Janet Snedden, from communications agency Amaze One, discusses the importance of data in charities’ CRM campaigns, especially when it comes to content and email marketing.
Doing good is at the very core of charities’ work. Whether they’re providing urgent help, raising awareness or supporting those with longer term needs, the 160,000 charities registered in the UK are 160,000 points of hope, compassion, opportunity and practical help.
But there’s a problem. Because when you have 160,000 charities jostling for attention, they’re all in danger of crowding each other out, each trying to raise awareness and support from the same limited pool of donors who sympathise or identify with their cause.
Previously, charities depended on direct mail or TV advertising to raise funds, but these channels have become extremely costly for charities to use effectively. As a result, there has been a growing movement to use data to target the most sympathetic donors through targeted CRM campaigns.
It’s a strategy that dovetails neatly with email marketing, providing a far greater level of scalability and effectiveness than isolated direct mail or TV advertising.
In this piece, we will discuss how, when used in combination with direct mail, email CRM campaigns can provide a far greater return on investment when used in creative and meaningful ways. We will highlight how best practice can be applied in this field, and explore how blending data and creativity can capture the imagination of the public and increase a charity’s donor base.
Protecting the core
We know that nine per cent of all donors make 66 per cent of all donations. Without data, however, you can’t know who those nine per cent are. But when you use the data you hold to identify your most valuable supporters, you can target communications more effectively.
Data is what enables your campaigns to reach the people most likely to listen. It helps achieve greatest value from your core support. Yet any charity that wants to grow needs to do more than keep the donors it has. Here too, data can help.
We know that even the most committed supporters may not read everything you send them. So how do you get the attention of the people currently on the fringes – the ones who could become your loyal, engaged supporters of the future?
Your data can tell you who opens what. It can tell you when. It can tell you for how long. Carefully analysed data will show you the recipients who never read a word, but will click on a video link, and it will show you the people who will take the time to digest a story.
Once you know how your supporters like to consume the information you send, you can tailor content to them. By segmenting your communications between, for example, the video watchers, the story readers and the bitesize snippet consumers, you create a greater likelihood of that content reaching a sympathetic eye.
It is this personalisation that is at the heart of CRM. By using your data to inform how you build each customer relationship, you make every one more productive.
Yet in order to shift the recipient from casually interested to loyal, you’ll need to ensure that the content you’re tailoring is doing its job.
Pride not guilt
Traditionally, the language of the charity campaign has focused on problems. The emotional buttons pushed have tended towards guilt or empathy. But new research suggests the effect of this is to place distance between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Putting dependence at the heart of the relationship is not the best way to encourage life-long commitment.
Engaged donors want to feel pride and empowerment. They want communications that show progress being made, communications that directly equate personal contribution with end result – so charity is no longer a distant activity happening on supporters’ behalf; it’s real and personal and happening as a direct consequence of donor action.
A new dialogue
The key to more successful direct mail campaigns is not to shout louder or to blindly target a bigger list. The key is to use that list more intelligently – to understand what it’s telling you about the content that works for your supporters and potential supporters.
Then, by giving them more of what they want using the language engaged supporters value, you create a broader, loyal donor base.
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