Archive for the ‘DMAW Monthly Luncheon’ Category

Let’s Geek Out Over Data!

August 19, 2013 1 comment

by Gay Bitter

I am a self-professed data geek, so Angela Struebing’s presentation on Multichannel Attribution at the August DMAW Lunch and Learn was right up my alley.  Calculators were not provided but there was plenty of math during this great presentation!

So, what is multichannel attribution and why does it matter?  This methodology provides a new tool to the campaign analysis process that allows you to more effectively give credit to the correct communications channel and touch point in a multichannel campaign. When used correctly, it enhances the ability to maximize marketing dollars spent.

This colorful infographic, The Mullen Marketing Ecosystem, is a somewhat overwhelming example of all of the communications channels potentially influencing your donors or customers.


Prospects don’t see a single message, so how do you figure out how to use your organization’s marketing dollars wisely?  Each channel has its own metrics, each brings in donors or customers with varying lifetime values, and each has its own rate of response decay.  Using attribution allows you to measure lift by channel and will help you determine which channels to continue to use and which to drop.

Current practices that many marketers use are Confirmed Response and Matchbacks.  Flaws in these analysis tools are that they don’t factor in organic joins, follow-ups are likely given undue credit, and only touches with a reply device can be measured.  Another practice, Fractional Allocation, is used in many iterations, but again, doesn’t provide true insight on the contribution that each marketing channel makes to a donation or response.

Using weighted multichannel attribution (yes, some math is required here!) gets you closer to seeing the value of each channel.  Angela shared an example measuring the effectiveness of mail, email, telemarketing and cookie ads on a campaign.  Using this method, she found that cookie ads were using 9% of the marketing budget, but contributed only 1% to donations, so this channel should be dropped.  Mail used 66% of the budget and contributed 52% to contributions, so reducing mail quantity is a logical step.  Telemarketing, which used 20% of the budget but contributed 33% to donations, should be increased.

So what are the pitfalls?  You need to withhold prospects during testing.  This gives you a baseline to measure against.  That means you are missing potential donors; you can correct this by increasing your prospect universe on your next campaign. The good news?  You only need to test once a year, and results for clients in similar industries can be used for others in the same industry, but be aware that results can differ based on geography as well as industry.

Here are a few best practices to consider before you engage in multichannel attribution for your organization.

  1. Make sure your offer and creative is consistent across channels – use the same imagery and message.
  2. Online interactions should be held to two clicks or engagement will drop.
  3. Contact prospects many times until you see diminishing returns or increased opt-outs.
  4. Plan your analytics and coding before you start.

Attribution is not a magic bullet that replaces all of your tried and true marketing analysis, so don’t throw out your old results.  It’s just another tool in your toolbox.  And, one last bit of advice from Angela, don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis.  Know when to stop!


GayBitterGay Bitter is Vice President, Marketing at Relevate, a leading provider of comprehensive data marketing solutions. She can be reached at


Drunk Donating: The Greatest Test of All

March 26, 2013 1 comment

Just when you thought you’d heard it all in marketing, the DMAW Monthly Lunch and Learn series brings the discourse to a new level.

Cathy Finney of The Wilderness Society and Heather Marsh of A.B. Data brought their combined more than 25 years of experience in direct marketing to a full room of DMAW members and non-members alike, representing nonprofit organizations, associations and marketing professionals.

Email Marketing – Tips, Tricks, and Results, showcased practical and proven tools for creating and sustaining an email marketing strategy.  As with all marketing endeavors, the work begins with a plan.  Cathy pointed out that The Wilderness Society’s plan is a mix of messages:  advocacy, stewardship and solicitation.

Heather advised attendees to create a production schedule.  The schedule should include when an email is scheduled to be sent, message topic, deadlines for drafting, editing and testing emails—as well as accounting for approvals.  Determine what works best for your organization.  Negotiate a balanced strategy between communications and development:  what works for one department may not work for another.

The divide between communications and development forms the basis of silos at many organizations.  To combat this, organizations ought to create a structure that promotes constituent-centric strategies.  Bring together all stakeholders to determine who manages the website, handles digital marketing and fundraising, and create shared goals.  By managing schedules and communications, sharing cohesive tracking documents and meeting regularly, organizations can effectively break out of the silos.

This segued to the presentation’s theme:  TEST!  Heather emphasized the golden rule of testing:  do not test that which is not actionable and does not produce statistically significant results.  She advises using a minimum of 100 responses (i.e. clicks; opens; donations) as a reasonable test results threshold.

