Mobilize Those Mobile Eyes Again

In part 1 of Mobilize Those Mobile Eyes, I wrote about the different facets of the mobile channel that your organization can use to engage your constituents.

In part 2, I will wrap-up my takeaways from the Nonprofit Mobile Day event I recently attended, presented by the Direct Marketing Association’s Nonprofit Federation(DMANF). Here, I’ll cover who the players are you can to bring to the table, and share a couple of thoughts about creating a plan for mobile.

Know the Players

If you decide to go the mobile route, there are a number of capabilities that you will need to have in-house or (more likely) bring partners to the table for.

  • Mobile strategy: From defining goals, to designing for mobile, to developing and executing campaigns, to measuring results, a growing number of digital strategy consultants can be your partner in effectively using the mobile channel.
  • Mobile messaging platform: You will need a technology platform for sending mass text messages to your constituents, in the same way you likely already have a platform for sending mass email messages.
  • Text-to-give: In order to facilitate donations via text-to-give, you will need a relationship with one of two partners: mGive Foundation, or Mobile Giving Foundation. They are the folks who interface with the mobile carriers and ensure that your organization ultimately receives the donations.
  • Mobile Web platform: In some cases, your current Content Management System (CMS) may be able to detect what type of device your site visitors are using and render your content accordingly (as is the case with Convio CMS). In other cases, you may need to work with a proxy provider to deliver a mobilized version of your site.
  • App developers: If you go the app route, you will need to work with a software developer who can build and maintain your app over time. And since apps are not interchangeable between mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.) you may need to develop multiple versions of your app to reach as many people as possible.
  • Mobile ad network: These are the folks who can get your organization’s ads in front of the right eyeballs on a mobile device.
  • CRM integration: To avoid having your mobile program create a new data silo within your organization, check with your organization’s database-of-record/CRM vendor to understand your options for integration.

Know your Plan

The question of “where to begin?” was answered in a recent Connection Café post by Katya Andresen, as well as this mobile post from Michael Sabat, but let me add some things I gleaned from the Mobile Day event that might also help inform your thinking on mobile engagement:

  • How will you collect mobile numbers? Because you cannot buy a list of the mobile numbers for your constituents, you will have to obtain opt-in through existing channels. For example, Lara Koch of Humane Society of the United States said they ask for a mobile number on all online advocacy action forms. But there are also services that will tell you which of the current phone numbers you have on file for your constituents are mobile numbers. This will enable you to do targeted outreach (via email, etc.) to obtain mobile opt-in.
  • How will you know if it is time to build a mobile version of your site? A quick check of Google Analytics will reveal how many of your current site visitors are coming from a mobile device. For example, Humane Society saw that number grow from 7 percent to 16 percent during 2011. If you are approaching 10 percent of site visitors coming from a mobile device, you are probably past-due in optimizing your Web presence for mobile visitors. (For advice on designing your mobile site forms, check out Mobile Donation Forms by Lacey Kruger.)
  • What kinds of results should you expect from your mobile efforts? Unfortunately, extensive benchmarks simply don’t exist yet. For what it is worth, David Balcom of American Cancer Society shared that the number of donations given through a mobile browser doubled after ACS launched a mobile-optimized version of their site. Over at Humane Society, 3 percent of end-of-year gifts came in through their mobile-optimized site, and 38 percent of those giving were first-time donors to the organization. And Chrissy Faessen of Rock the Vote shared that they found attendance at the polls on election day increases 3 to 4 percent when their constituents receive a text message the day before, reminding them to vote. So at the very least, be ready to do some testing to figure out what works for you. A good strategy consultant can help you create a test that yields meaningful results.

Watt Hamlett is Lead Solutions Engineer with Convio. He loves working with nonprofit organizations to help them access the strategies, software, and services they need to achieve their goals.