2017 Bridge Takeaways for Better Fundraising Results

“Is there something risky or bold? Go after it!” says Liz Murray, a Bridge Conference Keynote Speaker.

The Production Solutions (PS) team thought big and bold as we attended the 2017 Bridge to Integrated Marketing Conference last week.

The high-energy conference allowed participants to interact with nonprofit leaders, discussing successful tactics within the direct marketing and fundraising industry. Not only did we come back inspired from numerous education sessions, we also gained valuable takeaways that both small and large organizations can benefit from.

Here are 3 takeaways from the 2017 Bridge Conference that left an impression on us:

  1. Too often we focus on expanding our reach when what we really need is to reach the right audience.

    Reach is overrated,” says PS Digital’s Director of Project Management, Avi Kaplan. “It’s understandable that we prioritize acquisition and growing our lists – audience churn is natural.”

    According to the M+R Benchmarks study, in 2016 nonprofits saw an average of 6.7% of email list unsubscribe and 7.2% bounce. Smarter segmenting to reach the right audience, donors, and advocates is critical.

    For example, in a session on social advertising and microtargeting, Chris Stergalas shared how Working America tailored its Facebook ad targeting strategy to increase candidate support by 21% in judicial elections in North Carolina and Ohio by promoting name recognition with a targeted voter group.

    Another related idea came from a session on the Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Email Fundraising. Smart digital programs incorporate a tailored welcome series to introduce new subscribers to an organization, educate, and foster deeper relationships with new donors.

    For lapsed donors and subscribers who aren’t opening your emails, create an “unwelcome series.” This gives you chance to identify truly lapsed subscribers periodically or give people the opportunity to set their preferences for the type and frequency of emails they want to receive from your organization. The message can be positive with a welcome back theme. Some organizations make this fun with creative subject lines like “Are we breaking up?”

  2. Test, Test, Test! Once you achieve a winning control don’t be complacent – there’s always room for improvement! 

    Smart fundraising professionals know the importance of aggressively testing different acquisition packages, however they also know how costly they can be. In a session held by Elena Consalvo of Save the Children, Aimee Gibbons of Environmental Defense Fund and Josef Kottler of Sage Communications, they discussed insights and experience on creating a successful control package through tried and true best practices.

    Our Senior Account Manager, Veda Ayub, explains, “Each organization took a different approach and tweaked everything from images on the carriers, to the amount of inserts in the package. No idea was left behind.”

    The case studies featured in this session showed success was measured by response rate, cost per response and average gift. By taking a winning package and reducing the footprint, it can minimize costs and maximize response and average gift results.

  3. Individual organization results may vary depending on mail cadence strategies.

    During their session on mail cadence strategies, ABD Direct’s Cathy Grams, WETA’s Alicia Salmoni, and Union of Concerned Scientists’ Laurie Marden shared their experience with testing a reduced number of mailings. We learned how these tests can help you better understand how cadence should be adapted to each donor.

    “This session was fascinating to me as it just validates that a particular strategy for one group won’t necessarily work for other groups. This is why it is so important to find what works for each client and not use an identical strategy for every organization,” says Holly Lansberry, our Senior Account Manager.

We had a great time thinking big with all of the 2017 Bridge Conference attendees, and now we’re ready to TAKE ACTION with you! Contact our team today to learn more about the latest trends and advice to help your organization have an even greater impact.

Emily Ruffing

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Emily is an enthusiastic marketing & communications professional who has an impeccable eye for design and utilizes her experience in public relations, and social & traditional media on a daily basis. She provides proactive and on-demand marketing strategies, focusing on industry trends, innovative ideas, and creative insights.

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