2017 AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference Recap

Adva Priso of Anne Lewis Strategies and Jennifer Gmerek of Conservation International presented a session chock full of specific examples of content that motivates action.

Ms. Priso believes that effective content must align with your “North Star” (i.e. what your organization represents) and tells the story that only you can tell.

She imparted the three elements of content creation:

1)    Be clear and concise

2)    Convey emotion

3)    Be channel-specific

Be Clear and Concise

Based on her experience for non-profits, she finds that online surveys used in ads as lead generators bring in more money than a direct appeal to donate. Each non-profit knows what amount is the base amount that works well to drive donations for their organization (ex. $25) and conversions can be driven higher through a model that provides YES/YES options (i.e. yes, I’d like to donate X amount) before NO. This converts most non-donors to donors.

Convey Emotion

Demonstrating gratitude is a way to convey emotion that also works as a good conversion method. For the USO, they encouraged people to send gratitude messages to our nation’s heroes that were displayed at USO centers around the world. They found that these communications were very effective in encouraging donations as well, since message senders were already in line with the mission. They acquired 2 million people through that campaign.

Conservation International had a similar campaign called “Thank a Ranger” for World Wildlife Day where they enabled people to send personalized messages to rangers.

Be Channel-Specific

Being channel-specific means exploiting the functionalities that make each medium unique. For Teacher2Teacher they created sharable graphics about what inspired teachers to teach.

She also emphasized the importance of testing various calls to action. She gave specific examples of ads from the Environmental Working Group that had a CPA of $1.42. Adding a quote brought the CPA down to $1.02. Moving the quote above the ad moved it down to $0.75. Adding the urgency of a specific goal for a number of signatures by a certain date moved the CPA down to $0.49.

Even more fascinating is their work for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA). They tested emails to donate with Obama vs. Hillary photos. Hillary photos increased conversions 6%. Changing the Hillary photo from a profile to a shot of her facing forward increased conversions even more. Adding text to “stand up for women” along with her photo increased it even more. And finally adding a deadline boosted conversions by 70%.

Jennifer Gmerek of Conservation International gave her key learnings from the launch of two virtual reality films, Valen’s Reef and Under the Canopy.

Her key lessons were:

  1. Get to the point
  2. Don’t hold back
  3. Give people a reason to play and stay
  4. Don’t promote as much as rally a cause

Get to the Point

For the launch of their first VR film, Valen’s Reef, they had a teaser where they distributed content that explained VR along with some initial content. Once they launched the film, they found that they had higher levels of engagement with the teaser phase vs. the launch phase. The lesson for them was to put more effort on the film itself.

Don’t Hold Back

Ms. Gmerek says that VR is a great vehicle to engage and content is a means not an end. She says not to hold back and share the “meatiest” content.

Give People a Reason to Play and Stay

Using stills from the film, they posted 360-degree photos on Facebook and asked people to “spot the wildlife.” Once they did, by looking down they could see a snake lurking below which scared and delighted audiences.

Don’t Promote as Much as Rally a Cause

Based on their learnings from the first film, Conservation International created a goal for the second film of protecting 10,000 acres of land in the Amazon Rainforest. Partnering with SC Johnson, which matched donations, they launched a campaign using social media, email, fundraising, web content, and promoted video on Facebook. They created mini campaigns around Earth Day and World Wildlife Day, creating a sense of urgency around those dates to solicit donations. Within three months, they hit their goal.

Both presenters gave solid, actionable recommendations for nonprofits to create content that converts.

Kelly Callahan-Poe draws on deep client & agency experience with a digital focus to energize brands with impactful marketing communications.