Using 4 Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors, Part 1
[Editor's note: This is part one of a three-part series on the session, "Get Heard: Using Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors," held at the Nonprofit Technology Conference.]
There are four major online communications tools that every fundraiser should take advantage of — event marketing, social-media marketing, e-mail marketing and online surveys — according to Erik Mintz, director of event marketing at nonprofit software provider Constant Contact.
During his session, "Get Heard: Using Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors," at the Nonprofit Technology Conference last week in Washington, D.C., Mintz broke down why fundraisers should use all of these online tools.
"These tools help you create a meaningful online experience about your organization and deliver it to your audience," he said. "As you use them in parallel, there's a lot of synergy. It's a real ecosystem, and the ROI is greater than the sum of the four parts."
Further, Mintz pointed out, these tools are exceedingly affordable in today's market. But the tools themselves aren't nearly as important as how you use them.
"The way you connect with people is through effective communications," he said. "What's not important is the tools themselves; it's what the tools do for you and how you use that to communicate with your audience."
The first step is knowing who to communicate with. In order to grow your donor database, you want to spend your time prospecting, and then reinforce why you should spend more time with your current donors and key influencers. These new tools have changed the game in moving people through the donor life cycle from prospect to donor to influencer, Mintz said. In traditional marketing, there is a funnel approach: You blast out acquisition messages to a large audience, convert some of them into donors and then keep some of those new donors for the long haul — a trickle-down effect. With engagement marketing via these online tools, it's more of a bottom-up approach, spending most of your time targeting your key influencers and repeat donors because they generate the most revenue for the organization — and can bring new donors on board for you.
"It's six to seven times more expensive to acquire new donors than it is to keep existing donors," Mintz said. "The new tools allow you to focus on donors via engagement marketing, and through utilizing these new tools, they'll help you acquire other new donors organically."
Constant Contact did a study comparing nonprofit engagement vs. B-to-B and B-to-C business engagement. What it found was that nonprofits are more active with events, use more promotional tools, have more events with larger turnouts, use more methods to manage registrations and are more likely to use event marketing tools. Mintz said that's because nonprofits really understand the engagement value of events, and "when nonprofits understand something, they go to town."
And for good reason. According to a 2008 study by the International Experiential Marketing Association that Mintz referenced, 59 percent of marketing professionals worldwide consider live events to be the single most powerful tool in their arsenal. As Mintz said, "The world is going digital, which makes it even more important to get face to face today" to help you stand out and create a truly meaningful relationship.
Event marketing tools can help you do that. They allow fundraisers to look professional, capture registrations and payments with ease, and work smarter by tracking event progress in real time. The benefits include:
- Promotion: reinforce brand identity, bring awareness to your events, encourage attendance, fill seats and provide social proof — the basic premise that people will do things they see other people doing. (For example, showing a list of attendees during the registration process can help drive attendance and fill seats at your events — people may recognize attendees they know or want to know.)
- Capture: know who's attending and collect fees in advance. "Don't be afraid to collect fees in advance for your event," Mintz said. "There is evidence to show that the word 'free' may communicate a lack of value!"
- Tracking: reporting results and organization.
"Face-to-face meetings are an effective way to build relationships and trust with your customers," Mitz said. "It's the many intangibles you experience when interacting with people in the same room that make hosting an event such a worthwhile effort."
He then shared six ways to maximize attendance at your event:
- Consider your audience. To maximize attendance, find the optimal date, time and location by sending people a survey before the event.
- Set goals. Three are three key questions to ask yourself: What do you want to achieve by hosting this event? What topics do your attendees want to see? What will your attendees achieve by attending?
- Send personalized e-mails. Personalized e-mail invitations make your event feel more special.
- Include social media. Social media should be part of the before, during and after communications of your event. "Social media is great in parallel with your event because it builds buzz. LinkedIn groups are a great way to empower people to create discussion groups," Mintz said.
- Make registration simple. Keep the registration form short and to the point. Ask only relevant questions, and avoid asking for information you don't need.
- Get feedback with a post-event survey. Use the findings to help make your next event even better.
Check back to tomorrow for part 2.