Archive | January, 2014

Is nonprofit communication ready for a mobile future?

29 Jan

one minute

Let me start this week’s blog with a bit of background. The mobile future I speak of is here now and will continue to dominate the internet and communication for the foreseeable future. I think we all agree on this. Last week the CEO at AT&T reminded us all that the smartphone has been here about 6 years. Look at it’s impact. It’s pervasive. He followed that reminder with a statement that sort of blew me away-the next 5 years will accelerate in terms of the impact that the smartphone has on just about everything we do.

As that sunk in, which didn’t take long because he’s right, I thought of the way nonprofits communicate and wondered if they’re ready for this. Most medium-sized and small nonprofits are already beginning to see the mobile impact and some have joined our platform and are reaping the benefits. Larger nonprofits are already embracing mobile at the national level and need to get more local in their use of mobile.

So let’s say the need to go mobile is real and undeniable. I think the CEO at AT&T would say “What are you waiting for?” to nonprofits still “thinking” about mobile.

Enough with the background. I think you get it. Now on to the premise: Do nonprofits speak mobile? Is what they produce from a communication stand point ready for mobile? Does their communication style fit mobile?

Here’s what I’m driving at. I think nonprofits like to say a lot infrequently and I think mobile dictates way smaller messages more frequently. Certainly when you see the nonprofit email gurus saying that they can help you write the best 4-page appeal letter ever, that’s a lot of content. If you consider that Blackbaud says more people go to your PC website to give than to learn about you, then there’s a lot of content there on your website that no one cares about.

So my premise is this: I think nonprofits need to learn to speak in smaller messages more frequently and that this premise spills over into and has an impact on their email, direct mail, events and more.

Maybe it’s what you’re saying on your website that has no appeal or maybe in our information-overload world they just won’t take the time to read that much about you. In fact, I’ve seen research that says folks would rather check you out and follow you on social media. So your website is not about content, it’s about facilitating donations and social media is the communication platform.

If you look at the most popular communication platforms today they are all about small pieces of content on a more frequent basis and they are all MOBILE PLATFORMS. Text-messaging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, SnapChat, Instagram and on and on. Even email is more of a mobile platform and yet it’s under pressure since many young folks don’t even use it. Let that one sink in.

In a nonprofit you need to challenge yourself to create the mobile version of everything you want to say. Perhaps the exercise should be “here’s the direct mail version of a communication piece, now what’s the Twitter version of this?”.

Or, each day, if you have one minute and two sentences to share with the world what would that be? At RAZ Mobile we build a library of tweets to share throughout each month and this is what we do on Twitter.

We match the message to the format and experience of mobile. When I was the “TV guy at Sprint” I used to say, and it applies today, “on a mobile phone you have one minute to get to the point”.

If nonprofits want to remain connected and communicative in the world that the CEO of AT&T sees, and one that we see all around us, you need to think about smaller messages more frequently. Big messages less frequently is not how we all use mobile.

How often will a supporter give you an hour? How often will they give you a minute when you’re in the palm of their hand?

Of credit cards and mobile giving

22 Jan

cc and phone

There are some out there who think that the act of entering a credit card on a mobile phone is too much to ask a donor to do. I’ve met them and spoken with them and frankly I’m not sure if they’re talking about the act of entering the credit card info into a form on their phone or if they are talking about the form itself. There is a difference.

Before I get to the difference, let’s review our own experience at RAZ Mobile. We have nonprofit customers receiving donations via credit cards and PayPal. We have seen more than a handful of donations over $500 with a recent gift in December of $2000 spurred by a single tweet.

We see folks give via their mobile phones. We see large gifts. The donation form you get on our platform is mobile-optimized and easy to fill out. The first time I made a donation on our platform the total character count I entered was about 100 characters. Less than a tweet and less than a text message. Hardly a burden.

Now to the difference. I think there are two things driving this perception amongst some in the nonprofit and nonprofit expert space. I believe that they are witnessing two things that our platform corrects for.

