More Than “Points”: How To Increase Engagement through Gamification Principles

Pointers on Gamification in Nonprofits

Gamification software applies the mechanics of gaming–such as reward, leveling, challenge, and community interaction–to contexts like employee performance and member retention. The psychology behind the movement toward gamification in business is simple: the human brain seeks reward. In this article, I muse on the topic of gamification as it applies to donor and member behaviors.

More Than Points! Gamification Principles

By providing customers and employees with a reward structure, many businesses may realize an increase in productivity and revenue. As a result, industry giants like Verizon, IBM, Target, and Ford use gaming theory. Even the U.S. Army deploys gamification software for recruitment.

It’s important to note–and this is a common misunderstanding about gaming strategy–that “reward” doesn’t just mean a tangible gain like a sales bonus for advertising sales or company branded swag. Your donors and members are more complex than that.

Rather, the brain is “rewarded” with a range of positive emotions, such as the rush of accomplishing a goal or the comfort of feeling like part of a community. Effective gaming software or gaming features found in software generates these psychological rewards.

So how can your nonprofit benefit from integrating these principles to engage your employees, donors and members? More importantly, how do you want to tap in to the psychological need for reward in a way that is sustainable and mutually beneficial?

Let’s take a quick look at this and see how you may encourage and track friendly competition amongst members.

Employee Staff Engagement

The power of a gamification program for employee management may be seen in many ways. For some, the mere fact of having a unified and consistent platform for organizing employee training, recognition, and incentives is huge.

But for others, a solid platform should make every day business practices exciting for your employees. Remember the psychology of reward. Many people find it difficult to connect their daily performance (for example, the number of donor courtesy calls made) with the long-term goals of the individual and company.

By incentivizing daily work ethic, gamification software has been shown to boost employee productivity, retention, and morale. One argument against gamification for employees is that it is not scalable, that over time the rewards must increase in order to keep people engaged.

However, this argument takes a narrow view of “reward.” For example, gamification can also engage employees through challenge. These challenges don’t necessarily need to be competitive among employees. Rather, gamification can stimulate the intrinsic motivation of employees to set and reach personal goals.

Quick example of ideas a Social Intranet:

  • Boost innovation by rewarding the best ideas.
  • On-board staff faster with motivated learning.
  • Encourage increased interaction and productivity.

Gamification for Member and Donor Engagement

For most, gaming theory for customers is often compared to credit card reward points. However, this analogy diminishes all gamification can do for your nonprofit. For example, Gamification SaaS principles infused into a software tool like a community software tool can potentially:

  • Generate important member profile data
  • Build credible and reliable authority in your member community
  • Crowdsource problem solving
  • Educate members, donors, customers on the best authority or speaker
  • Ensure continued relevance of your communities content
  • Increase participation & engagement

Gamification Promotes Participation

Participation is a significant advantage for many associations. And, the tracking of participation is the root of all engagement scoring. Further, with applications like community software you may also leverage daily digests and notifications features to keep members on track.

While on the surface, badges seem like nothing more than prizes. In some regards, many may view them just as a way to “toot” your own horn so to speak. But, it’s more valuable than that for sure. Badges “humanize” the online persona of a member or donor. Certainly, it brings to attention participation as well. But, digging a little deeper it quickly promotes trust of the person and authority.

For example, would you rather ask a CAE or Non-CAE about the CAE Exam experience? Badges are important in providing depth to the understanding of the person. And, they allow others like them to become more connected. This is a fundamental point about how this principal helps engagement.

Where Is Gamification in Software Found?

A company can only yield these benefits when they pick the best gamification system that takes a complex view of reward. People like to have their voice heard, work through problems, learn new things, feel important, and give back.

When selecting any best fitted software, consider what your strategy is for it, prioritize those, and the determine which benefits make the most sense for your nonprofit and your members.

Though some of the initial enthusiasm for gamfication as the “next big thing” has diminished, there are still an over-abundance of options depending on the type of tool you need.

If you’re interested in integrating gaming principles into your nonprofit’s business plan, you may not know where to begin to find the right fit. If so, please reach out for help, OK? Contact us to learn more.

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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



The Value of Event Planning With Membership Management Software

The Value of Membership Management Software on Events Management in Nonprofits

Nonprofits have the best of both worlds, according to TheMuse, They’re changing the world in bold, interesting, and inspiring ways, and they’re also amazing places to work, full of passion, smart people, and even cool perks.” Even so, non-profits need good business tools to do these bold, interesting and amazing things, especially in the area of event planning. In this article, I discuss how membership management software can make a difference in how your nonprofit manages events.

How Membership Management Software can Enhance Event Management

Non-profit events, which can range from fundraising, seminars, trade shows to membership drives, are about building relationships with your non-profit and its cause. More important than the money raised or the number of people involved is the fact that well-planned and successful events can lead to long-term awareness and loyalty to your non-profit. While major events can raise significant revenue and recognition for non-profit organizations, these events require careful planning and preparation.

The Task of Events Required in Membership Management Software 

The actual event is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, meetings involve calendaring, to-do lists entail creation, assignment, and dissemination, registration information requires capturing, confirmations necessitate sending and follow-up surveys need reviewing.   Using membership management software, automating your event from beginning idea, through last-minute changes and future event timelines, allows everyone involved to stay on top of the important events that keep your non-profit in business and working smoothly.  An event management module in your non-profit membership management software is advantageous in more ways than one.

The Benefits of Events Management Within Your AMS 

  • Guest Registration and Data – manual registrations require staff time that might be better used elsewhere. Guest lists are complete and names are not duplicated, payments are processed securely and accounted for, rosters and name badges are easily drawn up, the list goes on and on, plus the data is all at your fingertips, not on several spreadsheets.
  • Manage Volunteers and Employees – collaboration is paramount in successful event planning. You need to be able to take advantage of people’s strengths, disseminate to-do lists and calendar timelines, making sure that everyone has access to the information they need and in a timely manner.
  • Track Vendors, Meeting Space, and Requirements – Do you need a projector in the room? How many chairs and microphones are required? Are there several exhibitors that need space? All the data regarding these requirements can be easily accessed with an events module of your non-profit membership management software.

At SmartThoughts, we realize that one size does not fit all. And, while not every nonprofit is the same, many require the need to manage events. The question seems to be, “Can we satisfy our needs with just Membership Management Software“? Or, “Do we need a best of breed Event Management Software solution”?

And, the answer is,”It Depends”. However, with a little time we can advise you about the benefits of each approach and help find the software best suited to your non-profit needs. “Software should not be like buying a box of chocolates,”  so if you are overwhelmed with the choices available or simply need an objective opinion, contact us. We are here to help you find the exact software for your exact situation.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

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