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Can Your Nonprofit Afford To Wait On Marketing Automation?

The Cost of Not Having Marketing Automation

Can your Nonprofit afford to wait on marketing technology decisions? Certainly, nonprofit leaders are short-staffed and overworked. And, sometimes it is difficult just to take a step back from day-to-day challenges to look at longer-range marketing strategies, even those critical to success. In this article, I share my thoughts on the impact of delaying your decision in exploring marketing automation technologies to help you get the right email marketing message to right supporter at the right time.

Why Are You Waiting For

Marketing Automation Technologies? 

I have written quite a bit on the topic of Marketing Automation on this site and how nonprofits need to consider the options in the market today. Why? It’s very important to have the tools you need to do more to “attract” and “delight” your supporters more than ever. According to many marketing pundits, your supporters will continue to interact with your nonprofit in the digital universe. As a result, they will continue to find you via search engines, check on your integrity via social media, and collaborate with your supporters online.

The new buying landscape has changed marketing’s approach to lead generation and management. This tectonic shift has created a need to improve upon outdated systems that can no longer keep up with the demand to increase your supporter flow, ensure better prospect quality, and prove campaign program effectiveness and ROI.

Is Your Nonprofit Capitalizing On This Digital Trend?

If you agree with the marketing predictions, then why are so few nonprofits embracing this reality and seeking ways to capitalize on it. I have a few thoughts on the matter. First, no decision is a decision, right?! And, delaying a decision or kicking the decision (the can) down the road is easier to do when you have so many things up in the air, buns in the oven, or you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off. But, waiting could be costly to your mission and the sustainability of your organization.

Second, it’s easier to deal with the “fires” than plan for the future. This isn’t a nonprofit industry phenomenon but rather applies across industries. The changing role of technology in all of our lives requires that we plan and have a business technology agenda. And, one focus that is often overlooked but which impacts both short- and long-term strategic planning is technology upgrading, especially in areas which are perceived to be less critical such as marketing. Why?

  1. One reason is the term “marketing.” In my opinion, it sounds too corporate to some nonprofit executives. The idea of “improving revenue” or “attracting leads” is often seen as disconnect with the nonprofit community. And, mainstream marketing technology providers aren’t doing a good job of helping understand that their marketing technologies can help them too.

  2. Another usually is staffing, as in: we are too busy serving our members or seeking supporters to take time to do technology upgrading.

  3. More reasons can bubble to the surface when your nonprofit is faced with the option of automating: too busy with fundraising events, too busy producing shows, too busy networking, currently upgrading our website and e-newsletters…. You get the picture.

If any of those reasons to delay your investing in an automated marketing platform sound familiar, read on to discover the price of waiting and delaying a decision.

The Cost of Delaying Marketing Automation

Time Drains: Let’s say that you are splitting your time between fundraising and networking. Consider the amount of time it takes right now to ensure that your fundraising and networking investment is rewarded with long-term results.

  1. You may have numerous digital and paper files with duplicate or insufficient information.

  2. With information captured piecemeal, it may be difficult to maintain optimum relationships with your donors, prospects, and volunteers.

  3. Worse, some opportunities for new revenue may slip by.

Missed opportunities—whether in capturing new donor and volunteer prospects or new clients both are equal blows to the health of your nonprofit and its critical mission.

  1. Ask yourself this: Wouldn’t my agency be better off taking a short period of time right now to implement an automated marketing platform that helps us better track our members and donors and capture new ones, rather than missing new opportunities for months or years to come? 

  2. Now ask, Will there ever really be a time when it’s “convenient” to implement marketing automation?

More Contributions: Framed this way, it becomes obvious that a short-term investment of time, money, and staffing right now to pivot to marketing automation will soon start having long-range returns:

  1. More butts in seats, more campaign donors, more event attendees, higher name recognition, more clients, more people eager to serve as volunteers—the list goes on.

Marketing automation technologies allow companies to produce complete marketing programs—from email creation and landing page design to launching complex drip and nurture campaigns—in a fraction of the time that it takes companies who are not using such systems. Your programs are optimized for success.

When companies implement a focused supporter process using a marketing automation system, they improve their interactions with prospects from the initial point of inquiry through conversion. Through systematic digital profiling, and behavioral and demographic scoring capabilities, marketing automation systems can create highly-targeted campaigns that reach the right people, with the right message at the right time in the buying cycle such as making a donation, attending a training class, or even becoming a member. But, don’t take my word for it.

Nonprofit Case Study

I recently attended a webcast held by a consulting firm, Idealist Consulting, which helps nonprofits implement marketing automation technologies. In this webcast, a nonprofit foundation, The Jefferson Awards Foundation, underscored in their case study the significance of moving from a “one and done” approach to a more programmatic approach to their marketing campaigns.

They cited the following benefits:

  1. A more regimented approach for communicating with its stakeholders.

  2. Greater ability to personalize its communication to students, donors, and media partners based on engagement with its owned media properties.

  3. They now an effectively ensure that its program participants remain active and complete the required program material within the allotted timeframe.

  4. The foundation has become a data-driven organization – shaping responses and messages according to engagement and demographic information.

They attribute the marketing automation software as the catalyst which has enabled JAF to help drive stewardship and brand awareness. Further, as a result of implementing a Marketing Automation Software solution, ACT-ON, they have seen a dramatic impact in changing their thought process and implementing marketing automation to help support their philosophy change.

More Data To Explore Marketing Automation 

According to a study done by NTEN in their Nonprofit Benchmark Study, here are some significant findings as a result of nonprofits using marketing technologies:

  1. Nonprofit organization email lists grew significantly – up 14% in 2013.

  2. Online donations were higher than ever before. Online giving was up 14% in 2013, with monthly giving revenue up 25% compared to 2012. Monthly giving accounted for 16% of all online revenue.

  3. Nonprofits received $17 for every 1,000 email messages delivered. Overall, email accounted for about one-third of nonprofits’ online fundraising revenue.

  4. Nonprofits received $0.60 per website visitor so the more you attract through inbound marketing the more likely you will convert to donors.

  5. More people visited nonprofit websites. Monthly website traffic for the nonprofits in the study was up 16% in 2013.

Sifting Through Automation Choices

One other thing derived from the webcast was the mere fact that there are many marketing automation software options. In fact, this particular foundation mentioned that they had performed the usual search process with varying degrees of success.

So, you might be asking yourself, how do I know which software offers the best ROI for my agency too? After all, we’re (choose the right description) very small, only mid-sized, rural, urban, focused on our mission, & simply grasping for our daily survival.

The good news is that the world of marketing automation is not cookie-cutter. Or, is that the bad news? I assume it depends on your perspective, right! But, while the perfect software is not an option, take some solace that the right fit for your agency is available.

And, there’s more good news too. This is one time when you don’t have to have all the answers yourself—you just have to know where to look for them. It turns out that we have already done all the software reviewing for you and can advise you on which option would be the optimal fit to maximize your agency’s ROI.

Ditch the months and months of demos, vendors calling you for follow ups, and costly delay. Contact us today to learn how a short-term investment in marketing automation can boost your client, member, and/or donor base, improve your e-news content, and build your revenue streams over time.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits


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