Digital new year’s resolutions

by Jini Stolk

We (I) may not want to, but that’s no excuse. As long as we’re communicating online, it’s so much smarter (and such a better use of our time and energy) to know how to have the greatest impact with digital communications.

This interesting piece on “digital must-do’s for 2015” has some good advice on personalizing messages, and some great links on the essential task of designing them to work fluidly across platforms and devices.

What I liked most was this challenging question: “What is the online journey you plan to take your donor on? Have you charted the course from Point A (e.g. ad or email) to Point B (donation form) to Point C (thank you email) to Point D (quarterly eNewsletter) to Point E (monthly donation appeal)?”

The answer – that planning each of these touch points simultaneously, in advance, forces you to think about the purpose each serves, how they interact and intersect, and how you can improve your donor’s overall experience – seems like a smart way to make sure your marketing, fundraising and stewardship messages are as effective as you need them to be.

Thank goodness for the stats geeks. Who else would have extensively analyzed which email subject lines increase click-through and response rates (hint: Thank You scores high). I was not surprised to see that results varied between industries and sectors: what works for commercial messages doesn’t always score high for arts and non-profits, although sometimes it does.

While I haven’t found any extensive analysis specific to arts and non-profits, I’m pretty sure this wins as the worst subject line of the year: “Do you need a 2014 tax receipt?” from The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (offering themselves up, I suppose, to anyone frantically seeking to reduce their “tax burden” in the waning hours of the year…)

People like Nina Simon from Museum 2.0 are learning from experience that e-blasts that offer “invitations to get meaningfully involved; documentation and celebration of community members who have shared experiences, made unexpected connections, or experienced moments of ignition; and clear and welcoming language about a diversity of available opportunities where you too could have these experiences” get great click-through results – while reflecting our missions, programming, and values.

Another thing: SEO (search engine optimization) best practices are not exclusively fodder for your junk mail folder. Read more here.

Some knowledge update combined with a bit of informed communications planning and a touch of creative thinking: a new year’s resolution that’s going to be easy to keep.

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