Connecting with each of your donors on a deep level can be a challenge. Their motivations, their stage of life and their donor journey can all be quite unique, but it is critically important that you customize your outreach to them in a way that feels very personal. Donor development professionals know that the number one way to connect with donors is through a personal conversation, but how can you create that same level of interaction at scale? That’s where the connection between communications teams and donor management teams can help build a truly special bridge to donors. Marketing automation helps overworked donor and communications teams take a quantum leap forward in their fundraising results.
What is Marketing Automation?
The term marketing automation gets bandied about a fair bit in business circles, but what does it really mean for a nonprofit? Marketing at scale should be personalized, targeted and relevant — three items that can easily go wrong in any marketing automation (MA) platform. With only a limited number of staff and an ongoing crunch on available funds, these technology tools support digital moves management and allow you to quickly and easily automate repetitive tasks such as posting to various social media channels, sending strings of emails to interested parties and gathering information. Context is one of the more integral parts of your marketing mix, as it means you’re sending the right information to the right donor at the right time to encourage them to take an action.
Introducing Marketing Automation to Your Teams
Your donors are eager to learn more about your organization, but perhaps they don’t know where to start. When you create a downloadable PDF or online video meant to educate donors, this is a great time to introduce marketing automation into your workflow. Instead of attempting to individually follow up with each new donor to be sure they received all of the information they requested, MA tools can provide contextually relevant next steps to each donor. Some of the ways you can use marketing automation tools to put portions of your donor communication on autopilot include:
- Sending a personalized ‘Thank You’ emails each time you receive a donation
- Follow up with donors who have been inactive for a set period of time
- Provide a steady stream of relevant content to onboard new donors and educate them about the good that your organization is doing
- Segment high-potential donors and offer them a different message in monthly newsletters or via pop-ups on your website
- Micro-target specific donor segments and track their passage from initial donation all the way through their donor journey to advocate for your cause
These are only a few of the ways that you can leverage a marketing automation platform for your business. Next, let’s see how these advanced platforms can be used to provide true business value back to your nonprofit.
Benefits of Marketing Automation for Nonprofits
Marketing automation tools excel at pulling together disparate data sources so you see a fuller picture of your marketing activity. This actionable data may give you the real-time insight that you need to determine which campaigns are successful — and which should be discontinued or changed dramatically. The ability to make decisions based on your data alone may pay for the software in cost-savings from ending underperforming campaigns. Marketing automation offers organizations a way to build in-depth profiles of their website visitors, providing donor development teams with valuable insight that can inform the timing of personal calls and other outreach activities. Additional benefits include:
- Capturing valuable visitor-specific website data, something that’s not available when you simply send out newsletters with Constant Contact or MailChimp
- The ability to capture names of donors on your website or via live events with a convenient registration page
- Website visitor tracking, allowing you to target specific messages to individuals who have visited particular pages on your website
- Assigning scoring to prospects for each website page they visit based on the value of the page to the donor development team
- Alerting the donor development team based on actions taken by prospects on the your website
- Ongoing communication via email, website popups and SMS text messages
- A common set of data that is used across the organization for both communications and donor relations
- The ability for donor managers to easily view the campaigns a particular donor has received, which can be helpful during in-person or phone conversations
- Retargeting advertising across the web by pinpointing which part of your message is resonating most strongly with individual donors
The Power of Data
The amount of data that is generated by a marketing automation platform presents a world of opportunities for a savvy donor development team, especially when they partner with a communications or marketing strategist to help funnel and define next-step actions based on data. From email open,click rates and website visits to numbers of completed website downloads or unsubmitted forms, these valuable metrics are not created equal and should be managed in a manner that will help move donors further along their journey to becoming a passionate supporter. t is essential to find the individual data points that show your donors are becoming more engaged with your cause. One way to do this is through creating donor profiles, or personas, and using those to track the behaviors of your most lucrative donors. The findings may be fascinating, as you could discover that one particular piece of content was viewed directly before a donation action was taken. These hidden gems of information can take time and effort to tease out of your metrics, but they can certainly be worth the investment. Collaboration and a shared workflow between donor management and communications professionals allow both teams to gain a deeper understanding of the content pieces that are working and how best to leverage them at scale.
Communicating to Convert
In a perfect world, donor development professionals would have plenty of time to keep attracting new prospects into the beginning of your digital moves management cycle. While your personal time may be limited, marketing automation provides a way to keep your marketing machine running 24/7/365 to solve the problem. The goal is not to find more hours in your day in which to contact donors; instead, it’s to find the technology tools that will truly cause a paradigm shift and allow you to work smarter…not harder.
The for-profit world leads the way in innovation while the nonprofit sector has often been slower to adapt and to change. Nonprofits were slow to embrace the benefits of social media, slow to blog and even slow to accept online donations — but these technology tools are now simply the way that we do business on a daily basis. Marketing automation has been embraced by the business community as they see the benefits of personalizing their relationships at scale. It’s no longer a matter of whether your nonprofit should jump in, but when.
Change isn’t easy, so if you’re struggling to make sense of all this, we’re here to help. You can post a question on this blog or set up a time to discuss your new direction.