Today, every fundraiser understands that direct mail can't do it all. Any campaign needs the other channels, to some extent ... and ideally on the same page. And while the closely coordinated direct-mail and e-mail campaigns are both popular and successful today, perhaps the most effective demonstration of the offline-online marriage is a personalized URL (PURL) campaign.
These campaigns, it turns out, work remarkably well for the nonprofit space. Such campaigns, three of which fall into the fundraising category, are explored in the comprehensive report "PURLs for Profit: Your everything-you-need-to-know guide to personalized URLs, including: Best Practices on why they work, campaign strategy, multichannel creative, analytics and 10 Case Studies." Just published, click here to find out more.
So, what kinds of fundraising organizations qualify for a PURL campaign? It's surprisingly simple and far-ranging.
"Any client looking to engage with their customers uniquely or those who have access to a database for a marketing campaign," says Shawn Burst, founder of Dukky, a custom landing page and analytics software platform.
Crystal Uppercue, marketing manager at direct-marketing services provider EU Services, agrees and says fundraising is a PURL natural — she mentions any type of organization that has membership and higher education organizations as two examples.
In the report, one case study features the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pa. It used a series of three postcards with a PURL to drive lapsed donors to personalized URLs. These lapsed donors were not just any lapsed donors. They had not made a contribution to the campaign at any time over a 10-year period, even though their support had been solicited on a yearly basis through direct-mail programs.
How did the personalized URL fit into the project?
Diocesan development and marketing staff developed an innovative campaign-communication structure that's content did not focus on an appeal for campaign participation but, rather, on questions that would reaffirm this group's participation in its faith using targeted and personalized messaging.
The Diocese of Erie is the first diocese in the United States to develop, implement and deploy a PURL program for its fundraising efforts. The level of sophistication of the targeted messaging and audience segmentation made this campaign particularly innovative when compared to previous efforts.
A cohort of 5,000 annual-fund lapsed donors were targeted for this new reacquisition program. Lapsed donors were mailed a series of three oversized postcards featuring a PURL address that contained the lapsed donor's name. The front of each postcard posed the same question: "What does it mean to be Catholic?"
Each Web page contained an extended treatment that provided an answer with a high degree of personalization (the name and picture of the lapsed donor's pastor, for example). The landing page was developed to echo the graphic identity of the postcards.
The results of this campaign were significant and immediate, as 14 percent of the targeted group responded. More than 600 lapsed donors within this cohort made contributions in excess of $125,000 to the diocesan annual campaign within weeks of deploying the campaign.
This response rate was 100 percent higher than response rates associated with direct-mail programs used in the past designed to reacquire lapsed donors. Overall, a 900 percent return on investment was achieved for this program.
Additionally, these re-engaged donors have significant historical value to the campaign as they are more likely to continue their annual contributions.
Marianne Gaige, president and CEO of Cathedral Corp. (which developed this campaign), predicts that, in the coming years, most marketing pieces that are going to non-donors, lapsed donors or non-customers will include a PURL or personalized QR code so the organization doing the marketing or fundraising can provide more information to the recipient. She says that these PURLS (or QR codes) allow the organization to provide a way to get relevant information to those that are interested without the marketing piece being too large or expensive.