1. PC forms on a mobile phone are slow to load, laborious to navigate, have many pages and therefore are hard to complete.

2. Nonprofits are seeing increasing volumes of traffic (for those that are paying attention to it) to their domain from mobile phones and yet their gift volume online isn’t growing because of it.

The two are related as you can see. Nonprofits get mobile traffic (their reason for finding you is more about giving than checking you out) and they get a form that’s pages long and since it takes too long to complete donors give up.

Whether this form accepts a credit card or a check is of no matter if it’s too hard to complete.

So how is this a reflection on entering a credit card into a mobile phone? Your donation form and process is to blame.

Here’s how to tell if your form is to blame. If the first act someone takes on their phone to make a donation to you involves pinching and swiping to expand the page and see what the fields are, your form is wrong for mobiles.

Instead, if the first action on your donation form on a mobile phone is actually entering data then you have a good form for mobiles.

What’s the impact? One of our customers told us last year that their RAZ Mobile site was out-raising their PC site by a 2-to-1 margin despite their RAZ Mobile site only being live for a portion of 2013.

This means donors WILL ENTER THEIR CREDIT CARD INFO INTO THEIR PHONE if you make it easy and secure. There’s really no other way to say this.

In the for-profit world they talk about how much commerce is going through mobile phones and there’s no questioning the task of entering information. Instead the focus is on making it easy for purchases in the moment when someone wants to buy on their phone.

Look back at the 2012 Millennial Impact Report. We are reminded by millennials themselves-they say I want to give in the moment via a mobile-optimized web page versus doing text-to-give. They say I don’t want to be limited in the amount of a donation.

They say it has to be easy to do. And this is where your form comes in and the fact that you don’t let donors make future gifts using their stored information. At RAZ Mobile we help our customers do these things.

It’s not about entering credit card information-it’s your form. All nonprofits need to realize one thing. Your PC donation page on a mobile phone is losing you donations.

The power of being there

15 Jan

palm

The holidays are often a season of surprises. For nonprofits, this can mean an unexpected and welcome year end gift from a new or existing donor. Such was the case for one of our smallest customers. Here’s their story.

We have a customer that is a one-person nonprofit. This nonprofit has as it’s chosen mission the creation of water wells for the poor in India. This is a great cause indeed. Access to water is a basic human need and we here in the US need to always be thankful that we only need to go to a tap for our water.

This customer activated on our platform in early 2013 at the recommendation of another customer whose mission is also in India. (We love word-of-mouth!) They had been on our platform for a period of months and asked if we could put their account in hibernation since, as a one-person cause, they were “swamped”. Although we bear expenses when we do this we said yeah, we can do that. We’ll be here for you when you want to ramp your engagement and fundraising efforts back up. So their RAZ Mobile account sat there doing nothing for a few months until the holiday season.

The principal at the nonprofit called me before Thanksgiving and said, “well, it’s the holidays and maybe I should bring my account out of hibernation and see what happens”. I said, “I think that’s a great idea given that so much giving happens at the end of the year.”

Our customer re-engaged and started sharing his RAZ Mobile site URL. We joined in with a few tweets of their URL in appeals over the course of the holidays to try to help drive awareness and to be there in case anyone felt the impulse to GIVE!

What happened next?

In the month of December a $2000 donation rolled in via their RAZ Mobile site from an existing donor in response to a tweet! $2000 from a single tweet? That’s right.

Clearly, this was a case of the impulse striking the donor when he saw the tweet and he made his donation via PayPal to our nonprofit customer’s RAZ Mobile site.

Our customer, the nonprofit, was there in the moment. In the moment via mobile-optimized websites is how millennials say they prefer to give. They themselves describe this as the preferred way to give on their phone. (We are seeing this apply to other age groups too.)

