Picture this: you walk into a conference, coffee in hand, join a friendly-looking group of people and one turns to you and asks: “Hey, have you heard of that <insert latest trend here> online? Your charity needs to get on top of that! Otherwise, you’ll really be missing out.” Your brow might furrow and jaw might drop a little as this stranger gives you a look of disbelief because you don’t know what to say. The thing is you’re not alone.
The “trend conversation” is unforgiving. It will follow you around until you eventually relent, especially if you are like me and your life’s work is digital, where new ideas are constantly popping up and gaining ground.
I usually find myself in one of two camps: catching up or innovating. Trends are actually at the heart of both. What is hot right now? What will be hot tomorrow? And how can we make the most money?
If you’re a charity that operates even to the smallest degree in the online space, one of your greatest challenges right now is relevance. And at some point you’ll be tempted, or pressured, to jump on that trend-laden bandwagon and your reactive approach will most likely fail.
As you are thinking about how to tackle your 2015 marketing and fundraising initiatives, consider these 3 digital must-dos that have evolved from trend status to strategic staples.
1. Experience mapping
This can describe a user’s experience inside one contained environment (e.g. your website) or the broader journey a user takes in all online and offline interactions with your organization.
What is the online journey you plan to take your donor on? Have you charted the course from Point A (e.g. ad or email) to Point B (donation form) to Point C (thank you email) to Point D (quarterly eNewsletter) to Point E (monthly donation appeal)?
Planning each of these touch points in advance but also simultaneously forces you to think about the purpose each serves, how they interact and intersect with one another, and how you can improve your donor’s overall experience. It is an iterative process. You must create and define it today. But be prepared to refine it not only tomorrow but on an ongoing basis.
2. Personalized content
A critical part of the experience is how you make someone feel while they're in it. Do you talk to them like human beings or computer-generated robots? Do you know what they like? What they respond to?
Have you given them a customized end-to-end experience, in look, feel, and tone? And across all channels? It’s not just about using their name in your copy, though that is a good start! It’s about making them a part of your world, because, truth is, they are critical to your world even existing. Your goal is to get to a level of personalization that feels natural and immersive.
Part of this is testing (e.g. creative or form layout or even the ask). And the other part is the story you’ve decided to tell. And how that story is manifested from Point A to Point E and designed to connect with the person experiencing it.
3. Responsive, responsive, responsive!
Everyone’s shouting it and we’re not going to stop! That’s how important it is. It can’t be ignored any longer – how your experience translates to a tablet or mobile device will make or break your relationship with your users (read: donors). Don’t risk losing their interest, time or money because your email won’t load on their phone or your website is too big and clunky on their tablet! To learn more about being responsive to your users, read this.
The case for acting more strategically with your digital communications is clear and also lies within the numbers. If the above isn’t enough to get your team jazzed perhaps these statistics will help get them onside.
Being more strategic and implementing these three digital staples will cost money and it will take time. But if you are nodding your head as you read this and are ready to take action in 2015 you will save yourself a lot of distress next year because you took a strategic approach to your digital marketing. Doing so will also ensure that you are better able to respond to the “trend conversation” the next time it comes up over coffee in the boardroom.
Simren Deogun is a marketing professional whose depth of experience comes from working both client- and agency-side planning, implementing and overseeing the execution of marketing initiatives. From email marketing and website design to social media and advertising campaigns, Simren provides expert guidance from concept to implementation. For more information, email her, follow her @SimrenDeogun,or www.stephenthomas.ca