Category Archives: Digital

Charity email marketing – making a choice about email tools and approach.

This blog follows on from our previous Email Marketing Matters blog: Do you think about your email marketing?

Email Marketing Matters – Part 2

In our last blog we thought about some of the strategic issues around email, here we’ll address some of the technical questions to consider.

What matters in email tools today?

 There was a good reason we all favoured Mailchimp as a ‘free’ tool – it was easy to use and all the monkey brand stuff was fun. It still is both and is still highly regarded.

But these days, our selection criteria should perhaps be a little more sophisticated than trying to generate monkey rewards.

These are the kinds of questions we should be asking about our email tools.

  • Integrations with third party tools – does your email and CRM connect? Website? Mobile? Social?
  • Data capture – what happens to data you capture via your email tool? Does it sit in a list on your email tool or get transferred automatically to a CRM, or manually moved around?
  • Automation – what can you set to happen automatically? How sophisticated can you get the automation to be?
  • Personalisation – how much content can you personalise easily – not just names, subject lines or copy but can you look at whole content blocks.
  • Quick and intuitive split testing – split testing (A/B splits) can cover a range of things. Typically, subject lines but we should also be looking at areas like content and delivery times.
  • Journey building – can you build multi-stage journeys via email or more than one channel using your email tool? How does this work with automation?

That’s just a few basic things to consider. It’s a different list than “which tool is easy to use” – the good news is that pretty much all the tools that are consistently recommended have good UI – user interface – and provide excellent UX – user experience.

Volume is a vital statistic in email delivery

Email delivery isn’t something we always think about. You just press send and off it goes, right?  Well, not quite.

Most ‘freemium’ email marketing tools rely on a shared server approach – you are not in control of when your emails are sent and where from (in terms of the server as well as location). It’s part of how these services can be offered.

But the volume of messages you send (see Part 1), is a key consideration in whether you should be using these tools or looking to move to your own IP address for sending. Volume means that sometimes your chances of being caught up in spam filters are stronger (it’s a model for spammers obviously – bulk send to get lucky) or of your messages being held up behind other people’s messages and priorities.

Or even the shared IP you are using being spam blocked – with the consequence that even though you are a legitimate sender, the address is blocked and you can’t get your messages through (look at your email report for bounces – how many are server blocks or bounces?).

Delivery is one key reason volume is vital. The only true way to control your message sends, where your data is being sent from and when is by having your own IP address – this is particularly important for high volume senders – and this usually means shifting to an email platform solution.

When do you need to consider shifting to a platform?

I’m not going to lie, a platform solution comes with some costs attached (set up of the platform being one), but it’s a strategic decision. The set-up costs are a one-off fee, thereafter you’ll usually be paying a license fee per user and or by volume – much as you do for freemium models. And in some cases, the running costs are about as much as you use for your freemium tools if you’re using different plan elements (using the Mailchimp example – you can run a professional platform email marketing solution for the same cost as Mailchimp Pro for large volume sends). Does that surprise you? It’s worth investigating and thinking about the tipping points for when to move to a platform.

But our technology decision should not be based only on price – it should be based on strategic fit.

You may also want to think about how that tool will work with your charity email marketing programme:

  • How to improve ROI on lists – which tools are going to give you the best support in terms of improving your return on investment. Which ones will help you learn, grow and develop your email skills and knowledge internally to improve everything from design through to delivery and engaging audiences?
  •  Future proof – making a decision about email is a strategic choice. The results of the decision will take staff time in set up and training. It’s a time investment that is vital, but in the interests of productivity should be limited. The decision about tools should be taken with a view to the future and minimising disruption with the potential need to switch tools again to move forward a few years down the line
  •  Integrate-ability – it’s not just your primary data source (CRM) that you should consider. It’s additional data about audiences that builds the complete picture – from finance through to social media. Your email tool is a valuable part of the full data mix. The tool should also, in an ideal scenario, support your data approach by integrating new channels that you choose to use. When you’re ready to start using SMS and mobile push notifications – how will that integrate with your other digital channels? Is your platform extendable?
  •  List growth and email volume – email will long be the cornerstone of most organisations communications toolkit. Alongside considering other tools that many integrate with the system for an ‘omni-channel’ marketing approach, email volume and list growth will be key driving factors. Costs vary from tool to tool for email volume and contacts, so an eye on where there may be additional costs on number of contacts is key. Email volume costs are likely to decrease the more you send, but any licensing or service access fees may change as you expand your reach.

