While social tools and platforms proliferate and compete, e-mail emerges as a digital tool that best allows marketers to push traffic and engagement online, he noted, so the value of an e-mail address, with permission to mail, will continue to increase year over year.

Use Technology to Kick Up Results

Though “old-fashioned” mail still drives donations, it may do a better job if paired with new technology. Shari Mason, vice president, marketing communications of Smile Train, suggested embracing 3D-printing initiatives, virtual reality experiences and social-good fundraising platforms to improve giving-impact communications, message sharing, call to action, and cause awareness. Leigh Kessler, vice president of communications for CharityEngine, even urged testing mobile device voice intelligence technology (Siri, Cordera, Google Now)—for example with a direct mail piece that says, “If you have Amazon Echo, just say ‘Alexa, I’d like to Give $25 to customURLnonprofit.org.'”

For more trends, read NonProfit PRO‘s “40 NonProfit Trends for 2017.”

Direct Mail Woos Millennial Shoppers by Embracing Their Digital Side

With the millennial generation, roughly those aged 18-35, now outnumbering boomers, most marketers want to keep this big batch of younger purchasers in their crosshairs. Yet direct mailers sometimes report frustration that response does not match assumptions and expectations from mailing lists and creative.  One cause of lower than desired response may be failure to take into account how millennial shopping and buying habits differ from those of other generational groups.

Yes, Millennials Shop Differently (and Digitally)

A recent article by eMarketer, drawing from its “US Millennial Shoppers 2017” survey report, cited three shopping habits that should be of interest to direct marketers. First, millennials tend to prefer digital shopping, even while in stores. Second, millennials are very comfortable with mobile shopping. And third, millennials have a strong presence on social platforms yet also respond well to direct marketing via e-mail. (See more on the report.)

How Direct Mailers Can Woo Millennials

Millennials are not averse to direct mail–but it depends on the direct mail. Target Marketing magazine’s Summer Gould recently cited five reasons direct mail may flop with millennials–and three come back to the clear digital preferences identified by eMarketer. First of all, a direct mail offer that does not include an online purchase option is missing sales, Gould points out. And, per eMarketer reporting, mailers may be losing sales in a big way considering that 90% of millennials, 93% of Gen Xers and even 84% of boomers said they bought online in a June 2016 Berkeley Research Group survey. Next, since millennials clearly embrace mobile shopping, every aspect of the shopping experience should be mobile-friendly (website, landing pages, shopping cart), Gould advises, and it is certainly key if the direct mail includes mobile-scanned QR codes to connect digitally. Then, since social media matters to millennials and is where they do research before they buy, a direct mailer lacking a social presence is also snubbing millennial shoppers. But not just any social outreach will do; millennials want authentic, informative, humanized interaction.

Friendly, Authentic, Tech Savvy

Regardless of digital messaging, printed content also needs to seem authentic and friendly if the mailer wants millennials to make a connection with the offer and the brand, per Gould. Millennials value companies that make them feel good, she points out, so mailers should review their creative and remove the phony or impersonal. Finally, millennials expect a company to be up-to-date with technology and to integrate marketing, shopping and sales with technology–whether in-store, in direct mail, or on the website. Millennials can relate to direct mail offers–but not if they are tied to a company that lacks the technological savvy to make interaction easy, seamless and personalized. Do millennials’ digital and tech preference mean that direct mailers can only succeed by stuffing technology into print pieces–QR, AR, video, etc.? Not necessarily, answers Gould. As with any marketing effort, just test what makes sense for enhancing audience experience and boosting response.  For Gould’s article, see http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/post/how-to-get-millennials-to-respond-to-your-direct-mail/

 

What Data Questions Should Agency Agreements Address?

As a data broker and data services provider, AccuList USA knows first-hand that the era of “big data” has created both greater opportunities and greater complications for marketers in terms of access and use of data. In fact, Advertising Audit and Risk Management (AARM), a North American provider of independent advertising audit and consulting services, recently urged advertisers and marketers to review agency contracts to make sure they address evolving “big data” issues.

Unanswered Data Questions Leave Risky Gaps

Data can drive a precisely targeted marketing strategy by leveraging insights from transactional and customer behavioral data–assuming that the advertiser/marketer has the right to receive and use that data. Based on their experience, AARM cites at least six key, but often unanswered, data questions that advertisers should cover in contracts. Those questions include:

  • Who owns the data?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • For how long?
  • How secure is the data?
  • Is the data kept separate from that of other advertisers?
  • Is your data being used to aid other advertisers?
Everybody Wants to Claim Valuable Data

AARM points out that data ownership is not automatically ceded to an advertiser or marketer despite investment in a media buy generating a data stream. Many within the media chain may try to claim the generated data: Ad agencies, trading desks, publishers, demand-side platforms, and third-party ad servers all may seek unrestricted access, if not ownership, of valuable customer data. That’s why marketers and advertisers need to be sure that legal agreements clearly and consistently spell out data ownership rights, privacy considerations and third-party access rights.

Guarding First-, Second- and Third-Party Data

Ownership and access to third-party data–often sourced from agencies and ad tech providers–is usually clearly spelled out in licensing agreements between stakeholders. But AARM notes that advertisers also need to be careful that second-party data, meaning information gathered indirectly from users via an advertiser’s relationship with another entity (such as an SEO platform or behaviorally targeted digital display ad), is used or shared in a privacy-compliant manner.  Advertisers must guard their first-party data, too, AARM cautions. For example, there are data privacy and security risks for first-party data used in programmatic digital and addressable TV buys, where unregulated, unsupervised use could violate privacy rights.

For AARM’s article, “Big Data. Big Deal. You Bet,” see https://marketingmath.aarmusa.com/2016/12/05/big-data-big-deal-you-bet/

2017 Magazine Trends: Digital Embrace, Platform Tensions

The pursuit of circulation and ad revenue will push magazine publishers to embrace a number of digital publishing trends in 2017, per predictions in a Publishing Executive magazine article by Ron Matejko, president of digital publisher MVP Media. We thought our consumer and business publication clients would be interested in a few of those trends.

Subscription Drives Go Digital

While insert cards and direct mail remain sturdy tools for circulation marketing, Matejko foresees increased use of digital tools in audience development, and he cites the example of Dallas-based D Magazine, which is leveraging its combined database with outreach via automated and personalized e-mail campaigns and targeted social media advertising to audiences that look like their current print subscriber base. The result has been more new and renewed subscriptions for the print product, in fact almost a 100% increase in subscriptions generated monthly through digital efforts. The power of postal combined with social/e-mail database marketing has certainly given legs to AccuList USA’s Digital2Direct marketing program.

Mobile Apps Boost Brand & Revenue

Also watch for increased use of mobile magazine apps that enhance the reader experience, predicts Matejko. Consider the success story of Cities West Publishing in Arizona, which expanded its app offerings last year with interactive versions of two monthly print publications, as well as apps to supplement multimedia campaigns for two special issues. For example, an app for Apple and Android mobile devices reformatted the more than 1,200 listings of design experts, shops, and services showcased in Phoenix Home & Garden magazine’s Top Design Sources issue, followed by a similar app for Phoenix magazine’s Travel Guide issue. The benefits: branding, extended shelf life beyond the newsstand, and revenue via multi-platform value-added for print ad partners.

Tech Innovations Could Be Transformative

Tech innovators are courting publishers with tools that could make a big difference to digital success, according to Matejko. He cites innovations such as Advontemedia’s software that caters to mobile readers’ preference for scrolling vertically instead of horizontally, or Woodwing’s Inception digital content production tool that enables publishers to create a constantly updated app, with responsive design for all devices.

Publishers in a Tug of War With Platforms

Given those digital trends, it’s no surprise that publishers are distributing content across audience-rich platforms such as Facebook and Google. They are betting that targeted content on digital platforms will drive traffic back to their own sites—boosting readership, content value, and ad revenue. But the formula for monetizing multi-platform efforts has proved challenging, according to Patricia Orsini, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, Media’s Digital Challenge: Publisher Strategies for Monetizing Content Across Platforms.  Instead of the content on platforms scaling up audience for most publishers, “readers spent more time with those platforms, and therefore boosted revenue to those platforms,” Orsini found.

For more on the digital publishing trend predictions from the Publishing Executive article, go to http://www.pubexec.com/post/4-digital-publishing-trends-watch-2017/

Creating Powerful Synergy With Paid, Owned & Earned Media

When budgets are tight, it’s tempting to focus on earned and owned media over paid media promotion. But marketers need to know the growth penalty of that strategy. Brands that use paid media typically grow three times faster than those that rely on owned and earned media alone, according to recent international research from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), as reported by The Drum.

Synergy From Paid, Owned & Earned Media

At the same time, paid media is more effective when coupled with earned and owned media. IPA research shows that owned media, which includes brand websites, blogs and social media sites, typically increases the effectiveness of a paid ad campaign by 13%. Meanwhile,  earned media, which includes online mentions, shares, re-posts and reviews, increases the effectiveness of a paid campaign by a larger 26%.

The Emotional Power of Video

The IPA examination of media marketing further finds that emotion is a vital ingredient to success, and that television advertising continues to be the most powerful in delivering emotional engagement. Researchers report that adding television advertising increases a promotional campaign’s effectiveness by 40% and is also the best for generating  the top-line growth that drives profit, with a 2.6% average market share point gained per year when using television advertising. The growing use of video-on-demand and online video has turbocharged video impact: IPA’s research shows a 54% increase in the average number of “very large” business effects from adding television and online video together, versus 32% for television only and 25% for online video only.

Finding the Golden 60:40 Balance

When it comes to the optimal combination of paid, earned and owned media, and the best balance of brand-building vs. targeted sales ads, IPA results show that the most profitable campaigns have a 60:40 ratio of long-term brand-building (broad reach, highly emotive) to short-term sales activation (tightly targeted and information rich). For help with media strategy tailored to your budget and market, don’t hesitate to call on AccuList USA’s multi-channel marketing expertise, from social engagement and online ads to e-mail and pay-for-performance TV. And for more on IPA research, see http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/10/31/brands-use-paid-media-grow-three-times-faster-those-just-rely-earned-and-owned-finds

Positive 2017 Fundraising Trends Create Opportunities

While 2017 is starting as a year of uncertainty, especially in politics, a recent CauseVox post provides some good news for AccuList USA’s current and future nonprofit direct marketing clients. CauseVox staff writer Tina Jepson spotlights 10 fundraising trends that offer opportunities for greater success this year, and we’ll pass along a few here.

Increased Individual, Corporate & Recurring Giving

Donation forecasts are upbeat, Jepson shares: Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017 predicts that an increase in individual and household income will help to boost fundraising efforts for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs by as much as 3.8% in 2017.  Plus, with Gross Domestic Product and business savings on the rise, total corporate giving is predicted to rise by 4.7% in 2017. And monthly giving, which accounts for 17% of online revenue, also will continue increasing per the 2016 M+R Benchmarks report. The trick with individual donors is to catch the wave with smart targeting, inspiring creative and campaigns to get existing donors to boost giving, says Jepson, while, for corporate giving, nonprofits would do well to maximize gift matching, to court business leaders and to keep tabs on company arrivals and growth locally. Plus, Jepson urges nonprofits to amp up their monthly giving strategy, making monthly giving the first option for donors on the website and a marketing priority in e-letters, direct mail and e-mail.

