Marketing to Jane Differently Than Joe

In her continuing series, we welcome special guest, Stelter Editorial Director, Katie Parker.

If you look at your mailing list and consider it just a collection of names, it’s time for a marketing reboot. Knowing your donors—and talking to them personally instead of globally—is the key to marketing effectiveness.

You’ll never have a donor raise his or her hand if the messages you send are clearly not for them. (Do you as a dog owner cut coupons for cat food?) Translation: You’re wasting valuable resources and time.

Instead it’s time to target. Targeted marketing hones in on your audience, bringing the most impactful message to the most message-ready group at precisely the time they’re most open to hearing it. Succinctly: It brings focus to your efforts. (Bonus: Enjoy a free download featuring four ways to use your segments.)

By asking yourself what your segmented or targeted group needs, you can generate solutions that resonate specifically with them.

3 List Must-Haves

Your segmented list is ready to go if it has these three things:

1. It’s filled with donors who are motivated by your mission.

2. It’s substantial enough to generate results that meet your end goals.

3. Each piece of donor information is up-to-date (emails, mailing addresses, social media handles, etc.)

How Do You Segment?

Demographic differences are a common and appropriate way to segment your lists. For example:

  • Age and gender are likely data points you have today that can help tighten your messaging.
  • Geographic differences are also critical, particularly whether donors consider you a local cause (in their own backyard) versus a national or international organization. Stelter research (NMI Healthy Aging Database®study) has shown that donors prefer to give to local organizations, so customizing communication materials with messages that emphasize outreach and results closest to where the donor lives are more likely to resonate.

Study psychographics, too:

  • What do your donors value?
  • What do their lifestyles look like?
  • How do they behave? They are obviously charitable, but donors, for instance, who give to your annual fund regularly may need help understanding how a planned gift can extend their impact after their lifetime.
  • Is your donor a parent or grandparent? Including family imagery can make your message stand out.

Finally, look at your current donor base. What are some characteristics they have in common? Is it their age range, part of the country, or because they were all volunteers at your organization? The best predictor of a good target for your future messaging is identifying who has responded to your messaging in the past.

When it comes to segmenting, also consider your brand’s mission. If you’re a college, you know that enriching the lives of students and preparing them for future career success is at the heart of what you do. Knowing who will benefit the most from their success—alums who appreciate their own college experience, the local community who will soon employ your graduates, even the football fan down the street who has a Saturday ritual of tailgating and rooting for your team—can inform your segmented messaging. Clearly these three list examples have a different affiliation for your school and would respond to different types of creative messages.

The tighter your segment, the more on-point your messaging can be. Ultimately it’s about using your resources to motivate gifts—all the better when that messaging goes to those who just need a little nudge.

Don’t forget your free download!


Then tell us: Do you segment your communications today? Where have you seen the biggest segmentation wins?

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