What does this all mean?

What does all that mean? Well, we challenge the inertia that has set in around charity email marketing, your choice of tools and want you to think about what you’re doing now.

Mailchimp may be ok because other people use it, and it feels sort of free-ish, and is easy to use. But it may not be.

Think about these levels of your email marketing programme to find out if this is a problem for you.

  • Is it ok now? If it’s not what are you doing about it?
  • Is what you’re doing now going to be what you need to be doing in six months, in a year? Think about you programme and plans. If they’re not right when are you going to start thinking about making a switch?
  • What’s your vision for five years’ time and how are your comms tools going to help deliver that?

Next steps:

If you’ve any questions, give us a ring (0203 176 1249).  We can help you identify what the right mix will be for you to meet your future goals and make sure you have the data and information at hand to help you build your grand vision. We can explain what a platform based email solution is and show you how and why they may need to be part of your thinking.

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Whatever your question, we’re happy to help.   You can

 

 

Do you think about your email marketing?

Email Marketing Matters – Part 1

We frequently discuss the merits of various ‘freemium’ model email providers with our clients.

Typically, an average client will say their tool of choice is Mailchimp. When asked why the response will either be ‘because we always have’ or ‘it’s free’ or ‘another non-profit recommended it to me’.

I’d like to gently challenge some of these assumptions.

It’s about how you think about your email marketing and a challenge to the assumption by many that it’s free. It’s not.

If you do anything beyond send batch and blast emails – this should be everyone but it’s not – and do anything at volume, it is time to question the email status quo.

What is email volume? 50,000 subscribers are a big list. But 10,000 is also a big list if you mail them every week – that’s just over half a million emails a year you’re sending. And in fact, you are probably mailing more than that as you’ll have some other emails you send out in between email newsletters too – about events, fundraising appeals etc.

If you’ve never done the maths on how many emails you send, it’s an interesting exercise to make you realise the importance of the tool to your organisation. I’ll wager that it is the single most important tool you have in communicating with all your audiences.

It’s a diversion to focus on the tool. Most of the time it matters not whether you use Mailchimp, or Campaign Monitor, or Vertical Response or anything else for that matter.

What we need to pay attention to is what you want to achieve – your strategy, the vision you’re trying to share and the experience you’re trying to give your users – more than which tool you use.

There are several key issues we need to consider. Let’s take some of the strategic considerations first.

Your customer is in complete control

So what is your vision as a charity, and how are you translating this into email?

Do you have a plan or do things just get randomly added to newsletters as you want to communicate them? Don’t be afraid to answer ‘yes’ to that question – it’s very common. But it’s dangerous.

If email is the single most important tool you use to reach your audiences, your customer is in complete control. They may decide not to open your missive, not to click or even to unsubscribe. And if they do that, you’ll never be able to communicate with them again via that means (legally) unless they legitimately re-subscribe.

For membership organisations and fundraisers familiar with attrition rates for membership and donations, try running similar kind of approach across your email list.

What are the unsubscribe triggers – do you have people on your list who are just there and never interact? How can you stop them from leaving? How are you encouraging them to stay – even if it’s passive rather than engaged?  Should you try changing your list approach to nurturing more clicks from different sub-segments?

Customer focused is key

What you give your customers is vital. It needs to be relevant to them, on whichever device they use (and being where we are today, that’s likely more than one place – i.e., social as well as email, mobile rather than desktop). They’re telling you what they want and like by what they click around not just in your emails but also on your website too. Email cannot exist in isolation from your other channels.

