Monthly Archives: April 2014

How to blog and what to blog. We can help.
Email Marketing is a fairly common way of advertising as well as keeping current clients abreast with the goings on within a company. With all the advantages it offers, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind when launching your email marketing campaign.

  • Don’t overwhelm with information

Keep your email campaigns short, sweet, and simple. If pictures make your point resonate more (and they probably do), use them. Don’t give customers huge chunks of text to read, because they’re likely to read only the first few sentences before losing interest and closing your email. Summarize the points of what you want to get across, and get their attention within the first few words.

  • Try to only send out emails when warranted

Sure, you could send out emails every day, but that’s likely to annoy the person you send them to and get your emails sent straight to the spam folder. Instead of flooding those on your email list with pointless emails, send them only when you have something important to say. This makes it far more likely that the recipient will pay attention to the message, and will prevent your emails from becoming a nuisance.

  • Only send emails to those who have signed up to receive them.

There are plenty of places online to go and buy email lists, but, just like cold calling, this method is often frowned-upon. The people getting the resultant marketing emails may not even be interested in your message, and they may even cause email providers to see your organization as spam. Instead, provide people with a way to sign up for your email list, and send emails only to people on that list.

  • Give people a way to unsubscribe if they want to.

People who see your nonprofit as annoying are not going to listen to you. Give email recipients a clearly-marked way to unsubscribe from email lists. Although your email marketing campaign won’t work on that person, they are far more likely to be receptive to other forms of marketing than if you did not give them a way to unsubscribe from your emails.

So there you have it, some short and simple tips to keep in mind when starting your email marketing campaign. Starting an email marketing campaign can be daunting, after all, but with these few tips kept in mind, you’re far more likely to be successful. So remember: keep your emails relevant, but not intrusive, and make sure to only send them out when warranted. The results will be spectacular.


For more information on email marketing campaigns, or information on the other services we offer, contact us today.

Social Media is more than just a buzzword. Certainly, personal users in the Social Media world have noticed the influx of businesses and organizations who have created a business account to interact with their customers. Businesses use Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and perhaps Instagram but compared to email marketing which platform is more effective?

Social Media has been used to create a community with customers, advertise promotions, and even promote giveaways. However, according to Andrew Paul from Email Answers, purchases made because of email marketing is now ranked at “7%.” Furthermore, goods and services acquired through email marketing has increased by fourfold. Compared to email marketing social channels trail considerably behind.

How to Benefit From These Statistics?

Have a Strategy for Mobile Email Marketing – Keep in mind that your email marketing needs to be formatted for cellular phones. About half of all customers check email on their “smartphone.” These facts are important because “65%” of those who use smartphones will opt out of your emails if there are “rendering issues or [your email] doesn’t look right on their mobile device.” It is imperative to ensure that all email messages sent to consumers will render correctly on all smartphones.

Continue to Do What Works –  Many companies want to be the “first” to try the latest and greatest “social website or new marketing strategy.” However, this can become problematic when you lose sight of established marketing practices like having:

  • Your website appear on the first or second page of search results
  • A well written blog that is updated frequently
  • A well proven email marketing plan

Is Using Social Media Effective At All? Let’s consider Coca-Cola’s Facebook account. Currently, Coke has over 50 million fans on Facebook, but how many of these followers receive one of their many status updates?  

How about 5%? If Coca-Cola wants to attempt to reach the other 95% of their Facebook fans, they will have to pay Facebook to do so…  This isn’t 2008 and the perceived ‘Like’ value isn’t what you think it is.  Likes are worthless, well almost worthless.

So, with that in mind should social media be thrown to the wayside at your small association? Of course not; just keep in mind there are more effective ways to market to your customers, and put your focus on those strategies first. Also, if you need assistance with finding the right private cloud or looking to explore an email marketing solution, please contact us.

Wow! What a difference a decade makes in marketing technology!

In our opinion, one of the leading trends for nonprofit associations over the next few years will be to move beyond traditional methods of finding new members through “Outbound Marketing” such as email to full Marketing Automation platforms to be more competitive and remain relevant.

Today, Marketing Automation has emerged as a class of technology to manage the entire life cycle of marketing whether that be Inbound Marketing or Outbound Marketing.

What is the idea of Marketing Automation?

The term marketing automation is used to describe any piece of software that helps business reduce the human effort needed to roll out an inbound and outbound marketing program, either by tying multiple elements together under a single platform or by streamlining efforts within a single channel.

What is Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing?

“Inbound Marketing” is the method by which your members or donors find you online mostly through various paid and natural search engine marketing efforts.

