15 years ago when I started out in charity email marketing there was a far too common misconception that obscuring the opt-out link in an email would stop people from unsubscribing. My thinking at the time was that for those who want to unsubscribe this is only going to annoy them more and they will just send your email to the spam folder or worse, ring you up and cancel their support. So my reply was generally that if a supporter really wants to leave, make it easy and let them.
The hard fact is, people will unsubscribe from your emails, cancel their account, or stop their direct debit and you’ll never hear from them again. It’s something that as charity marketers we’re all aware of and something most of us monitor and analyse to try and stop from happening.
As fundraisers the challenge is to accept that some people will stop supporting your charity but to try and ensure that it’s not because of something we’ve done.
Different supporter expectations
Part of delivering a great customer experience is about determining a supporter’s expectations. When there is a large disconnect between the supporter’s expectations and what the charity delivers there is a problem and this is when cancellations happen. Both when under-delivering and over-delivering.
We often are reminded that supporters all have different expectations. The process of managing them becomes difficult when one supporter’s expectations are completely opposite to another supporter.
As an example, Sally Supporter signs up to a campaign via direct debit, she’s really interested in the specific work that the charity is doing, she wants to understand where her donation is going, how the money is being spent, what else the charity is doing in this area. She’s happy to be told about related campaigns and she’s also happy to be communicated with across channels. Darren Donor set up a direct debit in response to the same campaign because he wanted to do something good and feel good about giving to charity. He doesn’t really want to hear the outcome of his giving, he just wants to know that he’s given and only via email. His motivation is quite different and his expectation is that the charity will mostly keep to themselves and not ‘bug’ him.
These differing expectations will happen across interactions and also to any number of different scales. It’s only once we can map what the range of expectations are that we can, at least in theory, deliver an experience that matches, and hopefully gives everyone exactly what they’re looking for.
Building a customer journey
When we’re designing journeys we’ve got to be able to deliver an experience that meets supporter expectations at both ends of the scale and everything in between. Eg. Tell me everything about your charity <-> Don’t tell me anything about your charity.
We’ve been looking recently at ways to model these individual expectations from when they first start to engage with the charity through to long term donors. Trying to find a model that fits across all charities, channels, products, interactions etc. Once we’ve finalised the model we’d love to be able to share it and get feedback.
How to ensure that it’s not you, it’s them?
In the meantime what can you do to help make sure it’s not you, it’s them?
• Give opportunities for feedback
• Make sure you’re communicating consistently from acquisition through to retention
• Track and understand supporter behaviour
• Ensure your metrics represent more than just donations
When was the last time you did a full audit of the experience you’re providing to supporters either across one product or across all? If you’d like to get an external look at all your supporter touchpoints and how they work together we’d be happy to undertake an audit if you get in touch.
We’d also love to hear about how other charities and agencies are tackling this to model supporter expectations.
Jason is the Founder and Managing Director of Copper. He’s an Australian by birth but now lives in London with his wife and 4-year-old son.