Like the Super Bowl or the World Series, the 2018 Bridge Conference elicited a big game buzz, as fundraisers from all over the country descended on the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, MD. This conference brings professionals together from non-profit organizations of all sizes, as well as companies that help these organizations thrive.
More than 2,300 attendees exchanged ideas and experiences to help marketers improve their ability to “bridge” integrated marketing and fundraising. Breakout sessions were well attended, with many presenters using case studies from their own campaigns to illustrate their success. There was a wide range of topics to choose from, though there seemed to be a greater focus on digital, email, and online channels.
Sessions Spoke of Where to Put Your Marketing Dollar to Acquire Donors
Each session I attended was informative and provided good insights. I thought there were several great takeaways from “Behind the Curtain: Real Life Case Studies of Acquisition Challenges – and How to Beat ‘Em!” The presenters talked about five key performance indicators (KPIs) and the challenges of meeting those metrics, especially in an environment where marketers are increasingly being asked to do more with less.
Everyone in the room agreed that the audience you target is 60% of your acquisition effort, followed by creative at 30%, and cadence at 10%. Senior direct marketing professionals from a large well-known non-profit, as well as a small regional organization, presented their challenges, which were surprisingly similar. Each talked about how important it is to keep testing, even if you have a small budget. They took us through all of the iterations that led them to their current control packages, which only served to confirm that a disciplined testing methodology is critical to success.
Another session I attended talked about how to acquire donors without using a front-end premium. The presenter also talked about doing more with less, since many fundraisers simply don’t have the budget to test front-end premiums. The session focused on strong copy, using tried and true direct mail principles.
The third session I want to talk about focused on integrating mail, email, and online efforts. The session included several great examples of how to successfully integrate direct mail with email and online media. It comes as no surprise that adding channels to your mail campaign increases your overall response.
Organizations Now Look to Market to Millennials
I also found time to walk through the exhibit hall and speak with veterans of the industry. While they continue to figure out how to maximize the effectiveness of an integrated approach to fundraising, many expressed their desire to bring in younger donors. Naturally, it would be critical to reach them through channels other than direct mail—or would it? If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you might recall several posts that talk about how millennials like to receive mail. That’s good news for an industry that relies heavily on direct mail to acquire and retain donors. Email does continue to grow, but still only represents 7.6% of the acquisition pie.
Combining Art and Science
Prior to the announcement of this year’s keynote speaker, we were introduced to the underlying theme of this year’s conference, Art & Science. In other words, how do we integrate creative and data more effectively? Good creative is wasted if fundraisers aren’t targeting the right prospects. As I wrote earlier, marketers agree that targeting the right audience is twice as important as the creative you send them.
At IWCO Direct, we are laser focused on understanding what motivates someone to give to your organization. Our Creative team leverages that knowledge so that we can help fundraisers connect with prospective donors at the right time with the right message.
It’s equally important to continue cultivating existing donors so they continue to give their hard-earned money to your organization. Our strategic thinking and vast experience in developing fully integrated campaigns will help you drive higher response rates while lowering your cost to raise a dollar.
Contact me today if you would like to learn more about how to create an effective and impactful integrated direct marketing program.
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