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 This tectonic shift has created a need to improve upon outdated systems that can no longer keep up with the demand to increase your supporter flow, ensure better prospect quality, and prove campaign program effectiveness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

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


Analytics in Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits and Analytics

If you haven’t got the hint yet, I am a fan of Marketing Technologies. And, one of the tenants of Marketing Automation Software which fuels my enthusiasm is deriving the value found in the reporting and the intelligence it provides. With marketing intelligence you can better understand the impact that development and marketing efforts are having on overall business. And, then you can refine strategies and develop repeatable processes for success. In this article, I discuss how marketing automation software can provide immediate impact in analytics and the mechanics behind it.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits 

“Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

The Need For Marketing Automation Analytics 

More than ever, marketers are being held accountable for demonstrating how marketing investments directly translate into a transaction being made by a supporter. In the nonprofit sector, they are certainly different from the for profit business community but nonetheless the end goal is the same. You desire to “close” your supporters on something. Some examples of a closing transaction could be a new member join, an exhibitor signing up to buy booth space, or a constituent making a pledge based on a year-end appeal.

Modern Marketing Automation is led by outbound and inbound activities (emails, educating, etc.) but those activities are fueled by intelligent data analytics and reporting. Implementing the proper analytics systems can help you make critical decisions regarding which parts of your marketing efforts are working or not, and provide the reporting tools necessary to justify those decisions by connecting them directly with membership/donor moves management and ultimately revenue whether that’s dues, events, non-dues, or donations.

The Mechanics of Marketing Automation Analytics 

Marketing automation helps manage your workflow so you can glean key data that will maximize your customer relationship management (CRM Software for Nonprofits), social monitoring, and business intelligence (BI) investments. Core analytics metrics which I find particularly popular include:
  • Digital behavioral history
  • Inquiry to constituent conversion rates
  • Most popular website pages and time spent on page
  • Leading referrers, search engines, and keywords
  • SEO Auditing of Landing Pages and Forms
  • Google AdWords Reporting
  • The Effectiveness of Marketing Program Campaigns
  • Conversions (recorded who actually closed)
  • Opens, Closes, Bounces, Opt Outs etc.

Marketing Automation Software Can Go Beyond Google Analytics Too

I know what you are thinking. And, I am glad that you are! Yes, any good Web host, or Google Analytics, will give you access to some good information about your visitors, who could be turned into subscribers, members or donors. But, with these tools which for many are difficult to access or even navigate you are limited to the following:

  • The number of visitors
  • The average numbers of pages per visit
  • Some visitor demographics, like location and language
  • How people access the site, mobile versus computer, type of browser

Certainly, that anonymous sort of information can tell you how popular, and interesting your site is. Further, rudimentary trend information can sometimes reveal a useful insight about visitors too. However, with Marketing automation software it can deliver more detail:

  • How long people stayed before clicking away
  • Where they were when they visited the site
  • What individual pages each person visited
  • What search terms did visitors use to reach the site

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits Can Go Beyond Email Marketing Services

Again, I hear you. Well, we have an email marketing solution for our analytics so I assume we have it all taken care of. Well, not exactly. The analytics found within Marketing Automation Software works in concert with your email (outbound campaigns) too. In other words, together the two solutions combined (or within) offer valuable analytics further beyond just what they did with your one-off emails. Rather, it can show analytics which track it down to what they are doing, did, and reacted to it on your website. Then, pull them into a program to continually feed them more!

How Analytics Helps Establish Conversion Strategy

Further, Integrated web analytics lets marketers track social media sites (Referrals From Social Media Sites) and relevant blogs that drive significant traffic to their website (Referring Sites). From there, Marketers in Nonprofits can with marketing technology align their content sharing efforts with the social channels most likely to drive higher traffic and engagement, maximizing the impact of each campaign and boosting marketing ROI.

The core data that once took hours to fuse together from various systems (Google Analytics, Email Marketing Service, CRM, Content Management Systems, Social Publishing Software) and spreadsheets is streamlined via marketing automation dashboards to provide visibility into campaign ROI relevant to your specific nonprofits needs.

Canned Analytical Reports of Marketing Automation

There are many solid options which do a stellar job in terms of analytics. We keep track of quite a few, and I am personally impressed with many options on the market today. We use a marketing automation solution in-house. While we are certainly not a nonprofit, the value is certainly as applicable.

The solution we use internally comes with a variety of canned marketing reports, like these examples:

  • A “funnel report” that allows the user to track how potential customers, or donors, move from first contact to being customers.
  • Real-time tracking reports for email campaigns, so a Development Director can see ow an email marketing campaign is working.
  • Landing Page reports make it easy to see what channels are doing the best job of bringing in visitors.
  • A/B testing is easier because the software tracks which letter or offer got a better response from site visitors, an email list or a donation page design.
  • Who may have abandoned various web pages

The Best Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits

Ok, now I know the burning question for all the readers who made it this far; What Marketing Automation Software platform is the best for Nonprofits?

Our answer is the same as any other software solution we help clients find. There is no “Best Software” for everyone. However, you should strive for the “Best Fit”. And, the best depends on how you define success and the features most closely aligned to your mission.

A quick selfish plug. If you like to get started by seeing what’s out there, download our free marketing automation software list below to help get an idea of the players in the market today.

In closing, marketing automation software provides some valuable analytics which you can benefit in so many ways. And, nonprofit executives can learn a huge amount about their organization’s marketing efforts, with a modest investment of time and money. And, with increased demand for ROI accountability, as well as the need for more consistent communication across all departmental teams, this technology can definitely help establish the impact of your efforts and improves performance of your various campaigns through powerful analytics.

To talk more about the return on investment of analytics found in marketing automation software, or anything else, please Contact Us. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits