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#34 Channels and Teams serve a Donor's Lifecycle, Never Vice Versa + the Launch of an Ads Transparency Center
Happy Sunday. To those I spoke to this week or spent time with in-person - thank you. A very warm welcome to all the new subscribers. I’m thrilled to have you as readers and truly appreciate your feedback and support.
Let’s dig in.
ADS: Transparency and Chat
Google announced the launch of their Ads Transparency Center, where you can look up an advertiser to see the ads they’ve run, the regions they’ve run them in, when, and in what formats.
While the purpose of this tool is to give users a clearer picture of who’s advertising to them, a bonus outcome for us is a new space for research and campaign brainstorming.
I’m very bullish on chat/Natural Language Processing as a channel. On your website. Engaging with prospects. Telling your story. Capturing donations.
Microsoft confirmed that they’re “exploring new opportunities” for Bing ad experiences - including in-chat - which could mean an additional high-leverage channel for marketers to pursue.
Apparently the Bing team is also considering ways to drive traffic and revenue for publishers, such as ad-revenue sharing options for “partners whose content contributed to the chat response.” This feels like an avenue worth exploring.
NEVER Vice Versa: Channels and Teams Serve Donor Lifecycle
I shared these three images in post #27 with you:
Lots of orgs I speak to – especially those transforming their digital game – make decisions about channel launches or suspensions the same way donors interact with websites – without any pattern to it. I get questions like these often: “What do you think about the role of Branded SEM?” or “Should we launch a DRTV campaign?”
Decisions about a certain channel and how to optimize campaigns within it should be much more methodical. If anything, the process of controlling marketing is best represented by diagram #2 above – which is also surprisingly similar to the traditional way of describing the Agile methodology:
I take a beat when people rush to insert Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, or any other project management methodology. My worry is that executing it often becomes the target – rather than it being viewed as a process or tool on the way to achieving the target. I readily admit though that it’s handy in streamlining donor behavior + our responses if and when used correctly.
Say your organization is just starting out on its journey toward digital transformation and your goal is to move more “donor suspects” to “donor prospects” – three arrows highlighted in red below - what channels should be used to target these people? Is it SEM? DRTV? Email? Paid Social?
There’s no ultimate answer besides the absolutely wrong one – it shouldn’t be all of them at once.
Sequencing and process are essential. There are roughly 25 “arrows” in the above picture. Each likely includes several channels defined by the applicable Donor Lifecycle stage, previous performance, similarities in audiences. The goal of the marketing team – and your agencies, if you’re using some – is to go through them and find the best-performing mix consistently, by audience.
When I googled “Agile images” the following was on the first page:
This “snake meets Connect 4-like” image is precisely what is needed for marketing/FR teams to operate in service of their donor – and for channels to do the same. In other word, this visual frames how to make channels serve the donor lifecycle.
Note the below process:
Identify the stage of the Donor Lifecycle that you are looking to improve
Break that lifecycle stage into donor types and audiences
Consider all the data available (previous performance data from all the channels, donor insights, new things in the industry, etc.)
Select the first channel – that has the highest chance of succeeding based on the data from point #2 above and from the previous editions of this newsletter
Define the target for the channel
Structure campaigns within the channel (or Campaign within the already-existing channel) accordingly
<<<Run for some time>>>
Measure against the set target
Keep/drop the channel
Rinse and repeat
Consider the above process against the team structure I shared before:
That PM role right in the middle of the chart, counterintuitively, is crucial to ensuring that your digital fundraising program will ultimately be Donor Lifecycle-centric. We had Courtney on our team - she was fabulous - who’s your person? The above process is impossible without the owner – which the PM (or Agency Accounts Manager) can and should become.
If your organization doesn’t have years of historical data from running digital campaigns, the toughest part will be determining which channels to start from for every lifecycle step – and how to decide to move on or, vice versa, double down. Here are a few suggestions:
Start by considering my best channels matrix for every step of the lifecycle. This is already going to increase your chances to succeed versus, for example, just always starting with SEM:
Distinguish the KPI for every step. Frequently those questions I’m getting about DRTV, Email, or any other channel are coming up because people are chasing multiple targets all at once – but that’s rarely possible. If you’re right now working on converting suspects to prospects – your KPI should be a non-bounce, meaningful visit to the website. If the goal is converting an irregular donor into a monthly – the KPI is them getting to the monthly donation form (not even converting necessarily).
Decide on your Timeline and Budget for every test. The lack of consistency kills the process – every next Lifecycle Stage x Channel test should follow the exact same rules as the previous one. There’s no ideal dollar figure, but consider a window between 2 and 3 weeks to determine viability – with spending about 20% of your budget over that period on the tested channel. Your other campaigns will be able to cover the ROI targets in the meantime.
No deviations from the rules. A strong PM will help you ensure that channel managers are not making exceptions.
Commit to building and executing a process that is repeatable and scaleable. Build in terms of quarters not weeks.
AI Creative: Platform Ranks Ads by Suitability x Platform
The best way to improve your ad performance is to get the Creative right. Nestlé have been building a set of AI Creative Rules with friends at Creative X.
Nestlé embarked on an ambitious plan to put all its creative through an AI platform that would rank ads based on their suitability to different online platforms and pull out the key elements that are required for maximum ROI. I love this.
That process created a set of “rules” for successful campaigns and early tests generated transformational results, finding that ads that meet the new creative requirements generate a significantly higher return on ad spend.
Media Monks get the value of Creative too, advocating that dynamic creative optimization should be on every brand’s To-Do list.
Totally agree - why treat your donor like a stranger when you could use the data derived from the media buy to make the creative more appropriate?
It's not that hard - and people like Vidmob are really good at this stuff.
And, as shared in SPN many times, the next opportunity is Merchant Media - where to date creative has been a low priority. That needs to change.
Small Ask: If you enjoyed today’s post and wouldn’t mind “love”ing it in the header above, I’d be incredibly grateful.
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Good Reads this Week
Piper Sandler Completes 45th Semi-Annual Generation Z Survey of 5,690 U.S. Teens.
OpenAI outline its approach to AI safety
Dr Fou, a long time campaigner against poor ads, shares good advice: Today I will talk about the economics of buying better ads and why advertisers should pay higher CPMs and buy from real publishers with real human audiences.
Eric Seufert joined the Greymatter podcast to discuss the post-ATT world.
Go deeper, be inspired, and see how Duolingo do it.
Jobs and Opps
Mozilla, Director of Digital Engagement
Save the Children International, Medical Innovation & Digital Health Lead
Scratch Foundation, Head of Philanthropy
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