Top 15 Things to Consider before buying Marketing Automation Software

We describe top 10 benefits to consider marketing automation software

Take a visual journey with me for a moment. You are a marketing guru working for a nonprofit association. On a regular basis each day, you and your team handle your company’s email marketing, supporter nurturing, social media accounts, content marketing efforts, and more. And, when you sit down at your desk in the morning after that fresh brewed cup of Joe from Starbucks, the only time you stand up to leave is for the occasional refill, your too-short lunch break, or when the clock finally strikes five. Things are busy — and you don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. In this article, I discuss why marketing automation is catching on at many nonprofits (NPO’s) but also key questions to explore before investing in marketing automation software.

Determining a Fit for Marketing Automation At Your Nonprofit

Does this scenario sound a bit familiar? For a lot of marketing folks with too much on their plate, it should. If you found yourself nodding your head in agreement as you read any of the lines in the paragraph above, perhaps it’s time to consider a different approach that can help you automate your marketing efforts, saving you time and effort while freeing you up to pursue more exciting marketing opportunities. Briefly, just to be sure we are on the same page here. How do I view marketing automation? Here are few opinions from some various sources to be sure we are in alignment with Marketing Automation vs. simply email marketing software.

What is Marketing Automation? 

  • Marketing Automation … focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation, and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible. (Source: Marketing Automation Times)
  • Marketing Automation is the use of software and Web-based services to execute, manage, and automate marketing tasks and processes. It replaces manual and repetitive marketing processes with purpose-built software and applications geared toward performance. (Source: Techopedia)
  • Marketing Automation is the use of technology to generate, nurture, score and qualify leads, and drive sales, using customized, multi-touch marketing communications tailored for each contact’s profile, level of interest, behavior, or place in the buying process. (Source: Sales Lead Insights)

Why Marketing Automation? The scales have shifted.

Digital channels, non-stop connectivity, expectations for personalized interactions, and unprecedented nonprofit competition have empowered today’s supporters with more knowledge and choices than ever before. As a result, marketers in nonprofits are forced to shoulder much more responsibility for measurably contributing to supporter acquisition and revenue (dues,donations, non-dues) goals, an expanded role that’s less “traditional” and more “buyer education/storytelling” about your mission. In many regards, mission success hinges on finding the right mix of inbound and outbound strategies, and the right data that effectively measures what matters across the increasing array of moving marketing pieces.

Key Questions to consider before investing in Marketing Automation Software 

Ok, you got it. You are intrigued by Marketing Automation. You understand that what once worked does not.  But, you need some more ammunition inside your nonprofit to “justify” the case for investing in another “tool” to solve your challenges. If so, take a look at the checklist below. These questions may help you discern some value (impetus) in implementing a Marketing Automation software platform. If you find that you agree with a majority of the statements listed, Marketing Automation might be worthy of consideration at your nonprofit.

  1. Is my Nonprofit association fully utilizing all the capabilities in our email marketing provider now?
  2. Does my organization test and continually optimize our email marketing campaigns?
  3. Does my association understand the ROI of membership and is able to adapt messages accordingly?
  4. Does my NPO believe that content is king and know how to use our curated knowledge effectively to attract and retain membership?
  5. Does your nonprofit believe that marketing should be accountable for actively communicating with people who are not ready to “join” but might in the future?
  6. Do you believe that your marketing team (process) should be involved in helping qualify new member opportunities for the membership business development department?
  7. Does your organization have a clear understanding of the various personas of your members so much that we can adapt the message to unique needs of prospective members?
  8. Do you have a defined marketing department and membership/development department?
  9. Do you have quite a bit of marketing content, but you struggle to distribute and promote it efficiently?
  10. Do you have a CRM (Donor Database System or Membership Software), but it does not include all of the functionalities that you would like, such as built-in supporter (lead) qualification, simple automation, or segmentation.
  11. Does your executive team have very little insight into your ROI, and therefore no way to prioritize marketing spend?
  12. Do you have some data you can use to personalize communications, but no efficient way to do it?
  13. Do you lack the bandwidth to manually reach out to all of the prospective supporters and members in your database, and you have a hard time deciding which donors to pursue and which ones to come back to later?
  14. Do you find that most of your prospective supporters are not immediately ready to buy, and therefore need nurturing to get them to the point where they’re ready to talk to the development staff?
  15. Does your marketing team interact with multiple marketing channels on a daily basis, including paid search outlets, your social media accounts, and email marketing?

