Good ol' direct marketing

The overall theme of the presentations I gave recently during the Greenpeace NORDIC strategy days was using windows, not mirrors. Respectfully borrowed from a Tony Elischer quote shown below. To learn from the outside world, to get to know the unknown.

In one of my sessions I’ve shared trends and developments in our sector. One of the developments I’ve mentioned resonated a lot with my Scandinavian audience. That’s the one I call: Good ol’ direct marketing. It’s the trend of email programs not using good old direct marketing techniques.

I am a fundraiser born in the 70s, raised in the 80s, studied in the 90s, and started in the 00s. When I started in my first fundraising job for Médecins du Monde in 2001 direct mail was still alive and kicking in the sector as a massive acquisition channel. We were applying RFM to our file to create potentially more profitable segments: Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value. And it worked pretty good. The file grew. Income increased over time. But the file was volatile and looking back the shift in focus to regular donors (direct debits) was very welcome.

Nowadays most organisations have captured thousands of email addresses. From e-news subscribers to existing donors. But the weirdest thing happens. The most sophisticated segmentation I’ve seen is “donor vs. non-donor”... And even that is not always happening. Why is that? Yes, I know it’s cheaper to send email, so we can keep emailing them. But what’s the purpose? Don’t you think the right segmentation makes a better and relevant offer for your supporters? Why are we not sending segmented communication? I suspect the low-cost characteristic of the online medium makes us a bit lazy…

We are all very excited about dynamic content, based on the click behaviour of our donors, to come as close as possible to their thematic preferences. But their it stops.

I’m guessing that if we shake our email tree very hard that more than 50% - 75% of our email addresses will fall off.

Are we afraid of adjusting our email supporters downward? It’s a vanity metric if we don’t look at what’s happening on the inside of our email files.

Let’s try segmenting based on past behaviour: did your email subscriber recently opened or clicked your email? Let’s test and offer them other propositions to make the next step in the funnel and get closer to that first donation or the next step on the engagement ladder.

PS. Will I see you at the IFC? I will be there 17 - 19 October.