The Impact of Performance Media on Fundraising
Nonprofit organizations are spending more money in digital than ever before, whether to raise money from individual donors, recruit special event participants, increase brand awareness or support mission programs and services. The industry is so eager to crown digital as a catalyst for its success that marketers often turn a blind eye to the impact digital media can have on outcomes. It’s imperative that they understand the “truth” behind the business of digital marketing in fundraising.
The reality is that, as more and more investment is poured into digital, each incremental dollar spent becomes less efficient. Nonprofits often lack the resources and insights necessary to make informed decisions about the effective use of digital marketing across the enterprise. The lack of an integrated digital strategy, a siloed approach to digital marketing and an absence of a unified playbook often cause marketing and development departments to compete on priorities, objectives, budgets and performance metrics.
This fragmentated approach raises an important question for nonprofit marketing executives: How do you capitalize on your digital investments to gain greater and more efficient revenue performance, and deliver an enhanced, personalized experience to new and existing constituents?
You can start by leveraging best practices from the commercial sector to optimize your digital media investments, while significantly reducing media waste.
Invest in Always-on Digital Media to Gain Competitive Advantage
In today’s omni-channel world, constituents are making in-the-moment giving decisions seamlessly across online and offline channels. As Kantar Media reports, more than half of the digital media investments made by leading nonprofits are in display media, and a quarter of them are in mobile web. While the strongest digital media investments are in Q4 as expected, leading nonprofits take an “always-on” approach all year round to raise brand awareness and stay top of mind for constituents in the moments that matter (e.g. when constituents are actively researching or looking for them).
Adopt a Mobile-First Mindset
In this age of mobile, constituents are on the go and constantly reaching for their mobile devices to research and engage with the companies that interest them. This includes nonprofit organizations. It comes as no surprise that more than half the traffic to nonprofit sites—specifically, 65 percent—is driven by mobile devices.
Clearly, mobile plays a big role in a constituent’s path to engagement and giving. This raises important questions for nonprofit marketers on how you should approach your mobile-first strategy.
Are you adjusting your marketing and fundraising strategy to succeed in this world of mobile? Are you prioritizing and optimizing content for mobile pages? Do you have an understanding of a website visitor’s path to engagement and giving across devices and channels? Are you leveraging these insights to provide an integrated, seamless cross-device constituent experience?
Develop a Robust Content and SEO Strategy
Most nonprofits today are creating content to entice constituents to their website to drive awareness and support of their mission. However, relatively few nonprofits have seen success in driving strong volume and growth in organic traffic.
For leading nonprofits, though, more than 80 percent traffic is coming from organic search. How are they able to drive huge volumes of organic traffic to their website? It starts with recognizing the importance of a content strategy and pairing it with SEO to drive strong, sustainable growth in organic traffic. This begs the question: As a nonprofit marketing leader, are you investing adequately in a strong SEO program to develop new content for your website?
Leverage Social Media as a Key Part of Your Strategy
Peer-to-peer giving through Facebook Fundraisers has had significant impact in driving up revenue for nonprofits this past year. The impact was especially higher for nonprofits with strong brand names. These nonprofits have invested time and effort over the years in raising brand awareness, developing an advocacy base with loyal brand ambassadors and amplifying their social presence by sharing one to five posts a day with content that drives strong engagement.
What does this mean for nonprofit marketers? Setting up Facebook Fundraisers may not yield strong outcomes if you are not already top of mind for donors. To succeed with the Facebook Fundraising platform, it is important to build a strong brand name and grow your social presence. Invest in a social media strategy that is centered around building your fan base by creating content that drives and amplifies social engagement and eventually long-term value.
Performance media is the future of charitable marketing. It’s time to demand much greater insight and accountability from your digital marketing teams—internal and external. Until now, the industry has not held digital media to the same performance standards and metrics as other forms of fundraising, such as direct mail. But it should. As budgets grow and dollars are reallocated to increased digital spending, it’s imperative that the fundraising industry understands the power and pitfalls of digital marketing and that informed decisions are made based on data and insights.
Greg Fox is vice president of nonprofit vertical strategy at Merkle. He joined the company in 2000 to establish a data-driven, strategic fundraising agency group. Fox is a 30-year veteran of direct response fundraising, with expertise in developing innovative fundraising marketing strategies and solutions. He has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for many of the largest and most respected fundraising brands in America, and while he has broad-based fundraising experience, he is highly regarded as a leader in the national health-charity sector. Prior to joining Merkle, Fox was a founding partner in TheraCom, a leading provider of full-service specialty pharmacy solutions and marketing strategies that served the healthcare and charitable industries. He also served as vice president of direct response fundraising at the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where he started his career and created the organization’s first national direct response program. Fox is an industry thought-leader, frequent speaker at industry conferences and an active participant in the DMA nonprofit federation. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.
Sudeshna Sen is the Nonprofit Vertical Lead for Analytics at Merkle. She brings 12+ years of experience in nonprofit marketing, analytics and strategy; leveraging predictive and advanced analytics to build strong donor pipelines, drive growth in revenue, and maximize donor value for some of the world’s largest fundraising organizations. She also seeks to deepen understanding of constituents through research and analysis, and leverage these insights to drive stronger constituent engagement and transform their experience.
Prior to joining Merkle, Sudeshna held a key leadership position at NuStats, a market research firm, heading its analytics practice and managing several strategic client engagements. She has a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, MS from University of Illinois at Chicago, and BS from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur.