Do more with less.
That’s a common refrain in the nonprofit community. Boards demand it and staff members strive to achieve it. And in times of economic uncertainty — fewer donors, members, and meeting attendees — saving money without sacrificing results takes on greater urgency.
It can be done.
Each year, U.S. nonprofits spend $2 billion on advertising. Yet in our experience, we’ve found that digital advertising is a greatly underused tool — and not just for nonprofits. Even when it’s part of the advertising mix, it could be improved to achieve better results, whether to build membership and event attendance, encourage political advocacy, raise public awareness, or acquire new donors.
Case in point: A health care trade association spent $18.50 in advertising to get one person to complete an online quiz. That cost dropped to 75 cents after Reingold enhanced the quiz, website, and audience targeting. Without adding a single dollar to the budget, the association was able to expand its reach twentyfold.
For these results, the association was recognized with the 2021 Hermes Creative Award by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals and the 2021 Communicator Award by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts.
That’s doing more with less.
And these results aren’t outliers:
- For a medical trade association, we returned nearly $10 in new meeting attendance revenue for every $1 in digital advertising.
- For a financial services trade association, we reduced by 90% the cost of generating a new customer lead.
- For a nonprofit’s public education program, we lowered the cost of acquiring a new user from $240 to $37.
- For a real estate trade association, we brought down the cost of generating a website visit and a job search by 62% and 55%, respectively.
What’s behind these eye-popping results? And can you get them too?
Yes: Here are four ways we can improve your ad campaign’s efficiency and reduce costs:
- Make your creative count. Google says 50% of ad performance is due to creative design. “Agencies that have their creative teams working hand in hand with their digital media teams are at a huge advantage,” says Reingold Digital VP Erin Damour. Further, if you want a response to your ads, you need direct language, credible messengers, and a clear call to action. And testing your concepts to see which ads perform best is key.
- Simplify the experience. Make it as easy as possible to respond. “Ease of use means fewer steps and a good mobile experience,” Damour says. “Data can show where you’re underperforming.” Another tip: Keep people on the ad platform. Our financial services client found that allowing users to register on Facebook (rather than having to click through to a website) and reducing the number of fields to complete lowered the cost per registration by 75% in the first 24 hours.
- Target better. The more you know about your audience, the better. Using your own email list, you can build a “lookalike” audience that resembles your existing supporters. Even having a breakdown by age, gender, location, and interests makes a big difference. Using this approach, we helped a financial trade association reduce its new customer acquisition costs by 90%. “An undefined audience leads to money wasted and poor results very quickly,” Damour says.
- Optimize, optimize, optimize. Damour says, “It takes continued analysis to understand meaningful data points that indicate changes on any given variable.” But squeezing out these small gains can lead to significant savings over time. Since 2015, we’ve generated $467,301 in ad savings for a real estate trade group’s workforce hiring initiative, increasing its advertising buying power by more than 20%.
“An undefined audience leads to money wasted and poor results very quickly.” – Erin Damour, Reingold Digital VP
Of course, every organization and every advertising campaign is unique. Though your results may vary, we’ve found there’s almost always a way to do more with less in digital advertising campaigns. And these lessons also apply to the corporate world.
We inherited a major pharmaceutical company’s issue advocacy campaign from a Madison Avenue ad agency. We reduced by 59% the cost of acquiring a new advocate — someone who shares their views with their elected representatives. We also added 38,363 advocates to the company’s database — a 450% increase over the previous year with no increase in budget.
That’s doing more with less.
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