Decision Marketing Data Clinic: A Covid-19 action plan

DM ClinicIn the first of a series of articles, Decision Marketing is launching a new service designed to provide advice on data-driven marketing strategies in these turbulent times and beyond.

The Decision Marketing Data Clinic, in association with REaD Group, is open to all companies and organisations big and small. If you have a burning issue which you would like advice on please email us on

The series kicks off with the charity sector, which, according to one estimate is facing a £4.3bn fall in income of over the next three months as Covid-19 wreaks havoc with thousands of organisations.

Our charity is really struggling because we’ve lost our ability to earn. What should we do?
With face-to-face and retail no longer viable fundraising channels, we recommend turning to what has been a sector mainstay for many years: direct mail, which can be backed up with email to enhance the message and to create more of a ‘halo’ effect.

While this is a good time to be talking to your existing supporters, it’s also worth having a think about other contacts you could be talking to, who exist in pockets around the charity. You should ensure that your data is clean so you are only contacting those who are there to respond. Now is also a good time to find look-a-like or warm prospects who might also be keen to hear from you.

Why should we use direct mail?
With many more people now at home, direct mail has a much greater reach. Not only can it be targeted to ensure that the right message is tailored for the recipient, it can be used to back up other engagement channels. As an example, for a large wildlife charity client of ours, we’ve seen an uplift of 30% for campaigns where direct mail and digital comms have been combined to target the same customers.

Direct mail also brings great results. Early campaigns we’ve been running are showing really good returns, with one example witnessing a response rate of 1.03%; conversion from quotes to sales of 17%; and an ROI of £2.42.

While this will vary by sector, we are confident that results will not only stand up but improve for charities during this period.

What’s the best way to approach a direct mail campaign?
We’d recommend saving money and use that saving to generate more income. You can do this by reducing the cost of mailing your current supporters and using that saving to talk to a group of top prospects. There are a number of other crucial steps to take:

– Optimise your data with a cleanse of your current supporter base, including lapsed and other non-fundraising groups.

– Create profiles of your key segments, based on your cleansed file but also the profiles defined by you as a charity, e.g. high value regular givers, single cash givers, multi-cash givers, participants, community supporters etc.

– Create a cold data file of new, bespoke, top prospects for you to contact by direct mail.

– Add emails, with a corresponding email file plus an email broadcast to anyone with an opted-in email address
What benefits can we expect to see?

By implementing the above, you’ll gain a better understanding of your supporter base from the profiles, and a model for selecting more cold prospects in the future. In addition, all the work you need to run your appeal will be in one place, giving you a clean contact file plus a cold contact file to extend reach.

Louis Sage is business development director at REaD Group

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