?“Clarity trumps persuasion.” That’s what my friend and mentor Dr. Flint McGlaughlin says is the key to successful marketing communications. He would know; Dr. McGlaughlin heads up MECLABS, a market research company that works with Fortune 100 companies to optimize their sales funnel. Through their 10 years of research spanning1,300 plus experiments, including more than 1 billion emails and 10,000 landing pages , MECLABS has developed a rigorous methodology that has been proven to optimize email campaigns.
But how might this methodology work in the nonprofit world? That’s been the focus of my research over the past three years. This whitepaper will introduce the new science of optimization and provide you with practical ways that you can apply rigorous testing to your email campaigns.
What IS Optimization??
Optimization is defined as:
• To make effective, perfect, or as useful as possible;
• To make the best of something;
• To be optimistic,
• To constantly push forward.
Peter Drucker once said it this way: “Adequacy is the Enemy of Excellence.” As it relates to email marketing, your website or even direct mail, what you did last year…or even last month…could be communicating the wrong message, wearing your donors out or, worst case scenario, convincing them to ignore you. But where do you begin to optimize your donor communications and move them from adequate to excellent?
Start with the End in Mind?
Oftentimes we are so excited to test out a creative idea that we fail to think through what we were trying to accomplish in the first place. We end up sending mixed messages, like the direct mail package that says, “A nickel could save a child’s life.” So, by mailing a nickel, what did we just do? Is that what we want to communicate to our donors? No, but if we neglect our strategy, we will regularly fail to execute on our goals. Instead, we say things we don’t mean and mean things we don’t say. Yet hopefully, through such failures, we learn what not to do and can optimize our efforts for next time. Later in this series we will cover the psychology of optimization and some practical formulas and tips to start optimizing immediately.