So we have the information to create something compelling for an audience.

More often than not we haven’t taken a step back and thought about email as something we’ve been doing for ages and doing with reasonable success – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix It’ being a useful phrase here, as well as the realistic ‘not enough hours in the day’.

But don’t wait for your customers to abandon you.

Strategic rather than operational approach

If email is so vital to getting your message delivered – both via the technical channels and messaging approaches you use – why is it so often ‘managed’ by one of the junior members of your team? It’s great that someone looks after it, and we’ve seen some great email newsletters so we know that charity brand and messaging is being for the most part well looked after. But we’d like to suggest that there’s a gap missing and some strategic focus and attention from the digital/fundraising and communications leadership will mean that the person looking after your email for you can easily make it work harder for you. Make some space to work with your colleagues on how to understand the role of email in your whole mix, where it fits, when and what works best. Pull the person who looks after your email into that conversation and listen – I bet they’ve got loads of suggestions about things to try if they had time, tools and a sense of empowerment and knew it was of strategic interest and importance.

There are more issues to consider – so this blog will continue with a part two shortly.

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Building Journeys

I spoke at CHASE 2016 (#CHASE2016London if you want to check the twitter action) today, and included a template for starting to build journeys.

For those at the session it’s linked here so you can open it as a PDF.

Journey Toolkit -Build a Journey

More explanation to follow shortly for those of you that weren’t in the audience and are wondering what on earth I’m talking about!

Omni-channel marketing and the travel sector

If you’re only just getting the hang of multi-channel, hang on there, you’re in for a ride. If you’re still using Outlook to email your booking quotes, the next year or so could be a bit of a rollercoaster.

Omni-channel is the integration of all online and offline channels to create one to one personal experiences. Yes, it is actually truly possible to manage that. It’s not just hyperbole.

In the beginning ….

Most of us started with email – single channel. We’re probably pretty good at it by now – monitoring open rates, looking at subject lines, A/B testing to identify the content and subject lines to which our audience is most responsive.

The next big thing was Mobile. “Quick” we all said “let’s get an app”. So we did. But what happens to the comms around that – how easy is it to send a push notification to those who have the app? Did you get email at point of download and registration to add the person to your list? And can you connect how that person is interacting in your app, with the rest of their interactions with you?

And of course alongside all that, there’s social. Very few of us integrate our social with our CRM, never mind the rest of our comms channels so interest and conversations happening on Twitter or Facebook probably aren’t being connected to accounts that need to know about queries, questions or heaven forfend, complaints.

Oh, and let’s not forget the thing that started all of this – the web. How many of us have actually gone beyond adding sign up links to newsletters and options to get quotes via a form (and where does that data go – into your CRM to create an alert for you to create a quote or into an email?). How many of us use the data we have about browser behaviour to modify content based on preference or previous visits? Or target previous site visitors with advertising content?

Enter the vision for the future

Enter the marketing clouds – born out of frustrations with lack of integration and connection, born out of the need to move forward and have a single, clear picture of our customers – or prospects or even potential prospects. Enter a vision for the future that is real, here and now.

Sugati-CRM is based on the Salesforce platform, so our natural choice of communication tools to add to the package is the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It’s more than a natural choice though. It’s a Marketing Cloud with a mission, and a clear road map of future features and tools that will mean the future for marketing and connected communications is possibly so bright, we might actually have to wear shades in the office.

As for why we’ve integrated Salesforce CRM with Marketing Cloud. In short, it will make your life in marketing and operations and sales and procurement easier. It will help you to connect all your strings of activity and bring together a single, clear, customer driven communication approach throughout their whole experience with you. And beyond that, into a lifetime relationship with you as you are more clearly able to respond to their needs. It will also save you time. Once you have set out your logic and planned your communication assets, it’s fairly plug n play to deploy on a day to day basis. So it will save time where it counts – at the front end.