Did you answer “yes” to many of the statements above? Well, it might be time to consider looking into a more robust marketing automation system that may address some of the operational issues or scenarios listed.

Still not sure? Give us a call. There are a lot of marketing automation software options (and the list is growing), so reach out to us to help begin your search. We can help discern which option may be best suited for you. Until then keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Email Marketing Software vs. Marketing Automation Software

Why should you want website visitor tracking at your NPO?

The Value of Website Visitor Tracking in Marketing Automation Software

In the last 5 to 7 years we have seen marketing change from spending money to interrupt people with advertising to marketing based on educating in order to attract clients. In this article, I will cover one feature of Marketing Automation Software, website visitor tracking, which I believe may add tremendous value in your nonprofit’s efforts to “understand” what your members or donors desire even if they do not convert on your website.

How One Feature of Marketing Automation Software May Help Boost Participation 

In my mind, a good marketing automation software platform should help marketing, membership, and development officers achieve alignment with each others activities. Key benefits may include increasing efficiency, intelligence, and reach; aligning marketing and business development; and enabling targeted real-time action.

In line with those pursuits, one feature of Marketing Automation referred to as website visitor tracking is for most an awesome “OMG” feature which may help facilitate your engagement and participation  goals. After reviewing many solutions, here is a summary of what website visitor tracking provides you with:

  • Who is visiting your website
  • Why they may be on your site (inferred from their trackable behaviors)
  • Indications of what their issues and interests are
  • Where they may be in the join now or donation process
  • Identify prospective constituents that are active, but not ready to self-identify.
  • Empower your marketing, membership , development, and events team to nurture supporters with a deeper understanding of your potential members & donors actions online.

Here are some amazing things you may consider with website visitor data at your nonprofit.

Business Activity Alerts

In essence, website tracking gives you the ability to target messaging using web behavior—such as the pages an individual visits—as a trigger. And, if the visitor is in your database, their tracked behaviors are recorded in their activity history. You can even set alerts so that you (or a development officer) know when a specific person or company visits your site – Wow, Right!

Retroactive Activity Analysis 

And, if the visitor is anonymous (i.e., not in your database), the tracked behaviors are still noted. If the visitor latter provides contact data, that previously tracked history will attach to the new contact, showing behavioral history and giving that lead immediate context. If someone behaves like a very hot donor but hasn’t provided contact information, you still have options. Many of the Marketing Automation software platforms integrates with data systems that do reverse IP look-up. That means you may be able to see which company an IP address is linked to, and research a list of staff to find the likely prospective supporter.

Cultivate Members and Donors

One of the awesome uses is the ability to apply a little creative ingenuity to track down anonymous folks who had lots of site activity. Donor officers and membership folks can become very effective at tracking down the individuals who were the likely site visitors from specific organizations, and open a dialog. With even anonymous visitors, you may get a company name, the location, and the nature of the content that was viewed on the site. For example, if you are holding a huge event at your nonprofit, and you see that someone from one of your member companies visited but did not register, it’s probable that the visitor is interested even though they did not “convert” by registering. Armed with access to a little data, the event coordinator could track down and contact the most likely interested party at the company member.

Smarter nurturing

The ability to identify a donor or member as “hot” the moment they self-identify via a form capture is straightforward. However, think about the advantage of knowing about them even if they don’t interact with your nonprofit.

Let me explain. So, without website visitor tracking a site visitor fills out a form to download your latest whitepaper on “How to Clean a Wood Floor”. Easily that lead information is captured; the prospect is added to a nurturing campaign and so the start of the long process of becoming a member or donor begins.

But what if a member had already visited your site multiple times in the last quarter and not yet converted to become a member? You would likely want that person contacted immediately, wouldn’t you? With the knowledge of their activity on your website in mind, you can put them in a nurturing campaign designed to make the best impression to potential donors that have already viewed a lot of site content. Since you know their history before they identified themselves, it’s safe to assume they already know a bit about you and you can tailor the kind of communication and content you offer them.

By the way, it’s a good bet that donors will visit your site many times before they fill in a form and provide their name and email address. With website visitor tracking, you can be sure you gain their attention before you lose their attention to another nonprofit cause or mission.

