I participated in a conference this week (a big thank you to our friends at Blackbaud) and while each of the presenters got up and spoke to their specific area of expertise (design, email, website strategy, marketing automation, or technology) there was a resonating theme that jumped out (well for me anyway) and that was “relevance”.
“If you try to speak to everyone; you speak to no one” was my favorite quote. Examining the meaning behind that idea tells us that the more you understand 1) who you are communicating to 2) where they are in their journey with you and 3) what specifically you want them to do, the more you can tailor your messaging and the more you increase your opportunity to achieve conversion.
Most nonprofits can easily segment stakeholders into buckets: donors, potential donors, members, applicants, employers, the public etc. The question is are you getting specific enough?
Let’s look at a donation-based organization and how much more they can affect their fundraising goals with strategically tailored communications. Your message should consider whether a donor has already given in this year, how much, what else they’ve done, and what you would like to see them do next. For example, if a donor gave a gift of $50 last year, the email, web-page, brochure or other communications collateral you use to engage that donor shouldn’t ever suggest a lower donation amount. This means $50 would be the minimum option they see.
Similarly, a school running an enrollment campaign or an association booking event registrations for their annual conference is far more likely to secure the member’s attendance if messages are tailored based on content that member interacted with on your website. Another way of tailoring your communications is including a specific personalized message (based on intelligence collected) about what they will get out of the conference and why they should attend as opposed to a mass broadcasted “registration reminder” email. The data we can collect and the logic that can be setup through technology and marketing automation makes this all possible now.
And by no means are we suggesting lengthy conversational pieces. The fundamentals that “less is more”, “people are busy”, “you must cut through the clutter”, combined with the statistics that suggest the amount of time an individual is willing to (or capable of) dedicating to a specific piece of communication continues to decrease and is at as low as 0.05 seconds for a webpage, the more it becomes important to be personalized and clear.
“Personalized” in the sense that you need to connect with an individual in a way that is meaningful and provoking to them. And “clear” in your calls to action; both in the verbiage you use so that you aren’t leaving room for hesitation, and in the methods for fulfilling the action (completing a donation or registering online as examples) so that you aren’t creating obstacles to conversion.
Storytelling plays a big role in brand profiling and personalizing messages that inspire people to take action. The same message told through a relatable story is far more compelling. Stories are told through words, pictures, video, etc. Here’s an example of the same message told in story and not. Which button would you click on: “Donate today” or “Educate a Girl”?
Relevance, then, is achieved through a balance of creative thinking, technology, and design.
In our next article, we will talk more about developing “content in context” and how to make the most of your message in a given medium.