Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Nonprofits and Associations Can Learn from Retail Marketing

Earlier this summer, I was looking at a gas grill on the website of the big home improvement store I despise the least. Days later, I began seeing ads on unrelated websites, including Facebook, featuring the same grill from the same retailer.

It’s called ad retargeting, and you’ve probably experienced it. Retargeting may seem creepy, but it’s very effective. At its core, ad retargeting is the process of serving advertising messages to web users based on something for which they’ve already expressed an interest.

How does it work?

When you visit a website and view a product, the site places a piece of code called a cookie onto your computer. Other sites see the cookie, and know to serve up an ad for the thing you just saw, but didn’t buy.

Cookies are the essential ingredient that makes retargeting work. We think we hate them, right? But really, they make the world wide web, our world wide web by customizing our experience. I have learned to embrace them, or at least accept them. 

Why it works:

Retargeting provides another touch point to engage a prospect and convert them to take action. It may be just the nudge they need to complete their purchase. Or, in the case for nonprofits and associations, register for a conference, sign up for educational opportunities or make a donation.

Putting retargeting to work for you:

If you have something to offer (doesn’t everybody?), consider retargeting as part of your marketing efforts. The fact that people have visited your site and spent time viewing specific content makes them a more qualified prospect.

Retargeting is all about encouraging a customer (member, donor, attendee) to take a specific action. First, think about the action you want the user to take. Is it to register for a conference, or simply come back to the site to learn more about the benefits of membership?

Next, determine the call to action for the retargeting ad, such as “Register now for early bird savings” or “Exclusive benefits for new members.” As with all advertising, a strong media plan and good creative are key ingredients to success.

Measure! Fortunately, the technology for running retargeting campaigns include some great tools for analyzing metrics. This allows you to very quickly know what messages are working, with the ability to tweak them for the best results.

How to get started:

Decide who you want to target, and the best message for each. You can retarget based on specific pages and content on your website, so take advantage! For someone visiting your conference site, make sure you have a few different conference ads. Do the same for other content like education sessions and membership/

Start with a campaign of four to five different ads for each audience so you can test results. Since the ads are served on multiple websites, you’ll be creating six or seven different sizes for each, most likely with different animation/size requirements, so it’s a good idea to have these ready to go at the same time so you can quickly switch them out based on your results.

Happy retargeting!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You're Going to Wear THAT?

Who hasn't heard something similar from someone they know well at some point? That's how I was introduced to the term "Canadian tuxedo." (if you don't know what a Canadian tuxedo is, I'll save you the Google, Oxford Dictionary search by saying it's a denim jacket worn with jeans).

We just launched a new brand identity that includes a name change that more accurately describes who we are. It's been a long time coming.

Why is it so hard to do for yourself what you do every day for others with such ease?

And why has it taken so long?

Because we haven't gotten around to it? Because we're difficult customers? Partly true. But it really comes down to perspective. It's just hard to stand back and look at yourself objectively. Doing it for my company made me realize how challenging it can be from the other side.

People change. Companies evolve. Every so often it takes a look in the mirror to see how we're doing. It also helps to have a trusted third party give you their candid thoughts. You  might get there faster if someone says, "wear this, not that."

Our new threads:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Five Ways Members Experience Your Brand

Most membership organizations struggle with their brand identity at one time or another. Member demographics change, industries evolve, and technology disrupts everything.

Are You Steak and Lobster, or Burgers and Fries?

Over time, members build a perception based on interaction with your organization. You may think you're branded as steak and lobster, but the reality may be burgers and fries (which may not be bad.) Here are some ways members experience a brand, and some questions to think about:

1. Publication. Whether you're publishing in print or online, a magazine or other periodical is a proven way to touch your members on a regular basis. Are you delivering the information they want? Is it presented in a fresh, modern way — different from your competitors?

2. Website. Is your website designed from your own internal perspective — by department? Or is it designed to easily deliver what your members — and potential members are looking for?

3. Phone. If you've ever called American Express, you know the service you receive is very different from what you get from the cable company. Which type of service are your members getting from you? Have you called in to find out?

4. Social media. It's never been easier to monitor the chatter. What are your members hearing from other members about you? What are competitors saying? What are YOU saying?

5. Advocacy. Do your members make the connection between your advocacy efforts and the advancements made within their profession or industry?

The best way to answer a lot of these questions is to talk to members. Ask them what they want, how you're doing, and what you could be doing better. You may find that your brand is not exactly what you thought it was.