Are you investing enough in digital?

ALS home page featuring Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS Association home page

No, this is NOT another “ice bucket challenge” blog post. That’s been covered, and that story isn’t even new. It just validates what Heather Fignar and I, and many others, have been saying for years: give people a reason to have fun, express their creativity, employ social media and mobile technology, integrate it across all channels and all parts of your organization (especially media relations) and you have a good chance at making a splash, (pun intended) if not some real money.

No, this is about meaningful, ongoing investment in digital advertising, and why your nonprofit is probably woefully behind the times. So far behind, that I had to go to big box retail to show you the way. That’s right… a company selling hammers, power saws, kitchen cabinets, and 2″x4″s is kicking your butt in digital revenue.

Home Depot is investing 36% of its total ad budget into digital media, especially email messaging and social media. Print only gets 10%. Digital’s share is increasing. “We like the ROI” says their Chief Financial Officer.

The company says its continued transition to online sales and digital marketing are also key, according to Craig Menear, President, U.S. Retail.

“We’ve shifted to more targeted personalized messaging to become more relevant to customers, and as a result, costs attributable to print advertising are down 60% since 2010, and have been shifted to more efficient advertising.”

So how much does Home Depot sell online? Less than three percent of its sales originate at its new website. What? How can it make money by investing 36% of its ad budget (translation: fundraising budget) in a medium that generates less then three percent of its revenue? Because one doesn’t allocate one’s investment in growth based on the past; one invests based on the future, and Home Depot is betting on digital to drive future sales.

Also, Home Depot knows that the value of its digital investment goes way beyond the amount of orders actually placed online. It knows that handymen and handywomen scope out new product ideas, watch how-to videos, read emails with special offers, and then go into the store to do business “the old-fashioned” way.

Lest you think this is a new trend, an article from 2011 lays out the plan. Home Depot had just embarked on a $1.1 Billion investment in its new website, despite then-current online sales of just one percent of total retail. They knew, according to industry research, that “around 48% of retail sales will be influenced by the Internet in 2011 and projects this to rise to 53% by 2014.”

Sadly, many healthcare nonprofits I know budget their digital investment as if it were part of their continuing, proven, direct mail budget, expecting it to return $4 or $5 in revenue this year from every dollar invested. Then, they don’t even do a good job of measuring the impact of that paltry investment beyond the online donation page.

 

 

 

Are you a mobile, social healthcare fundraiser?

coffee_dollar

What do Starbucks’ and Facebook’s recent record-breaking quarterly results have to do with healthcare fundraising? Let’s explore.

Sure, mobile has been big with Facebook over the past year, but it continues to grow. Nearly 4 out of every 5 daily users of Facebook access it on their mobile device every day. Advertisers – for-profits and non-profits alike – are showing ads to these mobile users, as mobile ad revenue to Facebook now exceeds its ad revenue from desktops and laptops.

What ads are people viewing, and responding to, on Facebook? Starbucks also reported record income yesterday, and two reasons are its customer loyalty program, combined with its mobile platform. According to Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz, “mobile payment now accounts for over 15% of all transactions in our U.S. company operated stores and we are now processing on average 6 million mobile transactions in the U.S. every week alone.”

I’ll bet that a large number of your donors drink Starbucks coffee and are active Facebook users. Sure, the stereotypical little old lady writing checks is still a significant portion of your annual fund income, but maybe that’s because you’re putting most of your fundraising efforts into the channel that attracted her (and her mother before her). Boomers, who control 70% of the disposable income in America, are all drinking Starbucks and using Facebook to talk to their grandchildren.

The good news for you is that you don’t need to invest heavily in a mobile app. Just make your site work well on the major mobile platforms – a task you can outsource for a few thousand dollars. Then, get engaged more heavily on Facebook. Use Twitter and Facebook to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter list, and communicate with them on all of those channels.

Make it easy to donate online, and then give your supporters good reasons to donate, and you’ll find digital revenue growing. My fiancé posted a fundraising message on Facebook for one of her favorite nonprofits. I viewed it on my mobile, clicked on the “donate” button, and was able to make a gift very easily. She’s raised $160 from her friends in less than 24 hours from her Facebook “event.”

Heed these words from Starbucks’ CEO: “We have invested well ahead of the curve to create opportunities for our customers to engage with their social and digital networks on mobile devices and are now beginning to see the payoff of these investments.” It’s no longer “well ahead of the curve” but modest investment on your part now will position you well in the coming year – even this year’s holiday peak.

Special offer: If you’d like a glimpse into social media use by your healthcare market segment: cancer centers, children’s hospitals, etc., contact me about participating in a free study.

Video is a great way to attract engaged web visitors

Social-Referrals-That-Matter-Mar-2014

It’s great to have an inspiring video with music and kids, like the one I blogged about from Connecticut Children’s Hospital.  But almost any video will draw web visitors and engage them, according to Shareaholic’s “Social Referrals That Matter” Report. They studied six month’s worth of social media referrals over 200,000+ sites reaching more than 250 million unique monthly visitors to get a sense of which social network drives the most engaged visitors. This is important for healthcare fundraisers.

Their number one pick doesn’t surprise me: YouTube, convincingly, in all three metrics studied:

  • Time spent on site: almost four minutes – about the length of two YouTube videos.
  • Pages viewed: 2.99 means they clicked around a bit.
  • Bounce rate: well below 50% (“Bounce Rate” is the percent of people who view only the page they clicked, then “bounce” away from the site, so the lower number is better here).

I said I wasn’t surprised. I’ve long held that web visitors would prefer to “do” a web page — engage in a quiz, game, or contest. Their second choice is to “watch” a page — a video or animation clip, and “skimming” a web page is a distant third. Note I said “skimming” and not “reading.” Reading doesn’t happen much. Did you read every word of this blog up until now? Or did you scan the headline, the graphic, the links, and the bullet points?

Healthcare organizations have lots of great video opportunities. If you’re not interviewing researchers and caregivers, patients and providers, you’re missing great opportunities. It doesn’t require Hollywood-style equipment or talent. Just grab a video camera, visit the “talent” where they are, and get them talking (or, better yet, demonstrating). Edit it to remove the awkward pauses and reduce the time to 90 to 120 seconds, then:

  • Post it on YouTube (the second busiest search engine behind it’s owner, Google);
  • Embed the YouTube video in a landing page on your site, with a call to action (like, “donate now”);
  • Talk about it in an upcoming email to supporters;
  • And, yes, post it on your other social media.

For added kick, include one or more of these videos as follow-up  in  your three most important, and most overlooked, cultivation opportunities:

  • The “Thank You” page for signing up for your email newsletter;
  • The “Thank You” email that’s sent to new subscribers;
  • The “Thank You” page for online donations

These three pages are often virtually blank and disrupt a very powerful action sequence that a supporter has initiated.

How else are you using video?

Rewarding your donors

Rewarding the behavior we desire helps to ensure that it continues.IgaveBlood

I  try to walk three miles several times each week. I have an app on my phone that records my walks and publishes them to my Facebook page when I’m finished. Yesterday, half way through my walk, my phone battery died, and I honestly thought about stopping my walk then and heading home.  After all, without the walk recorded, and published, why bother?

I quickly realized, of course, that there were other reasons why I walk, reasons that existed long before I downloaded the app. But they are longer term rewards (better health) and less visible (who’ll know?).

Is this how we treat our donors? We make our case for support, then invite them to give privately? The reasons for them to give are long-term (better healthcare, more research) and less visible (known only to your database and their accountant).

iVoted

Why not offer more rewards to them for doing the right thing? We recently tested a link on a “thank you” page that lets donors post to Facebook that they just donated to our client. The post on Facebook had a unique link to a donation form, and the post-campaign report showed that four percent of all gifts to the campaign came through that link! (Most of those gifts were from new donors!) And, since this was the first time we tried it, the donors had no idea they’d be “rewarded” with a chance to post on Facebook until after they gave.

All to many “thank you” pages are dead ends. “Thank you for your gift. Now, go somewhere else on the web.” They’re great opportunities to show video of what you’re doing, but also to encourage the donor to brag about their new (or expanded) relationship with you. Give them a chance (and a reason) to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter. Better yet, give them a message to post or a tweet to send. Beyond the immediate

In your thank-you letter, don’t spend so much time on the tax receipt. Spend time thanking them and telling them what you’re doing with their gift. Invite them to follow along. Give them something to share with their friends.

To-do list:

  1. Add more content to your web donation “thank-you” pages that will involve the donor further.
  2. Add content for them to post to their social media
  3. Add content to your thank-you letter that invites your donors to “brag” to their friends
  4. Count the number of new donors from referrals, and the increase in renewal giving, that results!

Facebook’s donation app: a good start

This week, Facebook announced that it had released an app that allows nonprofit organizations to promote and collect online donations on a nonprofit’s Facebook page and within its posts. Let’s explore this a bit.

19 nonprofits are currently in the pilot program (list). Applications are being accepted from other nonprofits (Please report on your experience.)

I donated to Girls, Inc. using a MasterCard, and to Blue Star Families  using PayPal. Both were very easy to do. Facebook had a card listed for me (probably from a birthday gift I made for someone awhile ago).

Facebooks announcement says: “They [the donors] also have the option to share the nonprofit’s post with their friends.” I didn’t see that option with either of the gifts I made.

I see sharing as a big boost to this process. In a recent test we ran for a client, we provided the share option on their donation form, and received an additional 4% of gifts directly trackable to the link in the share button.

So I don’t know whether I did something wrong, or whether both nonprofits configured the share option incorrectly, or whether it just doesn’t work yet.

Facebook also says “The Donate feature will appear beside Posts in News Feed” but I haven’t see that yet, either. Hopefully that’s something nonprofits can turn on and off; a donate link doesn’t belong in every post.

Donation through Facebook isn’t new. Some donation tools, like Convio, have been offering an app that’s almost as low-friction as the new Facebook app. It has led to some gifts, but very few nonprofits are bringing in measurable money through Facebook.

Some things that will improve the donations?

1. Facebook Adpage Grants: Like Google Grants, Facebook should give nonprofits a budget of free ads, so they can draw new people to their Facebook pages. Beth Kantor and others have launched a campaign which I gladly support. #FacebookAdGrants

FacebookAdGrants

2. Tie it in to Facebook’s Birthday announcements. It might work like this: A week or so before my birthday, Facebook can invite me to choose one or more nonprofit organizations whose pages I already like as the preferred charity(ies) for my Facebook birthday celebration. When friends click on my name to wish me a happy birthday, they’ll be given the option to make a gift to my selected nonprofit, not just give me a Starbucks card.

3. This might be a good boost for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns that are promoted through Facebook. Giving is a much more social thing in a peer-to-peer campaign, and that’s where the money is online.

Right now there’s one big drawback: the data is kept by Facebook, so these two organizations will get my gift (the whole gift — Facebook is covering the processing costs) but they won’t be able to contact me again.

Like everything Facebook, this process will change. Soon. Often. And, often, for the better. We’re all beta testers here.

What’s your experience, either as a participating nonprofit or as a Facebook donor?