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 This tectonic shift has created a need to improve upon outdated systems that can no longer keep up with the demand to increase your supporter flow, ensure better prospect quality, and prove campaign program effectiveness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

How to Boost Your Marketing Campaigns Effectiveness

Measuring Marketing Campaigns at Nonprofits

Looking for a surefire way to reduce conversions, scare away your constituents, & exceed your marketing budget? My guess is probably not; however, when we repeatedly do things without knowing it’s effectiveness, that is exactly what we are doing. It seems that many marketing managers constantly spin their wheels without knowing what did and what didn’t create the conversions they were seeking. You blast and pray!

In this article, I discuss some concepts behind measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, along with the benefits of doing so with the marketing technologies available for nonprofits today.

Techniques Behind Measuring

Marketing Campaigns

As stated, the realization of the impact of campaign measurement has led to the development of a new trend in all industries. Essential marketing technologies today have the potential to produce data that has revealed how various marketing campaigns have performed, where various spending produced the greatest return, and how attracting supporters has been impacted by various marketing campaigns; events, newsletters, or year-end appeals etc.

Here are a few concepts used in measuring campaign effectiveness:

Cohort Analysis in Campaign Management 

B2B and B2C marketers have long been using many techniques to measure campaign effectiveness. They are often the beta testers and early adopters for the nonprofit community. For many nonprofits, marketing to your members or donors may be a combination of both techniques used by the B2B and B2C marketing executives. However, using the concept of cohort analysis in the nonprofit community to assist with measuring campaign effectiveness is not out the realm of possibility even at a smaller nonprofit today.

What is Cohort Analysis?  Cohort analysis is done by grouping orders (conversions) together in order to determine what the common characteristics of customers (members/donors) are. It involves tracking a group that shares a common characteristic (a “cohort”) over a certain period of time and evaluating outcomes.

The data accumulated can be an unbelievably powerful tool by generating amazing insights into the behavior of customers. In the nonprofit world, cohort analysis can be used too, to gather information about various transactions such as the following:

  • Web pages getting visited for appeals by donors who have contributed vs. Non-Donors
  • Did a specific email gather more responses from a certain type of member
  • Landing pages reviewed by certain segments of your supporter population (members, inactive members)
  • What segment of your membership opened an email, did not open, total times clicked the first, second, & third email sent
  • What traffic channel yields the most valuable donors (not just valuable one time conversions)
  • Member life time volume based on their first transaction with your association (member join, conference registration) through year 1- 3, 3-5, 5-7 etc.
  • Repeat purchase probability based on past participation of a segmented group

Using the insights of cohort analysis, successful marketing campaigns can be tested and then used to pinpoint more campaigns pertinent to your audience. In other words, which type of leads (whatever you call them) to focus on in the future. So too, nonprofit marketers can apply the concept of cohort analysis to their marketing strategies.

Predictive Analytics in Marketing Technology

Another type of analysis used by B2C that B2B is Predictive Analytics. Data mining is done in order to recognize patterns in marketing and establish relationships based on those patterns.  Being a branch of data mining, predictive analytic focuses on trends and probabilities of the future.  The predictor or dominant component of predictive analytics can be used to predict future behavior since although it is a variable, it can be measured.

Predictive Analytics can free nonprofits from relying on guesswork and provide nonprofit executives with educated predictions.  As a nonprofit executive, it can show you where you are and predict where you can go.  It gives you the power to analyze patterns, trends and relationships in both your structured and unstructured data.  All you then have to do based on predictive analysis is apply the insights you have learned to predict events of the future and act on these predictions in order to attain the outcomes you desire.

For example, if someone did not open an email from you in your previous campaign perhaps you may want to send it out again. Then, if they do not open the email again you can likely predict that they are not interested in any further emails for this particular appeal. And, then use those insights to focus your efforts on moving those more interested (opened, clicked, or visited a web page) towards a desired conversion (make a donation, register for an event, sign up to be a new members).

