Maximize Results with Integrated Marketing Communications
From a big- picture perspective, fundraising is fundraising, whether it’s online or offline. That said, understanding the differences between the two channels, and the advantages of integrating them, is critical to your organization’s ability to build strong constituent relationships and maximize donations.
Traditional offline marketing and fundraising tactics will continue to be a part of every development director’s toolkit. Direct-mail acquisition efforts elicit higher response rates than e-mail and provide a scalable way to source new constituents. One-to-one fundraising is equally as important because donors respond well to face-to-face, personal interactions. Although traditional offline marketing has its benefits, it is not free of challenges. This channel usually yields low retention rates, isn’t optimized to build relationships, and can end up costing your organization more than a dollar to raise a dollar.
On the other hand, online marketing offers significant advantages, including:
* Low costs to communicate
* Bi-directional communications
* Rapid deployment and feedback
* Visual story-telling potential
* Ability to easily personalize communications
* Viral marketing capabilities
* New and creative appeal options
* Easy access to a younger demographic
Our study earlier this year, “Integrating Online Marketing (eCRM) with Direct Mail Fundraising,” written in partnership with StrategicOne, LLC, demonstrates the impact of combining these two channels. The data shows that online engagement improves how much offline (direct-mail) donors give each year and the rate at which they renew even if they continue to give solely in the mail. If they opt to give online as well, i.e. become multi-channel, their rate of giving and retention rate increases further.
Now for the $64,000 question: How can your organization optimize its integrated communications? There are several options you can explore to achieve dual-channel interactions and maximize fundraising results:
* Collect e-mail addresses from offline donors. There are a variety of ways you can do this. For example, you can include space for e-mail addresses in direct-mail replies, in postcards that you leave at each seat of an event, or on an e-newsletter sign-up sheet in your organization’s lobby. You can also ask individuals who donate by phone for their e-mail addresses when they call.
* Promote your online efforts through radio and telemarketing campaigns. Don’t miss a great opportunity to drive traffic to your Web site by mentioning it as part of your radio and telemarketing messages. Highlighting information that is unique to your Web site might prompt an individual to pay a visit.
* Create unique landing pages on your Web site for each direct-mail campaign: Web pages (or better yet, micro-sites) that have been customized for a specific direct-mail campaign make it easy to track results from your offline efforts, and also might encourage individuals used to the offline medium to move online.
* Ensure consistent themes, branding, and messages across all channels. Consistency in these three areas reinforces your brand, as well as your message, and helps keep your organization top of mind. Receiving an e-mail with a compelling image and message one day, and then a postcard with a similar look and feel and message the following week, could prompt a procrastinating constituent to get online and make a donation or mail a check to you instead.
* Cross-pollinate your lists: Introduce donors who have only interacted with you online to direct-mail communications, and vice versa. Track their responsiveness by channel to optimize future campaign results.
Above all, identify and use a combination of offline and online marketing communications tailored to the preferences of each donor. If a constituent clearly has expressed a desire for contact online (either through their actions or by telling you directly), then respect their wishes. Learn from each constituent’s actions and adapt your communications accordingly. You will be able to raise constituent relationships and donations to new levels.
Gene Austin is chief executive officer of Convio. www.convio.com