Among the myriad of “testable” features:  From line; Subject line; day and/or time email is sent; and the use of symbols (i.e. unique characters).  A goal of testing these features is to improve open rates.  Most frequently asked question:  what is the best time to send an email?  For years, Heather responded that the best time was when you will elicit a response.  A 2012 GetResponse report stated open and click-through rates are highest between 8-9 am then differ where open rates peak again between 3-4 pm while click-through rates peak between 3-8 pm.  Now, we don’t want every organization sending emails at the same time so be sure to test.

Obama For America made sure to do this when they sent an email late at night, asking for a donation—welcoming the era of “drunk donating”.  Cathy and Heather cautioned that this is not one-size-fits-all marketing.

Another means of testing is to be an activist, donor or prospect.  Seed your email address and track the results.  Test messages using different devices:  phone, tablet and computer.  Test how an email appears in different browsers and email services.  Monitor your competitors and industry leaders.

By varying the buttons, copy and pictures or graphics, you can test click through rates.  Most clicks are a result of calls to action.  Be sure all emails support your brand and message.  Segment contact lists by low dollar, mid-high dollar, prospects, activists, sustainers, and lapsed donors.

In addition to organic growth, you can grow your file by using search engine marketing, Google Grants, e-appends, petition networks such as Care2, remarketing and ad buys like Facebook ads.


Goldie Heidi Gider is the Director of Advancement at the National Women’s Health Network, a membership-based organization supported by 8,000 individuals and organizations nationwide.  She can be reached at

DMAW November Luncheon Blog

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

By Amy Sukol

Everything old is new again.  That was the important message that Annie Hughes, President of Type A Strategies,  shared at the November DMAW Luncheon , Smart Copywriting = Success.

Despite the fact that the world of communication has changed radically in the last 10 years, the basics of excellent fundraising communication remain the same, or in some cases, have become even more important.

Here are Annie’s five “rules with a new twist”:

Old Rule #1:  Smart copy clearly outlines the benefits of giving.

New Twist: On email and in social media, there is very little space to share these benefits.  So you must get to the point right away and communicate this critical message in the most concise and direct language.

Old Rule #2: Copy should be conversational.

New Twist: Don’t break this rule!  In fact, in the brave new world of social media, you need to take this rule one step further.

Old Rule #3: Add urgency to all copy.

New Twist: Urgency works even better in social media.  Take advantage of the immediacy of these channels to get critical messages out in a timely manner.

Old Rule #4: Tell a story and show how a gift can help.

New Twist: Passion is infectious.  Social media can ignite passion, especially if you are scouring  your organization for the stories that are particularly compelling.  Reach out to people from all across your organization to uncover the stories that really capture the good work you do.

Old Rule #5: Be direct – explicitly ask for money

New Twist:  This is even more critical in social media when you have less space to make your case.  In addition, your call to action needs to be in the beginning of your copy so that, no matter what device your message is being viewed on, the reader will see it without having to scroll down.

The one new rule that Annie described is the rule of integrated communication.  She provided several case studies showing the power of integrating messaging across all channels – mail, phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

While the return on investment from these campaigns wasn’t realized in the social media sphere, they absolutely increased fundraising online and in the mail because the social media engaged the audiences and got them involved in the campaigns.

Thank you Annie for an important reminder that the things that make copy effective haven’t changed, even if the channels have.

Guest Blog: Social Media: It’s Not Just About FB and Twitter

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

By Sue Marchese, Director of Business Development, Production Solutions

Senior Strategist of Social Media at Living Social, Jason Peck ironically thought back in 2007 that “Twitter is for stalkers, thieves and jealous girlfriends.”  Fast forwarding to Jason’s presentation at the DMAW’s October Lunch & Learn, Jason now not only embraces Twitter today, but he encourages direct marketers to think carefully about three key things when it comes to social media:

  • What are your objectives?
  • How can they scale successfully?
  • How can you get the greatest impact with the least amount of effort?

Jason advised to start with social media objectives and not buzzwords.  He challenged the group to consider:

  • How will things change at your company by having a social media (in terms of revenue, perception of your product/service, increased yield, etc.)
  • How can you go from reactive to proactive
  • When, where and how do you reach new audiences
  • How do you turn objectives into reality and not just an exercise in the process?  Set targets: (e.g. increase revenues by X% by X, 2012)
  • What kind of valuable content will you offer up to differentiate yourselves?

Next, after your strategy and objectives are well-thought through, how do you make it all scale?  He tackled that rhetorical question from the organic versus paid perspective about building a community.