And a new way of marketing?

In the olden days (last year?) we talked of segmentation. We can still talk about it. It still works. But we’re still lumping together people based on what we think their behaviour and response may be, using patched up bits of data, maybe the results of a campaign or two and a bit of anecdote thrown in.

Our brave new world (this year or if you need time to plan, the year after) we are flipping our thinking to being 1:1 – no more lumping together (except if we want to – what happens in Vegas and all that). Now we are tailoring based on actual real-time behaviour and expressed preferences. And we can make that leap to truly personal by integrating all of our comms and using tools and channels together to drive journeys that individuals respond to, and which flex and adapt in real time too.

This is called omni-channel. All our channels. Offline and online. Built into journeys. No more multi-channel. Omni-channel is where it is at.

Lots of other sectors are using it. Retail in particular has many parallels with our own stories. Financial services. Even non-profits are starting to embrace this. It’s well past time for us in the travel sector to start to harvest the benefits and be prepared as innovations drive faster and faster. No more invest for 3 years then find a new tool. Now we need a platform that will flex and grow as we do.

If you want to know more about how Sugati-CRM and its integrated marketing cloud will help you transform the way you find and connect with your customers, get in touch or find out more via www.sugati-crm.com

Upgraded URLs in Google Ad Words

Back in February, Google announced the launch of mandatory upgraded URLs in its ad words scheme.  I am ashamed to say I missed this at the time.  I’m making up for that by making sure our charity clients didn’t miss it, too.

I’ll ‘fess up. I missed it.  My excuse is that I am not hands on managing an adword account right now.  I know about this now because a charity I volunteer with has recently started looking at using their Google Grant (all charities should look at this if they can – there’s not much in life for free, but this is a good one for non-profits!) and having experience of setting up accounts in the past, was asked to wade in and help.

Upgraded URL’s – what?

In basic bullets:

  • Where you once added one bit of info – the URL you want the ad to link back to – you now need to add two
  • The first is the landing page you want the ad to direct people to – all good, this is what you have so far.
  • The second is the tracking information you want to gather – which can be at local or account level.
  • Up til now, every time you wanted to track an add you had to add a piece of tracking code on the page you were directing people, allowing the cookies to collect the info for you
  • Now, when you want to change info you track on your ads, you can do it via the ad not via clumsy manual changes

Why this is great news

Lots of people don’t use tracking in ads because of the hassle of trying to get the web master to add a tiny piece of code – or multiple tiny pieces of code – to a web page.  The reasons I used to hear were varied – ranging from security, through to lack of time.  In the main, with non-teccie people the reason was usually quite simple – they didn’t know how or where to add the tracking data, and for the sake of a tiny bit of info, didn’t want to screw up the whole site.  That’s fair enough. I hate code and am more of a ‘clicks’ kinda gal, so feel that pain.

In ‘paid for’ content management systems (like Sitecore) the user interface often had helpful places to add the code so they were inserted in the right place.  In ‘free’ systems (like WordPress) you could either gamble on getting it in the right place or use a plug in (some of which are better than others) to manage your ad extensions.   Since more of us in charity-world use the free stuff, you can kind of see where this is going.

So the change is good because:

  • its way easier to add the code to the ad and start to get more metrics on your ads, tracking keywords, landing pages and site behaviour as a result
  • it tells you more about your visitors so you can build journeys and personalise their experiences
  • it tells you how much of your ad-words money you might be wasting, allowing you to redirect it or manage your ads so your donated cash is spent more effectively

And just how do I do this? 

Google as ever have made this nice and simple to do.

As well as the web page which explains using upgraded URLs, there’s a handy video too that shows you just how to do it.

There’s always a bit of bad news.

Well, yes.  In this case if you haven’t already done it, it does mean you’ll need to go in and update your ads.  But do it once and in one place for your ad, and with clicks rather than coding … so it’s not all bad news.  Just something else for the list, that’s all.

