How to Follow up with Volunteers

INTRODUCTION

Acknowledging your volunteers is just as important as acknowledging your donors, and you can do that by sending out a follow up!

In this article we are going to be looking at why, how, and when to follow up with your volunteers. Volunteers are the powerhouse of the organization! Knowing how to send follow ups and how to make them effective is KEY. Sending out those follow ups as soon as you can will result in a good volunteer experience and increase the likelihood that volunteers will return for more work, and even become donors!

 

WHY FOLLOW UP?

graphics-01

Following up with your volunteers is important because volunteers are what keeps your nonprofit organization going. Volunteers donate their time and effort for a cause as long as it provides them with the personal satisfaction of doing good for others as well as a positive network of individuals who all care deeply about the cause. It is not only courteous, but necessary to follow up with them to gain valuable feedback about their experience with your nonprofit and give them more opportunities to donate. Follow-ups help volunteers feel in the loop and keep them involved in the work.

Apart from helping with your nonprofit’s mission, volunteers also seek charity work to gain experiences, network, learn new skills, add to their resume, and more. Sending out follow ups to gain feedback is beneficial to your organization and to volunteers. You can then use that feedback to improve your programs and it will increase the likelihood of volunteer’s returning, sending referrals to your organization, and building relationships.

Once you have established good relationships with your volunteers, it could result in them turning into donors down the line!

 

HOW?

graphics-02

Following up with your volunteers can be as easy as sending an email. The point is to maintain good communication. But it is a good idea to show effort in the way you follow up with them. The way to show effort can be evident in how you follow up and what you say in your follow up.

 

3 Points to Always Include in your Follow Up:

  1. Acknowledgment of Gratitude: saying thank you in a personal way

  2. Progress Made: letting them know how their efforts have helped the cause

  3. Include a Survey: to gain insight of their experience

 

Make sure when you follow up with your volunteers, it reflects that you spent time and effort in contacting them. Volunteers put their time and effort into helping your organization, so you should do the same! Handwritten and personalized notes are an excellent way to show volunteers that their contribution is valuable and recognized. You should make it easy for them to respond back to you by including your email, phone number, or social media information.

 

WHEN?

graphics-03

A good time to send a follow up is as soon as possible! Try to aim to get those follow ups out within one week of their experience. This is especially important when you want to gain feedback from your volunteers. This is because their experience will still be fresh in their mind. It will also add to their experience to get that extra thank you soon after they spent time volunteering. When you maintain good communication, it builds relationships. Strong relationships with your volunteers will turn into strong donor relationships! It is all about the long game!

 

CONCLUSION

To wrap things up, we covered why, how, and when to follow up with your volunteers. It is important because volunteers are essential to keeping operations running. A follow up can be sending an email to writing a letter, but remember to put in effort so that volunteers feel their work is being reciprocated. The sweet spot of sending out follow ups is within one week or as soon as possible.

GET OUT THOSE FOLLOW UPS!

 

BONUS TIP

Want to know how to increase your average donation amount? Here are 9 easy steps that will tell you just that!

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Increase Donor Loyalty With Our Best Practices

One of the advantages that nonprofit organizations have is that often donors are looking for authentic personal connections with the nonprofit. Donors want to feel connected, like they are a part of something bigger, and feel like they belong.

As a nonprofit, one of the best ways to increase donor loyalty is by showing up. These days virtually can be almost as effective as in person. Donor loyalty is driven by human connection, which means personalizing your communications with them will ensure that your donors reach out to you again in the future.

This article will discuss how to increase donor loyalty by utilizing these 8 tools.

Challenges With Donor Loyalty Today

Put yourself in the shoes of your donors. You have finally selected a nonprofit organization whose mission and values align closely with your own. To begin, you choose to donate $100 to them. While your contribution may not be a massive donation, it’s still a significant contribution to the cause.

A week goes by following your donation, and you’ve received no response from the organization. Another week goes by, and still, there has been no response. You’re disappointed in the organization at first, but eventually, you simply forget about the whole thing.

While you may have forgotten about the whole ordeal, the critical thing to remember is that you will never give again.

Don’t let your nonprofit organization follow this path. Here are the top 8 ways to increase donor loyalty with our best practices!

Top 8 Ways to Increase Donor Loyalty

Even though nonprofits have notoriously stringent budgets, you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t take much money to increase donor loyalty. Here are the top 8 ways to increase donor loyalty with our practices.

1. Connect With Your Donors Regularly
As previously mentioned, the primary method to increase donor loyalty is by staying connected. By regularly engaging with your donors, you are helping to build upon the emotional connection between them and your organization.

Some of the ways you can stay on top of your connections include:

Building a website
Updating your website weekly
Sending out newsletters
Provide video content
Post engaging content on social media

You should take the time to research your donor demographic’s preferred method of communication and hone in on developing those areas of your marketing efforts. And remember, don’t just post boring things. Find ways to engage directly with donors and personalize your efforts as much as possible.

2. Donor-Stewardship
Donor-stewardship is the process of building a relationship with your donors after they make a gift. The main aim of stewarding your donors is to encourage them to donate again. Creating a relationship with your donors will make them feel loyal and increase future fundraising.

Keep in mind the donor pyramid and varying levels of engagement within it. The different levels within the donor pyramid include:

-Occasional donors, volunteers, and event participants
-Annual and recurring donors
-Major gift donors
-Planned gift donors

3. Offer Opportunities for Your Donors to Get More Involved
Remember that your donors can contribute to your efforts more than simply donating money. Always have opportunities for your donors to get more involved with your organization, even if they don’t have the funds to donate at this time.

Here are a few different ways you can get your donors more involved with your organization:

  1. Set up a donor advisory board
  2. Ask donors to like and share social media posts
  3. Host new donor onboarding sessions
  4. Organize informal focus groups
  5. Send out surveys to donors
  6. Create a group chat on social media

4. Thank Donors in a Personal Way
It doesn’t matter what the size of the donation is. Any contributions your donor makes towards your cause should always be thanked. Believe it or not, thank-you mail can make or break a relationship with a donor.

