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5 Tips for Nonprofits Considering Marketing Cloud

These days, nonprofit marketing goes far beyond fundraising and advocacy email newsletters. Nonprofit marketers need to use every marketing channel available to generate interest and provide end users the information they need to drive action, complete a fundraising ask or recruit new volunteers. Technology is paving the way for nonprofits to adapt their business processes and, in order to stay relevant, marketing strategies need to adapt as well. The days of relying on a monthly email newsletter or direct mail without incorporating digital marketing channels are over if you’re looking to spread awareness for your cause and raise more funds.


Tip 1: Focus on Your Constituent Experience

In the Age of the Customer, heightened customer expectations are impacting every facet of the nonprofit industry. Seventy-five percent of consumers expect companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage; this expectation is not different when it comes to your nonprofit organization. For example, the YMCA of Central Florida was struggling to provide a consistent brand experience across their 18 different centers and the process of obtaining a One Day Pass online created confusion when subscribers arrive at a family center of choice.


Enter Salesforce Marketing Cloud. “Using Journey Builder, we are able to automate the One Day Pass process creating a unified experience across all our locations while also maintaining the 360-degree view of our constituents,” said Dan Humbert, VP Information Technology at the YMCA.


Marketer’s goal always has been (and always will be) to drive giving and engagement, but increasingly marketers are also dedicated to fostering experiences that cultivate the leads they initially uncover into lifetime donors or participants.


Tip 2: Make Their Experience Personal

Technology is an incredible thing. Many digital ads have the ability to target individuals based on their interests, likes or activities. As consumers, we may use our smartphone to click through a digital ad for a product that looks intriguing and continue to browse the retailer’s website beyond the product we saw an ad for. We may place items in a digital shopping cart to review later. Or we might decide to order online and pick it up in the store. We expect the ability to personalize our journey.


Despite the increased attention technology has brought to the customer journey, most nonprofit marketers are still struggling to connect their message across these digital channels – let alone across other departments. Many nonprofit organizations aren’t broadcasting or identifying their messages between channels, or lack coordination between channels that they do use. They often structure their organization into “swim lanes” focused on each channel. Each “swimmer” has its own data, tools and reporting structure.


With donor expectations for personalization on the rise, static messages can give an impression that your nonprofit doesn’t care or see their donors as individuals. That’s dangerous. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, faced a similar problem and they implemented Marketing Cloud and integrated it with their Sales Cloud and Nonprofit Success Pack. Their Salesforce Solution Architect, Gordon Lee, said that “before the implementation, our thinking was that every individual belonged to a specific department because they were the ones who communicated with them. Today, we look at individuals as Common Sense Media constituents vs. the development constituent or program constituent”. Common Sense can now use their technology to see every engagement an individual has with their organization and use that information to tailor the messages to that individual.


Tip 3: It Doesn’t Count if No One Reads it

According to a recent study, nonprofits sent an average of 59 email messages per subscriber in 2018. An increase of 8 percent in volume from the previous year. Despite expanding email programs and list sizes, diminished engagement and soaring spam rates are significantly weighing down nonprofit fundraising potential. According to TheNonprofitTimes on average, 24.16% of email — that’s one out of four messages — was delivered to spam folders monthly in 2017. This has cost nonprofits an average of almost $30,000.


Urban Institute is the trusted source for research and insights to help solve the US’ toughest problems. As the voice of expert information on public policy, best practices, and actionable strategies, Urban Institute relies on effective email communications—with over two dozen email newsletters deploying on a regular basis and sends key emails as part of their external affairs program. “Nearly perfect’ is a good description of our Marketing Cloud implementation,” said David Connell, Senior Director of Digital Communications at the Urban Institute. An indication of their success with Marketing Cloud is their ReturnPath Sender Score reputation measurement. A score of 80 or more indicates ‘a great sender reputation.’ Urban Institute’s Sender Score at one- and two-months-post-deployment remains at 99 out of 100—a nearly perfect score. This is all because they are listening to their subscribers’ preferences, honoring those preferences and using a tool that helps create dynamic lists which change as their subscribers' preferences do. The shift in focus from volume to value has cause nonprofit organizations to rethink the services they offer and how they communicate with constituents of all types – donors, members, participants, employees, clients, and beyond.


Tip 4: Keep Your Data Clean

One of the best ways to help make sure you are getting the best deliverability and opens rate is by making sure your data is up-to-date. This can be difficult if your constituents don’t have a self-service way to update their personal information and communication preferences. However, Marketing Cloud is just another tool in your Salesforce workbench. By connecting your Clouds and leveraging third-party applications, this process can be much easier.


For example, Community Cloud is a platform many of our nonprofit clients are using as a knowledge base, help desk or community engagement tool. Cloud for Good developed an application that helps expose information from the Nonprofit Success Pack into your Communities. The Constituent History for Customer Communities application empowers your donors to update their personal and giving information from within the Community, feeding those updates back into your system of record so that the data is clean.


Tip 5: Finding the Right Partner

The key to success with Marketing Cloud is understanding the nuances of the tool and taking advantage of all the amazing features. Partnering with an implementation partner who is part of the Salesforce partner program has experience within your industry can be game-changing in getting your organization set up faster, marketing smarter and, perhaps most important, optimized for the best ROI.


Trailhead has released a new module, Partner Selection for Implementation. It helps you understand the process of choosing an implementation partner, as well as understanding the roles they will play in your implementation. You can also look at for consultants on the AppExchange. You’ll want to pay attention to industry experience level (Master Navigator, Specialist Navigator or Certified Navigator), experience and reviews (Cloud for Good has an average of 5-stars across 94 reviews).


Choosing the right mix of technology to help support a personalized, constituent-focused marketing strategy is key to driving success. Nonprofit marketers must also address demands for personalized, timely experiences across channels, departments and devices. The Salesforce suite of products, including integrations between Sales and Marketing Cloud allow marketing leaders to keep up on this new dynamic and reap the rewards of donor acquisition, loyalty, and advocacy.


Tal Frankfurt is Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, a certified B Corporation and an Inc. 5000 company that works with nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions to create transformational value with Salesforce.