A presidential election year gives us an interesting opportunity to analyze and understand how some of the biggest constituent engagement operations are spending their dollars to communicate to their constituents. Today we are going to look at some of the trends in the campaigns this year, and more specifically on the Obama for America campaign.
Multi-Channel Strategy and Channel Changes
Obama for America, known for their cutting-edge digital strategy and understanding of constituent behavior, spent $3 million on digital ads in February alone. When combined, the Obama campaign and the DNC has spent over $10 million on digital since the launch of the campaign. During the month of February, OFA spent about the same amount, $3 million in February, on postage and printing, indicating that they are using multiple channels to reach multiple audiences.
Obama for America is using some of the same strategies that won Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago his election. Using social media, and an aggressive digital strategy, Rahm was able to drive voters to the polls and educate them on campaign news and events. Facebook has published a case study.
Data Warehouse and Analytics
The ‘Big Data Movement’ has overtaken politics as well. The Obama campaign has invested significant resources in building a sophisticated centralized digital database of information about potential voters. Data is collected from vendors, web analytics firms, and field offices and fed into a digital data warehouse. Once there, the data is available for complex analysis, allowing the campaign to better target their constituents and focus their messaging on where, when, and to whom it will make the most impact.
They are using this environment to merge information captured online (like email interaction history, website visits, web ad interaction, ecommerce, social media information, mobile information) with traditional offline data (including voter files, 3rd party appended data, demographic data, information from data brokers) to give the campaign the necessary information to target messaging, channel, and frequency to key constituencies, both from the Democratic base and independent, or swing, voters.
What really got my attention, was that during February, the same campaign that spent over $6 million on digital and direct mail, spent only a few hundred thousand dollars on TV advertising, typically a lofty line item for political campaigns, especially national campaigns. How drastically technology has changed the way we communicate and others communicate with us! Campaigns formerly were able to count on the timing and reach of television communications, but with the introduction of TiVo and other recording devices, and Hulu and other streaming websites, the control over messaging is continuously slipping away.
As with any marketing organization, control of the message and measurement of impact is critically important. As more control and measurement is available in digital channels, it is clear why this has drastically overtaken traditional media in a short three election cycles.
What does this mean?
As we’ve seen dramatically over the last three presidential elections (from Dean to Obama), contstituent engagement strategies change about as quickly as I change my socks (thus, the below list might be outdated by the time you finish reading this!)
The sixth annual Convio Online Marketing Benchmark Index Study is now officially released. At a macro-level, we continue to see online engagement growing at a healthy rate. In fact, over the past five or six years, online fundraising has grown at a similar rate to retail e-commerce, good news for nonprofits.
I’m particularly encouraged by a new metric we added this year: growth in monthly giving. As monthly giving typically increases a donor’s lifetime value, this positive trend is very good news for the nonprofit sector and the causes being served.
For a summary of trends seen in the benchmark, watch my video here. For all the trends, including information by vertical, download the full Online Marketing Benchmark.
When it’s time to develop the content for an email appeal, the subject line is typically the last thing to get written. Ironically, it’s the usually first thing your reader sees.
Give your subject lines the love and attention they deserve. Use these three tips to make your subject lines more interesting, relevant and effective.
For more pointers, download our Making Email Appeals More Effective tip sheet.
Recent research suggests that economic and policy changes over the last five years are continuing to make things difficult for fundraisers. Recession and slow recovery have reduced the total giving, more organizations are competing for constituent mindshare and walletshare , and there are proposals to reduce the charitable gift deduction and a rise in postal costs.
What are we to do? I suggest that we kick back, grab a drink, and complain about the state of the industry with your comrades…wait, wait, wait… maybe I should start over.
Looking for new and fresh ideas on how to increase the frequency and intensity of engagement with your constituents? Ready to explore mobile or social fundraising and don’t know where to start? Or just looking for what’s new and hip in the world of direct marketing? Check out the 2012 Washington Nonprofit Conference, hosted by the Direct Marketing Association, Nonprofit Federation this week, March 1-2.
That’s more like it!
It’s the TED of the direct marketing world. The theme this year is something near and dear to my heart: “Ideas. Analytics. Results.” Using your data to drive results is becoming a required method in direct response fundraising and marketing. And this year you can hear from some of the industry’s best and brightest on how they are advancing their programs and their mission through analytics and other strategies.
Convio is presenting a fantastic session featuring Dennis McCarthy and Mike Rogers from Convio and Joanne DelGiorno Bowers from CARE entitled, “The Multi-Channel Boost: Where to Focus Next for Success.” In this session, they will present the findings from a research study that Convio and CARE completed last year to measure the success and opportunity of a multi-channel program. If you are looking for a pick-me-up (trust me, it’s better than the conference coffee!) this is your session.
Convio is also hosting some educational sessions about strategies to incorporate analytics into your constituent engagement strategy. These sessions will include Mike and Dennis (and you’ll even see me there!). If you are going to be there and want are interested, contact your account executive and let them know. These are small groups and they are filling up quickly!
This year’s conference program features some great Convio friends presenting on various topics, including:
If you’ve never been to a DMANF conference, I highly recommend you go and commiserate (I mean connect) with your peers! There are so many ground breaking ideas out there, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity. See you there!
Are you still reeling from the holidays? You’re not alone. But with 2012 in full swing, it’s time to harness the momentum you created with year-end supporters to kick-start fundraising in the new year. To ramp up, here are a few tips you can put in practice today (from Convio’s guide, Utilize Year-End Momentum: Kick-Start 2012 Fundraising) with no major overhauling required.
Use a multi-channel approach (if you aren’t already)
To maximize conversion rates, many savvy organizations are launching multi-channel campaigns to convert online acquired prospects. One example would be a three-part campaign starting with email, followed by direct mail, and then telemarketing. Our research shows that direct mail donors who also receive email give twice as much and renew at 10% higher rates than those who receive email alone.
Promote a sustainer or pledge giving program
If they made a gift to you toward the end of the year when donors are typically very selective about the charities they support, then it’s likely that your recent holiday supporters are inclined to be loyal to you this year. They may even be open to recurring donations or spreading out their annual donation over the course of the year.
Sustaining and pledge donors are important because they typically renew at rates 10-12% higher than single-gift donors. Offer special incentives for your donors to give on a recurring basis or to pledge a larger commitment that can be paid out over time.
Make your e-newsletter more engaging
We recommend (at a minimum) having two versions of your email newsletter—one for prospects/non-donors, and one for current donors. Why? If you’re like most organizations, you use your e-news as a prospecting tool, so it’s not appropriate to have the same version going to everyone. Does your newsletter reflect that you know the recipient? Did they recently volunteer or make a donation? Consider adding conditionalized content based on their relationship to you. Offer clear opportunities to take action such as “Update Your Address” or, “Learn More” or, “Share Your Story.” Make sure you keep the Donate and Tell-a-Friend links above the fold.
For more in-depth strategies for making a splash with your supporters this year, download the full guide.
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