Tag: multi-channel

LIstening pooch

Houston, we have a tweet.

There’s a good chance that some of your supporters are actively talking about your campaigns on social media. Some of them probably have a pretty sizable following.

The question is: Are you listening to them?

Social listening is a relatively new marketing tactic, especially for nonprofits. Looking at the big picture, it was only 2012 when Dell launched their first social media control room, which took 70 staff to monitor conversations! At the time, the ability to respond to the latest news and trends on social that were relevant to their audience was totally remarkable. Today, it’s not only expected, but essential to push campaigns forward.

For nonprofits, what is exciting about advances in social listening is how affordable it has become to process data. Organizations can now use a proven strategy once reserved for the largest commercial brands at a price that leaves plenty of budget for the great work they do.

Social Media Listening Defined

Social listening is the process of monitoring digital media channels to understand the conversations around relevant topics so you can better engage those people driving the discussion.

In other words, it allows you to track relevant search terms on your people, so when they say “I love your campaign!” you say “We love your support, and here’s how you can help today.”

As communicators, it’s critical that we understand how, and if, our base is talking about our key issues and hashtags. It’s not only interesting to see the nature of the conversation, but it informs our content strategy and offers powerful opportunities to reply in real time through personalized, multi-channel engagement.

By listening to what a supporter, donor, or partner is saying on social media, your organization can understand which issues resonate and why. You can literally see how people are talking about your work!

Social Listening Increases Engagement Through Personalization

When we talk about personalization in the context of engagement, it’s about knowing your audience better so they can be sent the most relevant content when it’s top of mind. Modern personalization combines social media insights, social listening, and information you already have in your CRM to allow for precise segmentation that delivers the right messages on the right channels.

Here’s how social listening drives conversions:

Using a powerful combination of social listening and marketing automation, American Rivers had a staggering 24% petition completion rate for a recent campaign. Each time a supporter mentioned “Grand Canyon” on Twitter or Facebook, that person was placed into a segmented email group and received an automated email asking them to sign their petition within 24 hours of the mention.

By sending automated emails when our supporters mentioned “Grand Canyon,” American Rivers gained 2,500 new petition signers with an impressive 24% petition signature conversion rate.

Given that M+R’s 2015 Benchmarks Report found that the average advocacy email response rate to be 2.9%, this is a pretty impressive response!

Your People Are Talking About Your Campaigns

A few days after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker nonprofit organization which promotes an end to discrimination, noticed a significant shift in focus on social media to the hashtag #Ferguson.

They could quickly see that terms such as “police” started trending, not just nationally, but in their own database. In order to see which supporters were talking about Ferguson, AFSC created a saved search to see exactly who was talking about Ferguson on Facebook and Twitter. They then invited those supporters to a Google Hangout to hear AFSC’s response to the events as they unfolded.

The result was a record high Google Hangout turnout and 74 donations.

More importantly, AFSC seized the opportunity to talk about solutions around discrimination as the Movement for Black Lives gained momentum.

The takeaway from AFSC and American Rivers is that timing is everything—if there is a swell in the conversations about the work you do, seize the moment and send out an action alert or donation appeal while the issue is top of mind, not in next month’s newsletter.

Engage Your “Everyday” Influencers

Sample tweet: "10 great American hikes for beginners."

Perhaps one of the most practical uses of social listening is to find your “everyday” influencers or ambassadors talking about your search terms on social media. For example, if you’re a wilderness protection organization, your key search terms may be “public lands,” “wilderness,” or “conservation.” The best terms give you the chance to reply with a call to action like a petition, donation, infographic, video, blog, etc.

Here we can see that Deanie has a moderate Klout score of 39, which means she’s active on social media and has around 500 followers. What’s important here is that she’s actively posting about wilderness issues on Twitter. That’s huge, and here’s why.

The majority of your social media influencers will fall into this category. They have moderate Klout scores (40-60) and up to a few thousand social connections. While they won’t have the reach of a super VIP influencer, when combined in a group, they can extend your network reach by thousands. This is particularly true if their followers are frequently engaging with their content.

