Saturday, 12 May 2012

Paper or Phone - Does it matter?

In previous posts I described how data analysis can help with planning and measuring performance. Analytics can also be used to direct activity. This could mean anything from mailing segmentation to predictive modelling or even managing a prospect pipeline. How do you engage your prospects? How do your prospects respond?

At a general level there are three ways to solicit your prospects; by mail, by phone or through face to face contact. Paying attention to how these methods interact in your business can draw some interesting results.

Looking at large appeal mailings and telephone campaigns over a 5 year period I wanted to know who we have reached and what the cross-over between these methods has been. 

Unsurprisingly, the figures showed me that, excluding a few unusual cases, we have been mailing and calling the same people. Within the sample we may have contacted each constituent multiple times using both methods.

Percentage split of those solicited by mail or phone

Mailing is much less expensive so it is again unsurprising that the percentage of those mailed is much larger. 83% of those in the sample had only ever been solicited by mail and had never received a phone call. The cross-over represents a little over 16% of the total. 

I was interested to know how the donations we received from these methods stacked up in comparison. Would it be the case that our telethon donors would sit as a subset of or direct mail donors?

The results did not support this. The split is very different. What I found was that only 4% of the sample cohort had donated by both post and phone. Also, despite only reaching 16% of the sample, 59% of the donations arrived via the telephone. I also compared the result with those that have also donated thanks to a face to face meeting with a fundraiser.

Percentage split of donations including face to face
 This suggests to me 4 things
  1.  Telethons are a successful way of recruiting donors.
  2. There is very little cross-over in donors between direct mail and telethon. There are of course many reasons why this may be the case but the suggestion is that prospects have a preferred method of contact. This insight can be fed into my next modelling project. It reminds me of how specific I need to be when deciding what behaviour I aim to predict.
  3. Those that have given by both methods are a small and interesting bunch that need closer inspection.
  4. There is very little cross-over between those that donate over the phone or by post and those that give by face to face solicitations. Does this mean that our major gift fundraisers are not feeding their prospect pools from our existing donor pool? I can use this evidence to look at the way our pipeline for major gift is populated.  

The ultimate aim is to solicit each prospect in the way that suits them best. Don't assume that because someone made a gift in a direct mail appeal that it makes them a good candidate for the telethon. Examine the evidence.


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