Category Archives: Purple Vision

Perfunctory response or personal pitch?

How are you responding to your customers? 

I’m in the throes of booking a holiday right now. Yay me. Can’t wait. I’ve met a lot of travel companies in my quest for the perfect trip (to Mexico this time). And I’ve had a lot of very mixed responses from the enquiries I’ve made.

The biggest surprises of all may be that it is not the size of the organisation that has necessarily mattered – but the degree of detail that really does build trust.  Personal emails with reference to what we talked about and relevant links.  You could argue that that is the very least that I could expect.  Unfortunately, experience dictates otherwise and organisations both large and small have made errors of exclusion that are alarming.

As a rule of thumb though, the larger the company, the more impersonal and perfunctory the response. You would think that the larger the company the better able to keep responses personal and to the point. But it mainly seems to be an enthusiasm gap, if I am honest. It feels like some of the responses have been flat, based on an overwhelming volume of response and in handling responses, they’ve lost track of the customer.

It’s exactly the same when I made a series of donations recently.

Christmas, #firstfiver and some sad incidents in people’s lives have led me to make donations to some completely new-to-me charities over the past year.

Over Christmas in particular, I made two small donations to small charities and had very effusive thanks. To larger charities – certainly ones with a profile in the medium size charity range – the response was patchy.  I use the term kindly as one of two charities failed to acknowledge my gift.  At all.

Getting the right balance

What’s the right response? Is there a balance?

My interest is piqued about this mainly because I see it is an issue I have perceived across nfp/fp boundary lines.

Is it simply that if we’re in a smaller organisation we’re more passionate about our jobs and our mission?
Is it that you just are simply busier in bigger organisations?
Is my donation or enquiry more valuable to a smaller organisation than a larger one?

In an ideal world, there would be a consistency of response.

Is tech the route to success? 

I’m struck that in all these cases, from both non-profit and commercial, neither side was really using technology to its best advantage to help the enquiry process.

They were still replying personally (using Outlook, Google Mail etc) to handle their enquiries.

How are they gathering the click data from what they added to the email?
How are they seeing whether I responded or not?

While there are apps that can connect Outlook and Google with your CRM for this data (Cirrus Insights being one), there are also ways to handle these basic enquiries and create compelling welcome journeys for a wide range of situations via email marketing tools.

The data that comes back from these is rich and varied and helps pin down information that the sales or fundraising teams can use to effectively craft their next steps. But critically, the whole response mechanism is on brand, full of carefully crafted enthusiasm. It is also targeted to what I expressed an interest in, designed to garner more about me and what my likely next move might be by offering me tempting links that identify me as a potential repeat donor with nurturing, or pop me straight into the major donor nurture programme. Or add me to the cheap vs expensive holidays bucket list.

Can we help? 

If you’re interested in how to get started with using email to build informative supporter journeys – or using your tech more effectively get in touch. We’ll help you start to build towards a more automated future – freeing you up to take care of the other bullet points in your job description.

Get ready, get set, GDPR

Getting ready for GDPR

Ready, set, GRPR

I recently wrote a piece for the Just Giving blog called 4 lessons for charities as we prepare for GDPR  in which I presented four lessons we can learn from the recent (March 2017) fines imposed on two businesses for data breaches as they made their own preparations for GDPR.

My four lessons were based on Honda and Flybe, who were caught out trying to prepare themselves for GDPR (the irony!), but who ignored the rules of PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations) in the process.  Essentially, they emailed to ask if they could stay in touch or if the details were correct.

My four lessons were:

Lesson 1: if you don’t have permission for a channel, you can’t ask for permission via that channel (so if you don’t have permission to email, you can’t email to ask for permission to email; if you don’t have permission to call, don’t call). 

 Lesson 2:  don’t ask for ask for permission from people who have actively opted out of receiving communication via the channel you are using.  While writing to people to ask if you can email them might sound a bit bonkers, if that is the communication approach you have consent for, that is how you must do it.

Lesson 3: be clear about what you have permission to do and what is covered by your permission. As you craft new permission statements, consider what you may want permission to do in the future, as well as what you may want to do now. 

