Twitter can be a great thing you know. It can be irritating, it can be ugly, but it can also be inspiring and it can also make conversations happen.
Last night I responded to a tweet from @damianobroin which asked: if you could do just one thing to improve a direct marketing programme, what would it be?
There were a number of replies and they really got me thinking (another thing I like about twitter).
There was a lot of focus on thank you's and feedback – making donors feel awesome, speed of thank you, quality comms, great thank you letters etc.
Yes, I agree – these things are all important. And should be done without a doubt.
But really? Are these the one thing that will improve a direct marketing programme? I humbly think not. And I have to admit to getting a little riled when they are presented as such.
What is direct marketing? There are lots of definitions, but they all boil down to this: Direct marketing is a targeted communication that seeks a response from an individual. It’s one to one marketing, that is measurable, whose aim is to develop a profitable & personal relationship
It is marketing that is targeted, marketing that creates a response. A response that is measurable and designed to be ‘repeatable.’ A response that builds a database of supporters to whom ongoing communications are personalised. It builds long term & profitable relationships and its cost effectiveness can be projected & analysed.
Now, I am a direct marketer at heart so I, naturally, think that direct marketing is one of the most important forms of fundraising. And as with other types of fundraising, if “you don’t ask you don’t get.”
The data really is key, to ensure you communicate with the right people, at the right time & with the right message - and testing & continuous learning is the cornerstone of direct marketing.
And if I was looking for just one thing to improve a direct marketing programme? It wouldn’t be sending a nice thank you letter. Sorry. It would be establishing controls, testing and learning and running results. And then rolling out what I’ve learned so we can get better and better.
Too many times I’ve spoken to direct marketing teams who don’t operate under these basic principles. And they can’t work out why their results aren’t the same (or better) year on year. They don’t know what it is that has made this happen. Invariably they are doing something different every time, so they don’t know what works.
How can they create that ‘personal and profitable relationship’ without this knowledge? Direct marketing is as much (if not more) about science and technique. Not pretty creative.
People will argue that a small database means they can’t introduce controls. Put bluntly, in my experience this is rubbish. Direct marketing works if you do it properly. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t, then all the nice thank you’s, mid donor programmes, 'onboarding' journeys etc mean diddly squat.
So, please. Get the basics right. If you want to do one thing that will improve a direct marketing programme it is this – get it right.
Of course do the donor care, get the thank you letter right and out quickly. These will all help improve performance further.
But forget the basic rules of direct marketing and you won’t see performance improve in the first place.
Obviously, these are only my humble opinions and I’m happy to discuss these whenever you’d like. That’s what the comments section is for – so please contribute.
P.S. You can read the Storify of the twitter chat here