Five Take Aways from the February DMA-NF Conference

February 20, 2014 - by Bryan Evangelista

A snowstorm is no match for the direct marketing industry!

Last week, the morning after the biggest winter storm of the year, hundreds of fundraising and marketing professionals braved the elements to attend the 2014 DMA Nonprofit Federation Conference here in Washington, D.C.

The session content was terrific! Here are our top five take aways:

  1. Study the control packages of the continuation lists you are mailing in acquisition. This will show what the prospective donors you are trying to recruit have been responding to. You might gain insight about what motivates your prospects, and it could help you generate some bright test ideas to help better compete for new donors.
  2. Every organization probably has an appeal that performs well year after year. One organization boosted those results further by reminding donors who had responded previously to that appeal that they had done so (“Your gift to this campaign last year made a real difference …”). For this organization, that simple reminder lifted response rate and average gift resulting in a 20% increase in net revenue. This is an easy and inexpensive test that almost any organization can try!
  3. When conducting tests in direct mail, response rate and average gift tend to have an inverse relationship. If your test improves response rate, many times average gift declines. But did you know that this inverse relationship can also apply to email open rates and click through rates? An intriguing subject line might get more people than usual to open an email, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those extra people will click through to take an action once they read the entire message. Overall number of clicks – and ultimately revenue – need to be analyzed when determining an email test winner.
  4. The debate rages on about when is the best time of day to send an email. Of late, mid-afternoon (1-3 pm) seems to work better if you want people to take action, while late-afternoon (3-5 pm) works best to improve open rates. While this continues to shift over time and varies by organization, there’s something else really interesting to keep in mind when sending out an email … time zones! With a three hour difference across the continental U.S., an early morning or late evening launch time needs to be looked at closely. Word within the industry is that the safest bet for national organizations … once you decide what time of day is best to send an email … is to work off the Central Time Zone hour.

  5. Communicate with people who sign up to participate online! As part of a recent study, e-signups for 150 different organizations were monitored and analyzed. Incredibly, 37% of the organizations sent nothing within the first 30 days of sign up, and 88% had no welcome series at all. They also found that 54% of the emails sent and 84% of the donation pages available were not optimized for mobile viewing. While organizations might be doing a good job of driving donors to their websites, they are stopping donors from giving by not optimizing!


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