Treating digital as a silo

I’ll get right to the point — don’t treat your digital marketing efforts as a silo. You can’t separate what you are doing in digital channels (like your blog, website, email, social) from what you do in traditional channels (like on the phone, in your major donor program, in direct mail, on television and so on).

Your digital channels are simply another extension of who you are and what you are doing

Too many organizations treat each channel as if it has a completely independent audience from the others. The reality is that there is likely less variation than you think in your audience from channel to channel. Many people who listen to your streaming broadcast likely subscribe to your email newsletter. Or they receive your direct mail and go online to your website to give.

It’s critical that you market across all channels in tandem. I’m not saying you should parrot the exact same content across all channels without adapting to the channel, but you should drive complimentary messaging and calls to action across all channels. If I hear about a great offer on air but I can’t find it online, you’ve lost me.

If constituents have made one thing clear, it’s that they want to engage on their terms — on their own time, to whatever channel they prefer. We need to meet them where they are at — everywhere!

What’s working in digital acquisition — multi-channel integration

We’ve been talking about this for years. We’ve told you how increased online calls to action in direct mail drive results. It was the first thing on our list of how to acquire donors online. We’ve described the benefits of aligning your digital planning with traditional channels. We even talked about it in the wake of the earthquake response in Haiti.

The ministries in this study on average saw 61% of all online revenue influenced by direct mail fundraising impacts received in the previous 30 days.

The ministries in this study on average saw 61% of all online revenue influenced by direct mail fundraising impacts received in the previous 30 days.

Here’s one we haven’t written about — in a study we did a couple years ago, we looked at online gifts that came in from constituents who had received a direct mail piece within 30 days of giving online. We call this metric “influenced giving,” meaning we can reasonably infer one channel (direct mail) influenced giving to a different channel (online). We found that on average, fully 61% of all online giving in the analysis could be traced back to the influence of donors receiving direct mail pieces within 30 days of their online gift. Looking at the breakdown across ministries, we could see that those organizations that actively invest in integration across channels saw numbers as high as 79% of all online giving influenced by direct mail.

Lesson learned? The better the integration, the more the tide rises all boats.

Structure your organization for better integration

There is no perfect organizational structure. They are all flawed, but there are some that are worse than others! No matter your structure, it’s important that you align your organizational leadership of digital channels with leadership of other channels.

For some organizations, that means there is a single leader over traditional and digital results. If you’ve got the right person and the right organization, this can be ideal. But often there is separate leadership between digital channels and other channels. If that’s the case, you’ve got to work twice as hard from both sides to have common goals and to recognize that you are inextricably intertwined. A win for traditional is a win for digital, and vice versa. Realize you will both help each other more often than not, if you’re doing your job right.

You may not be able to directly change the structure of your organization. But that shouldn’t stop you from actively working to make your current structure work better for the cause of integration.

Set shared goals (in addition to individual goals)

Easily more important than a good organizational structure is really clear, shared goals. As my friend Bobb Biehl says, nothing clarifies like measurability. I’ll say that again — nothing clarifies like measurability.

What does the organization want to see accomplished, regardless of channel? These shared goals should be crystal clear and regularly visible, and leadership must be accountable to achieving them. The goals might be things like donor acquisition and retention, volunteer recruitment, etc. Whatever they are, they should be specific and measurable. These shared goals should drive people to integration — the only way to fully accomplish the shared goal is to collaborate and integrate.

As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have — email me at Or you can always catch up with me on Twitter — @daveraley.