When the initial testing yielded promising results, MSF developed targeted creative with more urgency and a stronger ask. As the cookie pool grew, it also could secure better ad inventory and better pricing too.
By monitoring and optimizing the results, MSF now uses its cookie pool (i.e., the pool of people cookied while visiting its site) to retarget nondonor visitors differently from one-time donors — and again differently from monthly donors. For example, a one-time donor is served an ad promoting the monthly giving program 14 days after the one-time gift transaction. With this strategy, sustainer conversion rates were 17 times higher than general retargeting. Not surprisingly, MSF didn’t stop there. The organization has used e-mail to echo retargeted messaging with strong results.
But what does that mean for me?
Well, you might be saying, my organization doesn’t have that much money to spend to create a multichannel digital program. Annika Bryntse and Bob Schwartz, our friends at True North Inc. (the digital agency that helped MSF develop its digital acquisition program), suggest otherwise. Starting with a modest test program gives great insights into messaging, publishers and creative, which in turn can fuel a more efficient rollout. As key acquisition targets are hit, the remarketing campaign can expand as profitability grows. It’s self-funding, in a way.
For those on a more limited budget, targeted use of Google’s self-serve AdWords platform could help optimize your Web traffic with retargeting (just make sure your donate forms are optimized). Separately, but along similar lines, we hear rumors that remarketing might soon also be available through Google Grants on Google’s display network — let’s all keep our fingers crossed!
So, you may ask, where is all this retargeting stuff headed — and what will the next phase look like? As we alluded, the possibilities of refined retargeting are nearly endless — from retargeting one-time donors with sustainer invites to major-donor prospects with special cultivation ads around their areas of interest or planned-giving prospects with information about the impact your organization is making. And now, retargeting can be conducted on Facebook with “sponsored post” ads that appear in news feeds. And some groups are using direct-response retargeting to target online ads to donors, lapsed donors and prospects on their offline or e-mail files regardless of whether they have ever visited their sites — but that may be a topic for a future column.