AAUW Supports STEM With Integrated Campaign

Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey (CCAH) recently carried out an successful integrated campaign for the American Association of University Women (AAUW). There are always lessons that can be useful to other marketers.

Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey (CCAH), a direct marketing agency, recently carried out an integrated appeal campaign for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) that was a huge win in meeting its objectives. I love hearing success stories because there are always lessons that can be useful for other marketers.

I chatted with CCAH’s Pete Carter, Principal and Senior VP, and Colleen Hutchings, Senior Account Executive, to get their perspectives on this integrated online/offline campaign.

The Goals
According to Carter, there were two main goals for the campaign.

The first was practical: Money had to be raised to fund AAUW’s programs that increase awareness and participation of girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The second objective was conversion. About half of its members are dues-only contributors. This appeal was intended to educate these members about STEM, raise money, and set the stage for other mission-oriented appeals in the future.

The Direct Mail Package
Dropped to nearly 90,000 recipients on Nov. 5, 2015, this “go-to-format” consisted of an outer envelope, letter, reply form, insert, and courtesy reply envelope. The front of the outer was spare, only the logo and a teaser above the address: “Personal. Prepared for.”  Because “STEM can be cerebral,” Carter said, the intent was simple: don’t give away too much, just get the recipient inside.

CCAHLetter1Across its four pages, the letter makes the case for STEM by reciting statistics and detailing how the AAUW’s programs – Tech Savvy and Tech Trek – are working. But the heart of the effort is a 2-page sheet of testimonials from girls who have participated in STEM programs. Sharing these, Carter says, provides “emotional content.” Members love photos and personal messages from beneficiaries of these programs; much of this content also appears in the emails.

The First Email: Do You Agree?
The first email was sent on Nov. 5 and relied on two subject line tactics to get opened, and then acted on.

First, it was personalized with the addressee’s name at the front. “Personalization can provide a big lift,” Hutchings noted.

Second, it sparked curiosity in the recipient: “[FNAME], take 20 seconds to answer one question.”

The question: “Do you agree that women and girls should be better represented in STEM?”

CCAH1Using it three times over seven paragraphs is “kind of gimmicky” Hutchings admitted. “We can’t do it all the time.” “The audience will answer ‘yes’,” she continued. She pointed out that the “intention was to get more people to the donation form,” and to make it easy.

The clickthrough rate on this one was about 2,000 percent higher than the subsequent efforts, and it was the biggest revenue drive of the three emails.

One additional factor cited was using a deadline, “5 p.m. ET tomorrow, Friday, November 6” in the postscript of the letter. This touch was added at the last minute by the CCAH team, which, Hutchings said, “liked the idea of creating a sense of urgency … without going overboard.”

The Second Email: Stories
This effort, sent out on Nov. 12, has only four paragraphs, making it the shortest letter of the three emails in the campaign. As the focus is more personal and less abstract, it sets up the ask quickly.

CCAH2The “DONATE NOW” button is followed by a stream of pictures from participants in the STEM programs, like those in direct mail testimonial. Scrolling or swiping down through them was designed to “make it more tangible”, according to Hutchings, by showing the reader cause and effect.

The Third Email: Steer a Young Woman
The final message dropped on Nov. 19, and is “much more representative of what [AAUW] emails sound like,” Hutchings said. In its nine paragraphs, the pitch to the member is very similar to what appears in the direct mail letter, emphasizing statistics on education, as well as on the success of AAUW’s programs in educating girls.

CCAH3Despite the more academic tone, the copy also works on inducing some guilt in the member: “We must give every girl who has ever dreamed … the chance to fulfill her goals.” A related touchpoint is a call to duty: “Please do your part.”

Takeaways
This coordinated campaign resulted in raising a net of $23,899 for AAUW, with an average gift of $53.25.

For Carter, this success shows that the two channels can work hand-in-hand, and that “you can’t take either one away.” He makes the analogy of a customer who buys a sweater based on a saved J. Crew catalog to underline the importance of direct mail in a buying decision that otherwise may not have happened. “It primes the pump,” he said.

Marketers should “just try new tactics to engage people,” he advised, even if they’re different from what you’ve done in the past. There’s “lots of room to try different tactics and techniques,” Hutchings said. There are “innovative ways of getting to the ask … and the audience is receptive to that,” she added.

Riding Coattails

Situated neatly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a lesser known, but growing, shopping holiday called Small Business Saturday. (with the apropos tagline of Shop Small). Founded by AMEX in 2010, and officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011, Small Business Saturday has quickly become a noteworthy event. Posting numbers of more than $5.5 billion in additional revenue to small businesses across America last year alone, this date presents a unique opportunity for marketers to grab some coattails and hang on.

Situated neatly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a lesser known, but growing, shopping holiday called Small Business Saturday. (with the apropos tagline of Shop Small). Founded by AMEX in 2010, and officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011, Small Business Saturday has quickly become a noteworthy event. Posting numbers of more than $5.5 billion in additional revenue to small businesses across America last year alone, this date presents a unique opportunity for marketers to grab some coattails and hang on.

