Making the Most of Multi-Channel Communication

Photo by 2create via Flickr

We live in a multi-channel communication world. We send and receive messages via direct mail, email, websites, and social media.  Chances are your nonprofit organization is using all these channels to communicate with donors and other supporters.  All of these channels can work and they can work better if you use them together. 

How do you decide which channel works best for you and integrate all channels in your fundraising and marketing campaigns?  Here are a few suggestions.

Go where the people are
Do you have several thousand people on your email list, but just a few hundred Twitter followers?  Then you should spend more time communicating via email until you increase your number of Twitter followers. That said, you can use other means such as email and your website to invite people to join you on Twitter and Facebook.

Once is never enough
If you only mail out a fundraising appeal, your success rate will be much lower than if you also send out appeals through email and social media. According to Convio, dual channel donors give an average of $123.29 annually, which is 46% more value to a nonprofit than direct mail only donors.

In addition, we are all very busy and have to contend with messages from a variety of sources.  We might miss a fundraising appeal when it comes through the mail or email, but have our aha moment when we get a reminder on Facebook.  On the other hand, some people never use social media or email and respond better to direct mail.

Avoid overkill
How often you send out messages depends on the channel.  Because of the cost, smaller organizations may only send out direct mail pieces a few times a year.  Sending out email anywhere between once a week and once a month is the norm. You can use social media more often, even up to a few times a day.

But make sure you have something good to say. Don’t just put something on Facebook because it’s been a few days since you posted anything. This makes me think of a recent quote by marketing expert Seth Godin – “Is more always better? Sometimes, only better is better.”

Here’s a link to an editorial calendar to help you plan your communication strategy. LightBox Collaborative’s 2012 Editorial Calendar 

Keep track
For every campaign, keep track of how many donors come through each channel.  Do the same when you recruit volunteers or hold an event.  Figure out what works and what doesn’t. You may not have that many people responding through Twitter because your supporters don’t use it, you haven’t built up a following yet, or you have a lot of followers, but aren’t using Twitter effectively.   

Stay consistent
When you are communicating across channels, make sure your messages and look are consistent.  If a donor goes to your website after receiving a fundraising letter, your donation page should have the same message, along with your logo.  It’s okay to use exactly the same messages.  Just alter them for each channel – e.g. your social media posts will be shorter. Everything you send out needs to look like it’s coming from the same organization.

All paths lead to your website
Often when you send out a letter, an email, or a social media post, you are directing people back to your website. This means whatever web page you are sending them to needs to be effective. Make sure it looks good (no clutter), has compelling content and an engaging photo, and is easy to navigate.  How You Can Create A Welcoming Website

These are a few examples of ways to make the most of your multi-channel communication.  How do you use multi-channel communication?

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