Online Hyper-Targeting Big Dollar Donors
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Familiarity is a powerful factor in the human decision-making, something that top brands such as Coca-Cola have known for many years. If you have a base level of familiarity with a product, you are significantly more likely to choose it.
This idea is not a new one and has been proven across multiple studies with movies and restaurants showing preferences toward what is familiar.

The question becomes: How might nonprofits take advantage of the same tactics that help big brands differentiate themselves on the shelf of options without the same budget?

Most nonprofits do not have the luxury of putting up billboards and running Super Bowl commercials that build the “impression to expression” relationship on which major brands capitalize. What if you had the power to build a focused familiarity by making that billboard only follow the most important potential customer exactly where they drove?

This is exactly what hyper-targeted online marketing now allows you to do. By using your existing email and web data in strategic ways, you can use the ad tools of Facebook and Google AdWords to create these types of digital “targeted billboards.”

The following are some fiendishly clever ways to focus your ad dollars on just the potential “whales” in your supporter list — the people who are most likely to be high-value donors. You can increase the frequency at which the right people hear your message by building a messaging echo chamber around annual appeals. This advertising echo chamber is designed to accompany online, email, and mail appeals to donors. So, “Drink Responsibly” and enjoy.

Using Email Data on Facebook

This tactic uses behavioral targeting to amplify your message to the people who have demonstrated interest and higher likelihood of giving. By using your existing email/donor lists and segmenting them further based on behavior, you create an incredible data set to build into an ad campaign. Assuming you have the right volume of emails (roughly 5,000 or more), this is how to start using Facebook targeting.
Create an email list of your high net worth donors and/or most engaged users based on email click through rates. With Facebook ads, build an audience based on this email list. Create ads to test messages targeted at them across Facebook platforms and on Instagram.

If your goal is not to necessarily get a click to site action, consider using a short video message which is cheaper and will let you track views by your target audience. Imagine the potential value of your high-net worth donors “discovering” and watching your content before a major appeal.

If you lack the volume of emails to create a large enough audience, you can build an audience through targeting on-platform demographics and psychographics. Start with targeting people who Facebook thinks are likely to donate to charitable causes and select your cause area. (See Graphic Number 1). Combine that with an interest in topics related to your cause and you have an ideal potential donor.

Narrow your list further by targeting high net-worth individuals so you’re only spending money where you’re likely to get a high return on investment (ROI). (See Graphic Number 2.)

If you have a large enough Facebook page following, it can be also used to refine the targeting of your ads. For all of these strategies keep an eye on the audience size and note that the smaller the audience, the more expensive and longer it will take to run the ads. Though if you end up with too broad an audience the point of hyper targeting is lost.

Using Web Browsing Behavior on Adwords

Targeted segments of your website visitors can be built within Google Analytics as Audiences and then exported into Adwords for Display Advertising. These can also be created with the Facebook Pixel for remarketing campaigns. Here are some ideas for creating those segments on your site:

Build the segment by region that targets the 20 richest cities for users that visit key pages of your site. (See Graphic Number 3)

Where do potential donors hang out on your site? Build the segment by an action taken, such as visiting the pages related to the background of your organization/financials/impact/board of directors or other pages that might suggest someone doing research about your organization getting ready to donate. This can also include pages only sent to people via email, which would add your email list to cookie based targeting.

If this page was only sent to your high net worth list it would become a hyper-targeted segment that would collect the cookie information to allow for targeted ads.

Once the audience is built within Google Analytics, it can be exported to Google AdWords and then used to run ads.

Let’s be real. Target ad networks that rich people visit. Think about luxury goods such as boats, watches, and high-end vacations and use those as placements for your digital ads.

Target people who came close, but didn’t quite pull the trigger. Those who visited your donation page but didn’t donate are a key group to target with ads to give them a second chance and push them over the edge.

Target users who showed some level of interest already — people who watched a certain video on your site, downloaded a resource, etc. These people are better poised to donate than just an average site visitor.

Carve out a segment of your site visitors who best match the known characteristics of your donors, i.e., if your donors are 75 percent female, show your ads only to females for a higher expected conversion rate.

It is important to note that these strategies amplify and help lift the targeted impressions, but they are not substitutes for substance. Simply banging people over the head with your logo is not going to drive the results that can be achieved with great storytelling about your impact. Use these tactics in tandem with other creative and compelling social media, email, and web-based marketing strategies, and you’ll have a winning donation campaign.


George Weiner is chief whaler at online communication, technology and fundraising firm WholeWale in New York City. His email is george@wholewhale.com Tweet: @WholeWhale