4 Nonprofit Direct Marketing Trends for 2012

in Integrated Multichannel Fundraising & Marketing

By the end of the year I’ll probably come up with more … but for now I’ll focus on four trends for nonprofit direct marketing in 2012.

And they all have one thing in common: Your readers – donors, members, advocates, volunteers, etc. – will respond less and less to messages produced for the masses.

Based on my research and indications from the marketplace, your readers want more personalized and tailored communications from you. More and more they demand to be recognized as an individual … to receive content they view as relevant … to receive content they value.

The effectiveness of the one size fits all letter (or email) is rapidly diminishing.

These changes in reader attitudes and expectations are due largely to the changes in how we communicate with each other. Plus our tolerance for shifting through mountains of letters and emails to find something of interest has all but disappeared.

Therefore, get right to the point and do your best to only send readers what they want. You’ve only got a couple seconds to prove each letter or email is worth more of their time.

Four direct marketing trends nonprofits ought to prepare for in 2012 are:

1 – Integrate traditional channels with digital.

This isn’t new per se, but the trend and the need to do this more and more is escalating. It includes using quick response (QR) codes in letters, brochures, event signage, etc. to make it interactive and more instantaneous for your readers.

In addition, also recognize that integrating with mobile text messages is a powerful way to send personalized messages.

2 – Quality data is paramount; know your supporters.

Direct marketing is perhaps best defined by data and metrics. A growing source of data on your supporters is from social analytics. More and more you can use social data in your research to develop strategies and targeted messages.

3 – Direct mail.

First, recognize that this channel isn’t getting simpler either. And with the rising costs of mail – plus the uncertainties of our postal system’s future and service offerings – it becomes mandatory for you to use this channel as efficiently as possible.

Direct mail packages have to get more sophisticated. Specifically: Send versions for different segments of your file. You’ll need to target your supporters with messages tailored to their interests and preferences. Sending the exact same letter to everyone on your list hurts response and retention.

Direct mail is on track to become a niche-oriented channel.

And this channel must continue to be more extensively integrated with social, your website, and other digital channels.

4 – Email.

Similar to direct mail, email must evolve because conversion rates – overall – continue to decline. A blast email to the masses won’t cut it.

Segment your file. Send future communications based on what they have responded to in the past. Use data from social analytics to tailor messages. Send content your supporters value. Integrate with other digital channels.

Give people choices on how they respond and connect with you. This means consistently sending out integrated campaigns with targeted messages.

Compared to even ten years ago, our fundraising and marketing world isn’t merely changing fast … it’s practically evolving at light speed. And the expectations and demands of your supporters are keeping pace.

Repeating what I wrote above: Your readers want more personalized and tailored communications from you. More and more they demand to be recognized as an individual … to receive content they view as relevant … to receive content they value.

The future of your nonprofit depends on how well you meet the expectations of your evolving supporters.

Related posts:

One size hurts all … this approach to fundraising hurts response

Wanted Dead or Alive – Direct Mail

Donors respond just like Teddy Bears … Why they give and give

{ 4 trackbacks }

How to make your DM more effective in 2012 | Yeomans
December 23, 2011 at 4:37 am
2012 demands integrated nonprofit marketing and fundraising — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
January 10, 2012 at 7:48 am
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August 15, 2012 at 9:46 am
Part 2 – Nonprofit email list building – 18 ways — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
June 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie Holubar December 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

This is certainly a good start to a list of direct mail trends for 2012. I would suggest one more that I have used effectively with many of my nonprofit clients: shaped mail.

You can take a logo, product photo, stock image, or just about anything you want and create a high quality shaped direct mail piece out of it — something that gets noticed. Shaped mail tends to increase response rates by two to three times. While it can be expensive, when a campaign really needs to succeed, the additional expense is worth it. I use http://www.thinkshapesmail.com. They handle everything from start to finish and treat you well whether you’re mailing 1000 or 500,000 pieces.

Karen Zapp, copywriter December 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm


Thanks for sharing your tip on “shaped direct mail.” Based on your experience it seems most worthy of testing. And I appreciate that you shared a resource vendor who is skilled in it.

Karen Zapp, copywriter December 23, 2011 at 9:47 am

To the folks at Yeomans, I like what you have to say in your post and agree whole heartedly. [Readers – click on the “trackback” link to read their post.]

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