Getting started

If you haven’t started with Google Adwords yet to use your Google Grant, you may want to think about it.  Look into what other charities are doing, and think about how – and who – will manage the account before you say yes though.  It’s very easy to get into quite a muddle, and hard to undo!

You also have to stay on the ball about updates and developments, and as I confess at the start of this post, even though this stuff is part of my portfolio, I missed this.  So make sure there’s time for training and reading round even after your original set up time, or you may miss money and time saving upgrades like this <hangs head in shame>

Is your website mobile friendly?

 

Odd updates about how Google calculate algorithms for search pass by us every now and then. Last year there was a lot of chat about Pandas.  Turns out, it wasn’t a new campaign from WFF. And Penguins – sadly not a chocolatey biscuit treat.  These were big changes in how Google do the things they do.  Unless you’re a super-geek, there’s very little chance of keeping up with it all, and understanding all of the elements involved in search ranking as there are thousands of them. Carry on doing your best, make the changes you can.  Have a rolling development programme, keep plugging away.   You’ll get there.

But this one is important

From April 21, Google have told us they will be changing their algorithm to include a mobile search that will detect if a site is mobile friendly.  That means, if content will render properly on mobile devices – smartphones and tablet pc’s.  Is it responsive?

And if it doesn’t?  Well, you won’t disappear from search altogether and overnight, but your rankings will be harmed, and sites which have content similar to you, but which are mobile optimised, will appear higher than yours.

Why you need to address this

  1. The size of the opportunity to market – there are more than double the quantity mobile phones in the UK than there are people. While we think this is a bonkers number it’s easy to see how you can get to that point – wave your hand if you have two phones –one for home, one for work?  Yep that’s how that number gets so high.  And just think of the opportunities to interact with potential donors.
  2. Fundraising – the Give as you Live Digital Donor Review gives us a host of compelling reasons to make sure we’re mobile – 9/10 mobile searches result in an action – eg a store visit, purchase or donation; mobile commerce grew by 300% between 2011 and 2012; in 2013, they predicted that by 2015 (this year) mobile use would exceed desktop usage – and they leave us with a challenge too as they point out that 83% of UK charities don’t have a mobile strategy. That’s a lot of potential fundraising to be done, right there.
  3. Usability – hands up if you’ve clicked off a site you can’t see or use properly. Our patience is wafer thin these days, and as consumers – and potential donors – we don’t wait around anymore.  You have to feed us what we need, when we want it!
  4. Competition – we all like to think our sites are unique and provide specialist exclusive information for our stakeholders. But we’d be naïve if we didn’t recognise that all of us are in a position where someone else’s site could provide at least some of the information we provide.  All of us are savvier about keywords, content and as a result competition is strong. If you have spent any time or money on getting your site to the top of the pile, it would be a shame to waste it now.

What you can do about this now

If you are not sure your site is friendly or not, you can take the Google test – simply enter your URL and Google will show you what it sees and helpfully point out any bugs it might have found that prevent elements of your site being mobile visible.

Do the test

Now what?

So now you’ll know, at least.  If your site is friendly, good for you.  For many of us through, t won’t be as simple to address the result as a few quick clicks in the code behind the scenes to correct any minor tweaks.

For many, if the site doesn’t pass muster, it will mean a review of the content management system you are using.

There are two ways to do this

  • Expensive re-coding to manipulate the site to be mobile friendly, using your existing CMS.
  • A review of your CMS provision and how it fits with your digital vision for the future

It’s this latter opportunity that we’d like to strongly recommend that you consider.

If your site isn’t mobile optimised, chances are you also can’t integrate your email marketing and CRM data with it and are working with data silos and missing real opportunities to generate more funds, improve retention, and reduce customer frustration.  Typically, your job will also be a little bit more stressful as a result, too.