While it can be challenging at times, writing thank-you notes to donors is a great way to show them that you appreciate them. Luckily, with the help of services like Postalgia, you can get the job done quickly and easily.

Postalgia will pen your individualized donor thank you notes on your letterhead with high-quality card stock, taking care of all details, including the address verification, postage, and mailing.

Many of us have grown accustomed to receiving countless messages by email, social media, and text every day that these days, a handwritten note is rare. Therefore, sending a handwritten thank-you card or letter makes your organization stand out and instantly creates a unique and personal connection with the recipient.

Penned by robots but remarkably human, our handwritten letters, notes, or cards to your stakeholders are written using genuine ink. We’ll print and mail these personalized handwritten donor thank-you notes for you for the ultimate convenience.

5. Develop Trust
Another surefire way to increase donor loyalty is by developing trust. To help promote confidence in and amongst your organization, consider interacting with donors face-to-face. There are plenty of different ways to help build trust in your organization. Some ideas might include:

-Hosting an in-person event for supporters
-Hosting a virtual event
-Invite donors to tour your offices
-Ask donors to join your team for a hike

6. Get as Personal as Possible
The perfect world for the nonprofit organization allows you to have a one-on-one relationship with every donor. Unfortunately, that’s not the most realistic expectation for most nonprofits.

Still, you can personalize your content as much as possible by tracking and measuring all of your interactions with donors. Some critical information you should constantly be tracking includes:

-Motivating factors
-Donor demographics or segments
-Preferred communication channels
-How new donors are driven to your organization

7. Remember It’s About Relationships, Not Donations
Instead of focusing your efforts on more donations, change your mindset to instead increase donor loyalty. Rather than funds being the ultimate end goal, you want to view your relationship with donors as an opportunity to make a more significant impact in the long run.

The more you have a two-way relationship with your donors, the more invested they will be in the growth and success of your organization.

8. Create a Donor Loyalty Program
Although you want to thank all contributions to your cause consciously, significant donors need to be thanked with a bit of extra care. Create a donor loyalty program to help maintain the momentum of your top supporters. Ideas for programs might include:

-Branded gifts
-Networking opportunities
-Special tickets to events
-Member-only events
-Exclusive member-only newsletters

Conclusion
The best ways to increase donor loyalty are linked to personalizing the experience. Getting to know your donors, what they like, and what you can do to maintain your relationship with them are critical components of the donor-stewardship.

After all, it’s about PEOPLE. There’s more to building donor loyalty than the basics, of course, but if you start doing these 8 things, you’ll be off to a good start.

Postalgia can help you deliver that personalized touch by creating physical media such as newsletters and fundraising campaigns and also produce beautifully handwritten personalized thank you letters to donors at scale.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Finding Your Next Major Donor is as Easy as 1,2,3…4,5,6

Whether you’re running a venture-backed Startup company, a Fortune 500 telecom giant, or a mission-driven non-profit organization, you need more resources – usually cash – to build your team, grow your reach, and scale whatever it is that your organization does best.

In the context of charities, foundations, and philanthropic organizations, if you were to ask anyone who works in a fundraising capacity what their top goals are for the month, the quarter, or the year, they might answer that they are working on stewardship, donor engagement, transitioning one-time donors to monthly donation programs, or acquiring new donors, but it all boils down to one thing: Money coming in.

That boils down to a few different elements of your broader fundraising strategy:

Acquisition – How are you acquiring new donors who have never given before?
Solicitation – What is your approach to raising money from current donors?
Monthly Giving – Are you turning your one-time donors into monthly donors?
Reactivation – How are you reactivating lapsed donors?
Legacy Giving – Do you have a program that allows your donors to make an impact after they’ve passed on?
Major Giving – Can you move donors into higher and higher giving brackets?
Stewardship – How do you keep donors connected so that they stay donors?

Many fundraisers correctly focus heavily on soliciting existing donors – after all, the most likely source of new charitable dollars is past givers who are already connected to and inspired by the mission of your organization.

But donor churn – your donors deciding to stop giving to your organization – is an inevitability, not a hypothetical. Excellent organizations may experience lower levels of donor churn than the industry standard, but with The Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraising Effectiveness Project pegging 2020 retention rates at 43.6%, that means that you can expect to keep fewer than half of your donors year over year if you run a typical fundraising operation.

Of course, the longer a donor is with your organization, the less likely they are to stop giving (hence the importance of monthly giving programs and stewardship), and a big chunk of the almost 57% of donors that didn’t come back in 2020 were first-time donors themselves (more than 80% of first time donors made one gift and never returned).

But that doesn’t change the fact that you need to replace the donors that you’re losing every year with fresh, new additions to your donor base.

So, without further ado, here are 6 tips to growing your new donor base:

1. Survey your current donors

Before you embark on an involved, time-consuming, and/or expensive process of attracting new donors through what you assume is the way to do so, it is worth asking your existing donors a few simple questions:

How did you hear about our charity, non-profit org, or foundation?
How long after did you donate?
Did you have any involvement with the organization before donating?
Why did you decide to donate to our organization?
Were you asked? If so, by whom? How? Through what channel?
What was the process like when you gave your first gift?

If you have candid conversations with some of your best donors, at different giving levels, ages, and years of involvement, you’ll find strong patterns start to emerge.

If your charitable organization is like most, you’ll find that many of your donors have a personal connection to your organization, had involvement with the organization before giving, give for similar reasons, and were asked to give in similar ways.

This crucial first step will give you a good idea of where to look for new donors, and help you in the next step as well…

2. Create a donor profile for digital advertising

Once the patterns in your donor stories have begun to emerge, you should be able to create a donor profile.

A donor profile could include demographic, geographic, ethnic, religious, professional and income information, all of which can be used to target acquisition campaigns.

For example, if you are fundraising for a children’s hospital in the downtown area of a major metropolitan city, you may discover from your donors that they are mostly suburban parents of 2 or more children, working as professionals (dentists, lawyers, accountants, etc…).

