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November 23, 2016 Amy Sewell

Get on the road to create constituent journeys and position yourself to achieve up to a 300% increase in ROI with online fundraising.

The recent report from Harvard Business Review confirmed something our Interactive Digital Solutions team has been telling our clients for years: A multi-channel approach may be the best way to get profitable results for ministries.

Organizations that move into a multi-channel digital marketing strategy are achieving up to 300 percent improvement in ROI from their fundraising efforts. This resulted from a 24 percent increase in conversion rates as more targeted donors saw a campaign’s ads on multiple channels instead of one.

But in today’s social-savvy, interactive world, it’s surprising how out of touch most ministries are with their online communication channels. Too often cause-related non-profits rush into the digital landscape without clearly defined goals. In many ways, this reminds me of the storied past of the California Gold Rush. Everyone dives in with pan in hand and is surprised when the pan comes up empty. If you want to avoid this trap, consider this advice from Steven Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.” What does that look like?

In the world of online fundraising and relationship marketing, your endgame should be in creating long-term relational value.

Never take the interactive out of your interactive strategy. Your goal should be to create individualized experiences. Interactive implies engaging each visitor in a way that builds relationships. Offer reasons to browse. Create the right conditions so people want to give. Make sure your website doesn’t operate like a used car dealership, focusing only on the sale, or soon you’ll discover 90% of your visitors running for the nearest door. Start by asking yourself: What is their motivation for the visit? Then make it easy to fulfill that expectation.

Too often we fail to recognize this fundamental truth, and are surprised to learn short session measurements are sky high or multi-page engagements have become woefully deficient, because you didn’t match motivational interest with relevant content. Simply providing appropriate content and engagement points resulted in drops in client website bounce rates, increased pages per visit, and longer session times.

Next, synergize your online fundraising efforts with a fully integrated multi-channel marketing approach. This ensures your brand, campaigns, and value proposition are consistent anywhere a user could potentially interact with you. Focus on creating constituent journeys that map the ways someone can get from their initial point of contact with your organization to truly connect with your cause. When you focus on growing the relationship with visitors, it gives them reason to stay connected and provides you with long-term higher value supporters. Now it’s time to turn your attention to your email program.

Once you have established conversion pathways, a fully integrated online/offline donor-centric communication plan offers the best opportunity for new donor acquisition growth, maximizing giving opportunities and increasing revenue. Our clients participating at this level of integration currently experience increases in online giving as high as 64% year over year.

So build a better mousetrap and offer online experiences that recognize, define, and fulfill individual motivational needs and create content that fulfills those needs. Then share your message through an appropriate mix of digital tools including paid search, email optimization, effective use of social channels, and retargeting. Utilizing this approach to digital donor acquisition has the potential for great response. Integrating your digital message can also pay big dividends. In our recent acquisition season we were able to help ministries generate a $1.72 return for every dollar invested in digital efforts.

Thinking about incorporating a digital strategy in your overall Fundraising Plan or just want an evaluation of what you are currently doing? Contact Douglas Shaw & Associates at digital@douglasshaw.com for a complete Digital Fundraising Audit, and get on the road to “More Donors. Better Donors.”

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