Getting the foundations right

Personas are the foundation of all good marketing activity. Having personas in place will help you make more informed decisions about the types of marketing you use, along with the style of imagery, messaging and much more. At Reflect Digital, we put human behaviour and behavioural science behind all of our marketing decisions, ensuring our clients get a greater return on investment. 

For charities, this is no different; understanding your donors and potential donors, their motivations, drivers for donating and reasons behind choosing your charity are critical in informing the approach you take. For example, your existing donor base might consist of older, less technically savvy individuals. If you suddenly switch your preferred donation method to online and create barriers for telephone and offline donation methods, your monthly revenue might be hit. Note however, that almost half of all donations made by over 65s are now made online, so considering how to make digital donation user-friendly for all is also important. 

Similarly, if you’re considering how to expand your audience to a younger generation you’ll want to create personas that consider the motivations, drivers and expectations of this market. For example, social media would be likely to play a more central role in targeting generation-z, with platforms such as Instagram and TikTok taking centre stage. You might also introduce more seamless transaction methods such as ApplePay and GooglePay as this is what they are accustomed to. 

In a recent campaign for anti-poverty charity, Christian Aid, we carried out a persona discovery project before implementing 16 CRO driven tests. This approach led to a significant 161% ROI and £116k in donations. 

Optimising experiences for action

With your personas in place, it’s time to think about how well your website and marketing activity is serving your audience. Customer experience projects are becoming increasingly important for those businesses and charities that want to increase user affinity, engagement and, ultimately, conversions. Investing time in your website customer journeys is a great way to do more with your existing traffic; increasing conversions and focusing on optimisation opportunities as opposed to the more expensive task of attracting new users to the site. 

With customer experience tactics such as A/B testing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) you can do more with the traffic being driven by your organic and paid activities by understanding the barriers to conversion. These insights can also be applied to other areas of your marketing activity as they will focus on language, use of imagery, page placement, and navigation among other things. 

Attracting more of the right people 

With a stronger foundation for personas and customer experience in place, you can divert your attention to increasing reach and conversion through paid media strategies, leveraging programmatic for dynamic advertising that is highly targeted and relevant. As well as remarketing, to re-engage those further down the funnel and increase the rate of conversion. 

How? Paid media strategies allow you to target users who fit your ideal user profile that might not have considered charity giving previously. By putting targeted ads out there that highlight causes that resonate with users you can start them on the journey of researching and considering your charity. This can have a halo effect of increasing traffic via other channels such as organic. 

Paid media can also be used as a means to test imagery and ad copy rapidly. By layering copy and creatives with your personas we can quickly identify which language and visuals resonate with your potential donors and these results can be used to inform other areas of your marketing campaigns. 

In 2023, Charities can leverage paid media strategies to amplify their cause across multiple platforms, targeting highly relevant audiences with messaging focused on cause awareness, how donations are used to support this cause and clear actions for how donors can get involved. The use of HTML5 ads also allows charities to weave movement into their campaigns, which can be supported with behavioural science techniques to improve impressions and interactions. 

In a recent article from one of our Paid Media Executives we explore the topic of paid media advertising especially for charities in more detail

Capturing donation intent in search

For any search strategy to be truly effective, you need to have a strong Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) foundation. With SEO being geared towards organic search rankings it's essential that you put the work in to ensure key landing pages are well optimised to be able to rank. 

In 2023, Charities should be focusing on quick-win opportunities around content for page two ranking pages, meta title and description optimisations as well as key landing page opportunities. This can be especially useful if you’re using the same landing pages for paid media ads as you will get page quality score insights to help feed your SEO strategy

Always-on content is another great way for charities to both keep their donors in the loop of how the cause is doing, while also supporting your wider SEO efforts. Consider how a news or blog section could support your SEO strategy in 2023. 

A strong backlink strategy coupled with a focus on Digital PR and outreach is also extremely important to consider as we continue into 2023. Digital PR and outreach can help you get featured in relevant publications that not only extend the reach of your message, but help boost your website’s domain ranking and therefore SEO authority in SERPs. It’s worthwhile leveraging outreach opportunities during specific times of the year when your charity might be holding an event or spreading awareness about a cause which journalists will be keen to feature. 

Building a community with all generations

Advocacy and reach are key elements of a customer experience and social media plays a vital role in both, especially with the new generation of tech savvy individuals coming in. Charities should be thinking about how they might leverage social media to increase awareness and affinity with these markets. 

Consider posts that share the story of individuals, these could take the form of short, digestible videos. Share progress graphics to visually depict how much money has been raised for a specific aim or project. Create posts to showcase the amazing work you’ve been doing and demonstrate the impact you’ve had so far. 