Donor Retention at a Record High

Donor retention rates are at the highest rate since 2008 at 45.9%, and nonprofits and charities clearly should make retention a marketing priority to capitalize on this powerful fundraising engine, Jepson notes. She suggests capitalizing on the trend with tactics such as personalization; prior gift recognition; leveraging donors’ preferred channels; donor education via videos, infographics or pamphlets; and donor activation with engagement opportunities such as volunteering or advocacy.

More Donor Data Than Ever Before

Digital interactions—websites, e-mail, social media and now the Internet of Things (IoT)—combine with traditional channels such as direct mail to generate a wealth of data about existing and potential donors. A key goal for 2017 is to gather, analyze and use actionable data effectively. Jepson lists a few ways to do so: Tracking analytics on your website and social media posts to learn the demographics and behavior of your paid, earned and owned media audience; using Facebook and Instagram Ads and Business Manager to target ads to donors likely to give; and turning around data learning to share with, and inspire, donors in real-time online via options such as a website ROI ticker that tracks return on investment (possibly in lives changed) per average donation.

Social Media & Mobile Marketing Challenges

In social and mobile marketing, nonprofits face challenges as well as opportunities. Social media platforms, including Facebook, now are promoting organic content that prioritizes the audience’s friends and family over nonprofit messages. Jepson points out that this means that effective social media marketing will need to rely more on purchased ads and targeting of key demographics, as well as creating viral content that inspires shares. Meanwhile, if your nonprofit hasn’t invested in mobile optimization of websites and e-mails, you’re missing a key donation source: Mobile giving makes up 17% of all online giving now and is projected to rise further in 2017.

For more trends and Jepson’s suggestions on maximizing their fundraising impact, see https://www.causevox.com/blog/fundraising-trends-2017/

 

2017 Multi-Channel Marketers Challenged by 3 Key Digital Trends

As this year’s marketing gets underway, we want to alert marketers seeking our multi-channel support services to three important 2017 digital trends recently cited by digital marketing hub ClickZ author Rebecca Sentance.

‘Mobilized’ Search Is Digital Marketing Must

Marketers need to go beyond “mobile friendly” to a “mobile first” strategy given current search trends. Though ClickZ’s own Intelligence Report on 2016 mobile marketing found that 56% of client-side marketers and 44% of agency respondents still described their mobile ad efforts as “beginner,” big search market changes will spur more mobile strategy investment this year, Sentance notes. Think mobile is over-hyped? Sentance asks you to consider the following: Search-engine giant Google has removed the “right-hand rail” from the search results page and moved to only displaying paid ads at the top and bottom, making the main search results layout more adaptive to mobile; Google continues to strengthen a mobile-friendly ranking system that penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-optimized; and Google announced in October that it would further favor mobile search by splitting off desktop and mobile into separate search indexes, with mobile as its primary index.

‘Visualized’ Social Marketing Wins Followers

Marketers need to embrace visual elements and visually focused platforms for more effective social media performance. Sentance points out as an example that YouTube was the fourth-most cited channel of the 2016 Marketing Trends Survey when respondents were asked to name the top three performing networks for their social media marketing efforts (behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). And though Instagram came in fifth place, the rise of visually focused platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat is undeniable. For example, Sentance reports that Instagram is far outstripping social competition in follower growth, with a median average of 6-8% follower growth month on month. So it’s no wonder that formerly text-based social media leaders Facebook and Twitter have made it a priority to meet the competitive challenge this year by integrating more multimedia into their platforms, with the addition of GIFs, short videos and live video streaming.

‘Commercialized’ Social Offers Sales As Well As Branding

Finally, marketers should stop assuming social media is mainly a tool for brand and traffic building rather than direct sales. Social media and e-commerce have been overlapping more and more, Sentance argues. She cites the launch of Facebook Marketplace, the acquisition of Famebit by Google/YouTube, and the change in Pinterest’s business profiles to showcase Buyable pins more prominently as just three recent examples of the trend to integrate e-commerce with social.

To read the complete ClickZ article go to https://www.clickz.com/three-major-developments-that-will-shape-multi-channel-marketing-in-2017/108468/