Marketing buzzwords in fundraising are like honey to bears, we love them. Over the past several months I’ve noticed more institutions mentioning their omnichannel outreach as a sort of golden fleece approach to annual giving and alumni engagement. While I’m a big believer in the effectiveness of omnichannel marketing, once I start investigating it’s seldom omnichannel campaigns that we see institutions executing in higher education fundraising. Instead, it’s multichannel, which brings more channels, more complexity, but not necessarily better results.
So what is omnichannel and how is it different from multichannel? Omnichannel strategy is a focus on the user experience that commonly uses both online and traditional channels in an integrated manner, focusing much more on engagement and interactions and using that data to fuel additional outreach.
Below are 3 examples of how omnichannel is different than what most institutions are doing today:
Focus on the Individual Alumni Donor Experience
This means thinking less about your outreach calendar or when you want to reach donors and more about how you will continue to engage them as they connect with you. It means ensuring that your channels not only speak with a consistent message, but that when a donor takes an action, that it triggers a follow up email or a phone call from a student or a set of retargeting digital ads or all three of those things launch based on the desired outcome.
Omnichannel Example: A donor opens your fiscal year end email clicks on the “give now” button but doesn’t make a gift. This happens far more times than a donor clicking on the link and making a gift. So how do we re-engage that donor. The sample flow below shows how that action should trigger automated responses.