We recommend using social listening on your current email list (or CRM), since you’ve already recruited these folks to your cause. These are folks that would be the most thrilled if you asked them share your content to their networks on a regular basis (think Brand Ambassadors). According to Ogilvy, 36% of people globally share content to promote a cause, including influencers, so the chances of them sharing a personalized appeal are pretty good.

Respond to Trending Hashtags With Social Listening

hashtag stats

Often you may suspect a hashtag is trending with your base but can’t back it up with real data. Social listening is like running a daily poll on your supporters so you have a real-time pulse of your people.

The screenshot above came from a small wilderness protection group, where #cop21 was mentioned 601 times by their supporters in one day. Even though they don’t have a formal climate program, the continued protection of wilderness is obviously critical for climate change and was a great indicator that this is important to people on their email list. As long as you can make a reasonable connection, think about using trending hashtags in the same way organizations with “official programs” do, like the World Wildlife Fund below.

Ride The Wave: Create a trending hashtag meme

WWF hashtag meme example

Timing is of the essence, since many terms are only hot for a few days or weeks. If the term is trending in your CRM—which a tool like Attentive.ly will show you—it means it’s time to engage everyone who used the term, especially your influencers.

Ask Your Influencers to Share Content

Nonprofits have an enormous opportunity to recruit passionate followers online who will extend the reach of content and help secure future supporters. The idea here is to tap into other people’s networks who will share your content to their own followers. It’s one of the smartest ways to grow your base and move the needle on engagement.

Once you’ve identified your influencers, sort by Klout score and your trending hashtag. Social listening allows you to evaluate what your top influencers are talking about on social media so you aren’t pitching them out of the blue. Read our How to Approach Your Social Media Influencers for more tips.

Social Listening at NTC—Be there!

Join our panel at the NTC and hear from American Friends Service Committee, ONE Campaign, and Attentive.ly. Check out our workshop session here.


Note: This article was originally published in Fundraising Success on October 24, 2014. It is reused here with permission.

For this month’s Connect theme, a number of speakers are previewing the great breakout sessions they are preparing for the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin, TX March 4-6. Following is a preview of one of over 100 breakout sessions.

The growth of the Internet and the expansion of digital communications give nonprofits new ways to reach their donors and supporters. While the old techniques — direct mail and telemarketing — still work and generate many responses, they alone are no longer the “gold standard” in fundraising. Savvy nonprofits are moving to “surround sound” fundraising.

What is surround sound fundraising? It is a donor-centric communication schema that places your supporter at the center of the fundraising campaign and incorporates his or her unique perspective. It is a multi-touch, multi-phase effort that employs multimedia techniques on multiple devices — smartphones, tablets, newspapers, computers, radio, your mailbox, television advertising, and more). Surround sound fundraising recognizes that there is no such thing as a single-channel donor, because there is no such thing as a single-channel person. Supporters receive messaging via a variety of media every day, and among these many touch points, donors have preferred channels of communication.

Consider this startling projection: By 2015 (right now!) Americans will consume an average of 15.5 hours of media per day. Ninety percent of these interactions will be screen-based, most often involving the closest device. This statistic underscores the importance of digital-to-fundraising efforts and provides a key insight: Marketing campaigns must take into account donor preference. They, like all of us, are creatures of convenience. Interactions must be as easy as possible.

Like many nonprofits, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has seen vigorous growth in online fundraising over the past decade. But market saturation means that nonprofits must keep innovating, leading EDF to pursue a surround sound fundraising strategy.

Rather than being satisfied with having a presence in all channels, EDF now attracts and retains donors with messaging that makes the best use of each medium. “Since 2004, every organization has seen more revenue come in through online channels, but as the channels grew and matured, it naturally has become harder to maintain the same response rates,” says Sam Parry, EDF’s director of membership.

The surround sound mindset means EDF invests money in the channels and tactics that their donors prefer. In an effort to continuously add new donors to the file, EDF took the bold step of quadrupling its online prospecting budget while slashing direct mail acquisition investments nearly in half. And, while results from that first year were mixed, the successes they achieved enabled them to expand the overall acquisition budget and maintain the enlarged digital investment portfolio while restoring the direct mail budget more closely to where it had been in the past.