Social sharing drives invaluable traffic, and according to a study by, a friend talking about a product on Facebook is almost as valuable as an organic Google Search for that product (48% helpfulness vs. 49% helpfulness).  Further, Jason swears that SSO (Social Sharing Optimization) is the new SEO.   He advises that all direct marketers think about SSO and how social sharing can be integrated into all aspects of their social media strategy.  He argues that social sharing needs to have compelling metrics to track it, i.e. sales conversions, traffic to your website via social sharing, how many click-throughs from your shared content, etc…but we’re not there yet.   Social Sharing has its pain points, among them, besides the fact that it’s hard to tell how social sharing affects Key Performance Indicators, not enough people are sharing and what’s being shared is not all that interesting or valuable.

Nevertheless, Jason illustrated several best practices that Living Social employs when it comes to social sharing:

  • Create different hypotheses of what to share and test, test, test!
  • Don’t over-complicate your social sharing…KISS
  • Google URL Builder is great for customizing URLs for your social sharing campaigns
  • Make sure that you don’t silo the input you get from social sharing and social media in general…make sure feedback gets back to your customer or client relations department
  • And no matter what, remember, a company sending something about their product or service to hundreds of people is SPAM…compelling and motivating your fans to pass on an endorsement or recommendation themselves is priceless.

Susan Greco Marchese is Director of Business Development with Production Solutions, a direct marketing company that has been providing over 30 years of proven expertise in direct mail production management with integrated marketing solutions.

Driving Digital Marketing Success with Google Analytics

August 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Ready Set Rocket: any luncheon speaker from an agency like that is bound to create a little fun (and perhaps impart some something meaningful along the way)!  The topic at the July 19th Lunch & Learn was Marketing Metrics, certainly the focus of marketers everywhere, and in this case, a focus on Google Analytics.  Jonathan Lawoyin from Ready Set Rocket was able to lift attendees off their seats with an in-depth yet entertaining demonstration of both the strategic and tactical implications of this tool.  Indeed, Jonathan began the presentation with an approach you don’t often hear from the tech community: “If you want me to help you, let’s begin with your business objectives”.   This 35,000 foot view with a “begin with the end in mind” flavor certainly resonated with the attendees.   Jonathan went on to explain the next step: Identifying metrics that addressed the objectives. His list included definable KPI categories (and specific examples) for Awareness (e.g. brand searches), Conversion (e-commerce transaction), Engagement (content downloads), and Loyalty (RSVP’s for seminars).

With regards to KPIs, he further explained how they need to fit top-down roles in an organization.  For example, CEO’s will have broader metrics than CMO’s and Digital Strategists.

Jonathan’s presentation went on to drill-down from the strategic to the tactical, in helpful ways. Jonathan suggested to more data-driven, Google Analytics data can be used to drive Adwords keyword bidding.  For example, in cases where there is insufficient conversion data, keywords that drive longer visits (Average time on site in Google Analytics’) can be viewed as more valuable, and bid higher in Adwords.

Additionally, some of our useful Direct Marketing concepts – such as the Campaign Order Curve – can be viewed in Google Analytics (labeled “Time Lag”).

Finally, the topic of attribution – namely, the issue of “how much credit” goes to a given channel (display, PPC, or other advertising) for a response – stirred some interesting discussion. Jonathan fully admitted that this is not an exact science, but data and metrics available in Google Analytics (such as the First to Last Click conversion ratio) can help marketers to better understand the impact of certain channels as the first interaction point on the way to a conversion.   This data can give additional insights into consumer navigation patterns over the usual practice of “last click only” attribution.

Perhaps the best takeaway for this luncheon was expressed by DMAW Exec. Director Donna Tschiffely, in her thank you message at the close of Jonathan’s presentation:  “What I am hearing is that you really need a strategy”. Certainly some of the attendees, who had a bit of a glassy look after technical bits of the presentation, were very agreeable to that notion.


Bruce Gregoire is president and founder of Desktop Marketing Solutions, Inc. (DMSI), Falls Church, VA, and also an adjunct professor in Customer Relationship Management at the Carey School of Business, Johns Hopkins University.  Since 1998, DMSI has focused on data-driven marketing programs.  In 2006, DMSI’s WiseGuys Marketing Software received the marketing analytics award from the National Center for Database Marketing.  Bruce can be reached at

You’ve Got Data and the Message. Vehicle Delivery Needed.

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

“Ha! You’ve got to be kidding.  You can barely walk the dog without getting winded and you think you can run a 10 K….”

My inner struggle begins with a glance at a piece of mail.

“Sure you used to play baseball back in the day but that was when you had a sliver of athletic ability and now all you have is a giant slice of chocolate cake…”

The tabbed, four color, self-mailer had caught my attention and demanded that I open and read further.

“Why are you still reading this?”

