Remember our work with the University of South Carolina and the Face of Y’ALL campaign? (If not, you can read about it here) Well, we’re happy to introduce you to the university’s newest Face of Y’ALL winner, Michelle Parsons Kelley, ’04, ’07! The University of South Carolina has taken tremendous strides in engaging the young alumni population, and we’re so happy to see individuals like Michelle committed to giving back to an institution that provided her with not only a National Merit Scholarship, but a world class education.
Read about Michelle and her ideas for the Y’ALL Campaign here!
We’re talking about sports fundraising all week—here’s another one of our awards-winning videos. This one was created as a part of University of California at Santa Barbara’s campaign, and won a Bronze Telly at the 2012 awards!
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Pursuant Sports is proud to be a sponsor and exhibitor at the 47th Annual NACDA and Affiliates Convention Week. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics is the largest association of collegiate athletic administrators, boasting a membership of more than 6,100 individuals and more than 1,600 institutions throughout North America. In excitement for next week’s events, we reflect back on some of the great work we’ve done for some outstanding university athletic programs. Watch the video we put together for Oregon State University’s membership campaign, then read the full case study here!
Another example of how our team excels in knowledge and execution. The following video was produced as an alumni giving appeal for Pepperdine University. This piece was awarded a Gold Addy award as well as Best In Show at the 2012 ceremony. In addition, this video won a Silver Telly at the 2012 awards!
“Clarity trumps persuasion.” That’s what my friend and mentor Dr. Flint McGlaughlin says is the key to successful marketing communications. He would know; Dr. McGlaughlin heads up MECLABS, a market research company that works with Fortune 100 companies to optimize their sales funnel. Through their 10 years of research spanning1,300 plus experiments, including more than 1 billion emails and 10,000 landing pages , MECLABS has developed a rigorous methodology that has been proven to optimize email campaigns.
But how might this methodology work in the nonprofit world? That’s been the focus of my research over the past three years. This whitepaper will introduce the new science of optimization and provide you with practical ways that you can apply rigorous testing to your email campaigns.
What IS Optimization?
Optimization is defined as:
• To make effective, perfect, or as useful as possible;
• To make the best of something;
• To be optimistic,
• To constantly push forward.
Peter Drucker once said it this way: “Adequacy is the Enemy of Excellence.” As it relates to email marketing, your website or even direct mail, what you did last year…or even last month…could be communicating the wrong message, wearing your donors out or, worst case scenario, convincing them to ignore you. But where do you begin to optimize your donor communications and move them from adequate to excellent?
Start with the End in Mind
Oftentimes we are so excited to test out a creative idea that we fail to think through what we were trying to accomplish in the first place. We end up sending mixed messages, like the direct mail package that says, “A nickel could save a child’s life.” So, by mailing a nickel, what did we just do? Is that what we want to communicate to our donors? No, but if we neglect our strategy, we will regularly fail to execute on our goals. Instead, we say things we don’t mean and mean things we don’t say. Yet hopefully, through such failures, we learn what not to do and can optimize our efforts for next time. Later in this series we will cover the psychology of optimization and some practical formulas and tips to start optimizing immediately.
Do: Allocate resources where data reveals opportunity.
Don’t: Budget by channel.
Look at your core budget and consider the most effective ways to allocate dollars. When your strategy is reinforced by data, you will know where best to spend your money. Pool resources currently allocated to specific channels (e.g., telemarketing, direct mail, etc.) and then redistribute those resources based on available opportunities.
If you’d be more comfortable starting small, design a test or pilot. Focus on a mini-campaign and measure the results, then tweak and expand using past success as leverage to garner future resources that create scalability.
Do: Invest in strategy development, execution, and analysis.
Don’t: Be afraid to outsource.
Too few organizations evaluate the real costs of salary, benefits, and other overhead when smart people do work that could be either managed with better technology, or
outsourced with the same or less expense and a higher return on investment. Having an outside perspective can also help create focus, offer insights into emerging
trends, and provide an unbiased opinion on a strategy’s effectiveness. Spend your time doing what only you can do and let systems and/or strategic partners help with the heavy lifting.
A word of caution: Vendor management can become unwieldy if you choose to work with several channel-siloed firms on one strategy. Expect your vendors to integrate along the same lines as your strategy does and allow them a seat at the table. If they aren’t interested in integrating, steer clear.
Do: Set up a centralized system to manage campaigns.
Don’t: Worry if you can’t afford major software.
As you align your internal departments to work toward shared goals, the next logical actions are to set up centralized systems and shared databases.
• Make sure your various databases—marketing, fundraising, finance, etc.—talk to each other or that you exchange reports consistently. Consider centralized software options to coordinate all the various channels and communications going in and out. Inexpensive systems are available as a place to start. You cannot truly measure the worth of an integrated strategy unless you track and prove it with data.
• Let technology do the tedious routine work. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to automate manual routine practices, such as importing spreadsheets of donor data with address changes, event attendance, and online behavior.
• Accept that no database is perfect. Many solutions exist (and within a range of costs) that are designed to pick up the slack where your current system may be lacking. These systems can provide more robust reporting, create data overlays with external source information, and warehouse data for sophisticated analytics.