A Digital Signposting review will review your strategy and provide some recommendations on the tools that will work well for you, improve integration, functionality and efficiency – it is possible to achieve all three!- and address your digital future, too.

Find out more: http://purple-vision.com/services/digital-services/  – or you can call Keith via 0845 458 0250 – he’s definitely friendly, often mobile and is most certainly responsive.

Links:

 

Social CRM

Social CRM will never replace traditional fundraising but it will change the way we do it.

Many commentators have predicted the impact of the online social revolution. Business and government embrace the opportunity, yet online fundraising still only amounts to 10% of  voluntary income. What is holding us back? Steve Thomas, our managing director shares his thoughts.

Many commentators (me included) have predicted the impact of the online social revolution. Businesses and governments are embracing the opportunity, yet online fundraising still only amounts to 10% of UK voluntary income. What is holding us back in the non-profit sector where, ironically, our supporters are more engaged and committed to our causes?

At Purple Vision we describe social CRM as “monitoring and engaging in online exchanges and developing these into meaningful relationships”. In other words, just broadcasting tweets or posting appeals on Facebook isn’t social CRM. Ken Burnett’s principles of relationship fundraising – written before the advent of the web – still apply, especially in the online world where integrity is everything.

For social CRM to work, we must be open and patient. It’s a three stage process – Attention – Conversation – Conversion – which doesn’t work if you skip straight to the end where the money comes in!

What’s stopping us doing social CRM?

1. Regarding social as just another channel Social media is so accessible that it is intrinsic to the communication of your entire organisation. Supporters don’t distinguish between service delivery, campaigns or appeals – they are all part of one relationship. This means fundraisers cannot own social media and should be wary of exploiting it without regard for the bigger picture. By contrast, if you build relationships across the whole organisation the fundraising benefits will be significant.

2. Reluctance to become ‘digital first’ Does your CEO blog? Do they do it themselves? In our experience this is the best indicator that your organisation will develop a digital culture. This change has to include senior management and only happens when led from the top. Engaging personally with supporters online builds trust as well as providing the example and permission for everyone else to follow.

3. Disconnected strategies and technologies Social media highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to CRM. If you engage using disconnected tools and separate departmental plans, the impact of your work is seriously reduced. Today, accessible and affordable technologies exist to help join up your relationships and achieve the elusive 360-degree supporter view. However, technology will fail to deliver unless you give equal attention to people and process by embracing digital and social in each departmental plan.

So, how can you do social CRM better? Here are some ideas based on the timeless but vital principles of relationship fundraising:

1. Understand and communicate your case for support • Test messages from the recipient’s perspective. Why should they care? • Use online communities as a research tool – ask open questions • Try online polls or quizzes to test ideas and see which ones work best

2. Identify and empower advocates – they amplify your message • Follow the online “buzz” – use a monitoring tool to track key topics • Set aside 20 minutes every day to respond to online questions and concerns • Encourage opinion formers to speak (tweet, blog etc.) on your agenda

3. People give to people • Personalise e-communications both to and from a real person • A thank you, prompt and personal, matters • Use blogs to connect supporters with the people that deliver your services

4. Don’t forget to ask (politely and repeatedly) • Send e-appeals up to three times, excluding those who already opened • Include a clear call to action – like a button that links to a web form • Share content that colleagues can easily re-use, such as footers, web parts or hashtags

Mobile-friendly website for Original Travel

As with all the mobile sites we have done, we made sure that the existing features and functionalities of the regular desktop site are not compromised and that the mobile device’s features are well utilized in order to give an enhanced user experience.

The mobile site is 100% in sync with the desktop site, which means that Original Travel do not have to maintain additional Content Management Systems or edit the mobile site content manually. Additionally with Google Analytics Original, Travel can keep track of the mobile traffic in the same way they do for the desktop site traffic.

Here are some of the key features of Original Travel’s mobile friendly website

Easy-to-find search function: that steers viewers toward the information they want as quickly as possible. The results of the Search function are as the same as the desktop site, with the only difference being the mobile optimized layout.

