[Net2 Vancouver] Recap: NetSquared Camp 2013

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Originally published on Philanthropy for All by Vanessa Chase.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending NetSquared Camp 2013 presented byNetTuesday Vancouver- what a seriously awesome way to spend a Saturday! If you’re in the non-profit or technology worlds and have never attended one of these events, you’re missing out. Be sure to look up the NetSquared meet ups in your city – you won’t be disappointed!

NetSquared Camp 2013 is an annual unconference that I look forward to every year. Here’s how it works – there’s a set time and place for the event, but no sessions are prescheduled. Once everyone arrives, attendees are able to pitch sessions or conversations that they’d like to facilitate and based on interest, sessions are added to the master schedule in the main room. It’s essentially like crowdsourcing conference content.

I led two sessions at this year’s unconference – Copywriting and Essentials of Email Marketing. Both were highly interactive conversations that led to some interesting side-bar conversations throughout the day. Today I’ll share my favourite take aways from both of these sessions

Copywriting & Non-Profits

  • The best copywriting is an exercise in human psychology – understanding factors that motivate someone to take action and then leveraging those in your favor
  • Non-profits still don’t have a great handle data segmentation, which would allow for more targeted copy to be written. We talked at length about solutions for this because what will often happen is if you use an email marketing service and have opt-in forms on your website, you don’t necessarily know much about that person’s relationship to your organization. Great copy is all about playing into that relationship as much as possible.
  • Talking about dry or sensitive topics in a way that makes them engaging is a huge challenge for many causes. But again, if you know your audience and what they respond to, you can better mitigate this factor
  • It can be a struggle to sell the organizational leadership team on taking copywriting risks. In this instance, do lots of A/B testing to prove your point. Data doesn’t lie about what your audience wants to hear.
  • On digital channels people are empowered to tune you out. This make it all the more important to use words to emotionally engage people.
  • Seek to cultivate trust
  • Having a clearly laid out call to action is one of the most common copy mishaps, but it’s also the easiest to fix.
  • At the end of the day, copy’s job is to get people to empathize with what you’re telling them. It’s your job to ensure that they understand why that call to action is relevant to them.

Essentials of Email Marketing

  •  One of the best ways to collect email addresses is to attend events where you know your target audience will be or through direct mail. Strange, but true!
  • As was the case in the Copywriting session, data segmentation was a hot topic! Some folks said that their database utilized plug-ins to assist with segmentation. Others said that on their online opt-in form, they ask what the person’s affiliation is to the organization.
  • If you’ve managed to segment your data, consider developing different email strategies for different groups. Test them and keep what works.
  • For some of your community/donors, email might be the primary way they engage with your non-profit. Make sure that you offer robust content beyond just fundraising emails.
  • Make use of autoresponders. I discussed a client who uses autoresponders very strategically when they have new people sign up for email updates to develop a trusting relationship, then after about a 2 month period they make an ask. It started as a test and it’s had great results!
  • Open rates are not the end all, be all measure of email marketing.
  • When you’re analyzing your data, really think about what you’re trying to measure and what most accurately reflects that.

Learnings from other sessions

  • There is a general temptation to think that online donors and community members are much younger than they actually are. 
  • With both digital and offline direct response marketing, people generally can’t guess that cost of the piece. Non-profits need to move past the fact that donors care about overhead costs.
  • The bar is set very low for online fundraising follow up. In other words, if you do even just a little you’ll look like a superstar.
  • Just because technology has matured, doesn’t mean it’s peaked. It’s not too late to start usingemail marketing or online fundraising platforms.