Lesson 4:  Don’t be caught out in a GDPR compliance bubble and forget about other rules and regulations that apply – or about people. Making people-based decisions rather than data-based decisions shows due respect to our supporters and will give them confidence in our integrity as an organisation.

In a short blog for Just Giving you can’t go into the detail that you’d like though, and never short of something to say … I carry on below.

Getting GDPR ready using these lessons.

I think we can look at the case of Honda and Flybe and see how easily this could have been a charity making these errors.  Heck, we can probably even see the thought process in our own organisations looking to make these decisions.

However, we also need to consider that these rules are not just about how we fundraise, they are organisation wide.  They are about how we communicate with our donors, staff, volunteers – everyone who is connected to our organisation.

I think the rules come down to a bigger series of considerations and discussions that you need to have within your organisation about permissions and ‘permissioning’ – which is not an *actual* word but soon will become a big part of the charity management lexicon.

Where & when you ask

If you don’t have permission to email a donor, how can you get permission to email a donor?

There are many legitimate ways you can try and obtain email permission – for example via social media campaigns, sign up links on your website and even via direct mail.  If you have telephone permissions and active calling programme, you could even ask via this means too.  You just can’t ask for permission for that channel (email) via the channel you want to use (email).

If obtaining permission is s a priority for your organisation, ensure that sign-up forms are embedded on every page of your website, on every blog and that you have a regular ‘drive’ to legitimately obtain additional data.

How you ask

Why would your donor give you any details?

How you ask for something that the donor values – their personal data – is critical.  A wrong move could put them off as much as make them want to sign up. On a practical note, there are a range of methods to asking (but take note, massive popups on website screens are off-putting and will earn you penalties in Google and annoy readers by blocking content). [links to Google Webmaster blog]

On a human level, the tone of the ask also needs to be sensitive the channel you are using.  But more importantly, sensitive to your audience. You know all this of course, from your crafting of fundraising messages.  Permission asks aren’t that much different, except the beneficiary is the organisation.

There’s a balance between the timid ‘would you like to sign up’ and the demanding ‘sign up instantly’ that will be right for your charity’s tone of voice.  It is worth split testing some approaches out and changing the messaging to keep things fresh.

The issue of transparency also comes into play for how you ask for permissions – if this were your data, would you be happy that a company is relying on a clause hidden away in a set of terms and conditions to cover what you want to do with your data?

Which leads us onto what we are asking for permission to do.

What are you asking permission for?

This is the nub of the issue as far as our GDPR and PECR regulations are concerned – what are we asking permission for?

‘Sign up for our newsletter’ is a very broad statement. It may as well just read ‘give us your email, we’ll figure out what to do with it later’.

One of the ICO ‘tests’ is to ask the question – what would a person reasonably expect you to do with the data from what you have asked.  Is it clear?  It’s time to get granular – another central theme of the GDPR preparation process.

If you have a great email newsletter list –and that’s what you asked people to sign up to, that is all you can do with their data. You can’t send them a customer service announcement about your charity (here’s looking at you, Honda).

Of course, much can be contained within a newsletter (like your annual review and details of your latest campaign), but you also need to avoid your newsletters becoming cluttered, unfocused and impersonal (back to batch and blast) – and therefore irrelevant and easy to want to unsubscribe from.

One approach could be to consider all the kinds of activities your charity offers and ask for permission for each of them.  A helpful way to start with this can be to look at your departments. Typically, they’ll relate to what your organisation delivers.  Eg HR, fundraising, communications, governance, policy /campaigning.

  • what do they do (or want to do) that you may need permission for?

Another option to consider is what you also want to do with the data that you have.  Several charities recently fell afoul of ICO for using donor data for wealth screening.  

What we have learned from this is like our Honda/ FlyBe lessons.  It is not what they were doing per se that was the issue, it was their permission to do it – would a donor who gave them details have ‘reasonably expected’ to be profiled and screened like this based on what they were told when they signed up?

