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Blackbaud CRM™ Marketing Efforts - A Powerful Tool

Marketing Efforts and other marketing & communications tools are often viewed as complex, challenging and extremely time-consuming. But, are you really using this powerful functionality to its fullest extent or are you just bogged down in the minutiae of the process?

The remedy is to build as much of the process as possible up front. Let’s look at some ways to make building Marketing Efforts and other Marketing Communications easier:

  • Ensure that your Source Code meets the needs for the majority of your marketing efforts. If your Source Code isn't working, pause and reevaluate it.

  • Build your frequently-used Creatives, Packages(including email templates), Ask Ladders and Seeds up front so that you can reuse them in multiple efforts.

  • Build a Standard Mail and Email Export Definitions. You can always edit the fields as needed per effort, but there's no reason to rebuild them for every mailing.

  • Identify selections (or groups) of Constituents you frequently mail, email or call and build the most basic queries possible, i.e. “All Alumni”, “All Parents”, “Grateful Patients”, “All Donors”,“Recency”, “Frequency”, Monetary”. I recommend always building these in the Selections area of Marketing and Communications rather than using the Analysis section of CRM. As you may have discovered, unless you build a static query in Analysis, it will not show up in MarComm and typically the majority of queries in Analysis need to remain dynamic. Building Selections in MarComm allows them to remain dynamic each time they are used.

  • Always use the same Query Source View for your Selections and Export Definitions. I recommend the Constituent Marketing Source View because it allows you to use the “Segment Builder” and Export Definitions more efficiently.

  • Build the selections as broadly as possible. The functionality was designed to create broad selections and group them using the Segment Builder.

  • Avoid using “Exists In” criteria in your Selections. This will bog down the system and cause your Marketing Effort calculations, and the entire system, to run slower.

  • Utilize the Exclusion Selections and Universe in the Marketing Effort to limit your pool rather than building exclusion/inclusion criteria into the Selection.

Now it’s time to create the Segments:

  • After building your Selections, use the “Segment Builder” to create multiple segments. This is a powerful feature and will cut your time dramatically. NOTE: Back in the early days of Blackbaud CRM ™, this functionality was called the Segment Builder. Now you can find it in Segments>Create Multiple Segments on the Taskbar.

  • Create a Selection and Segment worksheet to give your users standardization around the Segment Code values. Make sure your Segment Code length matches the Segment length in your Source Code.

  • Use the “Alias” field to shorten the name of your selections. There is a character limit in the Segment Builder.

  • Remember that the order of the Selections within the Segment Builder tool is hierarchical, so build your sets with than in mind.

  • Use Segment Groups. This will allow you to pull all the Segments into a Marketing Effort at once rather than adding Segments one at a time.

  • If you don’t need complex Segments in a Marketing Effort, there is nothing wrong with building a Segment with only one Selection.

Marketing Effort Selection and Segments Fun Fact:

Do you only use Marketing Efforts for solicitations? Why not use them to dedupe non-solicitations as well? Here’s a real-life example: Many Higher Ed institutions have mail and email lists for school-based newsletters or Alumni Magazines that have “inclusive” lists where a Constituent may belong to more than one group, i.e. Alumni, Parent, Board, Council, etc. Rather than building out a complicated Selection to use in the General Correspondence area, use a Marketing Effort! The hierarchical functionality will not allow a record to be in more than one Segment so it will dedupe automatically. This will also allow you to segment if one Constituent group will receive a different version (package) than another. Don’t worry that you are depleting your Finder Numbers - no one will ever run out of Finder Numbers if you set the number to a max of 16 numbers + the check digit.

To dramatically cut down on your effort-building time (and the related headaches) here are 3 key points to remember:

  1. Build as much standardization into your process as possible.

  2. Identify frequently used Selections and Segments and build them early in the process - in advance of Go Live, if possible. They can be copied between environments using the Blackbaud Configuration Manager Utility. If you don’t have the tool, ask your engagement manager or find it on the Blackbaud website under the downloads section.

  3. Marketing Efforts can be copied. The “Copy” feature tends to be under-utilized and it is a powerful tool. If you send multiple mailings year to year with similar criteria to the same audience, copy one of your previous efforts rather than starting a new one from scratch.

Direct marketing efforts or communications efforts don't have to be a pain! The proper design and configuration can make the process much more smooth.

Don't want to tackle it alone? BrightVine, a company that specializes in managed services for nonprofits, can help your organization become highly organized, increase production and response time, and ensure you meet deadlines.

Managed services vendors can administer many aspects of your marketing and communications programs. From creating segmentation to exporting the data, to serving as the liaison between client and vendors, a managed services group can ensure that timelines and objectives are being met.

“We hired Brightvine in 2014 to help us assess and rebuild the work processes around data management We found Brightvine to be incredibly knowledgeable, easy to work with and flexible. We were so pleased with their work that we placed them on retainer to provide ongoing support and had them takeover our DMS services and BBDM management. They are consummate professionals, flexible, knowledgeable and are more concerned with getting the job done right than they are about billable hours."

BrightVine can help you find significant efficiencies, giving your staff the freedom to fundraise and strategize on appropriate stewardship plans, prepare for future marketing & communications efforts and focus on the donors. Leveraging years of industry expertise and deep knowledge of best practices, we can ensure your program runs much more efficiently – allowing you to focus on your mission, not the software.

If you’d like to learn more about how Brightvine can help you, or you’d like to discuss your direct marketing/marketing communications efforts, please feel free to connect with us

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