Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Five top tips for effective digital marketing campaigns for charities

By Sarah Doyle, UX Designer at Kids Industries

There’s no doubt about it – COVID-19 has well and truly decimated many industries, but the charity sector – which let’s be honest, doesn’t get its voice heard particularly loudly – is seeing nearly 1 in 10 face collapse and an estimated 40 percent face a worsening financial position despite the demand for their services – particularly those supporting people with mental health issues – rising rapidly.

So what to do? Clearly they need to focus on attracting new memberships and building engagement to attract donations, but where to start? Based on our research, I’d recommend getting kids involved! Today’s young people want change, they’re motivated to take action AND they are brilliant at influencing behaviour in older generations.

Children are digital natives. They know little of the analogue world and they’ve practically been glued to screens 24/7 for the last 15 months. And this is why digital marketing is such a powerful tool for charities.

Making memories

In the traditional learning pyramid, people generally remember 10 per cent of what they read, but 90 per cent from what they do; when you’re in an environment that’s interactive and immersive, you are more engaged, you learn more, and you remember more. And this is why a great piece of digital marketing can have a much bigger impact on consumer engagement and purchase conversion. By creating an immersive experience, the stronger the memory will be and the bigger the need to request that memory and make the purchase.

Choice of channels

Digital marketing also gives charities a huge amount of choice when it comes to finding the right channel. And by that I don’t just mean streaming TV or online magazines and newspapers, but the whole enormous, wonderfully connected world of social media. 29 per cent of online donors say that social media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give compared to email at 27 per cent, websites at 18 per cent, print at 12 per cent and TV ads at 6 per cent. 44 per cent have donated through Facebook Fundraising Tools, up from 16 per cent in 2018, and 12 per cent have donated through Instagram Fundraising Tools.

Total transparency

Digital marketing campaigns allow for greater transparency between a charity and its donors in relation to how those donations are being spent, the work that’s being done, the progress that’s being made, the people, animals and causes being helped – all great tools for warming up your donors’ emotional intelligence and altruism. WWF, for example, actively shares status updates and success stories so donors and fundraiser can feel reassured their money is going to the right place and that ‘they did a good thing’.

Keeping within GDPR(K) mandates for marketing to children, digital marketers within the charity sector have a unique opportunity to show the whole story –– or bits of that story to lots of different people – much more so than a 30 second ad and more affordably, too. Faced with the ability to engage/purchase/donate in an instant, participants are much more likely to respond to calls to action and charities should be leveraging these new technologies as much as possible to get conversions up.

Here are my top five tips to level up your next product campaign:

Give due care and attention to the insight stage.

Often with non-profits, because money is tight, this phase can be overlooked, and marketers miss out on digging deep into the WHY their cause connects with the audience. But this is such a false economy. Different ages and life experiences will shape how familiar they are with using your digital product. Finding out the habits and interests of your key target demographic can help craft your user journeys and highlight potential stress points. Identify your competitors and aspirational products and see what behaviours and patterns may already exist. 

Design your experience for children knowing where they are in their development and their curriculum. For example, even the way a toddler physically interacts with and holds a device is different to an older child due to the development of their fine motor skills. Breaking these UX rules can lead to confusion or frustration. 

Consider the difference between accessible and inclusive design.

Very simply, accessible design means that everyone should be able to use the product and inclusive design is subtly different – it takes the accessible product and asks: does everyone want to use this product? Does the product feel authentic and does the user feel comfortable using it? Getting these two principles right will ensure your product works on both a technical and emotional level. Remember too that how we respond to messaging has evolved and emotional guilt and fear no longer work. Young people want to see the outcome of the charity’s work, the ‘after’ shots, how their money will prevent kids from dying in Africa, from sweatshop workers being exploited in Bangladesh, from icebergs melting in the Arctic.

Don’t forget mobile.

We shouldn’t have to say it really as it is 2021! Every digital product should be responsive, and that aspect needs to be thought about early in the design stages. More than 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices and it’s growing in size every year. To not include this in the early stages of planning and designing is going to cause a lot of headaches later. Whilst there absolutely is a place for beautiful custom experiences for either desktop or mobile, remember what the ultimate purpose of the product is – to raise funds and increase awareness so prioritise features that support these areas.

Test, test and test again.

Even the best thought out plans don’t always work in practice, with unknown considerations or bugs popping up throughout the process. Sometimes a beautifully designed journey through a product is not what the user decides to do; sometimes they go rogue and totally break your carefully crafted journey. Which can be pretty cool if it’s discovered early enough; otherwise it can be soul destroying. It’s always good to keep testing throughout the process – this is where user journeys become important.

They can be a great way to see if your prototype is robust enough to meet different user requirements and where the stress points are in a product. Sometimes though, even after all the user testing and prototyping, a product just doesn’t work how it needs to. Part of the journey of designing a product or experience is all about finding these stress points and working through the best solutions. But in the pre-production phase there is flexibility in the approach, and lots of concepts can be tested and explored before committing to one solid approach. So if it isn’t working, ask yourself critically ‘why’ – and if need be, don’t be afraid to leave the concept behind. 

A final and crucial tip is to combine your physical and digital elements into your apps.

This is an exciting opportunity to take kids on an adventure whilst giving them an opportunity to learn about your charity and why it’s so important. Within your apps create lots of ways for them to interact and engage – for example by introducing new collectibles and adding fresh AR content regularly. Keep newsfeeds updated to keep them coming back and provide content such as polls, quizzes, videos and images to keep interest high. It’s all about building a community and increasing dwell time, so enable visitors to react to materials and bookmark favourite content!