Every marketer—whether working in a for-profit or not-for-profit—has one goal: Get customers, clients and donors to “Show Me the Love.” You want them to sign in, sign up, and send money.
In the dark days of yore, your options to reach these folks were limited. Direct mail; print, radio and TV advertising (or PSAs); public relations (like press releases); telephone solicitations; special events, and of course, word-of-mouth. You recognize it: It’s Marketing 101 stuff.
But today is a Brave New World, gentle people. Statistics show that each one of us is bombarded with 5,000+ advertising messages per day. That’s more than our great grandparents saw in their entire lifetimes!
Email, social media, PURLs, and text messaging has added opportunity, but has made it harder to get your message to stand out from the crowd. Figuring out where you get your donations or sales from is affecting marketers in all industries.
We are all adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Some of us simply have better life jackets than others.
So many options. So few facts.
Before you develop that fatal deer-in-the-headlight stare, consider the age of your target market. Younger folk have a variety of paths from which they get information, and no single channel predominates. Muddying the picture further, the X and Y crowd don’t seem to have developed the brand loyalty of older generations, so their allegiance is up for grabs until a clear pattern emerges. Older folks tend to stay with what they know and are comfortable with.
Here is what’s working (or not!) for a variety of marketers:
Retail. 100% of us buy retail. Just ask Safeway. But just over half of us say they have made contributions at the grocery or retail store. Most of the contributors are younger, as older folk still prefer to receive their information through direct mail, and younger people tend to spend and give more spontaneously (ie “Would you like fries with that?” “Of course!”)
Internet. Despite lingering privacy issues, most of us shop on-line today. Retailers are making great headway on the web. Non-profits are benefiting as well. 35% of the Gen Xers have gone on a charity’s web site to contribute as have 29% of the Gen Yers. But here’s the bad news: What had gotten them to that website in the first place is still TBD.
Social Media. Social Media is still largely a young person’s game. Nearly 100% of individuals under 30 use social media, with that percentage decreasing as age increases. While many of the younger users look to friends for recommendations, older users don’t. 36% of those under 30 years old have talked about a charity with friends in the past month and 29% have posted that information on their Facebook page; oldsters, not so much.
Text messaging. With near 100% cell phone market penetration, you’d think that text messaging would be huge. For instance, 77% of the public had heard about contributing to Haiti earthquake relief via their cell phones and 36% indicated willingness to contribute this way. But there is a huge generational divide. While 13-14% of the X and Yers contribute by phone, only 4% of Boomers do.
Social Events. Younger people tend to prefer social events such as 5K runs and galas. Older individuals who participate in galas tend to be gala goers, not long term prospects for donations (“I want to be seen with the right people.”) Younger people tend to give/buy spontaneously without much forethought. By comparison, older donors like to do research before they invest (think Consumer Reports and charity watchdogs), hence social events provide a bit of peer pressure to get more from younger audiences.
Direct Mail. Direct Mail is still one of the best channels for reaching people. DM earned attention—and money—from almost 100% of the Boomers, 43% of the Xers and 26% of the Yers in the last year. The age divide continues: Individuals born before 1965 voiced a strong preference for direct mail; people born after 1965 preferred web sites.
It goes on and on. Today’s multi-channel environment demands that marketers find new ways to determine response rates and ROI. We’ve figured that much out.
We haven’t figured out how to compute the value of internet vs DM (direct mail) vs WoM (word of mouth) vs text messaging vs Social Media vs special events, etc.
So many options. So few facts.
Like so many things, it used to be simpler.
Give me a hug. I need one.