How To Use Database Segmentation to Stand Out

Marketing Segmentation for Nonprofit Organization

In it’s simplest form, database segmentation is the process of dividing up your data population into groups so you can isolate the group to best focus on, or the best tactics to attract particular groups. In this article, I offer essential points when using database segmentation practices and the impact benefits of implementing them in your organization.

The Essential Points of Database Segmentation

The act of segmenting your market is, on the surface, a relatively simple task that involves grouping like advocates – and potential supporters – with more of the same. A database is simply a storage repository for your information. In order to benefit from the database, you have to be able to use the insights derived from its use. And, using that data to market better is a big deal, right? Segmenting your data is essential in that goal.

How do you do that? Well, beyond just having the data in one place (or integrated nicely), it is important to utilize segmentation best practices. I recently read a white paper & an ebook from marketing automation providers which underscored some important items to consider when slicing and dicing your constituents data which prompted my thoughts on this topic.

Pulling it all together, here are the essential points you should consider when using segmentation practices:

  • Seek the Best: Analyze your current best and most involved constituents to determine the population groups they belong to and what population segments they share. In order to be successful in attracting more donors or members, you must know what group or demographic characteristics characterize your ideal supporters in order to segment effectively.
  • Focus on Interests: Prospective supporters expect relevant communication and will respond best when communications are directed at their individual interests.  Focus on what kinds of interests or behaviors do your best supporters have in common? Examine communications and backgrounds of your best donors or members to see what behavioral traits they have in common.
  • Explicit and Implicit Data: Profiling your current customers to create and define your marketing segments can easily be done when you can capture information about your supporters through explicit or implicit means. Use the explicit information your members give you, like job title, age, or IP address. You can even get such data when a member fills out a form.
  • Continuous Progressive Profiling: Constantly be gathering more information about your customers to determine some defining characteristics you can use to find new business. The fancy term for this is “progressive profiling“. But, it’s simply put an approach to gathering as much information as you can from your supporters every interaction that they have with your nonprofit. You can ask website visitors to fill out a form online to help you find where they might belong in a market segment. Make the form short and easy to fill out. Your inquiry can be progressive. Store information in a unique file and keep adding additional information with each contact. Using a sequence of short forms builds a more complete profile over time.
  • Persona Behavior: Demographic information is very important. But, when used in concert with a specific set of “behaviors”, you can truly get down to the nitty gritty in segmentation. You can take that demographic information and then segment by a supporters digital body language: received messages, opened messages, visited a specific page, downloaded a piece of content, or submitted a certain form or forms.
  • Website Visitor Tracking Segments: You can get information from implicit sources, such as web pages they visit or data from a visitor tracking tool. You can determine something about socio-economic status and personal concerns by analyzing visitor tracking data. You can take advantage of online tools designed to track and analyze traffic, or you can ask your supporters for information directly, such as gender, occupation or age.
  • Data Relevance Checks: One thing that is for sure. Data management and curating the right data is critical for organizations of all sizes and types. Unfortunately, like most things in life, at some point there will be diminishing returns for the amount of data being collected. The data that you need today may not be the data you need tomorrow. As you add more data to your collection efforts, so be sure to stop collecting data that is no longer needed.
  • Don’t overwork it! One word of caution, which is easier said than done. You do not want to overwork it. Simply put, this means keep it simple. There is a fine balance between gathering information for segmentation purposes and going overboard. You will know you are there when you find that some of your members or donors may ask for you to stop asking all the questions. Further, your staff may be taxed by the data they have collected or input. In other words, you may gather so much data that you won’t know where to begin analyzing it. The old adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies here.

When you have the right data on a suitable sample of your most targetable constituents you will see the value of using your database to provide a measurable impact on your communications and engagement.

Here are some impactful benefits in having a solid marketing automation technology to help:

  • Ease of Repeating Process: With the ability to store the right data along with the right segmentation tools in place, your staff can begin to define donor or member segments with ease.
  • Unlimited Variables: You are more prepared to create impactful marketing campaigns which target specific segments (or segments of segments) in order to zero in on new and returning constituents on a multitude of variables (behavior, demographics, personas).
  • Relevant Insights Faster: Focusing a campaign on a tighter segmentation allows you to gauge the results of your campaign easily, so you can learn what works and what doesn’t for different segments of your persona population. Then, repeat the success over and over again.
  • Smarter Campaigns: Better segmentation means smarter use of marketing dollars. The benefits include stronger supporter and prospect relationships, higher email open and click-through rates, increased contributions, and enhanced Return on Mission!

If you are interested in learning which marketing automation software technologies and which solutions may be best suited to help you in your database segmentation best practices, please contact us to see how. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits

Can Your Nonprofit Afford To Wait On Marketing Automation?

The Cost of Not Having Marketing Automation

Can your Nonprofit afford to wait on marketing technology decisions? Certainly, nonprofit leaders are short-staffed and overworked. And, sometimes it is difficult just to take a step back from day-to-day challenges to look at longer-range marketing strategies, even those critical to success. In this article, I share my thoughts on the impact of delaying your decision in exploring marketing automation technologies to help you get the right email marketing message to right supporter at the right time.