3. Create issues or opportunities-based campaigns

One of the most important things that you will learn from talking to your existing donors is what moved them to donate in the first place.

Deciding to give money is a big step for many people. Chances are that for every donor you have, you have thousands if not tens of thousands of people who support your mission in non-financial ways, even if just quietly and privately in their own minds.

You’re probably asking yourself what good that does you – a non-profit organization with mouths to feed and a mission to undertake.

But today’s donors are yesterday’s activists who were the day before’s volunteers who were themselves quiet supporters the day before that. As the proverb goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

In this case, it’s very difficult to fundraise from anonymous supporters that you don’t know exist, but approaching strangers and asking them for money is likely to get more doors closed in your face than not.

Asking for small expressions of support, however – like “sign this petition” or “click to email your congressman” are not big asks. What they do, however, is help you build a list of people who are supporters of your cause, and may one day financially contribute to your philanthropic endeavors. You now have the names, email addresses, and possibly addresses and phone numbers of people who support your organization enough to put up their hands and self-identify. That list is worth its proverbial weight in gold.

4. Turn stakeholders into activists

Speaking of building lists, chances are that many of your donors had interactions with your organization as non-donors before they ever cut a check.

If you’re fundraising for a school, certainly your alumni are a great place to start; but what about their parents and grandparents? If you’re a hospital foundation, studies show that over 80% of grateful patients feel good about donating to the hospital at which they received treatment, to say nothing of their relieved and grateful families.

The people that you helped are not the only stakeholders in your community.

Congregants, community members, teachers, and volunteers of all types often go on to become amongst the most prolific and involved donors in any charitable organization.

5. Create volunteer opportunities, community events, and open houses.

That’s why creating volunteer opportunities is one of the most powerful long-term acquisition strategies that you can pursue. Nothing binds a supporter to a nonprofit organization’s mission like giving their time and energy to the cause.

Ironically, giving in this way makes donors and supporters more invested than receiving does.

Bringing people together through volunteerism, showing off the good work that your organization does, and creating community through causes that people are passionate about takes a lot of work, but the result is that you will attract people who are much more mission-driven, much less transactional, and much less likely to leave after giving once.

These mission-driven people will make up the beating heart of your donor base. They are exactly who you want to make up the core of your organization, and you’ll wish that you could clone them.

6. Have your current donors bring a friend

The next best thing, however, is to have them bring like-minded friends, family members, and colleagues along for the ride.

A lot of fundraisers are afraid to ask their donors for anything other than money; their mentality is that if the donors have already given to the organization, the last thing that you want to do is impose on them in a way that risks alienating them by making them feel put upon.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your donors are along for the ride for a reason. They are the most passionate believers in the work that you are doing, and nothing makes them feel better than having more opportunities to help in ways that don’t make them feel like they are only viewed by you as a source of more and more money.

Giving them opportunities to bring in friends – especially to community-building events – would be welcomed by your donors as a new and unique way to contribute.

And just like that, your fundraising list just got bigger.

Putting it all together

Suppose you’re fundraising for a  hospital foundation. You speak to your current donors and see patterns start to emerge. You learn that most of your donors are parents with young children, living in one of the suburbs of your city, working as young professionals. You find out that they donated because they’re passionate about combating childhood cancer, something in which your hospital excels. You learn that many of them were asked to donate after being solicited by an existing patient – a loved one, friend, or colleague. Now you have a donor profile.

You use that information to create a targeted digital campaign. The message: a former patient asks parents to please sign a petition calling on the state government to invest more in combating and treating cancers that affect children. For every signature, a major donor will donate a dollar to your hospital foundation.

You collect supporters through that campaign, and add them to your existing lists of stakeholders (which you may have at the ready, or may need to build). In addition to fundraising off of this large, curated list in future direct mail and digital campaigns, you also advertise volunteer opportunities: “Come volunteer with kids in the cancer ward.“

New faces turn up to your volunteer opportunities. You send out a direct mail piece to all existing donors, inviting them to come to a community event to raise money for a state of the art pediatric cancer treatment center, and to bring a friend, because every dollar given by a new donor will be matched by a major gifts donor.

Somewhere on your list, whether it’s one of the petition-signers who now receives your community newsletter, a new volunteer who is moved by the hopeful faces of smiling children, or someone whose colleague brought them to a fundraising gala for the first time to have their first donation matched, is your next million-dollar lifetime donor, just waiting to shake your hand and to thank you for giving them the opportunity to change lives and make a difference.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Top 6 Non Profit Marketing Ideas

It is crucial for marketing and communications professionals to have a marketing plan, even if the budget is low. Marketing plans set goals, develop tools for communication, define the mission, and generate an effective strategy for approaching and engaging donors.

Nonprofits often have limited marketing funds, but no matter the budget size, good and strategic marketing is the most effective way to increase awareness and raise funds.

Challenges with Nonprofit Marketing Ideas Today

The biggest hurdle for nonprofit marketing ideas today is that most believe that a large budget is necessary to be effective. While having a marketing budget is important, much can be done with a small budget.

Here are the top 6 nonprofit marketing ideas that will help boost your marketing footprint today!

Top 6 Nonprofit Marketing Ideas

A giant marketing budget is not necessary in order to be effective. For nonprofits, this concept is especially true. Here are the top 6 nonprofit marketing ideas.

 

1. Build a Website and Update it Weeklyunnamed (13)

Your website is your first impression to donors, volunteers, employees, and supporters. It provides information about your cause and purpose, as well as statistics and stories.

Maintaining a weekly blog on your website will help keep your audience engaged with your nonprofit’s news and success stories. Fresh weekly content also increases your relevance to search engines and brings in new visitors which is the best low cost way to increase awareness and find new donors.

2. Send Out Newsletters

Donors always like to know what’s new in your nonprofit. Thankfully, you can share nice and exciting content, your monthly successes, numbers, etc., by sending out newsletters. A very convenient way to create a newsletter is to draw much of the content from your weekly blog content.

