This week, eMarketer posted an article about “Always-On Commerce” being a key trend for 2014. So what exactly is “always-on commerce?” According to the article, it is “a subtle but significant evolution from ‘everywhere commerce,’ brought on by consumers’ ubiquitous connectivity… The upshot is consumers who are, in effect, always in the consideration phase for something and rarely more than a tap away from jumping from a physical store to a virtual store, or from one online merchant to another.” Retailers work hard to provide a seamless, Omni-Channel shopping experience for these high-value omni-channel consumers.
Why is this relevant for nonprofits? Because as consumer habits evolve, so do their donation habits. The nonprofit version of “always-on commerce” may be thought of as “always-on giving.” Donors on the go now have the ability to engage with you as they go about their daily lives — they don’t have to wait to get home or to the office to sit down at their desktop to read your email. Smartphones, tablets, text messaging and WiFi on planes all allow donors to determine when they engage with you and how they consume your brand and communications. They are Omni-Channel donors.
This has numerous implications for nonprofits. This is also not a new trend. The instant availability of information brought on by mobile devices and the mobile web has been several years in the making. What the eMarketer article points to is just how “normal” this is now becoming. Consumer (and therefore donor) habits now mean that mobile and social engagement is not something you plan for, it something that MUST be a part of your online presence or those consumers and donors will “shop” elsewhere.
Clearly, it would be foolish to stick our heads in the sand about the pressures faced by nonprofits: programs must be expanded, budgets must be met and many are probably still buried in the quest for the Holy Grail in our industry — getting that CRM and Big Data mart to work (a worthy cause, but one that is likely swallowing up major time, money and resources). There are only so many hours in the day, and with competing priorities, it’s easy to push things like mobile optimization and social media strategy to “later” or to a piecemeal implementation.
However, the industry data tells us there is not much time left for organizations who want to continue to successfully acquire new donors, retain the most loyal donors and grow the files of the most valuable-and most elusive of all — omni channel and sustaining donors.
While a complete mobile site overhaul may not be in the cards and social strategy is something that you are still fighting to get a budget for, there are some steps you can take today to make sure that key areas of your campaigns and programs are talking to the “always-on” donor:
- Mobilize your key calls to actions: Whether it’s donating, registering to walk or signing a petition. If you can’t mobilize it all, mobilize those things that require the donor to engage with you in some way and that are likely to prove the most frustrating in a non-optimized mobile experience. Pledge-to-Give is one way of doing this.
- Add easy social sharing buttons and prompts to all your key call to actions: If you don’t have time to be social, let your supporters be social for you.
- Understand which are the most trafficked pages on your site: Those should be prime candidates for mobilization if you are going one program or page at a time or if different departments “own” different web properties.
- Start tracking your data. Tools like Google analytics can provide insight into the types of browsers (mobile or not) hitting your site. They can also provide insight into timing: how does browsing data vs. donation data compare? For example: If you have 80% of your views from a mobile site, but really, 98% of your donations come in after you send out an email. Then perhaps mobile site optimization isn’t your top priority, but responsive emails and mobile-friendly donation forms sure are. Gathering this kind of data can also help you build the case to management and/or the board. “Our constituents aren’t online/don’t use mobile/aren’t social,” can be an argument easily counteracted if data shows that 35% of browsing is from a mobile browser, 40% of referring links come from Facebook, etc.
Mobile devices are expected to outnumber humans this year. For many donors, the smartphone is the remote control for their virtual lives. For nonprofits, these facts make mobile a key channel in the omni-channel fundraising ecosystem. You can’t afford to be behind the curve in optimizing your website and donation form; leveraging social media to enable your supporters to expand your campaigns across all channels, communities and continents; and tracking results so you can optimize again.
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