If EDF were still thinking in siloed terms, it might have quickly pulled the plug on the experiment. A look at the shift in long-term value convinced Parry and his team that the choice was correct. “We resisted the temptation to look at up-front performance, and the long-term value calculations showed that the donors were paying for themselves much more quickly,” he says. “And at this point we’re on track to recoup our investments in the three-year threshold across all channels, which is our goal.”

Join me in Austin at #15NTC to learn more about creating and measuring surround sound fundraising campaigns.

In this session, we’ll discuss:

  • Which media work for fundraising, and which are better for friend-raising
  • Direct mail, telemarketing, social media, online ads, email, and more
  • How to build a successful fundraising media plan, including the timing, the ask, and the creative
  • How to set up tracking so you can accurately assess the success of your surround sound campaign

You know that multichannel marketing maximizes both the messaging and the impact of fundraising campaigns. Every channel has pluses and minuses. Building a good surround sound campaign does not mean you have to use every channel. It simply means you have to select the best channels for the audience, the campaign, and the organization. When you move to multichannel marketing, you will find that, regardless of the channels selected, surround sound campaigns will boost not just campaign income but also your average gifts.

The channel combination selected often depends on your budget, bandwidth, and organizational preferences. Regardless of the media employed, the messaging across every channel must be coordinated and cohesive. Remember, you must surround your donors to keep your message top of mind. Traditional advertising reminds us that it can easily take seven to 12 touches before a message becomes memorable to potential customers or donors. And if you are not messaging them, I guarantee it, another nonprofit is.

It’s certainly true that multi-channel marketing has been around for as long as marketing has been around. Communicating with your audience via print media, radio, television, mail, phone, Internet and email is a regular part of most marketing plans. The challenge for fundraisers is to understand how best to use limited resources to make the most impact on your overall fundraising efforts. And with shrinking cost budgets and conflicting input from internal departments, the challenges can seem quite daunting indeed!

In fact, some of the most common things I hear from nonprofit direct marketers are “I just don’t know what will make the most impact for the least cost”, “We’ve tried multi-channel approaches but the cost isn’t easy to justify when the results are so minimal”, or even more bluntly, “Email fundraising doesn’t work well for us and our board hates telemarketing, what can I do?”.

If you, too, are still struggling to find the right method for integrating your fundraising, my advice is to keep it simple at first: take a common sense approach. What does that mean? Let’s say you are planning a non-fundraising event, like a reunion of a fairly large group of people. The last thing you’d want to do is just plan on sending one invitation and hoping everyone comes. That probably won’t work very well! You really want to do several things:

Step One — Get the Word Out!
This step isn’t designed to get immediate responses, so you need to use a fairly inexpensive option here. Try mass media, particularly if your communication staff can get you media attention for free. Post info on your website, so interested parties will know there’s something important happening. Then, use email and blast everyone you think may be interested. If your budget can support it, DRTV or radio can be an effective option, but be prepared for this step not to generate fast and easy money. It’s really a “Save the Date” type of message and an opportunity to showcase special or exciting opportunities.

Step Two — The Main Ask
Next, mail that invitation. Make sure it contains all critical information. Since this is a mailing, make sure you include a response device and reply envelope. This is the easy part for most of us; it’s what we do every day. Make sure that it relates creatively to what’s posted on the website and sent via email. Because timelines for mail are longer than email, you’ll likely create this piece first. Make sure the elements are appealing for multiple media types.

Step Three — Reinforce
Follow up the invitation with an email to reinforce the invitation. Messages here just need to be simple — “Have you seen our invitation? Have you responded? We are counting on you!”. At this point, your message needs a clear option to participate online, “Would you like to participate now? Click here!” This step is an important one, as it ties back to the mail piece. You may find that few people actually choose to transact online, but you will also find that sending an email reminder will boost mail response rates, sometimes significantly.

Mail reminders work well, too, typically generating response rates between 30-40% of the original invitation mailing, and the costs can be low, because the package can be simple. Just make sure the creative matches the original message!