A focus on what mobile browsers want the most:  in many cases, mobile visitors have a different goal than people using a desktop and Original Travel understood that. Therefore, rather than going for a ‘like for like’ mobile version of the desktop site, they wanted the content to be more focused with relevant images influencing the mobile users.

Simple architecture: although all the choices available in the desktop site are available in the mobile site, we have kept the structure and the layout fairly simple which keep visitors from getting lost!

OT-bA-300x300

Here is what Original Travel had to say about their experience with us:

Thanks to Tin and the team for building our mobile site so effectively in such a short amount of time. Wonderful to get such a service and meet a deadline all at the same time!”

Jules Herbert – Original Travel

Contact us for free demonstration and comparison of your desktop and mobile experience and find out how you could help push your brand further.

Mobile optimised websites are key

The truth is that having a mobile optimised website is no longer a nice-to-have for small- and medium-sized businesses — it’s a necessity. If your goal is to drive revenue growth through the mobile web, you can’t to take a barebones approach to mobile marketing anymore.

According to Google’s GoMo initiative — a project designed to educate businesses on the importance of developing mobilefriendly websites — 52% of customers who have a poor experience with a company’s mobile website are unlikely to re-engage that business. And 55% say that a frustrating experience on a mobile website negatively affect their opinion of the company overall. In other words,if you don’t have a mobile friendly website, you’re probably leaving money on the table.

If your website is not optimised at all for mobile browsing, your clients will have to enlarge their mobile screen just to read the print and then push the screen left to right and top to bottom to read what they want to read. Bring up your site on your smart phone to verify yourself.

Here are a few custom mobile optimised websites that we recently built:

Please view them on both desktop and mobile and you will notice the difference.

We charge a small one time fee to build your mobile friendly website and includes full quality pages of content, photos, video, map, click to call button, twitter widget and many more. There are no set up fees, no monthly fees, no hosting fees, no hidden cost and most importantly we don’t even have to touch the code in your existing website.

Below is an example of the mobile site we are working on for Powder Byrne International.

pbcomp1

If this is something we can help you with, please request a FREE comparison demo (like above)of how your website is currently coming up on smart phones vs how this could be improved.

Get the social media edge

Wouldn’t it be great to find out what people are saying about you on social media – and record those comments to your CRM system?  … to automatically create new records on your database for anyone who mentions you on Twitter?  … to open a window on a major donor record and see their latest Facebook or LinkedIn update before you go in to meet them?

All of this, and more, is already possible with Salesforce.  And, given that the Salesforce Foundation will donate 10 free licences to any charity that applies, what’s stopping you?

What we like about Salesforce is their innovative, entrepreneurial culture that drives them to investigate technology trends and incorporate them into their software. They’re totally focused on “social enterprise” and, with a large network of developers, there’s always someone looking to build applications to extend the functionality of the product, whether that is an integration for Mail Chimp or a special version of the software for membership management or fundraising.

Over the last 18 months we have watched and learned as the capabilities of Salesforce for relationship building have developed, and we like what we see. As a sales and marketing system it performs excellently – so well in fact that we’ve adopted it for our own business. We think Salesforce offers integration with social media tools on a level unmatched anywhere else.

But perhaps you’re not ready to throw out your current CRM system just yet, after all you’ve invested enormous time and effort to get it to where it is, and switching databases is a major undertaking. Point taken!  So, instead, we’ve worked out a way to leverage the power of Salesforce for social media without having to go through a total system migration. We’ve developed a concept we’re calling Get the Social Media Edge or GiSME for short.

In this solution we build on our knowledge of nonprofit CRM tools and use Salesforce as an “edge” application.  This means it sits alongside your current system and data passes back and forth, keeping you up to date with the latest social media activity so you can make use of this in your relationship building activities.  All the power, with none of the pain.

To find out more about how to Get the Social Media Edge for your organisation, please contact [email protected].