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How to Personalize Your Marketing to Drive Engagement

By Association Adviser staff • April 16, 2021

Associations and nonprofits thrive on gifts from donors and participation from members. Without donations, your organization will lack money to fulfill its mission. Members also are critical to many organizations. If members are not engaged, they won’t sign up for another year. Engaged members also can increase membership because they tell others about their experiences. Personalized marketing is one key way to keep both donors and members engaged.

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To personalize effectively, you’ll need to know your audience. Gather information about each person, including demographics, interests, and patterns of engaging with you. One way to do this is to ask questions when they first give or join. What was it about the organization that attracted them? What way of donating is most convenient to them? What type of communication do they want to receive, and how often?  Another way is to use analytics to understand the right message and the right time to send it. For example, one nonprofit that helps people living in poverty used geolocation data to identify all their donors affected by a recent hurricane in South Carolina. They then set up an automation workflow program that sent emails to prompt the team to call to check in with their donors. The donors’ connection with the nonprofit was strengthened, according to Gabe Cooper. This same tactic also could be used effectively in associations to check on members after tragedies.

Here are a few pro tips for personalizing your association’s marketing:

  • Using your data to help drive your member marketing campaigns will improve your marketing ROI. For example, predictive analytics can help you determine who will most be interested in a particular event to target marketing accordingly.
  • Using sentiment analysis from channels like Twitter can help you understand how members received events. You can then improve the member experience at future events and better target drive content in magazines, newsletters, and social media.
  • Using prescriptive and predictive analytics also can help you determine the optimal amount to spend on fundraising.
  • Using predictive analytics to score leads also can improve efficiencies. Tools such as Google Analytics, Prosper202, and BeMob help identify what yields the best conversions. Still, more advanced tools can provide even greater insights, such as how a certain demographic group attracted through a Facebook ad would respond to certain types of Web landing page copy.

Improve E-mail Marketing

According to Campaign Monitor, about 300 billion emails are sent every day worldwide, but users typically open only about 25 percent of their emails from nonprofits and click through only 4 percent. Personalization can improve the open and click-through rate by as much as 26 percent. One simple way to do this is to use the person’s name in the subject line.

However, to really be effective, personalization must go beyond just using the person’s name. The content must be personalized to their interests as well.  Group people by interest or demographics or use behavior-triggered emails. For example, if a member has signed up to attend a conference, they might receive an email asking them to sign up for a pre or post-conference session. Another tactic is to send a friendly “we miss you” email when you’ve not seen a member or patron at events. The email would include a list of future events and content specifically tailored to entice the member to click-through to a Web page.

Remember that more than half of all emails are read on mobile devices, according to Campaign Monitor. Shorter blurbs and fewer photos make for easier reading. To stay current on design trends, sign up to receive email campaigns of large organizations similar to yours, then adapt. The Pancreatic Cancer Network, for example, sends functional emails with videos that increase the click-through rate.

Personalize Landing Pages

You can take the concept of personalized emails even further by also personalizing the landing pages. Develop several landing pages that match specific segments, then send customized emails that pair with them. When the donor or member clicks through, they’ll find a landing page consistent with the email they’ve received. For example, if an email urges members to take a stand on a federal policy change that is being debated, the associated landing page would be devoted to that policy change and its potential effects on your industry or cause.

Personalize Social Media

Don’t just rehash your newsletter and Website content on social media. Instead, focus on items that users will want to share — news and statistics about your cause or recent stories about how you’re supporting that cause.

Use your research to determine what messages will connect with different target groups and what media they use. Then create social media personas that enable your content to appeal directly to those groups on their preferred medium. For example, the for-profit firm Denny’s has successfully engaged customers with different personas on each social medium. Denny’s uses research information from organizations such as Statista to determine that most Instagram users are under 35, and other research to determine this age group valued humor. They then created a meme-heavy, humorous Instagram persona. Their persona on Facebook, which is used by an older crowd, is safer.  That same approach also can work for nonprofits.