Knowing these “Fancy Pansy Terms” in marketing won’t help at all unless you can build the data required to benefit from the analysis and make the appropriate behavioural predictions, agreed?

Progressive Profiling in Marketing Automation Software

One way to ensure your prediction of interest or likelihood of conversion is by implementing progressive profiling techniques to gain insights as your supporters engage with your organization.

Progressive profiling is a marketing technique that may boost supporter generation, determine intent, and qualification significantly. It works like this: you create forms and landing pages to attract members or donors. And, through the process instead of having to fill out 15 form fields in order to register for a conference or download a white paper on a latest resource, a site visitor only has to fill in a few fields. Through your identification of the group (the cohort) and the behavior you can fill in more data on buyer personas to gather more insights to improve your ongoing analysis. 

In terms of an association which puts on training sessions for members and non-members, progressive profiling rules can be set up to decide which registration form to use, based on what is already known about a donor, member, or non-member. In addition, if an anonymous visitor clicks on a gated white paper link on your website, a form that only asks for the name and email address can be shown. Later on, if this same visitor clicks on a different gated link, a form that asks for his job title and industry can be displayed.

Many marketing pundits agree that using short simple forms early on increases the likelihood of visitors completing registration forms for more content. By using a sequence of simple forms as described above, you can build up a more complete profiles of a visitor over time.

In essence, the more that is known about your supporters the more the message and communication can be tailored to meeting pain points, interests, and activating them accordingly. By coupling what is already known with gradually new insights about supporters, the right patterns or traits can be uncovered to build more about details about your members and donors. All of these factors can dramatically impact the effectiveness of your ongoing marketing campaigns. 

Marketing Automation Software For Nonprofits 

Progressive Profiling helps you build the insights you to need to make business decisions using the techniques of Cohort Analysis and Predictive Analytics.

Certainly, you can implement Cohort Analysis & Predictive Analytics within a tool such as Google Analytics. But, Marketing Automation Software can pull the information all together for you in one platform. Further, keeping track of and using marketing lists, forms, landing pages, scoring, personas, social publishing, structured drip programs & implementing progressive profiling you need to contemplate a more unified software solution. It will help you use your data to make better marketing decisions.

Marketing Automation Software for nonprofits may allow your nonprofit to automate various marketing processes including the integration of member or donor data, the management of automated campaigns and customer segmentation. As a result, marketing campaigns can be more successful, and budget and resources can be more focused on who is more likely to engage with your nonprofit.

Marketing Automation Software is comprehensive in the sense that it helps analyze campaign success from all mediums used such as social, email, website tracking etc. Therefore, you can avoid focusing on what one specific area of marketing such as social marketing or email marketing.  Instead, with an integrated campaign analysis you will benefit from campaign analysis from a broad range of analytics.   All marketing analytics is provided by one platform.

Today, there is simply no need to send 25,000 emails if only 1,000 truly are engaged with your nonprofit. And, no need to create a marketing campaign targeted to a demographic which has never or will not participate with your nonprofit. Nor, spend money on campaigns which do not work.

I believe in the power of prayer, but with marketing automation techniques and tools you will greatly increase your chances of success in your next campaign. The days of blast and pray are no longer necessary.

For further information on the payoff of marketing measurement or the marketing automation software best fit for your nonprofit, contact us. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.


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 Top 10 Checklist for Marketing Automation Software Vendors

10 Predictions for Marketing Automation for Nonprofits

Marketing Automation Predictions and Trends for Nonprofits

You need to know where to allocate the bulk of your marketing budget, right? Marketing Automation Software may be able to help, assuming you buy into the trends in the marketing community today. In this article, I share with you some of my thoughts on recent marketing predictions and trends written by various sources so you may stay one step ahead of the game.

Marketing Automation Software Trends

In the nonprofit community as much as in the for profit community, the chatter is quite frequently heard about the topic of marketing technology. And, its influence is growing everywhere: at fundraising organizations, trade and professional associations, museums, & even chambers. Truly, it’s very hot.