“Outbound Marketing” is likely what your nonprofit has been focused on for many years. Outbound marketing examples include Newsletters, Tradeshows, TV commercials, radio commercials, print advertisements (newspaper ads, magazine ads, flyers, brochures, catalogs, etc.), press releases, cold calls, and email blasts.

In 2004, there were very few vendors who specialized in email marketing and even fewer vendors that could claim to automate anything beyond traditional marketing. Dialing on the phone and conference trade show events were top dog in the arsenal for the commercial for profit and non-profit organizations alike.

Therefore, it’s time for Executives of nonprofits and associations to get prepared and look forward in their respective race to succeed in engaging members and donors. That noted, the key drivers of an organizations decision to feel the need to investigate marketing automation technology generally involves one or more factors described:

  • Business Intelligence: The need for membership and marketing reports that provide data for analysis, planning, and determination of return on investment will be required by more Association Executives & Nonprofit Boards in the future. We believe that the use of your data will set you free, because it truly empowers and organization to see where its strengths and opportunities are today and in the future.
  • Simplification: Everyone is trying to do more with less these days and nonprofits are no different. The need for Membership, IT, Development Officers, and Web Masters need to simplify the management and coordination of activities, such as marketing and website traffic.
  • Removing DDS (Disparate Data Syndrome): The need to manage multiple point tools like email marketing solutions, landing pages, google analytics, blogs, & association or donor management solutions need to be integrated to provide the insights you need and keep the staff sane.
  • New Member Recruitment: Yes, associations and donor nonprofits should be prepared to compete even more with the mind share of for-profit and nonprofits in providing value. Therefore, lead nurturing and transfer or interested members to the appropriate parties is critical.
  • Efficient Use of Time: You need to be a lean mean fighting machine at your nonprofit. Therefore, reducing the time to create, deploy marketing campaigns, or respond to onboarding requests or conference exhibitors for booth sales in real time is paramount. In a recent research study done internally by Velocity, a leading outbound marketing firm, revealed the simple act of placing a phone call to a new prospect within a minute of lead generation can increase your likelihood of conversion by nearly 400%.

If you are mid to large association, and you have outgrown your current email marketing solution, it may be time for your organization to get ahead of the pack.

A quick word of caution, however is in order.

As in any software evaluation, before you begin evaluating vendors, it’s imperative you take a look at your organization, your human resources, and your existing processes. Your nonprofit organization needs to spend time to identify the goals and objectives of your marketing automation initiative to be sure it aligns the directive of your board and members.

You may find it’s necessary to enlist the help of a skilled consulting firm which understands your industry. There are very good inbound marketing firms for the for-profit market. And, even better is enlisting the assistance of a firm which is focused on the nonprofit sector.

When you have determined your organizations objectives, requirements, and opportunities, you’re ready to evaluate solutions and vendors. And, at the time, if you would like more information on complete marketing automation tools or just need to start with an email marketing service, please contact us.





Many associations have invested thousands of dollars in their Association Management Software (AMS) platforms. As discussed many times on this site, certainly an AMS can dramatically increase the productivity of your staff and your members engagement. However, most forward thinking organizations have begun to think beyond the basics of their AMS systems and are looking for more ways to enhance their membership communications and ability to understand how to best nurture their existing and prospective members to improve participation.

No doubt, AMS systems have their strengths, but the area where they provide the most benefit may well be from additional applications that support specific business goals. These tools can range from learning management systems or Abstract Management systems to more complimentary solutions centered around member management communication, integration with email, & marketing efforts.

We believe that Marketing Automation (MA) is one of the most comprehensive solutions which can dramatically increase the success in your AMS system. And, the synergy between member management activities and marketing could potentially allow an association to increase ROI in your member management area, improve new member sign ups, deliver more predictable dues and non-dues revenue, and make all departments communication efforts more impactful.

To be sure, many AMS systems have some element of marketing. In fact, many contain an integrated email marketing system embedded in the primary feature sets. However, for some associations their AMS may need to take it to the next level of maximum marketing power. This is no knock on AMS systems. It’s simply moving beyond the basics into more sophisticated territory. In most AMS systems, they were developed to handle individual one on one contacts while marketing always works with larger segments of leads. In short, marketing has to deal with thousands of names and manage thousands of leads to pinpoint the right targets to focus their efforts.

With Marketing Automation, you can add another layer of accomplishment on top of your AMS. One of the main drivers of MA is what is referred to as “Lead Management“. Many associations looking for ways to grow their membership or simply retain the membership need a much more comprehensive way to follow-up with their leads to be sure they are qualified. This lead management process is one of the key tenants of Marketing Automation.