This can be done via email, or for increased engagement, Postalgia can print and mail your newsletters directly to your donors.

 

3.  Engage Your Audience with Video Content

Videos are visually stimulating and dynamic. They can boost your audience engagement because they can be educational, emotional, and easy to share. As a nonprofit, you can make testimonial videos. Building trust is the key to donations.

Content marketing is all about building trust and long-term relationships. Provide people with exciting and valuable information instead of selling to them.

Additionally, Google loves videos. Videos boost the time spent by site visitors. The longer the site has been online, the greater the trust it gains from search engines and the more relevant it appears to search engines. Video-embedded websites are 53 times more likely to appear first in Google searches.

 

A cool app to make easy videos is Vidyard.

 

4. Have a Social Media Marketing Budget

WhatsApp Image 2022-03-07 at 7.12.07 PM

Promoting posts on social media is an often overlooked yet effective way to increase your views without breaking the bank. No matter the size of your organization, it can be helpful to designate a specific amount to promote your cause on social media. Your presence on the Internet will be established, and you will reach a broader audience. You can acquire 1,000 views for under $10 on most social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube). When a  post gains a bit more traction with an account’s followers it is a good sign that it will be worthwhile to boost views with a small post promotion.

 

5. Post Engaging Content on Social Media

 

Your organization can use all its social media channels to raise awareness for upcoming events and raise funds for your cause. Increase social media shares by posting visual content such as video, images and breaking news. Posts visual representations of data tend to be more virally shared than text alone. You can also create contests or polls that allow your followers to vote.

A regular schedule of events gives supporters something to look forward to consistently, so their involvement remains high. In addition to bringing new people into your organization, events are also opportunities to introduce them to your cause.

 

6. Thank Your Donors in a Creative and Original Way

IMG-3633-scaled-e1584837420633-1024×768

Thank-you mail can make or break a relationship with a donor? Writing thank-you notes to donors is a great way to show them that you appreciate them, but it can be challenging.

By using some sample thank-you donation letters or a service like Postalgia, you can get the job done quickly and easily. We will pen your individualized donor thank you notes on your letterhead with high quality card stock. We take care of the address verification, postage, and mailing.

Show sincere appreciation and leave a good impression next time by saying thank you to donors, volunteers, and suppliers with a thoughtful, handwritten message. Penned by robots but remarkably human, our handwritten letters, notes, or cards to your stakeholders are written using genuine ink. We’ll print and mail these personalized handwritten donor thank-you notes for you for ultimate convenience.

What’s more original than a handwritten letter? These days, a handwritten note is rare because many of us have grown accustomed to receiving countless messages by email, social media, and text every day. A handwritten thank-you card or letter not only stands out but also instantly creates a unique and personal connection with the recipient.

Show your appreciation with handwritten donor thank-you notes.

 

Conclusion

The best nonprofit marketing ideas boil down to having a plan in place regardless of the budget size. Getting to know your donors, what they like, and what they would like to see is key to growing your marketing reach.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

The Benefit of Thanking Your Customers

Gratitude. It’s such a simple word to say. In reality, it has so much meaning. And it means different things to different people. It can even anchor your business strategy. One thing about gratitude, though, is that it takes practice. The more you practice offering thanks to those you interact with, the happier and better satisfied you (and the recipient) become. That’s good for your business – and you.

Showing gratitude to others is one way you can make them feel appreciated, which is something that offers surprising rewards if you’re willing to initiate. In fact, the art of thanking others can be what sets you apart and builds loyalty among customers, donors, and employees alike. Here’s what you need to know about thanking others, the psychology behind it, and how to maximize its value for your business.

How You Benefit From Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t just about your customers, it can offer big benefits for you. Thanking someone is a small thing that breeds enormous results. The more frequently you practice thanking others, the more thankful you feel about your own life, at least according to Harvard Medical School.

As you take on a grateful mindset, you’ll begin feeling thankful for more and more things. If you have trouble verbalizing gratitude, you might begin by creating a gratitude journal or writing thank-you cards to people in your circle. The more you practice these actions, the easier it will be to offer your thanks to your customers and tell people around you that you are thankful for them.

In business, this isn’t only for customer appreciation. You can show appreciation for employees or even individuals (even vendors) who have given their money, time, and talent to support your business.

Psychology Of A Thank You

Thanking your customers will make a huge difference to your bottom line if you leverage the power of expressing gratitude. in addition to the personal benefits that practicing gratitude and thanking others offer, you’ll enjoy the benefit of more loyal customers.

Why? One big factor is that offering and receiving thanks is actually less common than you’d think. According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, most people underestimate the value of saying thank you – so they don’t do it.

Researchers discovered that when people thank someone, they underestimate the positive sentiments that their statement of appreciation elicits. That might explain why some individuals don’t express their gratitude more frequently.

In several experiments, participants picked someone who positively influenced them and anticipated how the recipient would react to receiving a letter of thanks. The researchers sent letters to the recipients of the thank-you letter and asked them to evaluate the individual thanking them.

According to the survey results, those expressing gratitude significantly underestimated how positively the recipient would rate them. They notably underestimated the competency rating, indicating that looking silly or inept might be a significant barrier to expressing thanks.

What Does Cultivating Gratitude Mean for Businesses?

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop.

When you thank your customers, employees, and others you come in contact with, it makes them FEEL good. If you do it consistently, those good feelings become something they associate with you and your business. They will seek out those experiences over interactions with other people because of how your company makes them feel.

In other words, it creates loyalty.

People will often turn down higher-paying jobs if they feel appreciated and valued in their current jobs. The same holds for customers. They will drive out of their way and across town to do business with a shop or store that makes them feel appreciated rather than going to one nearby that does not.

Even with e-commerce businesses, customers will return time and again to websites that make them feel appreciated rather than going to those that make them feel like a nameless, faceless number instead of a valued customer. The way you make people feel matters. Thanking them is a crucial method for making them feel valued and appreciated by you and your business.