In today’s digital world, marketing is a key department responsible for creating and sustaining a long-lasting relationship with the most important asset of any nonprofit – the member, donor, or constituent. For many in the business community, it’s plain old “customer”.

It’s not just my opinion. Rather, the belief of many experts today that marketers need to shift their focus from pushing messages at people to engaging them in an ongoing conversation and relationship. The speed, direction and magnitude of the changes in marketing have been widely discussed.

For many who don’t follow the marketing technology buzz, however, it may not be as clear. If you’re one of those who are exploring marketing technologies, this hopefully will clarify your thoughts on the importance of the marketing automation at your nonprofit.

As mentioned, I have reviewed many sources and taken some of the top 10 trends and predictions underscored in various articles below. So, let’s take a look at the checklist below from these sources to see if the trends resonate with you.


  1. Content Marketing: According to Content Marketing Institute’s recent B2B Content Marketing report, 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are using content marketing, and 45% plan to increase their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months. How do you compare?
  2. Marketing Analytics: Use of marketing data to help move buyers along the path to close. Without some marketing technologies, this may be out of your reach. As discussed, many may be using Google Analytics, but is that enough? Is that tool integrated to your inbound and outbound marketing campaigns.
  3. Marketing Noise: While this may seem impossible, many pundits believe that there will be an increase in marketing noise from various sources. Marketing noise is basically content which does not add value. Consider this, there are well over 150 million blogs alone on the internet. And, over 1 billion websites on the internet. Are your members and donors confused by how to participate or engage with your nonprofit as a result?
  4. Guest Posting: Decrease in guest posting is quickly fading. Per one source, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s head of spam believes that is has become a spammy tactic.
  5. Adoption of video. Even small nonprofits can use video today. A simple video can help enhance a donor relationship so much quicker than a simple plan text email today. Eg. BombBomb.
  6. Acquisitions: Increase in marketing software acquisitions is a good sign that this is not a fad but rather a significant trend. Many of the database providers are looking at integrations with email marketing software providers or adding it to their offering by acquiring the technology. They are being forced to respond to this trend predicted by many.
  7. Personalization. Your members and donors want to feel special. Moving forward, if we all aren’t pushing relevant information to our constituents, they will find a different cause to support. I believe that membership and donor systems will find new ways to integrate progressive profiling into their website tools. And, if not, integrate with a marketing technology which does it.
  8. Micro targeting and hyper-segmentation. This basically is leveraging small niche communities or groups to focus on their interests. Eg. If a significant amount of your donors are on Facebook (which who isn’t), then having a donate now integration into this social media outlet is certainly worthy of consideration. Social Media is going to continue to play a big part of our digital experience. And, CRM Software for Nonprofits will begin to pull in social feeds so that development officers and member relations representative can see what’s important them and target those folks.
  9. Mobility: With the latest release by Google, everyone better focus on mobile. I wrote on this topic recently too. And, it’s not a trend anymore but rather reality. Literally, you must be in the back pocket of your constituents! Software for nonprofits must be written today with a mobile first message. Signing up to be a member or make a donation on a mobile device is critical. Can your constituents do that now?
  10. Increased online ad spend. The digital footprint of every American is larger than it was ever before. And, it will continue to grow more in the future. Marketing Automation helps track the effectiveness of your paid per click activities so you can sharpen your understanding of where to put more $ based on relevant data.

All of this, of course, in my mind points to the need to be more efficient with your marketing efforts. One off campaigns need to be replaced with more effective, better developed, well-targeted investments. Now and in the future, Marketing technologies and platforms to assist you in researching, deploying, automating and measuring your responses needs to be factored into your overall marketing spend. If not, you will be left behind.

Do you agree with more than seven of the ten predictions and trends above? If so, hopefully this will provide you with a head start on your 2016 budget planning process. Please contact us to discuss which tools may be pertinent in your marketing department moving forward.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits