How to Optimize Direct Mail with Digital Data for Fundraising Success

There are more digital devices than there are people in the world, so it would be reasonable to assume that an all-digital strategy would be the best way to reach donors. But in fact, it’s actually old-fashioned direct mailing that brings in the best results.

A report by Ritter’s Communications found that 50 percent of people pay more attention to direct mail than any other marketing channel.

Direct mail gets results as well as attention. The Direct Marketing Association found that 5.3 percent of existing customers respond to direct mail versus the 0.6 percent who respond to an email.


Optimizing Print with Digital Data

This is not to say, however, that direct mailing efforts can’t be improved. It just means that taking the effort to optimize print campaigns with the donor data you already collect across multiple channels can help direct mailing to become even more powerful.

The donor data gleaned from website visits, social media, and other public online sources, can provide your marketing or development team with a clearer picture of who you are appealing to and the ability to design more targeted campaigns.

Email tracking technology also provides opportunities for optimization. With email campaigns, you control exactly when an email campaign reaches donors, which allows you to plan integrated campaigns that include digital tactics to help back your print efforts. For example, you could:

  • Send a follow-up email to donors a day or two after the print mailer is expected to arrive in their mailbox
  • Save money on reminder mailings by checking response rates to determine which donors have responded and which ones require a reminder email
  • Create a “lookalike” audience on Facebook using your donor data and promote your campaign through pay per click (PPC) ads
  • Use dynamic web content to customize campaign landing pages that encourage donors to take action with content that speaks to them  

Customizing Copy and Design for Donor Segments

Another area of opportunity for direct mail can be accessed by segmenting your donor lists by age, or area of interest. If you have data related to which causes within your organization a donor most relates to, you can begin sending various versions of the same campaign to each unique segment.

For example, a higher education team that has data on which department an alum has the highest affinity for (e.g. Sports team, Science, International studies, Scholarships & Grants, etc.) can silo donors into groups that receive distinct mailings highlighting messaging and graphics that are most in line with that donor’s top priorities.

If your organization is not yet compiling this type of data, now is absolutely the time to start devoting resources to cataloging it. Whether it’s an extra column added to a donor list spreadsheet, or a more involved project that requires the resources of an intern to dig into research and log results, the efforts put forth to customize campaigns will not be done in vain.

Today’s donors expect customization and personalization and respond favorably when they feel seen and recognized by the organizations they choose to support.

Looking for more ways to boost your campaign revenue? Download the How To Boost Direct Mailing Results for Nonprofits ebook for more tips or contact Shawmut to discuss your next direct mail campaign.

Download our Fundraising ROI Worksheet     Download the ExactAsk eBook

This is the third post in a five-part blog post series from Adam Treiser, founder of ExactAsk, a technology platform that uses predictive analytics to reveal the optimal Ask amount for every donor in a fundraising database.

1st post in the series: 4 Direct Mail Best Practices for Nonprofits in the Digital Age
2nd post in the series: 3 Donor Retention Strategies for Higher Ed Development Teams
4th post in the series: Why Successful Fundraisers Use Direct Mail in their Omnichannel Approach
5th post in the series:  How to Personalize Direct Mail Campaigns with Predictive Analytics

Tags: Direct Mail, Fundraising, Nonprofits

Picture of Adam Treiser

Adam Treiser

A business analytics professor at John’s Hopkins University, Adam Treiser is the inventor of the technology that powers ExactAsk and is respected as a pioneer in the rapidly evolving predictive analytics space and the first to apply those principles to nonprofit fundraising.

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