What’s working and not in digital – Part 2

Last week I shared the first of a series of themes in non-profit digital marketing that emerged from a group of national leaders I hosted earlier this year. I’ll recap those quickly here — you can view the post to see details:

Theme #1: Online revenue growth is accelerating

Theme #2: The rise of sustainer programs

Theme #3: Email is not dead

Theme #4: The cross-channel audience myth

Today we’ll continue the 3-part series with the next 4 themes.

Theme #5: Usability testing drives improvements and optimization efforts

Organizations that have developed a culture of optimization are seeing growth that regularly outpaces the rest of the industry. By culture of optimization, I mean an organization that consistently uses testing to inform digital efforts, with an end goal of driving growth.

There are 2 types of testing. In usability testing constituents are asked to perform key tasks that the organization knows they want visitors to complete easily on their website. How constituents complete those tasks is monitored, and testers observe where constituents struggle. In addition, usability testing helps identify opportunities and potential improvements to the user experience.

The second type of testing is optimization, which is often informed by usability testing. In optimization, we set up split tests of an online experience, and determine which variation drives a lift in the metrics we want to see increased, such as conversion rate, revenue, sign-ups, and so on.

Theme #6: Attribution is still a challenge with online channels

Digital is the most measurable medium we’ve ever had, and yet the least directly attributable. Users regularly move between devices, platforms, websites, and their email. Our ability to track all of the impressions and engagements across channels is difficult.

There have been advances in attribution in the last few years. Tracking techniques created by companies like Facebook and Google allow us to track when a user sees an ad, doesn’t click, but then later goes to the website and gives a donation. We are also pioneering techniques at Masterworks to better measure the impact of all channels working together.

The world we are moving into is one where direct attribution will be increasingly difficult. The good news is that, while not directly attributable, we have many different data points to measure how our marketing is working in indirect ways.

Theme #7: Name acquisition to donor conversion is a high priority for online acquisition

This strategy aims to capture names through an offer of content/premium/engagement, and use a tailored conversion stream to recruit those people to become donors.

While not every organization is investing heavily in name acquisition with the intent to convert those names to donors, several are, and others are watching. Many organizations are trying to break the model of needing to use traditional media (direct mail, phone) for conversion, but no one has figured out fully how to get a name and convert it to a donor in an online-only approach.

Theme #8: Online advertising is more sophisticated and effective than ever before

There are a few different methods of advertising today that enable us to surround the people we are targeting with content and ads as they surf the web. We can present consistent messaging to these people that integrates with what they are seeing on the website, in social media, and even in direct mail. Results are promising and play into the traditional advertising axiom that you need 6-7 impressions before a message sticks. Now we can track and display messages to people in multiple digital media to create this effect.

There is also a form of buying that is increasing in popularity called programmatic advertising. It is a technology-driven way to get ads in front of the right people faster and at a very large scale. It promises to help us deliver the right ads to the right users at the right time, better than before. We wouldn’t say it’s transformed non-profit digital advertising, but it’s promising. Here’s a video explaining programmatic (skip to 0:59 to see how it works in action).

Stay tuned for part 3. I’ll cover trends in Google Grants, micro campaigns, non-cash giving, and tailoring websites to individual users.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or would like to chat about any of these themes.