Not Enough New Donors? Maybe It’s Because You Need 10 Touches and More ‘Story’
There's been a lot of data through the years that talks about how long it takes for someone to really make a decision and how many impressions it takes before someone remembers an ad, etc. Trip Kucera, senior research analyst at the Aberdeen Group, where he leads the Marketing Effectiveness & Strategy practice, has taken this a step further and documented the number.
This is an excerpt from an article I read recently: "… we must rethink the role of marketing in the buyer's journey (as many are). Aberdeen's 2012 'Marketing Lead Management: From the Top of the Funnel to the Top Line' report noted that, on average, prospects receive 10 marketing touches through the course of a successful buyer's journey (one that ends in 'closed-won'). This means that the part of the mission that used to belong almost exclusively to sales is now shared between marketing and sales, with more and more of the responsibility shifted to marketing. That mission is to shape the buyer's vision."
This is not the first time we've heard about the buyer's journey and certainly not a new idea to actually apply this to the nonprofit donor giving journey. However, I bet it would be difficult to find a nonprofit that has any data that literally tracks an acquisition list over 10 touches by constituent to see if there is some truth about the number of touches it takes to actually move someone to a "give" step. Granted, because many nonprofits continue to actually mail the same lists over and over to acquire new donors, it might be difficult to pinpoint a "starting" point for the journey of shaping the future donor's vision.
But it could be done on the back end, right? I think?? (This is when the data scientists in my team want to kick me under the table.) Couldn't we look backward? Couldn't we take a group of people who donated to a specific acquisition appeal in 2013 (and were not lapsed donors) and then determine how many times they received an acquisition promotion over the prior years?
Right about now this analysis might fall into the "nice to have" but "juice may not be worth the squeeze" category. But if we don't want to prove this through a data project, then we either must dismiss it or accept it. I am not comfortable dismissing it because I have heard and seen enough study data to say that there must be some truth to it.
So, if we believe there is truth to this, then as marketers and fundraisers we better make sure our "content" is actually working to raise awareness and, perhaps most importantly, build upon the prior communication.
This is where I get concerned. Most nonprofits have one acquisition control. In other words, even if someone got three acquisition appeals per year for three years in a row — but they all say the same thing — is that really "shaping the future donor's vision"? Shouldn't we be building a story? Shouldn't we be building our credibility, the sense of need, the urgency of our missions along the way versus just communicating the same thing over and over? My gut tells me that repetition is not what we really want to be doing as we try to acquire new donors into our organizations and missions.
Kucera references in some of his work that shaping vision is a process. In the sales cycle, he refers to the role of content marketing. "This is largely what content marketing is all about — vision shaping through information. It's for this reason that I call content marketing 'the alchemy of intent.' A big part of vision shaping is framing the challenge or even identifying a challenge the prospect didn't know they had, a 'latent need' in the vernacular. Content marketing is about using various media to turn both latent and blatant need into an intent to buy, transforming it into a sellable need."
For us as nonprofits, how we apply this is the process of educating prospective donors about something that perhaps they didn't even know was a true need in our world. In my opinion, we are not doing enough. We must continue to transform that initial education (i.e., the first touch) into deeper awareness and even work at making a connection to that prospect's personal life space. We constantly talk about motivating people to give to our causes, but are we really building that motivation along the way as we try to acquire new donors?
Next steps for all of us:
- Think through this.
- Get out all your prospecting communications (across your multiple channels) and determine if you are "building and shaping" the vision of your organization and a prospect's critical role — or are you just "repeating" the same thing over and over?
- Remember the famous quote about how doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.