Practicing Gratitude in Business

When you make people associated with your business feel appreciated, they will be much more loyal to your business than those who do not. This means expressing gratitude is an incredible way to build loyalty for your business.

Here are a few ideas on how to make your customers feel appreciated:

  • Add bonus items or small extras to packages when delivering items.
  • Offer free products or samples to customers.
  • Start a loyalty program that provides discounted or free items with repeat purchases.
  • Provide discounts on future purchases.
  • Offer employee appreciation benefits.
  • Spotlight customers, employees, etc. in weekly newsletters or social posts.

Another easy way to express gratitude is with a handwritten thank-you card. It may seem like a simple gesture, but it makes an impression on your audience. In fact, a handwritten thank-you note carries far more weight than you may realize because:

  • People don’t deliberately say thanks all that often.
  • A handwritten thank-you card is more likely to stand out in the mail.
  • Handwritten cards are more likely to be read and remembered.
  • The fact that someone wrote the information makes gratitude appear more authentic.
  • It’s an easy method to show customer appreciation. And we can make it even easier for you.

Because you practice gratitude, show appreciation, and give thanks, you continue to enjoy the mental health and physical benefits that being grateful provides. Plus, you enjoy the benefits of loyalty from your customers and employees. It’s a real win for businesses and individuals from all walks of life.

Of course, you can thank your customers and employees in many ways. But the most important thing is to actually thank them. More importantly, show them you are grateful for their business and be thankful for things each day as they happen. Do this consistently enough, and over time you will enjoy greater customer loyalty as your business grows.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Are Handwritten Notes Dead?

In an age where we have lost the art of human interaction and replaced it with a keyboard, few things are as important as sending a handwritten note or letter.

Technology has made sending a “thank-you” easy as pie: all it takes is one click or swipe on our phone screens to send that message…but what does this say about human interaction?

In today’s fast-paced world where technology provides us with everything we need at just the push of a button, have humans become dehumanized by electronic devices?

The lackadaisical act of tapping out something short for someone leaves little room for creativity.

We’ve all received a post-purchase email or marketing message from some company you bought from or interacted with, and the message has been sent to dozens before you. Nothing is surprising or exciting about it at all – not even a notable typo!

This electronic correspondence may be easy and automatic but makes almost no impact on customers’ lives – which is exactly why everyone does it without thinking twice about it.

There was a time when handwritten thank you notes were the norm. Nowadays, it is much easier just to press “send” and be done with it.

I may be old school, but I prefer to send handwritten thank you cards than send an email. A potential client has spent 30-plus minutes of their valuable time with you, or they dropped their hard-earned money on your product. You should be thanking them appropriately.

And it’s not just because I’m biased. The numbers back me up.

Independent research shows that 87% of people trust traditional mail and consider it more believable than a computer-generated letter.

At the same time, online and email marketing scams have become increasingly prevalent during the past few years, so people are less like to open emails, let alone believe what they are saying.
Speaking of deliverability, the clever bots of email providers are getting more and more sophisticated in their spam filtering methods, making it difficult for your digital marketing collateral to reach its target.

Another reason is that few even bother to send a note at all. This is an excellent way to make your company stand out. People will open your letter, and it makes you more memorable in people’s minds.

Again, don’t take my word for it: 90% of mail is opened and read according to research conducted by the Data & Marketing Association. 70% percent of people who received a piece of mail from businesses gave the recipients better impressions about those companies compared with other forms of communication like email which only had 45%.

Handwritten, delivered mail is a wonderfully tangible experience. This is why people love to receive handwritten mail – it reminds recipients of their real-world relationships and gives them something real to hold on to.

Beyond that, when we talk to our clients – across every industry – the story is the same: people who use handwritten notes are almost always at the top of their industry. They have more clients and have deeper bonds with their customers compared to competitors who do not send letters.

Finally, I’m going to climb on my soapbox for a minute. It is always worthwhile if you can do anything to make the business world more friendly and pleasant. And I think we could all use a more human touch these days.

So if you’re looking for a way to get more out of your business, consider using handwritten notes. It’s an easy and affordable strategy that will help grow sales with less effort on your part.
And the next time someone says “handwritten is dead,” their business is probably on life support.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Three ways to frame choices and get better answers with direct mail

Every day, people make decisions. We make those decisions of our own free will. Or do we? Consider: you walk into a grocery store to buy a carton of eggs. We want to buy one thing: that carton of eggs. But then we pick up a loaf of bread, primed by a bright yellow “For Sale” tag that tells us the loaf is a steal. Then we notice a chocolate bar at eye level and grab that too. We’re home-free to the checkout line, but then we notice a bag of chips right below the register. We buy chips too!

Yes, we are free to make our own decisions. But in making decisions, we face what behavioural psychologists call “choice architecture.” It refers to the context and conditions of a decision that shapes our choices. By shaping those choices, we influence them. So, for instance, we are more likely to buy products at eye level. We are unconsciously primed to buy a product when it seems cheaper than normal.

These and other tactical framings of choice architecture form the basis of nudge theory. It’s a popular movement of psychological insight in marketing, government, and every area of human life. It’s all based on a simple idea: How can we frame peoples’ choices to encourage better choices?

You can integrate the insights of nudge theory into your direct mail campaigns. Here are three ideas for how to be tactical about choice architecture. These ideas will help you get better results through your direct mail campaigns.

Help readers stick with the crowd

You’ve heard the adage that humans are social animals. But that’s so much more than conversation and cliques; social life requires much unspoken cultural understanding. From firm handshakes to eye contact in conversation, unspoken rules define social life. These social norms can be powerful tools: psychological cues to encourage particular behaviour.

For instance: littering. In 1990, researchers wanted to determine what social cues might encourage people to litter. Their results found that participants were more likely to litter in a space where litter was already present. They were even more likely to litter after watching someone else litter first. But they were less likely to litter when they saw neatly-swept piles of litter in the same space. These subtle cues set the norm for whether it was acceptable to litter in the area or not. People responded right on cue.

How can we use this in handwritten letters?