  • Ask once for now and the future – consider your 5-year plan and what current technology can offer in terms of insight as you craft new plans – even if you are not using technologies to help profile your web visitors now, or wanting to screen donors, or using predictive tools to help prospect for new donors, you may want to do that in 2 years’ time.  And when you want to do it, you will need to have permission to do it.  Machine learning is the way forward – plan for it now even if the reality of it still isn’t clear to you.
  • Third parties – this also brings to bear the point that is raised in GDPR guidelines about how you use data with third parties too, and your need to declare how they will use the data too.  Explore that alongside your permission work here and be as clear as you can.  Third parties are everyone from your mailing house to potential agencies you may send data samples too for segmentation, research, data cleaning and so on.

Where are you storing and recording these permissions?

Should the ICO come a-knocking in the future, after you’ve made them a cup of tea and talked about the weather, the questions will come.  One of the questions they may ask is where you can prove that you had permission to send x y or z person a b or c email/direct mail/text.

The paper trail [ surely a redundant term in our digital age] in an ideal world, would lead to your CRM or database, where you can look this up with ease, and respond confidently.

In your current situation:

  • could you look up where you asked for permission to contact someone and identify the permission that a person gave?
  • could you look up the form they used to sign up and double check the language?

How you are storing your data is one of the fundamental questions that GDPR brings us back to.

It covers the requirement for data to be held securely – which is a separate area of conversation about access to devices, security protocols et al  (and usually ends with a conversation where someone reminisces about leaving a laptop of client data on a train).

For this article, consider these areas.

  • how are you managing your data?
  • do you run on Excel and end up with multiple departmental spreadsheets because that’s the only data you ‘trust’?

Heck, I am sure some people still use a card index or have a special address book.

That’s all data and that’s all covered by this.

How are you going to manage permissions?

A few preference centres are popping up on the market claiming to be the answer to all your GDPR woes.

While they may be part of a solution that works for you, I strongly urge you to think more widely than this before buying a panacea that you may not need.

There are key questions to ask and answer first about how your organisation is going to work together before you get to the technical bits.   Fundamentally, GDPR means it is finally, genuinely, time to say bye bye data silos and say hello to collaborative working with consistent data and access across the organisation.

No preference centre or legacy system is going to make that work for you.  That’s about organisational culture.  So, we need to do the people and process thinking ahead of the technology.

Some questions to help you explore this area and decide how to manage it in your organisation include:

  • Could any user log on and know that they cannot email a donor or beneficiary or that they cannot write to a resident?
  • Where and how will you record when a client, donor or beneficiary decides they don’t want to receive further communications?
  • What if they change their mind about a channel they already gave permission for?
  • If someone unsubscribed from direct mail today, how long would it take for their permission to catch up with data selections you have already made for future campaigns?

There are several creative ways to stick a temporary sticky plaster on any systems you are currently using this while you consider the bigger picture.

Don’t rush straight into more permanent fixes to your systems integrations that will give you the sought-after 360-degree view or more integrated and comprehensive data source – think them through with and beyond GDPR.

Evidence of Permission

If you can’t find evidence that you’ve asked for permission to do something, the safest approach may be to consider that you don’t have permission at all.

This may mean you cannot contact that person.

This is something of a bitter pill for many looking at their database.  It is going to reduce the number of active contacts and the number of people who may support you as a result.

The long and the short of it is that compliance with GDPR is the start of a new road and approach to how we look at our data – and our strategy for managing acquisition will need to adapt accordingly.

A human appeal: people = data

Alongside all this work we must do about data, I’d like to add the human appeal. When we talk about data, we’re talking about people.  We talk about donor journeys and build experiences around them based on things they’ve told us they want to do, what we want them to do (and ideally the two mirror each other).  These journeys are individual’s personal interactions with us.

Some of the GDPR rules you are now considering may worry you because they could (or will) have an impact on the valuable work that you do (for example, if you have a major donor and no contact permission to call, how are you going to move forward?).

Remember too that other charities and businesses up and down the country are having to do the same.  The charity you donate to, the online shop you buy those superb shoes from. They are looking at your data. How do you want them to treat you?

This ‘conscience and integrity’ test is one I find helpful all the time as a reminder that behind that spreadsheet (which is password protected and kept on a secure system, obviously) are real people and real lives, not just unique identifiers and permission sets.

It is easy to forget this.

Authors note:  this article is not intended as legal advice.  Note that this covers the legal basis for consent-based marketing and fundraising. Other legal basis for data processing may apply in your organisation.

