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    December 5, 2008

    Time for Nonprofits' sites to Morph?

    This morning's Research Brief from the MediaPost blogs announced that direct marketing accounted for 53% of 2008 Ad spend. (This included data from commercial and nonprofit marketers.)

    What jumped out at me is that the spend direct and indirect on "New Media and other" was more than half that of DM.

    I can't say that I know of any nonprofit that currently spends half its direct marketing budget on "new media" i.e. online, mobile, and email, so it must be the commercial side that's driving this and investing heavily.

    Speaking of our commercial brethren trailblazing the way into new media, earlier this week, NPR's All Things Considered ran a really interesting story on Cyber Monday about the kind of things retailers are doing to get users' attentions online.

    Retailers are thinking up all kinds of ideas that could also work great for fundraising. For example, for returning site visitors, creating different templates that appeal to different audience groups. Now, some of us, are already doing things like creating "personalized" web pages for our donors-they log in, or get a personal link, and their personal page pops us giving history, articles or news updates that are based on the donor's interest, and even "actions" in their local community.

    But retailers are going beyond that. For example, there are templates built for "older" donors where everything is in a larger font. Templates for females that have certain "themes" and the general tone is more "emotional"--things many of us are using and testing in DM.

    The most fascinating new idea I heard was site "morphing." Now apparently, this is still in the testing stages, but this technique would adjust a site experience for visitors (in our case returning or potential donors) as they are viewing and exploring our sites.

    The example the story gave is of someone on a site that sells all kinds of electronics. So say this person browses over to a flat screen, and the first thing they look is not description, tech specs, but user reviews. The magic algorithm then takes note of this, and when a user then browses over to DVD player, the first thing that pops up are user reviews. The site "morphs" itself in real time based on a user's browsing behavior.

    This concept could have tremendous applications for fundraising and in particular in getting the attentions of younger people who might land on our sites. Say I land on your page from a link from Facebook. Why not throw up a template that organizes the information on your site in a "Facebook-like format" so that I it's easier for me to find things. Or maybe, the first thing I click on is "watch our latest relief video". Perhaps whatever part of your site I navigate to next should then throw up some kind of video th.

    What better way to treat us as the "unique" individuals that we are and demand to be recognized as?

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