For many leading associations, the lead management process starts with capturing leads through your member website. With MA, once a landing web page form is filled out, a dialogue could be started via email in order to deliver pertinent information to the prospective member or existing member. In many circles, this is called lead nurturing. And, while this email is sent, activity on the web site visits are tracked, recorded, and monitored by the system.

What if you could do or know  the following:

  • Know when your emails get opened?
  • Did your member or donor download a Legislative Brief or donor mission call to Action?
  • Did the donor or member visit certain web pages after looking at the content?
  • How many times?
  • How long were they on a specific donation page? Did they contribute or Sign up? Why not?
  • Optimize your web content to increase traffic from your web?

With MA, your Membership or Donor team can review the findings and assign calls out based on relevant interests.While this type of automation may be present in a few AMS systems today, it’s likely the marriage of the two systems (AMS and Marketing Automation) that allows a nonprofit association to increase staff effectiveness and ensure the success of your membership and marketing efforts.

With Marketing Automation and AMS Software
With Marketing Automation and AMS Software

Benefits of AMS with Marketing Automation:

  • Capability for AMS to provide a central location for all members and prospective members/donors
  • An AMS system has Opportunity Management features which can take a prospective new member and move them into a member or donor management pipeline
  • Member interaction activity management which is critical to on boarding process

Benefits of Marketing Automation with an AMS:

  • Marketing Automation will provide a huge productivity boost for a marketing department lead generation
  • New Member campaigns can be performed automatically rather than manually
  • Marketing Automation provides better metrics on Member campaign effectiveness
  • Push content that will interest your members and prospects based on website activity
  • Campaigns for conferences, new membership campaigns, or general awareness efforts will improve your nurturing capabilities
  • Social media posting prowess
  • Increase AMS data quality with tools to prevent duplicates by appending information to existing records as well as identifying and merging duplicates
  • Increased efficiency by Membership staff to prioritize and interact with the most relevant leads
  • Deliver more predictable non-dues, donor, and general dues revenue

We believe that when a smart Marketing Automation system and a robust capable AMS system are combined to facilitate engagement, your organization will not doubt realize significant benefits.

If you’re exploring ways to improve your marketing efforts and would like to discuss our experience in this area, please contact us today to discuss smart alternatives.

ACT On marketing Automation from SmartThoughts


ACT On Marketing Automation



We wanted to take some time here to take a look at ACT-ON, Marketing Automation Software, and provide some feedback on the program and it’s attributes

from our perspective.


According to Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan:

“Act-On was created to empower businesses to effectively market online at a fraction of the effort and cost incurred by more complicated systems.”

Product Snapshot: 

Act-On is a cloud-based, month-to-month subscription service that offers:

  • dedicated support for as long as you subscribe to the service
  • quick and easy setup
  • fast startup so that you can begin a less ambitious email campaign and scale upward
  • a month-to-month contract with no long-term commitment
  • pricing based on the number of active contacts/donors you track

For the Small to mid size market, this turn-key, cloud software has many robust marketing capabilities — inbound, outbound and advanced — and includes the following solutions:

  • lead management
  • email creation & delivery
  • open API with options for AMS and Donor Management integration
  • social media campaign creation and management
  • webinar & event communications and management
  • website visitor tracking
  • advanced SEO for websites
  • integration of SEO with wordpress blogs & CMS
  • solid reports

Our Analysis on Fit: 

If your marketing goals include finding the marketing software that can save time, enhance your brand across multiple market sources, e.g., social networking, Act-On can get you set up and running across multi-channels. Act-On can help you focus on your constituents — both potential and existing — by reaching out to where most members hang out nowadays: on line. A key benefit to this cloud-based product is the reporting feature that helps you see how campaigns and programs are progressing. The software displays results in graphical or spreadsheet formats and displays details on:

  • email openings and link click-throughs
  • landing page visits to your web sites
  • form submissions for pledges, attendance, opinion surveys, etc.
  • webinar attendance
  • Twitter retweets

Finally, Act-On allows you to measure your return on investment to see what results are coming in from your marketing campaign spending:

“Being able to see how campaigns and programs are performing is a key benefit of using marketing automation. You can measure campaign results in real-time to get insights into campaign performance, and adjust a campaign on the fly.” — Quoted from the Act-On Website

Learn More: 

If you would like to learn more about ACT-ON, you may find my full review on Trust Radius by clicking here.

I will be reviewing more CRM, Social CRM, and Marketing Automation Software solutions soon! If  you would like to discuss, please contact us . We would enjoy visiting with you.