What I learned about direct mail this morning...from Facebook



I haven’t reached the point that I only log into Facebook to see photos of my grandchildren--yet.  But I have to admit that I’m not quite sure what Instagram or Snap Chat are all about.  

So when I spent time this weekend with my friend Mark Murphy who embraces Social Media to promote his books, seminars, and studies at LeadershipIQ, I was surprised by how interesting Social Media can be.

First thing this morning, I came into work and spent a couple of hours taking an online tutorial about online advertising.  Fascinating.  

Do you want to know what it reminds me of?  Direct mail fundraising.  In fact, right now at the top of my computer screen, I have a page in Facebook Ads Manager open that is called “Account Overview.”  

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At a glance, it looks just like what the fundraising world calls a Bluebook (or for those who are a little bit more formal, a Response Analysis Report).  In fact, it’s almost identical.  If you changed the column headings, you wouldn’t know the difference.  Right down to the sample response rates which could be right from a direct mail fundraiser’s Bluebook.  

I was so intrigued that I stopped the tutorial and started browsing the Facebook Ads Manager page.

To be honest, I shouldn’t have been that surprised. Google and Facebook are direct marketers.  They just use a different medium.  And their advertisers have the same business objectives we do.  We want to net money for our cause.  They want to net money for their shareholders.  

None of us want to clutter people’s mailboxes with irrelevant ads.  It’s expensive, wasteful, and counterproductive.  And we both want a high response rate because that means the ad is successful--after all, that’s the purpose of the ads in the first place.  

Facebook measures their ad performance with a relevance score that takes into account performance, positive feedback, and negative feedback. Interesting.

In the direct mail fundraising world, performance would be donor response, positive feedback would be positive non-donor response, and negative feedback would be complaints.

Facebook expects its advertisers to deal with complaints.  But they also take into account the positive feedback as well.  

They have a point system--positive feedback adds a point, negative feedback takes one away, and account relevance adds a whole bunch of points (I know “a whole bunch" is vague, but I’ve only been studying Facebook for a couple of hours and they’re not volunteering the secrets of their algorithms).

Facebook advertisers often find that that the same ads that perform well get a lot of feedback--both positive and negative.  And so they account for it.

Over my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of nonprofit or organizations.  Large and small.  Sophisticated and uncomplicated.

I’ve seen clients end successful campaigns because of a single complaint.  And I’ve seen them ignore a multitude of complaints and plow on with a campaign that should probably be put to rest.  

Because all too often, they only look at one data point so they can make a decision based on their feelings.   Maybe we need to develop a system for scoring relevance, positive, and negative feedback.