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Then These Top Ten Takeaways Are for You!

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For the 3rd and final blog about the DMAW DM201 Conference, the nice marketing folks at Mal Warwick, who attended the event, put together a great top ten takeaway list.

1) Each organization is different, so not all best practices are universal
What works well for one organization may not work for another. So, before implementing a new “best practice,” make sure to test it first.

2) Conduct tests where there is reason to believe that the change will improve results
Whether you want to test a 2 page letter against a 4 page letter or a color envelope against a plain white outer envelope, you need a logical reason for wanting to try the test. Will it improve results? Will it cut costs to improve net revenue? Or, will it even settle a disagreement over what your donors like?

3) Testing engagement devices: Engaging Beyond Giving
Focus on testing interactive mail pieces, such as member cards, petitions and surveys. Drive donors to the web and hold their attention. These devices help the donor feel engaged in the cause and allow them to participate by doing more than just giving a monetary donation.

4) Always set clear criteria for your tests
Set a clear goal, so that everyone understands how to measure success when looking at your test results. Is your goal to increase response rate or improve average gift? Using sample size and confidence calculators will ensure your results are significant enough to roll out and use in annual planning.

5) Never delete old data!
Old data can still hold valuable information about your current donor’s old giving habits and lifestyle changes, or give insights into why donors may have stopped giving to an organization. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s outdated or irrelevant.
6) Understand how changes in your donor file affect revenue
Seeing an increase in revenue is what we all want, but make sure you know where that growth is coming from. Drill deeper into your data and ask questions like “what segment is contributing to the change in revenue?” or “are we sacrificing growth in one area at the expense of another?”

7) Being multi-channel doesn’t mean “Being Complicated”
There are easy ways to make your campaigns more multi-channel focused. Make sure you always include a link in your direct mail to give directly online, and always ask for an email address in the mail. Also, consider including a PDF attachment of a donation form on your emails so that donors can mail their gift after reviewing an email appeal.

8) Not all co-ops are created equal
How do you choose the cooperative database that’s right for you? Each has access to different names and has different methods for model creation. While Abacus came from the catalog business, Blackbaud came from public television. Try different co-ops to see what works best for you.

9) Try different types of list strategies
List strategy should always be based around the key metrics for your specific organizations’ goals. Great prospecting is a direct pipeline to your sustainer, major gift and planned giving programs.

10) Be sure your house file is as healthy as possible
Make sure to focus on all aspects of your data. Direct marketers should be looking at the donor’s lifecycle, join strategies, monthly giving, digital conversion and RFM segmentation together. And don’t forget proper data tracking that allows you to understand where your growth is coming from, the composition of your best revenue segments, and where you made your investments to see if they are paying off.