Marketing Automation: It’s Not Going Away
Last week, this piece on marketing automation ran in the Huffington Post, pushing nonprofits to invest in marketing automation. I am here to beat the drum again, as it may be one of our most important conversations.
Whether you recognize it or not, you are the target of marketing automation deployed by many organizations, including my own. Here are some examples to show how it works:
Example 1: Instead of loading a list into an email campaigner, you load a list into a CRM. The email campaign deploys off what fields are marked in the CRM. Your campaign can be built with triggers and filters to send very specialized campaigns.
Example 2: For those of you who use online fundraising platforms, instead of just sending the bounce back “thank you” email for donating or registering for an event, imagine being able to automatically tailor that bounce back email based on whether your target was a major giver, had never donated before or was registered for a special event for the first time.
Example 3: Imagine someone hits your website, and that person is unknown to you. They are organically hitting your site because they have a pre-existing interest. They hit your site three or four times, nibbling information about you. Imagine that, eventually, they fill out a form. Your platform automatically reverse populates their activity and elevates their lead status to inform you that you have a very interested party who just filled out a form, as opposed to someone who hit the site once and filled out the form. When you go check out the very interested party, you can see which pages they were checking out, which helps you know what to say when you call them up.
While automated marketing is relatively new to nonprofits, its use has proven to be for for-profits in the last 15 years. And as successful as the technology has proven to be for profits, there is reason to believe it can be even more powerful when used to raise funds. The statistics around this sort of automation are staggering. Personalized one-to-one emails based on real-time behavioral data have shown to increase open rates by 50 percent and conversion rates by 350 percent, and nurturing relationships with leads who aren’t ready to “buy” can result in 50 percent more leads at a 33 percent lower cost.
My nonprofit clients struggle more with bandwidth than anything else. Marketing automation helps fix that problem. Although more effort to set up and integrate with existing technology, marketing automation impacts the bandwidth issue in a big way, because you can truly “set it and forget it”—at least until it’s time to update the pattern. Bandwidth release plus better effectiveness equals more revenue and mission advancement.
In the past year, Turnkey has invested in becoming an automated marketing agency, which can affordably provide these tools to our clients. Our goal is to move every single client onto a marketing automation platform, even if we have to do it “a la carte” on singular campaigns as opposed to using an integration system. The benefits are too impressive for our industry to ignore and for my company to ignore. As a business mentor of mine used to say, “Don’t be the employee who sits in the corner office, refusing to try that new email thing.”
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.