Social Media is also a great way to get donors and potential donors involved in conversations. Consider how you might use your Instagram stories to drive engagement through submissions, polls and user generated content. You can even run challenges and fundraisers that promote digital donations! It’s a great environment to try new things, have a bit of fun and get creative - all of which will help make your charity more relatable and increase affinity with audiences of all ages. 

Bridging the gap between offline and online

Charities have typically (in the past) marketed themselves via offline mediums, the shift to digital has been a long one and something many are still on a journey with. One of the biggest challenges that marketers face in 2023 is where digital meets the physical world. Out of Home marketing may be difficult to measure, but can be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. But Out of Home doesn’t mean untargeted or unmeasurable, anymore.

From 2020 onward, QR codes and similar functionality have started to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Users are increasingly familiar with scanning codes to download content or purchase goods, so they are equally likely to donate directly from a poster via their smartphone. This helps to create a smooth customer journey and enables you to measure success on Out of Home more effectively.

Plenty of Out of Home providers now provide sophisticated targeting techniques. For example, some providers can enable you to remarket to your website users on digital Out of Home posters when they detect a device within a certain radius. Programmatic is a key component to bridging this gap and bringing out of home and the online world together. These tactics also allow for far more measurable results when looking at things such as posters and billboards. You might also want to consider what out-the-box ideas can be done with these mediums as we see a rise in more disruptive creatives to capture attention and garner results. 

Building loyalty and affinity 

With offline still a predominant part of charity marketing, it’s important to consider how your cause aligns with others. For example, you might not be an environment-focused charity, but your donors might still care for more greener tactics. Email marketing is a great way to keep donors informed and naturally takes the place of physical tactics such as leaflet dropping for spreading awareness. 

Plus, with donors three times more likely to donate online, email marketing is much more effective than traditional postal marketing. It’s also much more environmentally friendly, making it significantly more appealing to many donors and potential donors.
It’s also deemed a more ‘cost effective’ form of marketing and will be perceived as such by your target audience, with post having a more luxurious feel to it and raising concerns around how donations are spent. 

Further to this, email marketing in 2023 for charities can bring with it significant opportunities around personalisation. Segmenting your audience can allow you to directly target groups of donors who regularly give differently to those who haven’t donated in a while. You can then create re-engagement campaigns to target those who haven’t been involved in a while; highlighting all the great work you’re doing, current missions etc. While taking more time to thank and update those who give regularly as opposed to asking them for more. 

But don’t forget those personas! If certain groups prefer to donate offline, such as an older demographic, you might want to use post to support their journey. Targeting just these donors can mean you keep your postal activity when necessary, and reduce wasted budget.

Gamifying your tactics

With the foundations built, values upheld and the right audience finding your cause online and offline - why not inject a little fun into what you do? Not to take away from the seriousness of your charity’s aims or the need to raise money to support your mission - but gamification is an excellent way to further increase awareness, loyalty and engagement with donors. 

It’s currently used across multiple sectors from health and fitness to hospitality, tech and so on. By embedding an element of ‘gaming’ to your charity you increase overall interest and ‘buy-in’ from your target audience. 

Gamifying your marketing allows donors to get hands-on with your content, rather than simply reading reports, blogs and landing pages. Plus, the simple action of getting users thinking increases memorability and affinity. 

How can you apply this to your charity? I'm not saying you should be giving out free cars. You could make your charity stand out and gamify your content feed by creating a quick brain teaser or game for your social media followers to engage in in their downtime. 

How can you use the audience's motivations to participate in your games? Let's say a fun 5-minute quiz based around your charity where the person who has the most correct answers will be featured on your social media page. With this simple concept, I have included the game mechanics (the rules and how the game ends), the dynamics (it takes 5 minutes to complete) and incentives and rewards (helping a charity and being featured on their social media). By having direct links to your charity, you are creating memorable content for your audience and will make them want to come back and take action. 

Quick Recap

While 2023 might be an unpredictable year for many charities there is also so much opportunity when it comes to investing time into your marketing strategy to optimise conversions and donations for your cause. 

If you would like assistance, please get in touch. Our experts would be more than happy to help! 




Chantel works hard to show the world all the great work that the Reflect Digital team are delivering. She focuses on creating and executing our own marketing strategy including looking at how we onboard new businesses, manage client loyalty and satisfaction and improve internal culture. Day to day Chantel strives for new ways to get the Reflect name out there and drive new enquiries - while also making us the best agency to work for and with.

More about Chantel

Have a project you would like to discuss?