The Obama Effect, Part II: 20 Takeaways for Multichannel Fundraisers
That the Obama campaign created three or four key communications characters, Taggart says, was a brilliant strategy for varying the messaging and also using voices donors knew and trusted.
As long as it's someone people know and can relate to, varying the sender interrupts the monotony of the inbox, says Vinay Bhagat, founder and chief strategy officer of Convio, a software-as-a-service provider for nonprofit marketing and online donations based in Austin, Texas. "Some charities will go down the route of asking celebrities to make asks for them like St. Jude often does for Children's Hospital," he adds.
13. Test Text-Only E-mails
Warwick points out that the Obama campaign used a technique that is not widely practiced in e-mail marketing: plain text e-mail messages. "If you received a lot of their e-mail appeals, then you will have noted that a great many of them were essentially text-only, with very little in the way of graphics, and they didn't often use sidebars with graphics or video on them," he recounts.
Warwick believes the simplicity of plain text e-mail makes sending e-mail less intimidating for marketers, especially those new to online fundraising, who can reach a larger number of people with their messages without getting bogged down in image and design details.
14. Wrap Appeals Around Newsworthy Items
"There are some charities that can use current events and news to motivate a gift ... Especially in this economy, it's about giving people context and creating tangible opportunities around which they will feel motivated to support you," Bhagat says.
The Obama campaign made great use of the constant media attention it received, transforming headlines into appeals, but for smaller organizations or those with different areas of focus, a little more creativity may be required. "For a social services group, if there's a particularly new success story that they've published on the impact they've had on the community or an individual ... they could use something like that to create a tangible reason to give now," Bhagat illustrates.