Tag Archives: direct marketing

How Do You Make a Onetime Donor a Longtime Donor?

In my June 20th post, Should You Rely on Design to Boost Your Direct Mail Response Rates?, I wrote about the factors contributing to the success of a direct marketing piece and how getting the ratio right––or wrong––can dramatically affect the outcome of your mailing. Related to this, Christine Birkner’s article “Give—and Give Again” in Marketing News magazine outlines essential strategies for cultivating repeat donors. It’s great advice that I’m certain to add to my toolbox of marketing techniques for clients.

Birkner details five key components to getting that donor you love to keep sending you the money you need. Her first point is to stop thinking of donations as onetime transactions and, instead, to think of donating as something that occurs in cycles. Through my own experience, I suggest talking to donors as “partners” in whatever goal you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re a recipient of President Obama’s constant stream of fundraising emails, you’ll know that he and his team are very anxious to make you see that nothing’s over until it’s over. This is the same principle.

Next, Birkner writes that your organization should sell its story. In advertising, we often talk about keeping the message consistent in the various channels you use to communicate (as challenging as that may be). This idea is important to remember when you solicit potential donors. Be sure to talk about who you are, what you do, and why it’s beneficial. If your story departs from the original message, you dilute your objectives and confuse the reader.

Birkner’s next point is that you should break with the status quo. I agree and suggest that you don’t do what’s been done before just because it’s been done. If Steve Jobs and Apple hadn’t chosen to break with conformity and innovate, who knows where they’d be today? Take a chance. Push the envelope and track your risks. Test, and then test again. You’ll never know how effective a change was if you don’t record the results.

I believe strongly in the importance Birkner’s fourth point: Express your gratitude. Your donors need to feel appreciated. They should be recognized and praised, and it should happen quickly. Use other channels, too, if you can. Consider using social media or a telephone call just to thank them. Then, follow up with a second thank-you and encourage a second gift. According to a source in the article, “If you can get somebody to give a second gift within the first three months, their retention rate skyrockets.” It’s important to get the feeling of a conversation going as soon as possible.

Finally, tell donors what’s working. I know I’m often guilty of spending too much time thinking about what goals our clients have and making sure prospective donors know what they’re donating for. I sometimes fail to tell these same clients, however, that they should be giving progress updates to donors who may be wondering, So your theater is raising money to get better makeup and costume design tools, and I just donated $50––what have you done with my money?

A situation like this is the perfect opportunity to bring donors into the story. Tell them how you were able to buy some great stage makeup for Audrey in this year’s performance of Little Shop of Horrors. Or how the bellhop’s costume in Grand Hotel had the audience roaring in laughter. These little peeks at the specific improvements made possible by their donation dollars are the perfect way to demonstrate return on investment.

When 40% of your direct marketing campaign is supposed to be a great offer and you’re working with nonprofits, it can be a tricky sell when the benefit to the donor is simply a feel-good high. Applying these principles may be the thing you need to keep that onetime donor donating.

Author: Eric Swenson


Should You Rely on Design to Boost Your Direct Mail Response Rates?

I love a good challenge. A client of mine came to me the other day with a good one. He, an employee of a NY-based university, said that the school was about to begin soliciting alumni for donations. The school had done this twice before but had less-than-impressive results. Could I help him?

I really appreciate when clients think like this. So much of agency marketing work relies on coming up with smart ways of executing communication solutions. This, however, was a situation where we got to be a part of the process—where we were able to help find the solution, not just execute it.

In direct mail, there’s a concept known as the 40-40-20 rule. That is, 40 percent of direct mail success depends on a well-planned mailing list, 40 percent on a compelling offer, and 20 percent on creative work. Unfortunately, I’d say most direct mail actually operates more at 15-15-30. (And yes, I know that math isn’t right.)

Before I continue, let me say now that we really love this client. This has nothing to do with marketing naïveté (well, maybe some) or competence levels. These are smart people who have only just begun this process––they’re just not sure of the best way to approach this. And that’s where we come in.

We told them to look closely at their audience: Who are these people? When did they graduate? Where do they live now? Have you heard from them since? By segmenting their list into manageable demographics and psychographics, they can better target their potential customers. People are not interchangeable, and they shouldn’t be treated that way.

Next, consider the offer. What would it take for you to open a #9 envelope? What would make you take action? If you hadn’t heard from your alma mater in 20 years and suddenly it began asking you for money, how would you feel? And thus, what incentive would it have to offer in order for you to contribute your hard-earned dollars?

If you’re looking to improve the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns, take a look at this ratio. Eighty percent of it has nothing to do with your creative. One shouldn’t, however, shortchange the creative. This final 20 percent is crucial to conveying your message. It determines how that message is constructed and how effective it is at grabbing one’s attention. Don’t saturate, clutter, or distract the viewer in any way. Humans have the attention span of a fish, it seems. Keep their eyes on the prize.

Author: Eric Swenson

How effective are your Call to Actions?

With any advertising materials, getting prospective customers to act now is a must. Call-to-actions are essential and should never be neglected. As the name entails, a call-to-action is a button or a link that directs visitors to take some sort of  action: download something, make a purchase, read an article, sign up for an email notification, etc. Color, language, size, font, web placements of CTA’s should be well thought out. A good CTA should be outstanding and let the user know what’s going to happen next. People like being led to a next step. They like easy and convenient, and CTA’s give them the chance for stress-free web navigation.

Magdalena Georgieva offers 10 best practices to optimize the language of CTA’s:

  • Convey Value
  • Create Urgency
  • Make it Personal
  • Include Testimonials
  • Include Numbers
  • Turn it Into a Bonus
  • Make it Newsworthy
  • Be Confident in Your Language
  • Ask Questions
  • Be Subtle

To read  more, click here!

How successful have your CTA’s been?

Author: Marina Kaljaj