Nathaniel Ward

My presentation to Empower Action

The three most important lessons online fundraisers should keep in mind are:

  1. Don’t trust your gut instincts
  2. Test everything
  3. Always ask, “Can I do better?”

That was the message I presented last night, using examples from my work at The Heritage Foundation, at an event sponsored by Empower Action.

My full slide deck is below.


Bad data habits that make you a sloppy online marketer

It’s easy for you to fall into bad habits as an online marketer, especially when it comes to data analysis. And your decision-​​making using misunderstood data may be just as bad as your decision-​​making based on gut instinct.

The tools you’re given of of little help. They bury the useful data deep in report pages.

My e-​​mail tool, for example, will tell me how many times a fundraising message was opened or clicked. It requires more work to determine how many donations that message generated and for how much money—and those are the numbers that matter in a fundraising appeal.

Three terrible data practices make Loren McDonald’s list of a bad online marketing habits: (more…)


The real business Starbucks is in

Kevin Williamson explains Starbucks’ business model in The End Is Near And It’s Going to Be Awesome (which you should definitely buy):

New York City does not have much of a publicly financed public restroom infrastructure as such. What it has is Starbucks, a privately financed public restroom infrastructure with a very successful for-​​profit coffee chain attached to it. Maybe you don’t think of Starbucks that way, and Starbucks certainly doesn’t think of Starbucks that way, but residents of New York City apparently think of Starbucks that way.



Three lessons every online marketer can learn from Moneyball

At first blush, Moneyball has nothing at all to do with marketing. After all, it’s a book about baseball. But there are three important lessons online marketers can draw from the book.

1. Start with a clear objective, and focus all your activity on that

To ensure the Oakland As won more games than anyone else on a shoestring budget, general manager Billy Beane identified those metrics, like on-​​base percentage, most correlated with scoring runs and winning games. He then ensured his lineup included players that could get on base, and  discouraged tactics like bunting and stealing that kept players from getting on base.

Online marketers should use a similar goal-​​oriented approach. Start with your highest measurable objective (sales or brand awareness, for example), and then identify those activities (sending e-​​mails or running a particular kind of ad) and customer behaviors (like commenting or browsing a product page) most correlated with achieving that objective.

And since you no doubt have limited resources, you should focus on these activities that give you the most bang for your buck—and stop doing those things with low or even negative correlation with success. (more…)




More confirmation that young donors like to give online—but they don’t give as much

Generations X and Y are far more likely to give online, and as many Baby Boomers say they give online as via direct mail.” That’s according to a new report from Blackbaud.

The study also confirms that donors older than 49 are a better target for fundraisers: they represent 69 percent of all charitable giving. Those under 32, meanwhile, give just 11 percent of donations.


Why those ‘one weird trick’ ads are so effective

The “one weird trick” ads and their absurd-​​looking landing pages work well because they focus on human psychology, Alex Kaufman reports:

Research on persuasion shows the more arguments you list in favor of something, regardless of the quality of those arguments, the more that people tend to believe it,” [Harvard marketing professor Michael] Norton says. “Mainstream ads sometimes use long lists of bullet points—people don’t read them, but it’s persuasive to know there are so many reasons to buy.” OK, but if more is better, then why only one trick? “People want a simple solution that has a ton of support.”

Marketers—even those not selling diet drugs and miracle cures—should be paying attention.


The consequences to marketers of Gmail’s inbox changes

The new Gmail inbox design, which diverts marketing e-​​mails to a separate “Promotions” tab, could pose a threat to e-​​mail marketers, Jordan Cohen writes.

While it is still too early to tell what the impact on open and click-​​through rates will be, marketers are right to be concerned that emails placed in a separate tab will be out of sight, and may also be out of mind (or, in the very least, not top of mind). By last count (June 2012), there were 425 million Gmail users in the world, and it may be up to half a billion by now — so the effect can potentially be substantial.

For now, users’ ability to disable the tabs and the increased use of mobile devices to check e-​​mail could limit the damage, he adds. Kimbia suggests a few workarounds as well.

But perhaps the bigger threat is that other providers follow Google in hiding marketing messages from recipients.