To well-informed marketers, it’s no longer a question of whether they should be diving into digital marketing. The answer to that is a resounding “YES!” The question now is: “How do I integrate digital marketing into my organization’s strategy?” While this is a valid question, marketers should be asking an even more important question before even considering the development of their digital marketing strategy: “Who is my audience?” 

Many nonprofit organizations assume they know who their donor audience is, and develop strategies based on these assumptions. There are two problems with making these assumptions: 

1. How do you know these assumptions are accurate? 

2. Even if these assumptions have been accurate in the past, are they still accurate, and will they continue to be accurate in the future? 

This lack of audience clarification is an important reason why it is crucial for a nonprofit to define its donors. 

Data is one of the most important parts of any digital marketing strategy. Eighty percent of nonprofits use donation amount as their primary, and often only, data point for their targeting strategy. Only 34% use age and birth year data in their targeting. In order to more effectively increase engagement and conversions, nonprofits need to expand their use of data. 

Rather than blindly sending out a message to any available audience, a data-driven strategy can be used to identify and target specific segments of donors. For data to make sense and be valuable, you need to have numerous and accurate data sets. Think of data like a black and white picture. Adding one set of data – like donors – would be like adding the color red. Another set of data, possibly social media followers, would be green, and then adding a third set of data would be like adding blue. Suddenly, you have a full scale color picture. When you analyze and organize the data, it’s like adding a nice frame around it and now the picture is ready for viewing. 

When an organization truly understands its donor base, everything can be planned around those audience members and what they’re looking for. Content can be created that speaks to what’s important to them and what drew them to the organization in the first place. E-newsletters can be timed to agree with a donor’s schedule and filled with content that is important to them. Social media interactions can be more meaningful and create further conversations through sharing. The fact of the matter is that people are more likely to respond to campaigns that resonate with them. More than just knowing an audience, digital marketing helps build strong, loyal, and long-term relationships with donors, so they feel a connection to the organization and continue donating on a regular basis. By knowing who donors are on a more specific level, organizations can understand their habits and behaviors, and relate to donors even more.