Step Four — Gather Up the Important Stragglers
At this point, it’s almost time for the event (or the end of your fundraising campaign!) and there are going to be some non-responders. Here’s where a phone call can make good sense. There are some people that your reunion (or campaign) would be incomplete without — people who made an important contribution to the group. Carefully select your target audience and spend the money to gather up the ones who are most likely to want to be involved. (You hear a lot of marketers telling you that phones are best for lapsed donors — it’s true! And, if you’re new to tele-fundraising, selling a lapsed reactivation phone strategy to your board is usually easier than asking permission to call all your current donors.)

Step Five — Thank People
Once the event is over (or your campaign is finished), use your website and email to thank your participants, and talk about what a difference their participation made. Make sure that you also send a thank you letter, too. It’s just good manners!

Keep it Simple, Keep it Consistent
Making sure that you are contacting your audience with the right channel at the right time with coordinated messaging and creative will boost your overall responses. And it doesn’t have to be complicated — just ask yourself what approach makes sense at each step of the way.

And Lastly – Don’t Forget to Test!
And of course, take the opportunity to test each of the approaches across the entire campaign. If you are adding an email announcement or reminder, separate out a test and control audience and follow them through the entire campaign. You can’t just measure one touch at a time, as the effect of all these touches is cumulative.

This article was originally published at http://www.imabgroup.net/posts/2012/september/take-a-common-sense-approach-to-multichannel-marketing.html and is reprinted with permission.

If you’ve decided to shake up your events this year and strive for a “new normal“, be sure you also raise the bar for event promotion as well. After all, you need to get your message out in order to fill seats, promote your cause, and engage your members or supporters.

Try a “multi-touch” approach

Unfortunately, there isn’t one sure-fire event promotion vehicle or channel – it’s about finding the winning mix of communications for your audience. So if your organization has traditionally focused solely on a printed program sent by mail, maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Try a multi-touch approach by adding some new communications tools to your event promotion toolbox. There’s a wide range of online and offline event promotion channels you can consider, including: direct mail; email; social media; websites; PR; event calendars; paid promotions and so on.

Here are 5 tips to help you get your event’s message out this year:

1. Start with a fresh idea

Since promotion is pivotal to an event’s success, the volunteers or staff responsible for event publicity need to play an active role during the initial event planning stages. If you want to take this year’s event beyond the status quo, you need to start with a fresh idea or approach. Those tasked with event promotion should help develop the entire event experience – from the theme through to exploring methods of promoting audience participation. Experts, such as Jeff Hurt suggest that the trends for this year include moving from “passive information consumption to actively contributing, discussing, creating and participating.” Event participants “want to engage with others about the content that is being shared or about the needs they face.”

So whether you are planning a conference, workshop or a fundraising event, start with an inspirational theme or format to engage your audience from the very first teaser or save-the-date message, and throughout the event.

2. Plan it and share it

If you are going to create a multi-touch or multi-channel promotion campaign, you need to start with a plan. This means identifying clear objectives; understanding your audience and how to best reach them; and developing key messaging for consistency across all communications. If you build in enough lead time, with effective planning, and willing publicity volunteers or staff, you can promote your event effectively with little or no cost.

And while one individual should take charge of coordinating this plan, you might consider delegating tasks across the communications channels. For example, a social media savvy volunteer might want to take charge of your Twitter and/or Facebook messaging. Alternately, you might ask the newsletter editor or forum manager to develop and publish a series of posts.

Once you develop the promotion plan, be sure to share it with the rest of the event volunteers and staff, who can get the message out via their networks.You should also involve your speakers, partners and sponsors in your promotion plans. They will likely be happy to promote the event to their networks. But make it easy for them to share by offering:

  • guest posts for their blog or forums;
  • a list of suggested tweets;
  • draft text, visuals and links to event information

3. Move it online

If you’ve traditionally focused mainly on offline event promotion, maybe it’s time to try moving things online!

