So, Uh, Are We Doing This Right?
For a number of years now, there has been a trend in the advertising and marketing industries toward a greater accountability for dollars spent. The recent recession has accelerated this trend. Thus, what used to be the darling unit of an advertising agency — general television and display advertising — is now being asked to “prove” that expenditures produce a return on those investments.
Meanwhile, those who have toiled in the fields of direct response, where everything was and remains measurable, are being asked to measure more complex marketing scenarios involving multiple channels.
This is no less true in fundraising. Not so long ago, in many nonprofits the “communications” team could do “brand building” without the discipline of measured ROI. Not a single piece of direct mail could be sent without a budgeted return on investment, but four-color, bound annual reports could be mailed at a cost of $6 each without any measure of their return.
Now, with tighter budgets and greater demands for accountability, every activity is measured for its productivity, either on behalf of the mission of the organization or its fundraising. So, direct-response fundraisers are being asked to measure more carefully in an increasingly complex environment.
If the integration of multichannel fundraising efforts is the holy grail of direct-response fundraising, then one of the biggest challenges to achieving this pinnacle of success is figuring out what combination of channels and what tests within any channel “worked” or produced the best ROI. This actually poses two challenges in today’s environment: The first is to capture the data in a single location so you can design tests and conduct measurements, and the second is to design tests that meaningfully measure what you are trying to understand.
An ‘Integrated’ Database
The desire for an “integrated” database is as long-standing as multichannel marketing. Managers want to know when a donor makes a donation via mail, Internet or telephone; buys a ticket for an event; and volunteers for a “walk.” They don’t want five databases; they want the information in one location. For many, this is an objective that has not yet been reached.