Maximising donor engagement online

Personalisation through online marketing can enable charities to maintain a positive and more productive relationship with their audience, writes Jon Cano-Lopez

Jon Cano-Lopez
Jon Cano-Lopez

Whether it’s a free coffee on your birthday, or your local shop assistant remembering your name, it’s nice to feel special. Personalisation allows marketers to stop people from feeling like just another number, but rather a valued individual.

Consumers revel in the personal touch, and this is no less the case when it comes to online marketing. Fortunately, charities and their data partners hold a surprising amount of information that is not only interesting but also incredibly useful for this. Although charities might not be maximising this data currently, there are several ways they can utilise this method to build stronger, more valued relationships.

The British Heart Foundation shook up the way it uses digital in 2014, focusing on a far more personal approach to giving their donors what they wanted out of the website. By using cookies, the site could track the supporter’s journey and how they used the website, allowing them to create a data-based profile of the individual. If the charity then matches this data with that which is gathered offline, they can create a 360-degree view of the donor, allowing them to optimise how the website interacts with each visitor. This could be highlighting the fun runs page to those that like activities, or highlighting the success of the shop sites to those donating objects.

This 360-degree view can also show how often supporters donate, meaning they are not being over-targeted and allowing charities to see patterns in their donation behaviours. This means that the charity can prompt the right amount of donations depending on the individual, be that two or twenty two pounds.

By utilising the data BHF had gathered from their supporters, they can now provide an online experience that is tailored to the individual. Personalisation allows marketers to work proactively rather than reactively, staying one step ahead and demonstrating to the charities supporters that they actually ‘know’ them. This in the long term allows them to boost donations and enhance the support.

Personalisation is nothing new and marketers are fully aware of the many benefits it can have. In 2014, Econsultancy’s research showed that 74% of marketers know that personalisation increases customer engagement.

However, the same study highlighted that only 19% of marketers are actually using personalisation. The personal approach makes perfect sense for the charity sector. This is an industry that is built on an emotional response. REaD Group’s recent report on the charity sector ‘Who gives’ discovered that of those that support charities, 48 per cent cited personal relevance, an issue that affects them or loved ones, as a reason to donate. When they support that charity they feel good, they are glad they helped and as such charities should demonstrate that they value the individual.

It is proven that personalisation improves donor retention. Donor retention is built on relationship and familiarity, two things that personalisation both facilitates and is predicated upon. On top of this, personalisation also makes your marketing useful. People are bombarded with advertising, marketing and banners. What if you could reach out to your charities supporters with the exact information they want, that makes them feel valued as a donor? I imagine they will be far less likely to close your web page and will spend more time with it, clicking through on the links that are relevant to them.

Jon Cano-Lopez is the CEO of REaD Group, a communications agency that works with the charity sector

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