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How to deploy a digital marketing strategy on a strict budget

Azadeh Williams (CMO) | Sept. 8, 2015
We look at the innovative way The Smith Family drives engagement with donors on a limited marketing spend.

As a charitable organisation, the team needed to be able to prove that every dollar spent on the website build would provide a clear return.

"Our Digital Innovation Project was essentially a five-year business case, with the top priority being ROI," Simpson said. "Some might think of this as a restriction, but it was a very positive consideration for us, as it meant that we always prioritised work that would bring the biggest wins first. For us, that was the improvement of our donation forms."

Unlike a business transaction, where the customer gets something tangible in return, The Smith Family asks donors to trust the organisation to put their hard-earned cash to the best possible use, she explained.

"The 'return' for them is purely philanthropic, so we need to show how the dollars they've given us have made a direct difference to a real person, in our case a disadvantaged Australian student," Simpson added. "Content and communication are key to relaying that message - which is why a leading-edge solution, like Sitecore, was so important."

According to Simpson, the Sitecore platform enabled The Smith Family deliver a targeted segmentation in a digital environment and be specific about the different rationale for giving.

"From child sponsorship programs to numeracy and literacy, we needed a platform that could handle that multiplicity of channels for giving," she said. "Sitecore offered that ability to segment effectively in a digital environment.

"We have an enormous amount of content and stories on what our children are achieving. So we've really been on a journey building our website, enriching out content and leveraging the Sitecore channels to work for us to engage with our supporters and potential supporters."

Simpson stressed there's a lot of competition when it comes to fundraising, so her team had to be very clear on its funding proposition and understanding the organisation's supporters.

"Sitecore has been instrumental in helping us to direct us in the right direction and created a targeted campaign to ask the right people at the right time," she added.

Exceeding the benchmarks

With such a tight rein on spending, The Smith Family has been delighted with the post-launch results so far.

"We've exceeded the benchmarks we set out to achieve," Simpson said. "In fact, our last Winter Appeal, running annually in May and June, was our most successful ever and turned our website into a million-dollar fundraising channel."

Simpson said her team realised they had hit the nail on the head, in terms of how people wanted to donate, when they saw a regular trend of online donations above the $10,000 mark.

"We've built trust through the channel, and now we're seeing the results of that trust," she said. "For example, we've seen an overall donation conversion increase of 33 percent and an average donation value increase of 8 percent. Our online forms now account for more than 25 percent of our annual fundraising total - figures that would have been deemed impossible on our old website."

 

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