Tag Archives: Digital tools and integrations

Direct mail isn’t dead. But then neither is email.

Good news all your ardent fans of a direct mail piece.  It’s not dead.

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was as if you read the many blogs and content pieces delivered to our inbox seemingly daily,  you will hear that email is king – and prolific studies of the ROI of emails will be quoted at you.

Having not realised Direct Mail was past its expiry date, you will be relieved to note that there’s also a survey behind this news that it’s not dead, so it must be true.  The renaissance of direct mail (or DM as we lovingly refer to it) seems to be related to several market trends that are happening right now according to an agency that specialises in <drumroll> direct marketing.

What are these marketing trends?

Well, since you ask:

  • We’re all a bit wary of digital – if you’ve tried to get an audience for your Facebook post without boosting your post with cash, you’ll know how much harder it is getting. Ad blockers and algorithms make it harder to get your message out via digital and there’s a lot more email “noise” than there was a few years ago.  In amongst this, our survey doesn’t account for the fact that for most non-profits, DM has never really stopped, or gone away as we might like to mark our returned records.
  • Letters have regained some love – a letter (that’s not a bill) or something through the post that’s not a bill is a welcome thing indeed. With all the digital noise we live with, it seems that consumers have embraced a resurgence back to the old-school tactile brochure and something to have a bit of a browse through. This is certainly true for audiences of over 30 years old – the younger generation finds a catalogue a bit of a fuddy-duddy novelty it seems.
  • And with a click, you’re gone – it’s very easy for a digital customer – or contact – to simply ghost you out – unsubscribe from email or unfollow your social feeds so says this survey.   This point is very true.  I’d argue that this is ultimate data protection for the customer, so is good for them and we must keep putting their interests at heart. From a brand focus though if you’ve got no other way of making contact, it’s effectively killed your connection.  So DM once again becomes a player – especially in the GDPR focused future.

The truth for most non-profits is that DM has always been king. 

The appeal cycle remains a constant stalwart of delivering fundraising success.  Why?  In part, because you’ve got your segmentation down to a fine art, in part because of your demographics (older people like the paper as this survey also quotes).  I suspect that the reason DM is so firmly fixed for fundraising is that there is no way you can risk losing out on essential income by shifting a successful model to a more trial-based dynamic approach.

There is no getting away from the fact direct mail is expensive though and while it still delivers ROI, the rising costs (postage etc) give us reason to question. There’s been a shift towards email in non-profits for e-news, and most of us have a donate now button (which is also occassionally in the e-newsletter), but for many it is an adjunct channel for fundraising, rather than the heart of fundraising operations.  Considering that email is relatively inexpensive,  this is disappointing.

Setting aside the risk element of shifting a successful DM approach to digital multi-channel, why haven’t we made more of a shift to integrating email into our appeals cycle?

For some it is going to be the time that’s a factor – to get the income in that’s needed for operations, it can be a bit of a hamster wheel (newsletter, appeal, social media, event and do it all again).

For most charities though I suspect having the right technology in place is also a factor.  Answer this question honestly, with your charities current tech set up, do you feel confident that you could deliver a seamless customer journey?

So here’s one of the challenges.  We seem prepared to invest significant funds in the infrastructure around expensive direct mail (mailing costs, printing, mailing house files, data cleaning and segmentation … ), what’s holding us back from email?

The reality is that you can deliver great journeys with even the most basic email tools (MailChimp has good functionality if you pay for their Pro edition starting from £150 per month on top of your mailing costs, Campaign Monitor offers smart automation as part of their basic package so cost depends on your contacts – in most cases it is less than MailChimp though). The challenge here is that you may need to a bit more manual work and (technical term here) playing about to get some of the stages where you want them, but it is perfectly possible to deliver a journey via email.

The theory that you can use these to start is very sound – they deliver and work. They work best when integrated with your CRM solution so you can transfer data back and forth. When your programme is proven to be successful, then the business case for moving to a more robust marketing automation solution or marketing platform becomes more watertight – and the investment in this against say the investment in your direct mail infrastructure a lot more understandable.

To get to that point though, we have to do the time.  One commodity we’re all short of.

To prove that email is as successful (or even more successful) than direct mail will take some thinking through for your organisation.

The arguments for email as part of an appeal campaign are strong – cost, relative ease of delivery.  What needs the thought is the segmentation approach – which of your constituents are you going to trial for this approach?   Of course, customer preference could – and should – come in here.

My low-risk suggestion for trialling email appeals is to look at the segmentation that is trailing off via direct mail, the least successful groups.  Or the group you exclude on cost grounds.  Narrow out your audience and trial a small segment in a different format.

