A new kind of digital media for a new kind of non-profit

In Digital Marketing by Mark Neigh

A recent M+R study showed that 1 of the top 3 secrets to the fastest-growing non-profits is their investment in digital media. For non-profit organizations, digital media will be a key channel for lead generation and donor acquisition.

If you’re thinking I did banner ads before and it was an utter failure, I don’t blame you. But take heart, digital media has changed to allow you to better target your prospects and control your budget.

The Old Way

The old way isn’t always bad. But in the case of digital media, it was downright abysmal for a marketer. Built on the business models of print media, digital media led to linkbait content, horrible usability, high cost per impression and horrible click-though rates (CTR). I can remember when a 0.005% CTR was something to celebrate.

This is how the old model worked:

  1. A planner would find websites or networks that attracted an audience that we figured would resonate with your offer. So, if your organization provided Bibles, we’d reach out to the owners of sites that focused on Bible study.
  2. The site would provide a plan that included banner ad placement across their site, maybe something high-profile like a pop-up, and a couple banners in their newsletter.
  3. The organization gave the site a bunch of money for these impressions and hoped the right people would see it.

The targeting was broad and not very sophisticated, and the money was already spent, so if the audience wasn’t performing, the best you could do was try to negotiate a make good.

The New Way

New digital media models focus on overcoming those problems. You’ve probably heard terms like programmatic and real-time media bidding. These new technologies allow marketers to target their prospects (not a big bucket) wherever they are across the World Wide Web (not just on one website or network).

Here’s one way this new model works:

  1. By using cookies on your website, we create a model of the people who make an online donation to your organization.
  2. Big data allows us to use that model to find people who are psychologically and demographically similar to your donors.
  3. We target ads to those people wherever they are across the internet, including websites you might have bought in the old way: Facebook, YouTube and mobile apps.
  4. In real time, we adjust how much we’re spending on different audiences, placements and creative to optimize for the best possible ROI.

A Digital Media Case Study

We recently ran a digital media campaign for a national client that targeted a variety of audiences with video and display ads. The audiences included lapsed donors and prospect audiences modeled after their email subscribers, direct mail donors, website visitors and converters.

As the campaign progressed, we were able to optimize which audience saw particular ads based on real-time response. We were also able to shift media spend from lower-performing audiences (direct mail donors and website visitors) to higher-performing audiences.

In the end, we reached more than 200,000 lapsed and prospective donors. And because we were putting the right message in front of the right people, we saw a 7% CTR and an overall ROI of 9.9 on 217 new and reactivated donors.

Next Steps

If you’ve been scared off by terrible results from the old way of doing digital media, take a fresh look at the new way of doing digital media. If you’d like to see more case studies, you can email me at mneigh@masterworks.com.