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The value of mobile

February 11th 2013
digital-large

We’re all passionate about our organisations and causes. We all want to recruit as many people to support our mission as we can; to raise money, campaign and help spread the word.  But it’s increasingly tough out there. Charities are investing more and more to increase numbers of supporters but at an ever increasing recruitment costs, lengthening pay back periods and more worryingly ever increasing attrition rates. This is not sustainable.

We strongly share the belief with many in the sector that the answer lies in developing longer, deeper and more valued relationships with supporters. So they give more, do more and share more.

A supporter’s level of engagement with a cause is heavily influenced by how they have been recruited. Increasingly invasive and pressured techniques do not make for the best start to a long term relationship. It’s not a sustainable strategy to rely on human inertia, resulting in failure to get around to cancelling a direct debit, as a retention model. In this day and age of austerity people are being increasingly selective about who and what they invest in, and it tends to be focused on what gives them value.

We cannot escape the need to increase the volume of supporters if charities are going to achieve their mission. This is felt more sharply by some charities who are suffering from a fall in statutory funding but an increase demand for their services. So, it is imperative that we hold on to those supporters we recruit and recognise the role new media plays in keeping them close.

At Good Bites… on mobile at the end of January we looked at how we can bring supporters closer to a charity and build loyalty through mobile technology and techniques.

Innovation and accessibility make it easier and faster to tell our stories through mobile. We discussed how mobile can be put into the mix to connect with people, not only from the point of acquisition, which is as much part of the problem as it is part of the solution, but on a continuing basis to develop a valued relationship between supporter and charity.

What is mobile?

Maybe first we should start with a definition.  Mention “mobile” and everyone starts talking about phones.  We’ve all got one, or two, and over half of us have smart ones.  But mobile is so much broader, and it’s not just about telephony.

We use our mobile devices to communicate, of course, but also for entertainment, to manage our lives, to most of all to share our experiences.  People are armed with (sometimes several) mobile devices wherever they are.

We spend 4.4 hours of our leisure time in front of screens each day, often more than one at a time. We need to be tapping into that.  Without doubt mobile will play an increasing role in our lives and if charities are to deepen their relationship with supporters mobile is a ‘multiple touch point’ that should be integrated in all fundraising and communication activities.

Get even more personal

Personalisation is nothing new, nor is it limited to mobile. But with advances in digital technology content consumed is increasingly controlled by the individuals rather than content providers. People are creating their own experiences whether it is on Google+, the BBC, The Guardian The Onion or TED, they re-configure media to read what they want. But what comes with greater control is the opportunity to opt out of the marketing they don’t want to receive.

There is no doubt people’s mobile experience is increasingly influential, but what is also clear is that they are in greater control of this experience; charities need to be alive to the opportunity and the risk this presents when developing supporter experiences.

People want to be part of your story

We humans are hard-wired to respond to stories and use them to relate to the world around us. A good story hinges on an emotional response. The more we feel part of the story the more engaged we are, especially when we have established and demonstrated an interest in the protagonists. We are more inclined to care what happens, to want to influence the outcome, we are primed to pay attention and respond.

We were delighted Jennie York from WaterAid could join us and present The Big Dig. The Big Dig shows the potential of connecting supporters in the UK with the people at the heart of WaterAid’s mission and their stories direct from the field.

We need to use more of our senses

We live in a multi-sensory world so the more an experience engages our senses the more visceral and engaging it becomes. Charities need to consider how to create multi sensory experiences, that is far simpler than is sounds, add audio and video into the mix and we significantly enrich the supporter experience. The mobile experience makes the most of these features.

Identifying the appropriate moments

The great promise of mobile marketing has always been the a deeper and more personal connection with other people, whilst brands have tried to control this, they have fallen short, and even suffered if they have not been transparent and offered some value beyond a sales pitch. Whilst we can now identify key moments to engage with people though mobile we need to connect with them in ‘hyper-relevant’ ways.

We need to consider where people want to engage.  Adam Gee from Channel 4 also joined Good Bites… on mobile and enlightened us in the positioning of Channel 4 as a content provider across multiple platforms as opposed to a broadcaster through television. The measures of success of the campaigns Adam showed were across all channels.

Embarrassing Bodies health checker app. This is a good example of a tool that is designed to be visually clear and utterly portable. Perfect for using discreetly and privately.

When people meet technology

The tactical stuff like text to donate (or using other payment methods) or mobile advertising is great, but when we start looking at how we can make the most of the technology we can see the real value, not just for charities but even more importantly for supporters of the charity.

Charities need to consider how to deliver a compelling story and adapt how the story is told to suit the channel and platform’s strength to maximise user experience; only then will we develop deeper engagement and more valued relationships with supporters.

So…

We’re in a new age of supporter engagement. It’s time to increase a charity’s value to their supporter and the supporter’s value to the charity. And the only way to do that is to give them an experience that makes them feel close, and ideally part of, your story.

We cannot afford to allow the mobile, or digital, to simply be another tactical execution point that sits apart from the overall consumer experience. Putting it at the heart of your integrated storytelling will truly deepen engagement. And deepening engagement will give you supporters who respond to your appeal for help, stay with you longer, are more like to share your story, advocate your cause and recruit from their networks.  It will give you supporters who are more valuable in terms of money and actions, allowing you to make more good things happen.

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Say hello to Charlotte

Charlotte Beckett

She’s our Head of Digital. Usually found online somewhere, rather fond of the real world too.