You do need confidence in your data and in channels and preferences to do this, but that’s kind of a basic given for all approaches in today’s fundraising and marketing world.  This shift to multi-channel is something that many charities are needing to build towards rather than being able to deliver straight away. Many large scale commercial organisations struggle with it, and they have the resources to push this, so let’s be kinder to ourselves.  Work on data, work on preferences (we’ll have to for GDPR in any case) to get results by ‘baby-steps’.

Keep plugging away at direct mail for fundraising appeals – it still has a key place, but look at where you can diversify the costs and results from shifting to another channel.

My colleague Ian and I spoke about ways to splice and dice our data to start to use it more effectively at the IoF Fundraising Convention in 2016, so you could start by reviewing our slides. Or give us a call to ask about this and how we could deliver something similar for your organisation.

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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.


Can we help? 

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.


Can we help? 

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

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

Harnessing the Web 2015

Harnessing the Web – 4 November 2015

Harnessing the Web is an annual MemberWise event.

It’s based on their excellent annual survey – Harnessing the Web Report.

This year we’re delighted to not only be exhibiting at the event, but speaking, too.

We’re featuring in the stream – taking online member journeys and experiences to the next level – and will be doing a very fast paced and practical workshop on building truly personal journeys for members.




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>

Snowgoose, Just Giving and Salesforce

What Napoleon’s height teaches us about Online Fundraising (Snow Goose)

Everyone knows that Napoleon was short.

Except…he wasn’t. He was average for the time, around 5’7″.

How did we get it so wrong? Well, turns out in French inches, he was 5’2″, and due to our inability to measure him, we just assumed he was short. This mistake has been passed down through generations, been used to explain his motivation, and even helped coin the ‘Napoleon Syndrome’ for short people supposedly trying to compensate. For such a simple measurement mistake, this has had some pretty big ramifications.

Our failure to accurately measure Napoleon is understandable. Even today it’s considered impolite to rush up to a man holding a measuring stick. Even on the third date…

What do we fail to measure in the Fundraising world that we should be measuring? Today’s topic is online fundraising, and it’s incredibly difficult to measure, especially when it comes in through multiple channels.

A common story among charities goes something like this. They started off with JustGiving, were lured by the lower fees of Virgin Money Giving, only to try even cheaper BT MyDonate, before trying EveryDay Hero or returning to JustGiving for the features.

Donations were flowing through three or four online fundraising systems, not to mention a CAF Donate page and a few legacy Paypal recurring donations set-up by last year’s fundraising assistant.

In this situation, you’re getting the money, but what you’re not getting is the data.

At least not in a system you can measure. This means that you can’t answer the following questions, at least not without spending a day mushing files together in Excel:

  • Who are our top 10 fundraisers? (because we want to host a dinner for them)
  • Who raised the most money last year but didn’t raise anything this year? (we might want to ask why)
  • Who has donated to at least three different fundraisers? (because they might be next year’s superstar fundraiser)
  • What are last year’s top 100 donors? (because we might want to send them a handwritten card)

We’re excited to let you in on a secret.

You can now answer these questions, even if you use every different fundraising system on the planet.

Snow Goose is a charity focused application that aggregates all of your fundraising data onto one platform. It’s based on Salesforce, so you also get all the features that come with Salesforce.

With Snow Goose, you can smoothly import data from multiple platforms and report on standardized data.

Snow Goose in action is straightforward for both the fundraiser and the rest of the staff.

Fundraisers mainly click Next half a dozen times as they monitor the import process and check for any contacts that are flagged as having conflicting data. Thousands of donors, sponsored and voluntary and donations can be imported in minutes, with duplication handled in the background.

And the rest of the staff see donations against both the eventer and the donor. Snow Goose beautifully handles this dual credit and accepts data from multiple online fundraising platform.

Which brings us back to Napoleon and his not-so-short height.

  • What mistakes are you making about your Fundraising data because you can’t measure it?
  • What impact is this having on next year’s strategy and fundraising targets?
  • Could you communicate with your donors but don’t because they aren’t in your database?

Without measuring your online fundraising across multiple channels, you can’t even know what you don’t know!

Whether Snow Goose helps Salesforce in its challenge to Blackbaud, only time will tell. But we think it’s a great addition to the Salesforce platform.

It plays nice with the old and new Non-Profit Starter Pack, as well as roundCause/ NGO Connect, which is sponsored by the Salesforce Foundation and coming to the UK soon.

Snow Goose is priced so that it’s accessible to almost any sized charity, with the price ranging from 0.7% of donation value for smaller charities, to 0.1% of donation value for the very largest.

