When it comes to navigating the digital landscape, it’s easy for your organization to feel uneasy, especially when you start to get bogged down in the world of tactics and platforms. While you’re stuck there, you continuously wonder if your organization is keeping up and how others are using the latest and greatest cutting-edge digital tools. You don’t necessarily know or trust the tools, but you hope that a magician can cast a digital spell on your audience and make your campaign go viral.
Of course, when it comes to choosing a strategic partner or consulting firm, it’s vitally important to find one that has put the best tools to use where it makes sense to do so. Seizing these opportunities can naturally help your organization achieve a strong boost in results. The key, however, is to take those opportunities and successes and make them sustainable over the long run, especially as an organization looks for consistent and reliable mechanisms for digital fundraising.
Digital platforms come and go. They evolve, transform, adapt to the times, fade away, get sold, fall flat and worse. If any of these things happen, how do some organizations still find success? The root of digital campaign success is something much deeper than seizing these buzzworthy platforms, whether they’re social media channels, crowdfunding sites or beyond.
Throughout all of my experience, there are two root concepts that, when employed, have led to this kind of consistent and sustained success: relevance and resonance. Once you understand these concepts and apply them to all aspects of a digital campaign, your digital strategy begins to fall in place, no matter what the platform is.
Relevance: the notion of demonstrating to your key audiences that your campaign is for them and is geared towards their interests. This gives the audience tangible evidence that supporting your organization and its work is in their self-interest. It shows that your work matters, that there’s commonality and a shared goal. Relevance helps your campaign pique the audience’s interest.
Resonance: Now that you have their interest, your digital campaign needs to inspire, affect and drive your audience to action. You must reinforce your message and strike something within your audience that motivates them to participate. It’s the spark that activates.
From there, it’s about knowing how to execute these concepts within each platform. Here’s how it works: For each of these two digital strategies, ask yourself and your team how you can shape your activity so that it’s more relevant and resonant. For example:
• Relevance: Can you segment your targets based on type of audience, such as donor vs. non-donor, type of donor, type of person or how they came onto your email list? Is what you’re intending to ask them to do relevant to the type of person they are? If not, does this email make sense to send to them, or is it just “noise”?
• Resonance: Knowing the answers to these questions, how can you talk to each group so they best connect with your mission? How can you structure your calls-to-action in a way that echoes your audience’s needs and interests and drives them to participate?
• Relevance: Where can you place ads and create different types of campaigns for different types of people in order to best reach them? Are you using the types of ads that will be best matched to your intended audience’s media consumption habits? For example, if your audience is mobile-heavy, are you placing mobile-based ads?
• Resonance: What kind of tone, imagery and calls to action can you use within your ads to best appeal to these audiences?
• Relevance: Is my intended audience on this channel? Why does my intended audience go here? What kind of content are they expecting to find? Based on that, is my organization relevant here?
• Resonance: Based on the content my audience expects, am I shaping it in a way that is not only relevant to how they use this channel, but also creates a sense of purpose and belonging?
These two ideas become even more important as you begin to ask not just for clicks and views, but also for real, tangible contributions such as involvement and fundraising dollars. Because of the increased ask, the level of connection between audience and organization needs to be solidified as well.
For me, the worst thing that can happen in a sustained digital effort is to create content that is continually ignored. When you’re ignored, you haven’t made the case that your audience should be involved with your organization. You haven’t shown why your organization is relevant to them, and you haven’t created content that resonates with them. You haven’t actually made a case at all—not even to the extent that they respect your organization but decide to opt out. You simply don’t exist in their mind, good or bad.
At that point, it doesn’t matter what tool you’re on.
There’s so much noise out there that you cannot give your intended audience an excuse to tune you out—because, nearly every time, they’ll take it. But if you start thinking about these two concepts—relevance and resonance—and how to employ them wherever you may be, you’ll be surprised to see the very good things that happen.