Often what stands between you and successful integrated marketing—the cross-channel marketing of a consistent brand message—is a brilliant idea. As marketers, we may be more challenged seeking creative inspiration than we are by deploying the actual campaign. Events, such as Small Business Saturday[1], are apt fodder for an integrated campaign that will speak to and engage your customers on many levels: philanthropic-type support of small business, special offers at a time when shopping is especially top of mind, social sharing, community building, and much more.

Our approach to an integrated campaign is to draft the content and then brainstorm to choose in what channels we can publish the content to “give the project some legs.” In the case of Small Business Saturday (SBS), AMEX has provided a fair amount of content for participants; while it may not be ideal for the channels you choose, it’s certainly a great start, as that first step is often the biggest—and hardest.

As an example, we sifted through the promotional content and chose to first launch our initiative as a Facebook campaign where we invited our friends and fans to like the post to support small business. For our network followers, who are small business, we asked that they comment on the post, adding their logo and an offer valid only on 30 November.

With the social postings making a regular appearance in our timelines, we then created the email campaign to educate our small-business clients about SBS, give them ideas for participating, and direct them to the site’s resources for launching full-blown initiatives in their own communities. To both gain support for the event and foster a closer relationship with our customers, our email offered a complimentary, branded email theme they could use to specifically promote their own SBS offer—no strings attached.

While it wasn’t planned as part of our integrated campaign for SBS, blog articles such as this could easily be developed in a way to extend the reach of your campaign.

Big business (B-to-B) can also benefit from promoting events (like SBS) when selling to small businesses, just as we did by offering our clients an email theme. A larger enterprise can nurture goodwill by becoming involved in a way that is beneficial to their clients beyond the bounds of their typical day-to-day business relationship. Clients are much more likely to show loyalty to vendors with whom they feel a connection and benevolent events give both parties a place to come together in a like-minded pursuit.

Campaign inspiration surrounds us, and it’s not always about discounting, selling and downloads. As any salesperson can tell you, developing qualified leads requires relationship building, and that is seldom done using email alone. Intersperse your typical business and sales emails with feel-good content that benefits the customer beyond your products and services, and you’ll find that engagements become more valuable, last longer and, yes, drives sales.

Join us in celebrating Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.


[1] If Small Business Saturday isn’t right for you, think about other charitable or community events, such as breast cancer walks, balloon festivals, food fairs and the like. Coattails come in all sorts of fabrics. Be receptive to events where content is readily available, and this will reduce the demands on your internal team or external resource needs.

Turnaround Tired Direct Marketing Campaigns With Video

Online video marketing has the ability to transform and turnaround a tired direct marketing campaign. We wouldn’t make this claim if we hadn’t witnessed a 20 percent lift in sales from an integrated campaign using video. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may recall how we took you inside a successful video marketing program for a performing arts organization in October. At that time, we were testing a “proof of concept” of video marketing

Online video marketing has the ability to transform and turnaround a tired direct marketing campaign. We wouldn’t make this claim if we hadn’t witnessed a 20 percent lift in sales from an integrated campaign using video. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may recall how we took you inside a successful video marketing program for a performing arts organization in October. At that time, we were testing a “proof of concept” of video marketing to sell tickets to a Fall performance.

Because the proof of concept using video worked, we applied this approach during November and December to promote the organization’s Christmas shows.

We’re delighted to report that this latest online video campaign worked, lifting sales by nearly 20 percent over last year. And it wasn’t just ticket sales that were impacted. Product sales at the event broke new records, too.

Because the proof of concept in the Fall worked, it gave confidence to the organization to commit to significant changes in marketing direction for the Christmas season.

A series of five “behind the curtain” videos were created to create curiosity in the upcoming performances, interspersed with three “music” videos where the product was, in effect, given away.

A primary advertising channel (and expense) for the organization in prior years—radio—was dropped entirely.

Email marketing was leveraged in a big way because the videos gave purpose to frequent messaging. The previously established Facebook “group” approach wasn’t robust enough for marketing purposes, so we started all over with a Facebook “page.” Twitter and Pinterest played a role. Direct mail remains an important vehicle because the demographics of the group. This was a true multi-media, offline and online direct marketing campaign.

There was some concern that we would “oversaturate” to the installed base of thousands of patrons on the email list and they would unsubscribe in droves. Or that we would “over post” on Facebook and turn off fans who would “unlike” us.

Yet, because we applied sound content marketing practices, not only were patrons not alienated-they asked for more.

It was the viral effect of the video at the core of the campaign that drove engagement, and brought in new patrons to the performances that had never before heard of the group. On Facebook, using promoted posts and ads, friends of friends were introduced to the organization, and many of them came to the show.

Why did this happen? Because weaving everything around online video transformed the entire direct marketing campaign.

The turnaround of a tired effort from the past resulted in three transformations that turned the campaign around: with video, the direct marketing campaign 1. had purpose, 2. enabled frequency and 3. we could use the content marketing component of “free.”

We’ll elaborate on these three transformational components, and how we made them work, in our next blog in early January.

In the meantime, we invite you to watch this video for background about the “proof of concept” campaign from last Fall.