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Real-Time Marketing Raises Nonprofit’s Revenue

Posted on the 26 February 2015 by Marketingtango @marketingtango

Real-Time Marketing Raises Nonprofit’s Revenue

Any time a direct marketer attempts to integrate digital marketing for the first time, there is a learning curve. However, Cheryl Bailes, director of direct mail fundraising, World Jewish Congress (WJC) American Section, showed up every rookie — and a few veterans — when she and her organization launched a multichannel effort by combining email with direct mail. She told her case study to MarketingSherpa for other nonprofits to learn from.

Know Your Customer

The World Jewish Congress is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to be “the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people,” Bailes explained. To WJC, the ideal customer is a person who wants to help protect and defend the rights and safety of Jews worldwide, combat anti-Semitism, or help demand moral and material justice for Holocaust survivors.

Go Where They Are

With traditional direct-mail marketing channels in place, the WJC knew it needed to add online to its efforts to reach members and supporters worldwide. The team conceived a four-step plan:

Step 1. Launch a Multichannel Effort by Combining Email with Direct Mail

The WJC team began its email campaigns in the Fall of 2013, with a meager distribution list and a few online petitions. Then it began an official online fundraising program in January, 2014.

“Our strategy…was to send emails that complement what we sent out in the mail, for example annual renewals, special appeals and…general appeals for support. However, the content was not overly time-sensitive topics but [rather] focused on our mission, with occasional updates of events around the world,” Bailes said.

Step 2. Test Real-Time Messages

Email can sit in a recipient’s inbox indefinitely, if it’s not timely.

“As we learned when testing emails with accompanying online petitions, when we sent an email with a purpose or particular topic in recent news that affected world Jewry, with a sense of urgency to act or respond, we saw much better results (donations),” Bailes said.

The team created a new type of message and branded it the Diplomatic Alert Email “to bring our donors the most current news and topics of concern to them, while increasing our revenue,” she added. The genius of the Diplomatic Alert format was its connection to breaking news. Full version of the creative sample available here.

Step 3. Streamline Production and Approval Process

The WJC’s approval process for general email marketing was between two-and-a-half to three weeks long. Obviously, that approval gap would not accommodate the Diplomatic Alert Email campaign, so Bailes lobbied for a short approval cycle and gained approval in 24 to 48 hours.

Bailes bypassed the traditional process by:

  • Choosing real-time topics wisely
  • Using pre-approved content
  • Sending out the emails without a personal signer

Step 4. Add Current Events to General Offers

The timely emails were working based on measurement and metrics, so WJC pushed content to be even more current events-driven. Full version of the creative sample available here.

Measure How Customers React

“When certain communities are affected and at risk, such as what we saw this past year in Israel … we reported on that to our donors, and they [those emails] were most successful,” Bailes said.

The campaign also boosted donations. Other results:

  • An 11 percent bump in open rates
  • A 22 percent lift in revenue
  • A 33 percent increase in average gift
  • A 134 percent jump in page completion rates

Surprisingly, WJC saw a 55 percent decrease in click-through rates and an 8 percent decrease in the actual number of gifts.

“What seems to work best for us is staying relevant … when there is a sense of urgency or need to take immediate action from what is going on in the news that will have an impact on our audience — a call to action to supporters seems to be quite successful,” Bailes concluded.

The application here for small companies is that no matter your success, every campaign should be revisited and freshened to continue engaging audiences. Here are six easy tips to help you, specially selected from our library.

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