The Power of Donors and Members 

It’s a fact. Your members and donors have virtually unlimited access to information via the web about you and your competitors. They have the power to find and discover value from many sources  at their own pace, and direct their own paths to spend money and engage with your organization or not. They do this mostly online. This means that your website has become your nonprofits single most important marketing asset.

Therefore, the better you know your potential constituents, the better you can shape your site to serve up targeted messages and tailored offers that will invite website visitors (known and unknown) to become members of your community. In other words, you should always try to leverage your website to generate supporters (leads) in order to grow.

If you would like to learn more about marketing automation software options, please give us a call. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Email Marketing Software vs. Marketing Automation Software

How Video Email can impact engagement at NPO’s

Video Email for NPO's can be  they key to increased relationships

I truly enjoy reading about and seeing software which significantly helps create value, grow revenue, & create competitive advantage. In this article, I discuss how the use of video email in your email marketing process may help increase engagement with members at every level of your relationship funnel.

The Impact of Video Email 

In this new world of connectivity, I believe that your nonprofit needs to always be contemplating new strategies for engaging with current and potential donors in order to create a thriving community. And, one such tool worthy of consideration in  your efforts to help in this effort may be the use video email.

What is Video email? Video email is the term for the use of email to send videos such that the recipient feels the video is being watched inside the video. This is differentiated from a video file as an email attachment or a hyperlink to video elsewhere on the internet.

So, why is video so engaging? Let’s me share some facts.

  • People retain 10% of the information they read because reading only stimulates the visual sense.
  • Over a twelve-month period, media containing video is shown to generate six times as many click-throughs than that media without video.
  • Online video viewing has now surpassed television viewing, 84% to 83%.
  • Some reports show that a customer viewing a video converted at a 400% increase compared to those who did not.

These are all pretty convincing, right?

Relationships Through Video: 

For nonprofits, developing relationships are paramount. And, developing Relationships Through Video (RTV) is about getting face to face with more people more often. RTV is largely about nurturing. It’s about repeating the message and continually developing advocates. All of these are goals which in my mind are certainly congruent with the objectives of most membership directors and development officers, agreed?

By combining the power of video to tell emotionally compelling stories with the reach and connectivity of an email, your nonprofit can create a video email campaign that:

  • Creates and fosters a thriving, loyal online community
  • Grows your member and donor base
  • Attracts more members, supporters & advocates

Using video to tell your nonprofit’s story has an additional benefit: you will likely find that your staff and your volunteers will become re-energized. This is because they, too, respond to compelling stories. And, your videos will remind them in a very powerful way that the work they do is very important – it’s work that is changing the world. And, likely the reason why they went to work for your organization as well. Need a little help understanding how this may work? Below you will find some ideas to put in play at your nonprofit now and the benefits you should anticipate.

10 Examples of Using Video Email at your NPO

  • Newsletters: Send weekly newsletters & updates
  • Devotionals: Send mid-week devotionals
  • Appeals: A Video to “paint” a real life portrait of your impact
  • Greeting Cards: Send holiday & special occasion greetings
  • Event Attendees: Follow up with new attendees
  • New Member: Welcome new members
  • Event Announcements: Send event invitations & reminders
  • Donor Receipts: There is no better way to show appreciation than personally
  • Target: Send targeted messages to specific groups
  • Mission Updates: Share updates on missions, projects, & goals

Top Benefits of using Video Email at your NPO: 

  • Build relationships with future donors
  • Attract corporate & philanthropic donors
  • Convert donors to advocates that spread your story
  • Recognize and thank your volunteers & donors
  • Gather feedback from your community
  • Grow your volunteer base
  • Generate buzz – locally, regionally & nationally
  • Create more real-world engagement

I believe that the combination of the personalization and measurability that email marketing provides and the increased interactions produced by the inclusion of video email creates a marketing tool that is truly remarkable for nonprofits. But, don’t take my word for it. Many nonprofit executives believe video in email marketing makes whatever you are currently doing better as well.

If you have not yet explored using video in your marketing or ongoing donor nurture campaigns, a great place to start is finding an email marketing service which concentrates on relationship building (RTV).

It’s easier than you think! You simply need a good service such as BombBomb, CoVideo, or Switch Merge for Video to get you started. Or, even your Marketing Automation service provider may be able to accommodate within it’s email offering. Check it out! I don’t believe you will be disappointed.

And, if you need help in selecting the right software selection for you, please contact us to learn more. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

This Email Marketing eBook outlines the benefits of and how to use Email more effectively.