IoF National Convention: Top 10 Digital Fundraising Goals
Last week Chameleon exhibited at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention, and we took the opportunity to run a little survey on our stand. We were interested to hear about what fundraisers are focusing on digitally over the coming year, so we asked 150 delegates the question:
By the next IoF Convention, what do you want to have achieved for your organisation through digital?
I’ve sorted through the answers and grouped them thematically in order to compile a Top 10, and here it is. You might want to grab a cuppa because the answers we received sparked a lot of thinking!
At 10, answers relating to ecommerce or online gifts.
Answers such as ‘successful sales of our xmas cards online for the first time’ and ‘more awareness of products through social media’.
Put simply, successful online sales are a result of driving relevant traffic to your site and investing time and energy in optimising conversions. ASOS’ conversion rate is rumoured to be one in 10; you don’t get to a stat like that without constant conversion rate analysis.
At 9 was Video.
With answers like ‘Better use of video to help us explain our work and secure more support’.
Video is set to become the leading method for delivering content online and I think this is because it’s so shareable. YouTube is the second most used search engine. Nine months of video is uploaded every two hours. Need I say more? In particular, fundraisers who are specifically targeting a youth audience will know that young people are used to communicating using video, and with mobile facilitating this form of communication, it’s only going to become more popular.
At 8, Email.
With objectives such as ‘a better e-newsletter’ on people’s list.
Email. It’s relatively cheap, is easy to implement and its recipients have engaged with your charity already, so it’s likely to be the bread and butter of your online marketing. Such an established channel should be one of your highest converting activities – if it isn’t, you’re doing something wrong. The fact that email features on this list suggests that fundraisers still don’t necessarily feel they’ve got this channel nailed, which is really interesting.
Effective email campaigns rely on integrated systems and good data management that will allow you to hit the right mark when it comes to frequency and relevance. What types of content convert best in your email campaigns? Are you using analytical data to drive this channel as much as you would for your website?
At 7, Engagement.
E.g. ‘Increase engagement with our supporters and reach new audiences’.
‘Engagement’ is a term that’s used so much it starts to lose all meaning, and the fact is, the meaning of engagement for you, and how you measure it, is completely unique to your organisation, and is often difficult to define.
We recently did some work with an animal rights charity in which we addressed the issue of tone of voice, examining how to communicate with supporters to get the best results. Positive engagement comes down to content delivery and an understanding of how your audience wants to be communicated with, something you need to invest time in researching.
At number 6 was Mobile, with SMS donations, apps and mobile-enabled websites cropping up in answer to our question.
We all know that more people than ever are looking at your website through a small touch screen. Ensuring your site works, can take donations and looks good on a phone is essential. Beyond this, knowing what content users want when they are on the go, and checking analytics to see what pages are popular to smartphone users will help you to decide what sections of your site need a mobile-optimised version. The process of choosing which content to prioritise for display on a mobile site is actually as much of a business analysis exercise as it is a mobile site design project, which is a bonus! You literally have a small window through which you need to communicate a well honed message.
Take time to consider how your audience is using their mobile phone to connect with you, and think about search too. Picture your average smartphone user watching television, reading the paper, walking past a billboard, phone in hand. What might they tap into Google if they’re faced with your offline activity at this moment, and what do you want them to see as a result? What’s the best call to action to present them with? Consider, for example, the fact that 50% of Facebook traffic comes via a mobile device. And that I only remember to contribute to a conversation on Twitter about a programme I’m watching when I’m prompted to by the existence of a hash tag on the TV screen.
The fifth most popular objective related to Increasing Website Traffic and Improving Online Conversions.
Eyeballs matter. Having an objective relating to website traffic is okay when it comes to making more people aware of your charity. After all, you can’t create social change without getting peoples’ eyes on your message. As fundraisers though, you want to go a step further. You want action. And to get action you have to act. This is where online conversion activity comes in. As well as driving more visits to your site, work hard at converting the traffic you do get towards completing your fundraising goal.
At 4 was Integration.
With answers such as ‘combined on and offline marketing campaigns’ and ‘integrated DM, email, social media, above the line comms’.
Delivering properly joined up campaigns is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing fundraisers. Gone are the days of having standalone websites, CRMs, email service providers etc; all platforms and channels need to speak to each other if you are to have that all-important 360degree supporter view.
The retail sector has created an online world in which brands have such intelligence about their customers that they can offer up an entirely unique websites and personalised communications to the extent that they seem creepy. Google now displays results that are specific to its users in order to find the most relevant results. The upshot of all this is that supporters expect you to know their history with you and to communicate in a highly relevant way. Integration is key to achieving this.
Social was the third most popular term used.
With answers like ’interaction between social media and email’ and ‘recruitment through current social media audience’.
Unfortunately not all answers were as focused as those above and a lot of social media related objectives still seemed to be related to the use of social media itself as a goal, rather than something more meaningful that comes as a result of social activity. Despite the constant discussion about how to get ROI from social, it seems we’re still grappling with the concept of a social strategy.
What social is worth to your organisation is entirely unique to you. For example, our client Diabetes UK found that their members were happiest using Facebook as a peer support network, so the charity chose to focus on this and not make its Facebook activity focus on fundraising. What it comes back to is knowing your audience and simply asking them what they want from you, as a starting point.
Another crucial consideration worth mentioning is social’s increasing influence on search results (what Google calls ‘social signals’). In the near future one of your biggest goals with social may be to strengthen your site’s rankings in major search engines. Search engines are now placing greater value on authors than ever before. So it’s less about where your content is and more about who has produced it and the circles of influencers related to that content author. People are taking over the internet!
The second most popular objective was to improve on or create a Website in the next year.
Your website is still very often the hub of all your online activity. There’s no point investing huge amounts in other channels if they all come back to a site that is flawed. The fact that website design is at number two suggests that fundraisers are unhappy with what for most is their core online presence. With all the distraction of the latest online developments, do not lose sight of the importance of ensuring your website generates good ROI for your organisation. An overhaul is one of the most challenging projects you’ll undertake, but putting up with broken websites will inhibit everything else you do.
The most popular objective was to Increase Online Donations.
With answers like ‘increase effectiveness of online fundraising to rival offline channels’ and ‘increase our income significantly via digital fundraising’.
Hardly surprising, but great to see. We’ve talked a lot about channels in the nine points above, but really what we’re all trying to achieve is more effective digital fundraising. Tying together good research, strategy and all your channels will make this happen. Good luck!
We’ll be at Convention again next year and hope to produce a similar piece then. I’d love to hear your opinion on my interpretation of this list, so please comment below or tweet me @danm605.
By Dan Martin, Director of Strategy, Chameleon