A team of partners helps charities implement Snow Goose and optimize the data for increased fundraising and we’re delighted to have Purple Vision are one of these implementation parters

If you’d  like to know how Snow Goose can help you raise your fundraising targets, give Purple Vision a call!

More info


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.



Training, Gamification and Tipster

I, personally, am a big fan of gamification, though not so much the word.

I think that adding competitive elements to perhaps not very competitive things is a great way to drive people. I love a challenge. Any-time I get the impression that someone or something doubts my ability to do something, or wants to grade it; it spurs my determination.

With this in mind, Tipster was designed for user adoption on Salesforce.com with a gamification aspect.

While it may seem like a trendy gimmick, I genuinely believe it is a fantastic element. I have seen a lot of organisations who have picked up the Salesforce platform, and struggled to motivate users to use the platform and increase adoption. Gamification is a strong response – and with Tipster, it comes in the form of Challenges and Leader Boards.

Challenges and Leader Boards

A challenge is just that. You can take any guide (which is your business process in Salesforce)  or quiz (a way to test your knowledge about your business processes in Salesforce) written in Tipster and challenge users to complete them. They are given a deadline and the promise of a reward. Once completed, however well they do is reflected in their reward – bronze, silver or gold.

These rewards appear on the company wide Leader Board.

Similar to a performance dashboard in Salesforce, you can see how you perform against your colleagues. Say you take a quiz written on a guide that gives you the basics of writing reports. There are ten questions and you get nine right. You will receive a gold award. The aim here is to drive competition and help your users strive for excellence. It also has another added bonus. If you’re an administrator, you can see who is doing well in quizzes and you can know who is the best at what they do. If you have a particularly lucrative opportunity, or a complex deal to negotiate, you want to know who can deliver. Now with Tipster, you can see directly.

Compelling – fun – learning

With these tools your users will have a compelling learning experience on Salesforce.com, reinforced by a sense of competition. The extra incentives will keep users coming back. Ultimately, this means two great things for any business. You will get users who not only learn more but want to learn how they can effectively and efficiently do things on the Salesforce platform. Increased knowledge and increased adoption onto the platform you have invested in.
So consider this. Would you rather have users bored by learning and shying away from it? Or chomping at the bit and raring to get stuck into it?

Find out more about Tipster

AppOmatic – Life support for The Raiser’s Edge?

For years, we waited for The Raiser’s Edge 8.  Eventually, Blackbaud decided it wasn’t coming after all.  Then, last year, they acquired Convio and we looked forward to a new era of modern digital tools – but most of these are only available in the US!  Meanwhile, every day we listen to the growing frustrations of fundraisers trying to integrate new channels and sources of supporter data in today’s 24/7/365, digitally and socially engaged world.

Now, at last, someone has done something …  Has Blackbaud finally announced the way forward for their flagship mid-market product, The Raiser’s Edge?  NO – but someone else has!  Sort of …

Introducing AppOmatic

At this year’s BBCON, Omatic Software, well known authors of great tools such as ImportOmatic that complement The Raiser’s Edge, launched AppOmatic.

AppOmatic is billed as a whole new way to interface with your donor data without using The Raiser’s Edge itself. It is freely available to download and enables RE users to do two main things:

  1. Use the AppOmatic “desktop canvas” – a different way of viewing and working with the traditional Raiser’s Edge interface – including files, data and records held outside the system.
  2. Select, download, and deploy ‘apps’ (rather like Plug-ins) that have been written – for now by Omatic but potentially by other partners in future – and use these to enhance their own experience of The Raiser’s Edge

How does it shape up?

This sounds encouraging and quite exciting. But how helpful is it really? AppOmatic is similar in concept to the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace and Salesforce AppExchange – both highly developed with thousands of participating partners and tools.  Will AppOmatic dissuade nonprofits from moving to these impressive platform-based competitors?

We decided to assess AppOmatic against some of the key issues and limitations of The Raiser’s Edge:

Appomatic - our review for raiser's edge



Our Conclusion

Many organisations are considering how and when to move on from The Raiser’s Edge and those at the ends of the size spectrum are starting to take this step.  Nevertheless, The Raiser’s Edge remains fit for purpose for many traditional fundraising needs and we expect it to be around for quite some time, especially in medium-sized charities without the agility or the budgets of their smaller or larger peers.

For these organisations, AppOmatic is potentially a very useful development.  In the same way that ImportOmatic has brought real enhancements to fundraising business processes, AppOmatic may well help extend the life of The Raiser’s Edge – at least until Blackbaud announces the roadmap for its replacement.