- Mon, August 15 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
If there’s one thing we’ve heard more than any other this year, it’s that we need to be “multi-channel” and “integrated” in our engagement with supporters.
The last time I wrote those words on this blog, I got several emails complaining I’d lost my touch and gone all jargony. So I’ll try to address this important topic without sounding like a wonky fundraiser.
“Multi-channel” simply means we build our relationships with our communities through more than one means (like direct mail PLUS online outreach). “Integrated” means we fit those different means together in a coordinated way, with the focus always on our supporter rather than our own internal, sometimes independently operating siloes. These approaches recognize our donors might respond to direct mail one week and email another. Or they like to have one follow up on the other.
It makes sense when you think about it in terms of yourself as a consumer. You’re not a “direct mail consumer” or an “online consumer.” You use all channels interchangeably. You might see a cute pink polka dot sweater in a catalog in the mail, then go online to buy it. Or you might call the 800 number to chat with someone about what size is right for you. Or you might buy it in the store and then go online to rate it because you thought it got threadbare too fast. If you behave like this as a consumer, you are “multi-channel.”
Imagine if the company you bought from wasn’t “multi-channel” or “integrated.” If the only way you could order that sweater or anything else was through a mailed catalog. The catalog gave no website, and it wasn’t clear you could shop online. You might not buy. But you also might not buy if you only got an email and never saw the catalog.
All of this holds true with donors—they behave the same. So we need to get ourselves organized to better serve them. That’s what all the fuss is about.
And that’s why I keep talking about it.
Now there is more fodder for this topic. Convio and Edge Research have a new study out (available for free here) based on surveys from 123 nonprofit practitioners and 15 in-depth interviews. The study sample was a bunch of believers in “multi-channel,” “integrated” marketing. So if you, like I, believe that’s a worthy idea, you might be interested in their responses.
Today, I’m going to talk about what good nonprofit marketing looks like, according to the study. Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the additional findings.
Here are the seven signs you’re doing things right:
1. Your supporter is at the center. You organize your channels around them, you’re organized to ensure they reinforce each other, and you shape your outreach according to how that person is behaving.
2. You engage your supporter how and when they want. Your campaigns draw on the full range of ways the supporter might want to be engaged: direct mail, phone, TV, email, social media, texting, etc.
3. You are consistent in what you’re saying across channels. Your messages make sense together - and they reinforce each other across channels.
4. You have figured out how to sequence your outreach within and among channels. Here’s an example from the study: For a renewal, what is the right sequence of messages and channel touches for a given audience segment? Once a response is received does the message stream end or alter? Is a new message stream applied?”
5. You measure how all this works. You don’t just look at how much money you’re raising - you compare how much each channel generates—and costs.
6. You’re really good at looking at all that data collectively to draw important insights into your community of supporters.
7. Your organization works together in a friendly, seamless manner - free of siloes—to make all this happen.
So that’s what to strive for.
Does it seem impossible? Don’t despair! Nearly half of the respondents admitted they are not really doing integrated, multi-channel marketing yet. So if you’re not either, you’re in good company!