I wrote last month about using my fundraising bike ride (the Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS) to test various marketing strategies.
So I did it. The marketing strategy test… not the bike ride, sadly. I suffered a broken collarbone on my final training ride and took that off the table. But I did raise more than the recommended amount of money ($750) for a very good cause, so all is well. (And I’m almost better!)
Which marketing strategy worked best for me? I admit, I used a small sample size of 110, but I learned some things that I think any non-profit marketer would have said “Yep” to in advance!
Or, as some would say, email marketing. It’s not exactly the same, but let’s go with that for this example. The event organizers gave each participant a fundraising portal to invite people to donate, and an email template to personalize and send out to your entire contact list. I followed the organizer’s advice to import my contacts from Google. (I planned to pare down the list to top prospects once imported.)
Whoops! Who knew my Google contacts had swelled to 2,400? The vast majority were absolute nonsense. The only way the portal’s tools could delete people was one email at a time. And, it would only send 2,000 emails in a go. So I had the task of going through screen by screen (of 25 emails) and deleting 400 or cutting and pasting my email into my own Gmail.
I chose the latter and added 100 people to the list. Gmail’s feature of suggesting people as you type made it easy to choose the 100 people that I email the most. I sent it to myself and BCC’d the rest — a best practice if you’re sending to a large group and do not want a reply-all explosion.
Out of this initial email, I got 5 responses and raised $450.
Not a bad conversion rate. If I had been lead scoring, I was in no way surprised by who my big donors were. As I’m sure any non-profit could tell you, you have a core base of fans who have decided to support you in all you do! (Note: I used a “P.S.” but couldn’t tell which of the clicks came from that versus the opening paragraph link.)
Key learning: great list, simple email, gets the job done.
A school of marketing based on the premise that your best prospects are part of a network. You need to have something very tailored and “shareable” to get the organization to make the decision to go with you. (Keefer puts it better, but that’s how I structured my outreach.)
I had kept 10 people out of the above-mentioned email. I thought they were particularly aligned to the idea of bike-riding/Napa-visiting/yoga-loving. To these people, I crafted a special email that offered them live Facebook tagging and thanking during the ride, with a Facebook live yoga class after the event. I copied both husbands and wives so they’d be sure to discuss it and be more inclined to get to decision phase. I got one response from this, for $100.
Key learning: choosing the best target, crafting the right offer. Wish I could have done another round.
I did two tracks in this part of my campaign:
- A traditional post with a photo requesting people to sign up to support me. I wanted to use Facebook’s new “donate” button but it would not have gone to my portal page and I wanted unified tracking. (I’ll test that button next time!) What was nice about this execution is it got supporters that I hadn’t thought to put on my list of 110. One of my favorite things about Facebook is that sometimes the algorithm will help you keep in contact with people you really like but don’t have reason to be in touch with on a regular basis. Since I don’t boost posts, I don’t know how many views I got. Out of 48 likes, I got four donations for $125 from people who followed the link.
- The ALS program automated Facebook posts that would post to your timeline one month, one week and one day ahead of the event. These posts contain no personalization, photos, personal messages. I was not surprised that they go no likes and no donations. I will not use them next time.
Note: a classic inbound campaign would have included SEO and blogging to reach people searching and looking for more information to get them to the decision stage, but not included in this limited execution.
Key learning: inbound on Facebook works well when you follow its best practices; it will get your offer in front of people that would not have been top of mind to target.
The Flaw in the Campaign and The Not-Surprising Ending
For all of the above, I did first round executions one month out. I had planned to do a second round the week of. However, the day before I was to have done these, I broke my collarbone attempting a very aggressive downhill left turn (I never could turn left!) and was basically bedridden the next week.
One of my dearest friends came to visit me whilst laid up. As we discussed the ride that was not to be, we took a look at my landing page for the ride. Seeing I was short by $75 of my goal, she gave an overly generous donation of $250.
Summary (and with roughly equal amount of inputs/resources devoted):
- Lead nurture: $450 – 5% conversion rate. (One email only and no open rate info)
- Inbound: $125 – 12% conversion rate. (Ratio of likes to donations)
- ABM: $100 – 10% conversion rate. (One email only)
- Personal relationship with supporter – $250.
Of course, she had gotten the first two to soften her up! 😉 I think any non-profit knows that there are people who are invested not only in your cause, but in you and the relationship you’ve built. This is where you can count on support.
P.S. I’ve not included a link to my fundraising portal to protect the personal data of my donors, but if you feel moved to help the effort, they are still accepting donations at the main page.