How to Use Personalized Marketing to Reach and Activate Donors
The days of mass communications are over. Today, people expect a more personalized marketing approach. Consider your own experience—for instance, when you get recommendations from Amazon or other online shopping websites based on your browsing or shopping history.
Customized marketing can be quite lucrative. Infosys found that 86 percent of shoppers said personalized marketing impacted their purchases. A recent study by Evergage revealed that 88 percent of marketers say their target audience expects personalized experiences. Ninety-eight percent said personalization improved their customer relationships, and 55 percent enjoyed better customer engagement.
Obviously, as a nonprofit, you’re not marketing a product or service. But you are marketing a cause—and, in that regard, personalized marketing works nearly the same way for your audience as it does for for-profit companies. Potential donors respond to messages tailored to their interests and passions, just as if they were prospective customers buying your product.
What Is Personalized Marketing?
Expressed simply, it’s the process of crafting individualized messages and content to smaller segments of your audience. First, identify those subgroups, and get clarity on their priorities and motivations. Then hone your message accordingly, based on the segment’s past giving levels, financial status, age and other data points that are most relevant to your nonprofit’s goals. As a rule, the more personal your communications, the more effective your appeals will be.
As an example, let’s look at my former employer, Disney. They do this really well. Disney still uses mass media, like TV and radio, but they don’t create one commercial to advertise the latest Pixar film. Instead, they create separate ads to appeal to different people within the same family. The ad for moms might focus on the family aspect of the film; the ad for Dads could highlight the adult humor. The younger kids’ ads might hit on the adventure or slapstick humor.
Examples of Personalized Marketing for Nonprofits
To personalize your outreach, analyze your contact list and uncover strategies that make sense for your organization. Here are a few ways to segment:
- By prior giving patterns. If some donors tend to give on Giving Tuesday, for instance, reach out with an email thanking them for their Giving Tuesday donation and invite them to participate in similar promotions at other times of the year. Maybe other donors have lapsed in their giving. If so, send them a message thanking them for their previous support; update them on what you’ve accomplished; and ask them to come back. If you have a matching gift opportunity, that could provide a nice incentive.
- By life events. Do you track birthdays? If so, at the right time, send emails inviting donors to encourage friends to donate to your organization in their honor. Are some donors generous at the end of the year for tax reasons? Send a note to get on their radar during that time.
- By motivation. Periodically update your most passionate supporters about how their donations are making an impact. Acknowledge their contributions and interests to encourage more participation. (Real-time text messages with photos can be quite effective in this kind of outreach.)
Other Tips and Tools
- Create a seamless experience. When personalizing emails for a campaign, link to a landing page on your website with similar language and look.
- Survey your donors. For example, ask them why they got involved, how they rate aspects of your organization or program. How do they like to get updates, and what they think about your current newsletters, emails or social media. Use this data to create targeted outreach.
- Use instant communications, when appropriate. Many people respond more to automated texts and Facebook Messenger, for example. In fact, according to Network for Good, text messages are opened 99 percent of the time within three hours.
- Automate to simplify. Review this compilation of 35 marketing automation tools for ideas to help you be more efficient.
Personalized outreach requires research, data analysis and diligence. But if you invest resources into more strategic and targeted marketing messages and methods, you can enjoy increased donor engagement and support.
Leeann Alameda has more than 20 years of experience in directing and implementing best practices in marketing, branding, communications and advertising in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She is the founder and principal consultant of Alameda Marketing Solutions, which provides marketing strategy and branding services for nonprofits, foundations and mission-driven businesses.