At that moment, and I can’t stress this enough, all excuses to wait until later fly out the window. There’s no looking at a PC site on a mobile phone and deciding to give up on making a donation because the donation page is designed for a PC and not for a mobile phone. (This last one is perhaps the best way to miss a donation in the moment.) RAZ Mobile sites make it so anyone can give in a few seconds.

Some will claim that the donation could have been made on a PC or a check written later. Hogwash. The challenge for all nonprofits in our multi-channel world is to open more ways to give and not try to funnel everyone into the way YOU want them to give. When they want to give-LET THEM via any means you have.

I call this the Coca-Cola theory of giving. Be everywhere so when the impulse strikes you get a donation. Coca-Cola does this by offering their products just about everywhere and in every form factor.

Our nonprofit customer was there on the donor’s phone when the impulse struck. Our nonprofit customer had just harnessed the power of being there. All of our customers are doing this. If you’re reading this and want a demo, go to our home page and request a demo. We’ll help you be there in the palm of their hand when a donor decides to give.

Is the mobile web the one we’ve always wanted?

8 Jan

trashed

In conversations and presentations I often refer to a comment I read in a blog post wherein the author posed this very question: “Is the mobile web the one we’ve always wanted?”

Ever since then the questions sticks in my brain like peanut butter.

Could this be true?

It’s not a certainty like 2 + 2 = 4. It’s more of a feel thing although there are some strong stats to suggest that this is in fact the case.

Hubspot reported last year that 1 in 4 Americans are mobile-only users of the internet. Devoid of the need to create powerpoints (ugh!) and other content creation tasks, I can easily see how the mobile web covers a person’s internet needs.

There’s also a great deal of talk about the “death” of the PC.  Certainly the folks making them are feeling the pinch on their profit margins. Low sales and weak uses cases, as compared to mobile phones, have made the PC a bystander while the mobile phone soars in just about every metric, be it usage, sales, etc.

So really, if this is true, that the mobile web is the one we’ve always wanted, what’s that mean? Looking at just the nonprofit sector (after all, it’s the 3rd largest business in the US behind Uncle Same and banking) it has some existential implications.

I use the adjective existential here because it really is a struggle that could mean fulfillment of your mission or not fulfilling your mission. As Peter Drucker has pointed out, nonprofits are so prone to an inward focus that they miss the trends around them and yet, they, as their donors are already doing, are shifting their own internet use megabyte by megabyte away from the PC and to their mobile phone.

Too much inward focus and you miss the rise in mobile traffic to your primary domain. Check your stats. With 9 out of 10 mobile searches leading to action within one hour of the search your mobile presence had better not be your PC site.

Think of PC and mobile websites as two different ponds. The PC pond is narrow and deep. Interactions with it beckon you to browse and drill-down into page after page looking for what you want. Experiences tend to be somewhat bloated and riven with ads and useless info.

The mobile pond is narrow too but it’s very shallow. In the mobile pond you don’t browse or drill-down. You’ve got a minute to complete a task and looking at page after page is not what you’ll get because the mobile pond is intentionally shallow. It’s shallowness matches the time you have to spend to do something. As I have said before, mobile web usage is more akin to snacking than browsing.

So let’s just say that yes, the mobile web is the one we wanted all along and it’s finally arrived with the right data speeds, rate plans, apps, mobile-optimized sites, easy and secure commerce, etc. Yes, we want access to scads of information instantly on the one thing at arms length 91% of the time-our mobile phone.

For nonprofits, and this will be the theme of our advertising in 2014, you need a mobile-optimized website TODAY and you need a really simple donation page TODAY that allows for giving in as little as a few seconds on a mobile phone.

I don’t think anyone can really make a strong case that the PC web is in a period of ascendancy. And yet, with this being the case and internet traffic rising overall, what’s driving it? The mobile phone.

Time will tell if the mobile web is the one we’ve always wanted. For nonprofits that aren’t asking themselves this very question, one only need look around to see what the impacts will be-decline, increased challenges and perhaps demise.

Harsh? Not really. I just got back from the future and the mobile web IS THE ONE we’ve always wanted.