Why Fundraisers Use Direct Mail in their Omnichannel Approach

The direct mail channel plays a vital role in fundraising strategies for nonprofits of all sizes and across varying causes. According to research from InfoTrends, which was recently acquired by Buyers Lab to form KeyPoint Intelligence, adding print to any direct marketing campaign can increase response rates by up to 17%. However, to be most effective print and direct mail should be part of a comprehensive strategy and omnichannel approach.

Since on average it takes 7-13 marketing touches to convert, it is important that potential donors see your message repeated across the many channels they use. For nonprofits, in particular, using an omnichannel approach including direct mail, email, telephone, and social media, for example, can generate a 20% increase in the number of gifts.

Closing the Channel Gap

Direct mail is just one of many tools in your marketing toolkit. On its own, direct mail already has great reach, but pairing it with your other marketing channels—in an omnichannel approach—can boost your results by keeping donors engaged with your organization across multiple platforms.

Far from pestering you donors, taking an omnichannel approach actually helps strengthen your relationship with donors by providing a consistent message across multiple touchpoints.

“The one action that marketers can take toward delivering a true omnichannel experience is to take a step back and understand omnichannel is not the end goal; it’s about moving beyond just omnichannel and providing a customer-centric experience for the best results. Marketers realize that the experience the customer has is important, but they often miss the mark when it comes to understanding what will drive success,” said Guy Yehiav, CEO, Profitect.

Omnichannel marketing also works to help close the channel gap, which results in missed opportunities and growth.

By coordinating all your marketing streams, your team can close the channel gap which ups your chances of running a successful campaign.

For example, as part of the kick-off of your annual fundraising drive, your development team sends out direct mail to past donors. Thanks to improved mail tracking technology, your team knows when mailers will be reaching mailboxes and can follow up a few days later with an email that expands on the information in the mailing and reminds donors of the campaign. After a few weeks, data can be used to follow up with those who haven’t responded by sending a postcard or email or placing a phone call.

Integrating Direct Mail with Content Marketing

Direct mail can be integrated into a modern content marketing campaign by adopting best practices and styles from the web.

The idea behind content marketing is to create interesting and valuable content that will attract donors and spur them to action. Telling stories is a great way to loop direct mail into a larger content marketing plan. Stories play well across all marketing channels and will spark engagement much more than a rattling off of statistics or dry facts.

Dos and Don’ts for Successful Content Marketing

  • Do segment your donor list and target each segment with content that speaks to them personally.
  • Do create content that provides value to donors.
  • Do be flexible in your approach. Chris Schraft, president of Time Inc., explained to Direct Marketing News that his team tracks campaigns to see if they are getting a response and, if not, they move on to a new strategy.
  • Don’t rely solely on technology and digital communications. Sharing your message across as many channels as possible helps you reach a larger audience and grow a bigger donor base.
  • Don’t be afraid of emotion. Offer content that donors will react to on an emotional level and make them feel motivated to give. Video is often a great way to get donors engaged on this level.
  • Don’t leave out parts of your team. Often designers, IT, and others outside marketing are brought in at the end to help implement a campaign. Instead, get those folks to the table early so that you can fully understand what tools are available to get your message out.

Tools to Streamline the Creation of Omnichannel Campaigns

Using multiple channels may feel like more work, but it doesn’t have to be. Technology has offered many tools that help nonprofit organizations run more efficiently and save time and resources. Effectively applying those tools is key to saving on overhead and being able to devote more resources to your mission, while getting your campaigns out across many channels

Using your website to collect donor contact information can free up staff for other projects. It’s a great system until someone mistypes their address. But comparing direct mailing lists with the contact information that comes in via the web lets you verify addresses so that information reaches donors the first time and ensures they don’t feel neglected when the information they requested never arrives.

Using multiple data streams also frees up staff who would otherwise be manually checking addresses and saves you money on printing and mailing information that won’t reach its intended audience.

Another way this approach can help you cut costs is by providing your development team with a current list of those who have already donated, regardless of how those donations came in. This will help you cut down on the number of reminders you send out and keep you from alienating someone who has already donated with (what seems to them) like another immediate ask.

The Big Takeaway

Look at direct mail marketing in a holistic way, and move out of the silo approach. The exact medium doesn’t matter as much anymore as does the content itself. The most effective campaigns incorporate multiple channels that work off each other to achieve better results.

As Ellen Bristol, the nonprofit fundraising expert behind Bristol Strategy Group, puts it, “I think, today, we have to look at the different media of transmission as complementary.”

“You can't do all digital. You need to do some snail mail. You can't do all snail mail. You have to complement that with electronic mail and with inbound stuff. Your social media complements the appeals. Now, we have a full 360 degree set of mechanisms.”

Download the How To Boost Direct Mailing Results for Nonprofits for more ideas on how to boost your Development efforts or contact Shawmut to discuss your next direct mail campaign.

Download our Fundraising ROI Worksheet     Download the ExactAsk eBook

This is the fourth 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
3rd post in the series: How to Optimize Direct Mail with Digital Data
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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