New Methods of Increasing Personalization in Advancement

New Methods of Increasing Personalization in Advancement

New Methods of Increasing Personalization in Advancement
March 30, 2020 James Werner

Books, movies, music, and purchase recommendations of all kinds show up in our inboxes via “things you might like based on past history.” Combine that with the personalized social media feeds we create for ourselves and there’s no doubt that today’s audiences expect well-targeted communications. 

In fact, according to a McKinsey report, personalization can boost ROI by as much as 5x-8x the marketing spend!

In a world where seeing 5000 ads a day is common, one of the toughest things to do is attract the attention of your intended audience. Relevance breaks through the noise.

The concept of personalized communications isn’t a new idea. Ever since the Internet became a ubiquitous communication tool, marketers and advancement professionals have attempted to harness its power. The big promise of delivering the right message at the right time through the preferred channels has seemed just out of reach.

In the current era, AI and machine learning technology have begun to catch up with this glittering promise. They simplify the process of creating meaningfully segmented audiences and delivering highly-relevant communications. This development is a boon to universities that want to move away from historic fundraising techniques like the traditional annual fund campaign and incorporate more targeted and personalized campaigns. 

Done well, this strategy helps constituents feel appreciated and recognized. Rather than receiving a relatively generic fundraising letter in the mail, they can receive messages targeted to their interests via email, text, or social media as they prefer. 


Three Ways You Can Personalize Constituent Communications 

It starts with a robust CRM (constituent relationship manager.) 

A robust CRM fueling a third-party tool dedicated to creating email campaigns, SMS texting and social media communications create the perfect mix for personalizing your constituent communciations. 

When you have cutting edge technology, you can narrow your focus and tailor communications via content and delivery channels through

  1. Highly targeted and personalized campaigns (With AI and machine learning, it is now easier to create more targeted and personalized communications than ever before)
  2. Offering promotional information for different, yet relevant, content
  3. Fragmenting and targeting specific audiences


1- Highly targeted and personalized campaigns

Picture your annual giving mailing with its thousands of letters. Now, imagine running multiple, highly targeted campaigns that engage specific audiences.

For example, you could send messages to all of the art majors who studied abroad and appeal to their time overseas. You could even tailor this to the device, website, and channel. 

This is the power of having a robust CRM.  


2- Offer messaging for different, yet relevant, content

Have you ever bought something online only to continue to get ads for that thing a week later? That’s a personalization fail.

A better way is to offer informational content that is both timely and relevant.

For example, if your constituent donated to an art history program, follow up messages might invite them to join a related alumni tour or virtual book club. 

Dynamic content changes messaging based on recent interaction and keeps it relevant like the next logical step. 


3- Use tools to fragment and target specific audiences 

There’s a Facebook Group called Holistic Chihuahuas and it has 5000 members. There’s another one called Disapproving Corgis with 603,000 members. Dogs aside, this is an example of the fragmentation of today’s audiences.

The old methods of targeting “everyone” for the annual campaign are falling out of favor with modern advancement offices. Today’s tools make it possible to have a 3D view of your individual constituents and interact with them through the channels they prefer and appeal to their interests. 

Your constituents are individuals and 1:1 relevant communication is the most successful way of gaining a positive response from another person. Whether it’s succeeding by having them open an email or respond to a text, it’s essential that you know what they care about and through which channels they want to receive it.

With the right technology and some know how, you can finally do this at scale.

It’s personalization that feels, well, personal; and who can resist a well-crafted, personal message? 

Your personalized communications are fueled by our data-rich powerhouse. You need your CRM to move as quickly as your constituents do, so you can serve messages that resonate with your constituents. Learn how Affinaquest can fold into your advancement office today. 


Connect with and cultivate your constituents in one powerful system.