The compelling images and messaging had hooked me, it was too late, there was nothing I could do but continue reading.

“Well, this does look like a good idea and the money raised will help a lot of people who don’t get no respect, no respect at all.”

The call to action was too strong for me to resist and soon the doubting voice in my head, which oddly enough sounds like Rodney Dangerfield, began to subside.

“You know what? Let’s do this!”

And boom, just like that, a piece of unsolicited mail compelled me to part with a few $10 dollar bills and run 10 kilometers.

You’ve got the data and you’ve got the message, now all you need is a vehicle to deliver that message to your audience.  So what options do you have? Well, as Cheryl showed me, LOTS!

At the June 21st, DMAW Lunch and Learn, Cheryl Keedy from Production Solutions brought the wide world of direct mail design to the forefront.  Our luncheon tables were strewn with dozens of mail pieces (a nice touch) which showed tangible examples of the many options at our disposal.

Cheryl broke down the many types of mailings we may run across (e.g. statement, high dollar, premium, etc.).  She showed hundreds of examples that helped illustrate “what’s mailing now”.  Cheryl has her finger firmly on the pulse of today’s direct mail market and while I had seen many of the examples, in one form or another, she informed us of which design options were working well and the markets where they were successful.

Knowing what has been successful and what consumers are responding too is a vital key in planning your mail piece.  Because, in the end, all marketers want the same thing, for their mail piece to be relevant and compelling enough to be opened.

Direct mail remains a relevant and powerful marketing tool, one capable of getting me to run 10 gut busting kilometers. Cherly is right, whatever, your message; whatever, your challenge. Direct mail has a design option that will help you get to the finish line.


Garrett Reid is an Account Executive at RMS Direct and is in the Customer Service Department.  He can be reached at 240.436.1007 or

DMAW’s Direct Data Dose: Blackbaud Spews Facts About 2011’s Direct Fundraising

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Again in 2011, direct donors to major nonprofits declined in number. The median change was a 2.1% decline in both the number of donors and the dollars they gave in 2011, compared to 2010.

Blackbaud’s Paige Grainger talked to about 40 DMAW members at the monthly Lunch ‘n Learn meeting on May 17 at SEIU’s conference center. Those present also got a segment-by-segment comparison to 2010.

Some of the highlights:

  • Arts and Culture, and Religious nonprofits are seeing signs of recovery
  • Environmental organizations saw little change, on average
  • Human Services and Societal Benefit organizations saw strong increases
  • Health, International Relief and Animal causes saw significant declines
  • Online donations have grown steadily, but still comprise just 8.8% of all revenue.

Blackbaud’s Target Analytics has been analyzing the donor files of 80 or so large nonprofits for many years, and updates their analyses of this data every quarter. Over the past five years – in fact, since the third quarter of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina’s philanthropic outburst,  the number of donors and dollars has declined.

Over the past five years, the decline in the number of donors has declined 5.3%. While the chart shows a gain of 1.9% in revenue, this represents an inflation-adjusted decline of 8.9%

The DMAW members and guests in the room offered a variety of explanations, which Paige agreed were plausible:

  • The economic conditions have caused many donors to cut back on philanthropy (yet the decline began before the recession).
  • Natural disasters have a big impact in the health, international relief and animal sectors, but little impact elsewhere. Naturally organizations that raised millions after the Haiti earthquake of 2010 saw comparative declines in 2011.
  • What we as fundraisers do has an impact. For example, for at least the second year in a row, the number of new donors has shrunk, possibly due to reduced budgets for acquisition. In 2010, recapture of lapsed donors increased, possibly due to more intense focus on data mining within organizations’ own donor files.

This index only focuses on 80 of the largest, long-standing organizations in the sector. According to the IRS, the number of 501(c)(3) organizations has increased 16% between 2005 and 2010 . The donors to those organizations are in many cases those who have abandoned larger, older organizations. The reasons? Newer organizations might be more creative and aggressive in fundraising.

New organizations might also have causes that are more attractive to some donors. Many new nonprofits practice “laser philanthropy” – solving very specific and local problems. For example, rather than giving to a universal cancer research fund, donors may enjoy being able to support causes that research cures for very specific causes. This may appeal to many donors who didn’t realize they had a choice before. Similarly, “Save the Monongahela River” might siphon off donors in the Northeast who previous gave to a national environmental organization.

A wealth of industry data is available from Blackbaud, click here to learn more.


Rick Christ is a former DMAW President. He is Vice President at Amergent, a direct fundraising agency and database provider that has expertise serving regional and national nonprofits. Follow Rick on Twitter – @Rick_Christ  or email him at

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