You stand at the door and look desperately at your departing guests, leaving your party too early.
“Wait, don’t go – the real fun is about to begin!”
Perhaps you get that same pit-of-your stomach sick feeling when your donors opt-out of your email or phone lists. If only they would stick around for the good stuff!
But when it comes to managing your mobile network of supporters you don’t have to say goodbye too soon -- if you do things right.
One of the things we know about building a mobile community of supporters is that it is possible to achieve high retention rates. Mobile donors will stick with you – if you engage them in the right way. For example, one of our clients, Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS), has achieved an annual retention rate of 96 percent – more than double the nonprofit average retention rate of 41 percent (Fundraising Effectiveness Project, 2011).
Here’s how you can minimize mobile opt-outs and get your mobile donors to stick around:
Profile Your Mobile Donors: Don’t lump all your mobile donors into the same bucket, assuming they all like the same things and interests. Not all of your party guests are going to want to eat the sushi rolls, after all. Build profiles of your mobile donors like you would for any other donor. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Find out who is giving, when they gave, the information they gave – even their support of a specific goal of a specific fundraising effort.
Segment your audience: Now that you understand your audience through the profiles you have built, you can talk to them – through targeted messaging – about things they already care about or are willing to engage in. It’s like planning something interesting to say to each party guest.
Have clear opt-in procedures: Make sure that when you recruit people to your mobile network that you are making it clear that they are opting-in. Double opt-in (where individuals have send a confirmation text that they want to join after initially signing up) is standard. Let them know what they are joining. Email recruitment for opt-ins to your mobile network can help because you can explain what they are signing up for in great detail (read our tips for using mobile and email).
Set Expectations: Be very clear upfront about how often you will communicate with them by text and stick to it. Doing so builds trust. It is like making sure your party guests what to know what time the party starts, what to bring, wear and what they will do once there. Give your mobile donors the information they need so they’ll know what to expect.
Communicate regularly: If someone opts-in to your network and then doesn’t hear from you for a couple of months, of course they are likely to opt-out when they finally get a text message. They won’t remember you and, worse, they won’t remember they gave you permission to text them. This not only leads to attrition, it creates animosity. Make sure you have a sustainable engagement strategy. Start your communication right after they opt-in (with a welcome message) and again after 24 hours. Begin building that mobile relationship.
Regular, targeted text messaging led to BFAS’ high retention rate. In fact, their retention rate – and conversion rate – climbed as they communicated more frequently.
Cultivate: Along with regular messaging comes donor cultivation. And that means not only sharing your story and messages with mobile donors but also asking for their input. Mobile can be used to solicit feedback on your services, your communication practices and the ways you seek to get supporters involved.
In addition, ask them to engage in other ways with you besides donations. Ask them to share your messages through social media, for example. Ask them to volunteer time or other resources. Get them engaged. (Read our mobile donor cultivation tips). Party guests who feel ignored or that you don’t care about them will not only leave early – they won’t be back.
Tell Them Who You Are: Don’t mask your identity – when you send a text, it may not be obvious to your supporter who you are. Announce yourself.
Send Texts at Appropriate Times: Don’t wake them up with your text message. From building your profiles you know the time zones where your mobile supporters reside. Send your messages in reasonable morning and afternoon timeframes within each time zone. Waking up a mobile supporter in the middle of the night with at text message is going to lead to angry opt-outs.
Use all the mobile tools: Mobile is not just text messages. Through mobile you can invite people to participate in social media on Facebook and Twitter on your cause’s behalf, survey them to get their input and learn more about them, and – through mobile optimized websites -- lead them to participate in your website’s many opportunities for engagement (as many as a quarter or more people visiting websites now do this through their mobile devices).
A wise party host leaves nothing to chance and plans the right food, music, atmosphere, activities and conversations for his or her guests. Be a good host on mobile, and you’ll find your guests will stick around. You won’t be panicking as they stream out the door early, begging them to wait for the “fun stuff.” Do mobile right and they will become loyal and long-term supporters.