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Historically, the retention rates for donors are about 25%, which is beyond dismal. Looking at the issue from a marketing point of view, it becomes clear that there are certain methods we can use to greatly increase that number. This post will discuss how to use Inbound Marketing to increase donor retention rates, keep your donors coming back, and even reach new donors while doing so. If you haven’t already, we’d suggest that you take a look at our introduction to Inbound Marketing which can be found here.
Engagement is Key
Increasing retention rates for donors is surprisingly similar to increasing the rate of returning customers for traditional businesses. It all comes down to how well you engage with your customers. This seems almost too simple , but imagine if you will that you’re feeling a bit hungry;that you’ve decided to have Italian food for lunch; and that there are two Italian restaurants nearby. While their food is almost identical, at one restaurant, the staff doesn’t seem to care about their customers, but merely care about getting their food ready as fast as possible, whereas at the other place, the staff always greets you like they’ve been waiting for you all day, and act as if you’re the best thing that’s happened to them in a long while. I don’t know about you, but my favorite Italian place is like the second place described, and I love eating there, even if the food isn’t all that special. Do you see what I’m getting at?
Even though engaging with customers in a face to face situation is something we can all relate to, the customer engagement aspect of online business is often neglected, and that’s a major mistake. In the case of increasing donor retention, it’s all about being the proverbial friendly Italian restaurant taking an active interest in the customer’s lives. Practically speaking, the easiest way of doing so is to ensure that you have a solid Inbound Marketing strategy in place (for our five best tips on easily doing that click here!). Keeping customers engaged through interesting and unique content on your blog is a key concept of Inbound Marketing, which translates seamlessly to donor retention. Making sure you have a clear donor profile defined (consult your data on your donors to ensure accuracy), and then doing your best to tailor your content creation to provide value for that specific profile should be a clear priority for you.
Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the box, and engaging with your donors on a personal level. Approach donor retention as you would if they were your friends. Become an expert on your donors, their likes, interests, and occupations, and write interesting content that’s valuable to them. Be sure to keep your Social Media channels well maintained, and always engage with your followers through there. If you haven’t done so already, set up a monthly newsletter (of course linking to this from your Social Media channels), and make sure you keep your donors updated on the progress of your charity. In order for them to keep coming back as donors, they need to feel like they are actually making a difference by doing so, so include case studies and personal thank you messages in your newsletter.
The only thing better than making your donors return year after year would be if they could help bring in new donors as well. Luckily they can! When you’ve perfected the art of tailoring content to maximize conversion rates, you need to look at how your posts are shared on Social Media. Incentivizing sharing the posts is an easy way of getting the message out to friends and family of your existing donors. When looking at your data, try to identify the type of content that gets shared the most and has the highest conversion rates, and aim at achieving both for the majority of your content. One of the greatest things about having a well-defined and properly executed Inbound Marketing strategy is that the data you gather will provide you with a detailed insight into what works and what doesn’t. Make sure to keep adjusting your content and Social Media engagements to the data you collect about retention rates.
Using Inbound Marketing strategies will not only increase donor retention rates dramatically, but can also help you drive new donors directly to you. The take-home message is that you need to get personal with your donors, aim at generating highly engaging content, and ensure that you have a clear cross-channel implementation of your marketing strategy.