Where to get Guidance and Information.      

Need help? 

If you need a data audit, an internal seminar to get your team up to speed with the basics of GDPR and ready to move forward, or need help to adapt your systems to meet your new preference management approach, Purple Vision can help.

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

6 things to do while everyone is on seasonal break.

Our Marketing Director, Mags, is a bit of a one for getting organised.  In this post, she shares here tips for stealing a march on 2017 and using the time between Christmas and New Year for maximum benefit and impact. 

It’s Christmas break! Yay.  The days between Christmas and New Year are a strange time, leaving some of us delighted to be spending time with our families, eating copious leftovers and some of us delighted to be anywhere but!  In one way or another, work continues, arguably often at a slower pace (as everyone else is off) but with a keen understanding that, come January, things will take off again very quickly.

Extensive research* reveals that there is a correlation between your boss being away and the degree to which your inbox is swamped.  This, in turn, can correlate between how on top of your to-do list you feel, how many new tasks are coming in and how calm you feel about impending deadlines.  Worse, you know it’s going to be super-busy between January and Easter (because it always is) when everyone is focused on the new year, change and getting things done.

Over the years, I’ve learned this time between Christmas and New Year is really important to stealing a march on the months ahead.

Here are my 6 to do’s for the seasonal gap. 

1          Niggly to-do list leftovers

There are always things on your to-do list that get knocked down because while you give them credence and importance, they’re either nice to haves, non-essentials or not a major priority.  Start knocking these off your list.  Go back through them, collect them into one place and figure out if they really are still to do, or because you’ve left them so long they’ve become a bit obsolete (count this as a victory and tick them off!). Can you scratch some off the list, and focus on the ones that really do matter and just get them done and dusted?   The other important lesson for me in all this is that I often end up with lists in more than one place (notebook, post-its, some in the CRM, some in my inbox). How can I keep on top of a list when I have lists of lists?

2          Get ahead with the planning

Come the new year onslaught how are you going to cope?  Get busy with your diary to get ahead of that game.

  • Block out space for regular tasks in your schedule so they don’t get forgotten
  • Schedule in recurring and important meetings if they’re not already in place.
  • Go through project plans – are they up to date? If not, get on top of them, and anticipate where blocks of your time may be most in demand to complete tasks – get these in the diary (in pencil or its digital equivalent ‘tentative’– you can’t be inflexible but you can try and take control of your own workload)

3          Research

Your planning grid will probably reveal the need for some solutions or a bit of background reading – get ahead with this now.  Set up folders and bookmarks in your web browser so you can bookmark pages and easily refer back to them when you need them but start to think about where your knowledge gaps are now and find key resources that everyone will find useful in completing a project.   This is a good task to do with a cuppa (or even a cheeky middle of the day snifter) and some Christmas cake.

4          Turn off your email

This is the perfect time to get as much stuff done as you can without interruption.  It’s a great time of year to turn off your email and avoid being distracted by other things and just crack through some of the things you need to get done.

5          Keep an eye on the clock

If you’re the kind of person that’s early into the office and often gets involved in working until later to ‘just get this finished’, make a special point of not starting work until you are supposed to and finishing on time.  I promise this will feel a bit like a holiday in itself and no-one will even notice. It’s only a few days and you should only be working those hours anyway.  And if you’ve turned your email off too you’ll be amazed at what you get done in the ‘proper’ amount of time. It is interesting how much we think other people notice if we are at work late each day – some do but in the main, no-one cares about your hours – they care about your output and outcomes instead.

6            Clear down your inbox

Once you’ve done some solid graft, take some time to clear down your inbox.  This is one of my favourite things to do before I switch off for New Year if I have been working the time in between.   I love to delete or clear out as many emails as I can.  It is virtually impossible to have a completely clear inbox, but the feeling of being on top of things that you get from having a very lean inbox is very satisfying and I remain determined to keep it as clear as I can for as long as I can.  (end of the week, usually). It’s an important psychological switch for me. I bet there are things you’re hanging onto as they’re a reminder to do something – get them on your list instead- where they belong.

* It doesn’t matter where I’ve worked or at what level this is a truth universally acknowledged.