Use your letter to show readers how most people are behaving in a given situation. They will aim to ride with the crowd. British taxpayers late on their return received letters with social norm messaging, like “9 out of 10 people in your area are up to date with tax payments.” Recipients of these letters were 15% more likely to end up settling their debts. Find ways to establish similar social norms in your own letters. For instance, share a fact like “9 out of 10 donors donated at least $100.”

Research shows that the social norm effect becomes even more influential when visualized. Show the people setting the norm. Britain’s Behavioural Insights Team once worked with a client to encourage greater employee charitable giving. All employees received a card from an existing donor to the charity, explaining why they give and why employees should donate. A control group received the same card but with a picture of the donor. This control group gave at much higher rates than the non-control group. For example, why not throw in a picture of yourself if you’re a realtor mailing potential clients?

Anchor readers’ choices to encourage the best option

Let’s say you walk into a high-end clothing retailer. You see a t-shirt priced at $1000. “That’s ridiculous,” you think. But a step later, you see another t-shirt “on sale” for $200. Still a ridiculous price for a shirt? Yes. But you’re now primed to see that $200 t-shirt as a bargain because the first shirt you saw set your expectations. Psychologists call this the anchoring effect. The first information received about a particular subject will distort our thinking.

This effect is so powerful, it can undermine our objectivity. And it can manifest in ridiculous ways. One study showed participants the last two digits of their social security number and then asked them if they would pay the same amount as those digits for a series of products. There is no connection between the two. The price of a chocolate bar shouldn’t be set to $21 if the last two digits of your social security number are 21. Yet, the study found that those with higher digits priced the same items at higher amounts. That’s how powerful this effect can be.

How can we use this in handwritten letters?

Here’s one way we can put the anchoring effect to good use in fundraising letters. Let’s say you are mailing donors on behalf of a food bank. Open the letter with the number you’re hoping these recipients will gift. Even the presence of the number will prime readers to give that amount. For instance, you could write: “It costs our food bank $100 to feed one client for a week.” Then, later in the letter, ask for $100. The anchoring effect will go to work in priming potential donors to give your preferred amount.

Don’t ask readers to take action. Give them a plan to take action.

You’ve decided you want to lose 20 pounds. Good for you! But we’ve all seen the following happen. We commit to weight loss, cut back on meals or exercise a bit more, then fall back time and again. The ones who make it happen are always the ones who put together implementable plans. In nudge theory, this is known as implementation intentions. It’s the process of planning out specific actions in pursuit of a goal.

In the case of losing weight, that could be how often one will exercise, at what time, and how much; meal-planning in advance to improve nutrition; and more. Research suggests that implementation intentions have an enormous effect on ensuring that intended outcomes happen.

Behavioural scientists put this insight to the test during the 2008 U.S. presidential election. They studied the effects of implementation intentions by helping potential voters enunciate a specific plan for voting on Election Day: “What time they would vote, where they would be coming from, and what they would be doing beforehand.” Turnout among this control group grew by nearly 10%.

How can we use this in handwritten letters?

Let’s say you’re a realtor sending out a solicitation letter to potential clients. Put together a specific, step-by-step strategy for anyone looking to sell their home. Include a list of questions and considerations for every stage of the process. Show the potential clients what the process looks like. Provide clarity and prove how you can help. Watch as these soon-to-be customers recognize your expertise and follow your plan.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

These six attributes explain the power of direct mail

Is direct mail dead? It’s the question on marketers’ minds. At the very least, it’s the question they’re Googling: with 167 million results for the search “is direct mail dead?”

So, is it? Let’s just say you shouldn’t wait around for the funeral procession. In 2018 alone, Canada Post delivered nearly 8 billion pieces of mail and parcels—almost 32 million items delivered daily. Direct mail isn’t going anywhere. Its place in the wider toolset of marketing and sales channels may be changing. But its power to build your business isn’t. Here are six reasons why.

1. Direct mail delights

Those of us old enough to remember when we went to Blockbuster Video for our Friday night entertainment will recall when mail was annoying—the inbox spam of the ’90s. And like the movie rental chain, those days are long gone. 41{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} of Americans look forward to checking their mail every day, including 36{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} of Americans under the age of 30. In turn, a whopping 90{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} of Americans look forward to receiving personal letters and cards… something we know a little bit about.

An enormous number of your potential customers, donors, and stakeholders like mail. They really like it.

2. Direct mail sticks around.

Today’s email inboxes are a blast zone of unopened brand newsletters, sales emails, and spam from that one store you visited on vacation once, and foolishly gave your email address for a digital receipt instead of a printed one. Big mistake trying to save the trees there.

Avoid the digital wasteland that is your customers’ spam folder. Direct mail, in contrast, sticks around. Over an 18-month research study, the UK’s Royal Mail service found that:

  • nearly 40{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} of consumers have a dedicated display area for mail;
  • that nearly one-quarter of mail is shared among members of a household; and
  • mail remains in the home for anywhere between 17 and 45 days after delivery, leaving multiple opportunities for your message to be seen and re-seen.

A strong direct mail piece – potentially displayed publicly – will catch the eye of multiple occupants in one home and will stick around far longer—unlike an email, always buried by the next email to arrive. This boosts message recall, enhances brand recognition, and means more bang for your marketing buck.

3. Direct mail gets responses.

Sure, email marketing can be cheap—but sometimes, you get what you pay for. Canada Post found that postcard marketing has a response rate of 4.4{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57}, compared to digital marketing at 0.12{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57}. That means postcard marketing is 10-30 times more effective.

But why cause a lover’s spat when you can be a matchmaker? Ultimately, email marketing and direct mail are better off together. Canada Post conducted neuromarketing research and concluded that recipients “paid 39{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} more attention to integrated direct mail and digital campaigns than to single-media digital campaigns, and consumers had 40{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} higher brand recall when direct mail followed email.”

4. Direct mail drives customers to your website.

Let’s go a little deeper into the power of integration. Today’s consumers seamlessly move from offline experiences to online ones. We can catch an ad on a subway car, whip out our phones, and search more about what’s caught our eye.

