Increase Response: How to Coordinate Direct Mail, Email and Social Media Posts

Direct mail. Email. Social media. They all play together in today’s best-performing fundraising campaigns. They complement, bolster and feed off each other. In a way, they illustrate the idea that “the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.”

Integrating these elements follows no easy or predictable formula. Every nonprofit, even every campaign, can require its own thoughtful approach.

But there are some helpful guideposts:

Build digital response into your direct mail.

We can learn a lot from forward-thinking retailers who do this all the time. Including a digital driver in a print piece is your opportunity to turn unknown readers (those reading a direct mail package) and into known (those visiting your website, where you can collect data).

This option is growing in popularity. Adding a digital next step is now showing up in 18% of nonprofit direct mail campaigns.

QR (Quick Response) codes—those little black-and-white squares on many restaurant dinner menus—are growing in popularity. Save your donors the step of typing in a URL with the mobile-friendly QR code instead. Just be ready for someone to interact with your site on their phone.

Overall, this print-to-digital trend helps you minimize the amount of copy you’re running in direct mail. One study found that the length of direct mail copy has decreased by 62% over the past 20 years. Instead of going into detail, consider directing people to a digital offer that further explores the topic.

Stop thinking of email as a reminder medium.

In many fundraising campaigns, email is viewed as support for direct mail. That’s not how most businesses approach email. Bigger lists, more data and way lower costs mean that email could be the main way that your donors and prospects hear from you.

One strategy we’ve employed at Stelter: “The Bundle and Sandwich.” The idea is to calendar your campaign in a tight period of weeks (Bunch) and use email to prime, support and confirm the direct mail message (Sandwich).

The “rule of seven” suggests that a consumer must see or hear a message up to seven times before you can expect them to take action. Plus, they likely ignored some of your messages along the way. Email is a critical way to get your campaign the attention you need.

Include social media in your plan.

Social media now plays the role once served by mass media channels such as television, radio and newspaper. It’s where people go for news and entertainment, as well as connection.

We recently shared 12 ideas for doing better on social media. Tips include:

  1. Boost your promotions
  2. Tell micro-stories
  3. Use calls to action that have a clear benefit to your followers

Planned giving fundraisers should pay special attention to Facebook because it’s well-trafficked by older adults. Pew Research noted that 73% of adults aged 50-64 use Facebook with 50% of those 65 and older using it.

It’s Marketing 101

The principles of marketing play out with multichannel communications: Get in front of the right people at the right time with the right message. Your best response is always going to come when you meet donors where they are.

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