Why Are You Waiting For

Marketing Automation Technologies? 

I have written quite a bit on the topic of Marketing Automation on this site and how nonprofits need to consider the options in the market today. Why? It’s very important to have the tools you need to do more to “attract” and “delight” your supporters more than ever. According to many marketing pundits, your supporters will continue to interact with your nonprofit in the digital universe. As a result, they will continue to find you via search engines, check on your integrity via social media, and collaborate with your supporters online.

The new buying landscape has changed marketing’s approach to lead generation and management. This tectonic shift has created a need to improve upon outdated systems that can no longer keep up with the demand to increase your supporter flow, ensure better prospect quality, and prove campaign program effectiveness and ROI.

Is Your Nonprofit Capitalizing On This Digital Trend?

If you agree with the marketing predictions, then why are so few nonprofits embracing this reality and seeking ways to capitalize on it. I have a few thoughts on the matter. First, no decision is a decision, right?! And, delaying a decision or kicking the decision (the can) down the road is easier to do when you have so many things up in the air, buns in the oven, or you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off. But, waiting could be costly to your mission and the sustainability of your organization.

Second, it’s easier to deal with the “fires” than plan for the future. This isn’t a nonprofit industry phenomenon but rather applies across industries. The changing role of technology in all of our lives requires that we plan and have a business technology agenda. And, one focus that is often overlooked but which impacts both short- and long-term strategic planning is technology upgrading, especially in areas which are perceived to be less critical such as marketing. Why?

  • One reason is the term “marketing.” In my opinion, it sounds too corporate to some nonprofit executives. The idea of “improving revenue” or “attracting leads” is often seen as disconnect with the nonprofit community. And, mainstream marketing technology providers aren’t doing a good job of helping understand that their marketing technologies can help them too.
  • Another usually is staffing, as in: we are too busy serving our members or seeking supporters to take time to do technology upgrading.
  • More reasons can bubble to the surface when your nonprofit is faced with the option of automating: too busy with fundraising events, too busy producing shows, too busy networking, currently upgrading our website and e-newsletters…. You get the picture.

If any of those reasons to delay your investing in an automated marketing platform sound familiar, read on to discover the price of waiting and delaying a decision.

The Cost of Delaying Marketing Automation

Time Drains: Let’s say that you are splitting your time between fundraising and networking. Consider the amount of time it takes right now to ensure that your fundraising and networking investment is rewarded with long-term results.

  • You may have numerous digital and paper files with duplicate or insufficient information.
  • With information captured piecemeal, it may be difficult to maintain optimum relationships with your donors, prospects, and volunteers.
  • Worse, some opportunities for new revenue may slip by.

Missed opportunities—whether in capturing new donor and volunteer prospects or new clients both are equal blows to the health of your nonprofit and its critical mission.

  • Ask yourself this: Wouldn’t my agency be better off taking a short period of time right now to implement an automated marketing platform that helps us better track our members and donors and capture new ones, rather than missing new opportunities for months or years to come? 
  • Now ask, Will there ever really be a time when it’s “convenient” to implement marketing automation?

More Contributions: Framed this way, it becomes obvious that a short-term investment of time, money, and staffing right now to pivot to marketing automation will soon start having long-range returns:

  • More butts in seats, more campaign donors, more event attendees, higher name recognition, more clients, more people eager to serve as volunteers—the list goes on.

Marketing automation technologies allow companies to produce complete marketing programs—from email creation and landing page design to launching complex drip and nurture campaigns—in a fraction of the time that it takes companies who are not using such systems. Your programs are optimized for success.

When companies implement a focused supporter process using a marketing automation system, they improve their interactions with prospects from the initial point of inquiry through conversion. Through systematic digital profiling, and behavioral and demographic scoring capabilities, marketing automation systems can create highly-targeted campaigns that reach the right people, with
the right message at the right time in the buying cycle such as making a donation, attending a training class, or even becoming a member. But, don’t take my word for it.

Nonprofit Case Study

I recently attended a webcast held by a consulting firm, Idealist Consulting, which helps nonprofits implement marketing automation technologies. In this webcast, a nonprofit foundation, The Jefferson Awards Foundation, underscored in their case study the significance of moving from a “one and done” approach to a more programmatic approach to their marketing campaigns.

They cited the following benefits:

  • A more regimented approach for communicating with its stakeholders.
  • Greater ability to personalize its communication to students, donors, and media partners based on engagement with its owned media properties.
  • They now an effectively ensure that its program participants remain active and complete the required program material within the allotted timeframe.
  • The foundation has become a data-driven organization – shaping responses and messages according to engagement and demographic information.

They attribute the marketing automation software as the catalyst which has enabled JAF to help drive stewardship and brand awareness. Further, as a result of implementing a Marketing Automation Software solution, ACT-ON, they have seen a dramatic impact in changing their thought process and implementing marketing automation to help support their philosophy change.

More Data To Explore Marketing Automation 

According to a study done by NTEN in their Nonprofit Benchmark Study, here are some significant findings as a result of nonprofits using marketing technologies:

  • Nonprofit organization email lists grew significantly – up 14% in 2013.
  • Online donations were higher than ever before. Online giving was up 14% in 2013, with monthly giving revenue up 25% compared to 2012. Monthly giving accounted for 16% of all online revenue.
  • Nonprofits received $17 for every 1,000 email messages delivered. Overall, email accounted for about one-third of nonprofits’ online fundraising revenue.
  • Nonprofits received $0.60 per website visitor so the more you attract through inbound marketing the more likely you will convert to donors.
  • More people visited nonprofit websites. Monthly website traffic for the nonprofits in the study was up 16% in 2013.

Sifting Through Automation Choices

One other thing derived from the webcast was the mere fact that there are many marketing automation software options. In fact, this particular foundation mentioned that they had performed the usual search process with varying degrees of success.

So, you might be asking yourself, how do I know which software offers the best ROI for my agency too? After all, we’re (choose the right description) very small, only mid-sized, rural, urban, focused on our mission, & simply grasping for our daily survival.

The good news is that the world of marketing automation is not cookie-cutter. Or, is that the bad news? I assume it depends on your perspective, right! But, while the perfect software is not an option, take some solace that the right fit for your agency is available.

And, there’s more good news too. This is one time when you don’t have to have all the answers yourself—you just have to know where to look for them. It turns out that we have already done all the software reviewing for you and can advise you on which option would be the optimal fit to maximize your agency’s ROI.

Ditch the months and months of demos, vendors calling you for follow ups, and costly delay. Contact us today to learn how a short-term investment in marketing automation can boost your client, member, and/or donor base, improve your e-news content, and build your revenue streams over time.


Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits

Bloomerang Donor Software Review

Bloomerang Donor Database Software Review

In our our ongoing “Search Of The Top Donor Database Software Series”, we have prepared a quick look at Bloomerang Donor Database software for Nonprofit Executives like you. Please note that this summary below is not intended to provide our full report but rather should serve as a quick snapshot of the Bloomerang database software.

For those Nonprofit Executives interested in learning more, please reach out. 

Review of Bloomerang

Donor Management Software 

Brief Summary of Bloomerang Fundraising Software: 

Bloomerang’s cloud-based donor management application is rooted in principles of philanthropy, simple to use and focused on empowering your team to achieve remarkable results through enhanced donor loyalty.

Per Bloomerang, They have taken the knowledge of world-renowned fundraising professor Adrian Sargeant, communications best practices of author and speaker Tom Ahern, digital marketing insights from trusted thought-leader Kivi Leroux Miller, and the technical expertise of industry veteran Jay Love and merged them into a simple, modern interface that any fundraiser can use. 

As the name implies, Bloomerang is designed to help nonprofit fundraisers grow their supporters and retain (return) them through an ongoing cycle of relationship building. From our vantage point, Bloomerang has pulled together the latest in best practices for fundraising, loyalty, engagement, and retention to create a very simple donor database solution that helps nonprofits decrease donor attrition and increase revenue. And, apart from the features and functionality, customer perception is highly regarded by many which will strongly enhance a nonprofit to succeed in achieving results with the solution today and long term.

The Key Features Of Bloomerang Software includes:  

  • Full integrated donor database solution
  • Donor retention dashboard
  • Constituent giving summary, timeline & engagement level™
  • Custom reporting
  • Email and letter generator
  • Social media hub w/ Twitter integration
  • Wealth screening via DonorSearch
  • Easy-to-use import tool (including Quickbooks compatibility)
  • Search w/ fuzzy lookup
  • Online giving
  • Single and recurring donations
  • Moves management and grant tracking via custom fields
  • Open API

Where Does Bloomerang Software Best Fit?

From our review, Bloomerang is a great for organizations who concentrate on individual fundraising. They have hundreds of social services, animal welfare, arts councils, missionaries, foundations and chapter organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs, CASA, Arc, YMCA and Habitat for Humanity which utilize Bloomerang to manage their donors, volunteers and other constituents.

After reviewing the product, Bloomerang’s focus on user-experience makes it ideal for first-time nonprofit software buyers, as well as those looking to simplify their processes and focus on what really moves the needle in terms of donor loyalty.

The Key Functional Areas of Bloomerang Database?

  • CRM Donor management
  • Online giving
  • Outbound communications (email/mail)
  • Reporting
  • Social media monitoring

A Glimpse Of Bloomerang For Nonprofit Fundraisers: 

Bloomerang Donor Fundraising Software Review

Do you want to learn more about Bloomerang?

We have prepared a detailed “Smart Report” available for any Nonprofit Executive interested in learning about our view of this nonprofit software. Please take some time to request your complete “Smart Report” by clicking below.

Please stay tuned to our ongoing software reviews where we will continue to provide further insights into other Donor database software options on the market.

For other nonprofit software reviews, please click AMO, NOAH Membership Software, Nimble AMSESX Catalyst , Weblink Connect, Altai Membership Software, The Databank, MemberCentralNeonCRM and Timberlake Membership Software. While these are our published reports, please contact us for the others we have in our library too!

Finally, if you work for a nonprofit or software vendor and have a software system which you would like us to include in our series, please contact us.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Bloomerang Fundraising Database Software Review