The United States Postal Service commissioned a study into how direct mail directs traffic to senders’ websites. The results will make you smile. Direct mail and catalog recipients were not only more likely to make an online purchase—they were also more likely to buy more items and spend more money. Catalogues were particularly impactful. The study found a revenue lift of 163{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} for websites supported by catalogues, as opposed to those that were not—boosted especially by a greater influence on first-time shoppers, and a discouraging effect on competition shopping.

Direct mail, in this way, can serve as a strong cue for driving a consumer to your digital platforms—a particularly powerful insight for an e-commerce retailer, or other company dependent on-site traffic.

Given this extraordinary website traffic-driving effect, consider one of direct mail’s greatest benefits for retailers…

5. Direct mail can help you control sales fluctuations.

It’s a problem facing many retailers—peaks and troughs over the course of the annual sales cycle. Some are plagued by these fluctuations more than others. For instance, in 2017 many famous American retailers—like GameStop, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Macy’s—depended on the holiday season alone for more than one-third of their annual revenue. That’s a nail-biting dependency for any business owner, where a bad season can mean downsizing, layoffs, or worse.

Direct mail’s ability to drive consumers to online stores can be strategically leveraged to even out your sales across the year. Consider identifying the period of the year where your sales performance is worst and deploying a direct mail campaign to boost revenue through special discount events and other tactics.

6. Direct mail is emotional.

Put simply: direct mail stimulates all the emotions that can create a lasting, loyal relationship between you and your customers.

That Royal Mail study we mentioned earlier found that more than half of recipients feel more valued after receiving mail, and value something they can touch 24{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} more than something they simply see.

We’re no strangers to the emotional punch of handwritten, direct mail here at Postalgia. We’ve written about how direct mail can turn an e-commerce transaction into a real-life relationship, and have also taken a deep dive into the ways expressing gratitude to customers or donors through direct mail can build lasting, loyal, long-term connections with key market demographics. Creating a genuine emotional connection with your brand is a time-tested way to build a business that lasts.

These are only six examples of how direct mail packs a powerful punch for any organization, whether you depend on new leads, donors, customers, or lasting loyalty. And no direct mail is more impactful than handwritten letters produced at scale—an incomparable personal touch for thousands of your stakeholders. Click here to learn how.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Turn e-commerce into an IRL relationship with handwritten letters

E-commerce is everything for entrepreneurs in 2020. The NASDAQ estimates that by 2040, 95% of purchases will be facilitated by e-commerce. But we are already seeing that shift happening now. Consider: An Adobe report found that American consumers spent more than $50 billion on their smartphones during the 2019 holiday season—accounting for 84% of the holiday season’s spending growth that year.

E-commerce represents an amazing growth opportunity while also being plain scary. Why? Two words: frictionless and spontaneity. E-commerce sales represent a nearly frictionless experience for consumers. Today, a customer can see an ad for a watch, feel an instantaneous emotional connection, and make an impulse purchase under a minute from their phone with pre-loaded credit card information. The time between initial awareness and purchase decision can be less time than it takes for a freshman to microwave a bowl of instant noodles—a food that literally has the word “instant” in its name.

But a spontaneous purchase decision is also an easily abandoned one, and that’s a scary thing for online retailers. That Adobe report we mentioned above found that 50% of smartphone shoppers abandon their carts—half of online shoppers! You can lose them as quickly as you get them, and you can lose them as soon as they click off their browser to open a text from the ex they weirdly still talk to. Distractions abound. But as long as these distractions continue to negatively impact the bottom line—letting checkout carts collect dust in your backend—online retailers are left with a critical challenge.

How do you create a personal relationship online with an easily distracted customer you’ll never talk to?

You see, back in the good ol’ days…  (Narrator: “They weren’t that good.”)

Customers would come into your store, and you would talk to them. Over time, you could build a relationship. They would recognize you and your expertise. And you had opportunities to persuade them about the value of a product or a purchase.

Today, persuasion is happening over ad images and tight copy. And as much as you’re competing with others in your product category, you’re also competing for customers’ attention as they scroll through the device in their hands. Insert The Simpsons’ “Old Man Yells At Cloud” headline. Your enemy in this scenario is a calendar notification as much as a competitor.

To win the fight, get off the digital battlefield onto winning ground. Go analog. Handwritten letters can be a surprising but effective counter-measure in the battle for customers’ online attention.

E-commerce retailers think everything about their customer experience has to be digital. Flip that thinking on its head.

Here are six specific ways an e-commerce retailer can use handwritten letters to outsmart the competition—not to mention that pesky calendar notification.

1. Send a handwritten thank-you note along with a shipped product.

A thank-you note is just an incomparably personal and simple way to build a connection with a customer. You’re shipping to this customer anyway—why not include a personalized, handwritten note thanking them for their purchase? There’s so much research to support the conclusion that expressing gratitude is a powerful way to build trust and relationships. Telling a customer how much you appreciate their business is just one effective way of making a one-time customer a loyal and long-term one.

2. Send a follow-up letter months after a customer has purchased a product…

There’s an impactful generosity to giving a customer free information before they become a customer.  In turn, to check in on a customer’s experience of your product months after they’ve purchased shows how deeply you care. Consider including your phone number or email address so they can follow up personally with feedback. This is also a great way to keep you top-of-mind with a previous customer, and an encouragement for them to come back.

3. …And up-sell in that letter.

Use that follow-up letter as an opportunity to up-sell the customer on new products. This is especially true if you’re in a product category where certain items can complement your customers’ purchases, like a new hamper for a towel set, or a travel bag for shampoos and other bathroom items.

4. Drive direct mail targets to your website.

One InfoTrend survey found that more than half of customers who responded to direct mail either went to the brand’s website or visited their offline store. Once you’ve piqued a potential customer’s interest with a piece of mail, they’ll visit your website and start browsing. Worst case, they are sharing data through their clicks, allowing them to be targeted with paid ads. The boundary between online and offline is gone. With handwritten letters, you’re sending recipients straight to your website—right where you want them.