Focus on your website:

Your website is the first place folks can and should go for details on your event. Once on your website, participants should be able to find the information they need and register online. There are many opportunities for event publicity through your website – here are a few examples you can consider:

  • Include a message about the event on your homepage — in the “news” or “upcoming events” sections;
  • Include an event listing in your online events calendar;
  • Create a dedicated web page for your event— that can include photos, details, maps and a link to online registration;
  • Include information about the event in your Members-only Forum and create new discussion threads that your supporters or members can follow;
  • Promote the event through a series of posts on your blog

Online tools can help you get your message out

Moving things online can also help streamline your outbound communication. If you are using association or membership management software with events capabilities, you can automate both your promotion and registration, making it easier on yourself and your registrants. For example, at a minimum you want to:

  • Create automatic email event notices to all or select groups of contacts in your database (e.g., members, supporters, past event guests, etc.)
  • Send automated email reminders few weeks or a few days in advance of the event
  • Enable online registration and auto confirmations

4. Try getting more social

This year, why not try mixing it up – blend your traditional offline or email approach with some social media. But bear in mind that whichever social media you choose and regardless of who is initiating the message, you need to create consistent messaging across all networks. If you are new to social media, here are a few ideas for starting to get your events message out via social media networks:

  • Enable social sharing. Make it easy for folks to share! If you haven’t already, be sure you enable social media sharing on your website. The process of embedding sharing buttons or widgets (for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) will depend on your web platform. Most system providers offer simple instructions for embedding code for these widgets.
  • Twitter: Be sure to create a Twitter hashtag for the event and ask folks to use it when they tweet about key event information and updates. And be sure to include your hashtag on all event web pages, emails, blogs, etc. to build buzz.
  • Facebook: If you don’t already have one, consider creating a Facebook page – so you can post information regularly about your event (share photos, blog posts, etc.) and folks can “Like” and share this with their Facebook friends. You can also “promote posts” on Facebook to get your message out to a broader audience. If you don’t have access to online events management software, you might consider creating a Facebook Event
    • YouTube: Create and/or edit an existing video promoting your event and/or your organization and upload this to YouTube or Flickr.
  • LinkedIn: You can promote your event to your own LinkedIn network by “sharing” an update with a link to your event page; Facebook event, etc. You can also use the LinkedIn Events Application to automatically promote the event to your network (the people you are connected to in the first level on LinkedIn).

5. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth

How can you harness the power of word-of-mouth to get your message out? Well, it might sound silly, but sometimes all you have to do is ask! It’s amazing how much sharing you can encourage just by asking all of your networks to “please RT”, please “Like” this post or simply, “kindly share.” Ask your board, your partners, your speakers and sponsors to help get the message out via their social networks. And as noted above, be sure to make it easy for folks to share by providing sharing tools and buttons in all of your event promotions.

Of course, having an innovative concept will help encourage viral sharing. As discussed in #1 having an exciting, fresh and inventive event concept will make it easier to build excitement and motivate folks to help get your events message out.

This article was originally published at http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/2013/02/13/5-tips-for-getting-your-event-message-out and is reprinted with permission.

Supporters communicate with your nonprofit through multiple channels but engage differently with content depending on its delivery method. You must not only create a compelling message, but also optimize it so that it is received effectively across multiple channels frequently enough to resonate with your audience.

In “How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters,” Mal Warwick describes how he tested different lengths for the letter used in a direct mail campaign. He determined that the longer the letter, the more successfully the piece performed. Try this approach with email or social media, however, and your audience will tune you out. By taking your multi-channel messaging through the following simple, three-phase approach, you will effectively repurpose your content to reach its audience without adding more hours to your day.


First, you need to plan your messaging calendar, making sure to include all the channels through which you will broadcast your content. Prioritize your calendar based on the channels that are already the most successful for your organization, but don’t be afraid to explore new channels as part of a larger plan to see if you can drive new contact points with constituents.

For example, the nonprofit Paramount & State Theatre in Austin, TX, uses a multi-channel messaging approach during its fundraising campaigns. They typically rely on their tried-and-true channels such as direct mail, email, website home page, website donation pages, social media (Facebook, Twitter), organizational blogs, press releases, physical signage, and telemarketing. Yet they’ve recently added a new channel to their marketing mix – a custom tablet app. This application is certainly a new point of contact with constituents – and likely an area in which the organization will be testing its message.

Next, consider the timeframe for the campaign. Give yourself enough time – many campaigns fail because they are too short. If you believe conventional wisdom, which says that it takes three, seven or even more impressions before a message is remembered, then a longer campaign allows for the greater possibility of reaching your target audience and generating results.

At the end of this phase, you will want to have a complete calendar that shows all the content you will need to generate and a plan for when and how you will be delivering that content. It should reflect when the message is expected to arrive in front of your audience (i.e. direct mail arriving in mailboxes) in addition to when you are sending it out.

One national human services organization, Volunteers of America, follows this strategy by sending a direct mail piece at the beginning of the month asking members to renew. Before that mailing is expected to arrive, an email is sent informing the member that the renewal request will be arriving by mail soon. Following receipt of the first direct mail piece, another email is sent reminding members that the renewal should have been received. Social media may be incorporated featuring corresponding posts.


Start small. The first piece of content you create should be a purpose statement. Summarize your message in a single sentence. While it may sound difficult, this will be a litmus test for everything else you generate, ensuring that each channel you use communicates the core purpose of the campaign. Your message should be digestible, repeatable, memorable, inspiring and actionable.

Then, go long. Your most copy-intensive channel, if you are using it, is usually direct mail. Start here to elaborate fully on your purpose statement. Whether you are planning one or a series of letters, this channel usually provides enough space to say everything you want about the topic. You’ll then be able to come back to this well and repurpose its content, applying the best practices of each medium.

TIP: Make an organizational rule that any content written and approved in direct mail is considered approved for use in other channels. This will allow you to move quickly on the remainder of your content generation.

Now rework your text and incorporate images and other assets to better fit each channel in your calendar. For email, stick to a single story or idea per message. For social media, reduce this even further to single facts or teasers delivered over a succession of posts.

One national health organization ran a social media campaign for its ‘awareness week’ by posting a “sharable” image featuring a factoid and url each day. Facebook fans were encouraged to click, share, and comment. These interactions propelled the organization’s Facebook engagement rate ‘people talking about this’ by nearly 60% over the course of the campaign.

Tip: Send it again! One client I’ve worked with increases their total email open rate by more than 30% while maintaining the same unsubscribe rate by re-sending certain messages to those who did not open it the first time.

All the content you have planned should also be repeated on your website. Convio’s 2008 Wired Wealthy report tells us that the majority of major donors review the website before making a gift. The more recent 2013 Charity Dynamics & Nten Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Report tells us that for all donors, visiting an organization’s website is the prefered method to get information on the charity they most support. The credibility of your campaign will be diminished in the eyes of a supporter who, after receiving a message calling for important action, visits your website and finds no mention of it anywhere else.

Finally, review all of your content to ensure it is consistent with your one-sentence purpose statement and that all the content contains a consistent and appropriate tone. A recent npEngage article argues that maintaining consistent brand tone maximizes the impact of integrated campaigns.


With your calendar and channel plan in place and your messaging generated, you now only need to execute accordingly. Another Convio study shows that donors who give through multiple channels (e.g., both online and through direct mail) give more than those who give only through a single channel. Not following through on all of your planned channels could cost your campaign money or reduce overall engagement.

Tip: Make sure your direct mail piece has a URL directing the reader to more information or an online donation form.

Once your message is heard (i.e., once you’ve received a donation or driven someone to take an advocacy action), there is still one more thing you should do. Prompt your supporter to take another action. Make it easy by employing eCards, tell-a-friend tools, or social share components. By displaying this type of call to action on your ‘Thank You’ pages or other post-action redirect pages, you can simply and effectively extend the reach of your message.

A clear and consistent message over an appropriate amount of time will better engage your supporters and make a lasting impression. Thinking about your communication plan holistically, leveraging the technology available to you (both new and traditional), and strategically tailoring content to fit your communication channels will produce a manageable and successful campaign for your organization. Good luck!