5. Try special discounts for letter recipients.

Send handwritten letters at scale with the help of Postalgia to a new market segment in a certain geographic area. For any new customer receiving your letter, include a QR code or a special checkout discount code. Like the thank-you note mentioned above, a personal invitation, combined with the opportunity to save a little money on their first purchase, is a great way to create a relationship.

6. Send a newsletter with product tips, along with a handwritten introduction.

People love getting things for free. Especially when those things are valuable. And whether it’s fashion tips for a new season, the most up-to-date info on local real estate prices, or the hottest trends in home furnishing, a colourful, visual newsletter can deliver high-value information to potential customers that might inspire them to buy from you. Even better: with today’s direct mail targeting, it’s easier than ever before to micro-target a newsletter right to your best consumer demographic.

Including a handwritten introduction with a newsletter is a great way to personalize the information shared—include an email or phone number so a potential customer can reach out to you and learn more.

These are just six examples, but any creative entrepreneur can think of occasions than fit their sales process. The lines between the offline and online worlds haven’t just been blurred—they’re gone. Take advantage.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Gratitude is a Business Strategy

Gratitude: you might know it as a hashtag, or an Indigo mug, or a word your mom has crocheted on her wall. What you may not know is that gratitude is also a business strategy—because a grateful business is a business that customers return to again and again.

Consider a 2017 research article entitled Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation. In it, researchers Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley demonstrated how we often assume expressing gratitude will be taken awkwardly by the recipient of our affections. In their study, participants expressing gratitude underestimated how happily surprised the recipients of gratitude would be and overestimated how awkward they would feel. Which is too bad, because the researchers also found that both expresser and recipient reported positive emotions and better well-being because of gratitude.

The simple fact is that people love being thanked and love thanking—even if, on the surface, they think they don’t.

The power of gratitude in building loyalty

Decades of research has confirmed this, as Harvard Medical School attests. “Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness,” they write, and “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Your mom was on to something.

But before we call your mom the next Jeff Bezos, it’s worth asking the question: how can we apply the positive emotions of gratitude to a business strategy?

Let’s start by considering how expressing gratitude builds loyalty and commitment in stakeholders—whether customers, clients, or donors. Gratitude is motivating. In Globoforce’s Spring 2014 Employee Workforce Mood Tracker Survey, 86 percent of employees recognized at work felt more motivated to do their jobs. 85{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} of employees said recognition added humanity to the workplace. And those who express gratitude are more extraverted, agreeable, open, and conscientious, leading to more employee friendships at the office and, consequently, more long-term commitment to the company.

Now apply that thinking to your key stakeholders, whether your biggest donors or your most critical customers. The same outcomes that gratitude generates in employees are just as powerful and relevant. A customer or donor who feels deeply appreciated will feel more motivated to continue working with you. A customer or donor who finds you agreeable, open, and conscientious has found a comfortable place to park their hard-earned dollars.

And in a world where AI and technology are replacing the human element, we know customers still prefer human interactions—and want to do business with brands they view as “human.” One study conducted by Forrester Consulting found that consumers who perceive a brand as human are more than twice as likely to love the brand, nearly twice as likely to purchase from that brand, and nearly twice as likely to recommend it. What’s not to love about being twice as effective with your sales? Gratitude brings humanity to your business interactions. When customers feel like appreciated people, rather than numbers, they come back.

The best part about gratitude as a business strategy?

How easy it is to implement.

Becoming an organization that intentionally expresses gratitude to its customers, donors, or clients doesn’t require rethinking your growth plan. It doesn’t require a million-dollar marketing campaign. It doesn’t require a guy in a just-too-well-fitted suit clicking through a PowerPoint and telling you how Tik Tok is the next Amazon.

Actually, all it takes is a pen, a piece of paper, and a good old-fashioned thank-you note.

Don’t take our word for it. Here’s etiquette expert Dan Post Senning:

“When I get a handwritten letter, I’m excited to open it. The art of the postage stamp, the feel of the paper, the graphic quirks of a friend’s handwriting: There is simply nothing as personal as a handwritten note. In a stack of bills and flyers, it’s a treasure in a sealed packet, full of promise and potential. It is a visceral reminder of someone far away… Handwritten notes still have a personality, warmth and, when needed, gravitas that computer screens don’t.”

Why do handwritten notes deliver a gratitude punch that no other medium can?

  1. They take just a little bit more effort. It’s easy to quickly type out an email or a text on your phone. You can jam out either of those while you’re sitting on the toilet. But a handwritten note is tailored. The uniqueness of each note and the effort of the sender says to the recipient, “I cared enough about you to write this down.”
  2. They can’t be missed, and they stick. How easy it is to delete an email or miss it entirely. Our inboxes are sources of stress, not sources of delight. But a handwritten letter is unignorable. In a pile of junk mail, there’s no joy quite like seeing a real note—they will be opened, every time. As Dan Post Senning puts it, “You can’t hold digital thanks in your hands the way you can hold a note. When was the last time you printed out an e-card? Right. Email is read and deleted. A mailed note is seen again and again on a desk or counter. Would you rather your thanks be remembered or deleted?”
  3. They are authentic and human. Penmanship is the child of personality. When we read someone’s handwriting, we can feel them on the other side of the ink—and we can sense the authenticity of their words, considering that precious time was taken to put them to paper. Earlier we talked about how customers want to do business with “human” organizations. The sense of authenticity, humanity, and personalization produced by handwritten letters offers an incomparable human touch. And that will keep the recipient committed to you for a long time to come.

Building an authentic, long-term, loyal relationship with your stakeholders is as easy as thanking them, again and again, for being part of your work. And all it takes is a handwritten note.

The best part? Handwriting letters are easier than you think

Gratitude is a winner, but let’s address the elephant-shaped pile of paper in the room. “Of course, I’d love to write handwritten notes to everyone,” you’re thinking, “But who has the time?”

Good news: you don’t need the time. Here’s how.

Oh, and we almost forgot:

Thanks for reading.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.