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Blackbaud CRM™ Marketing Effort Best Practices - Part 1

System Configuration

We are excited to introduce a new blog series - Marketing Effort Best Practices. Marketing Efforts are a powerful and unique tool in Blackbaud CRM™, but users can often get bogged down in the details of configuration, set up, and deployment. In this four-part series, we will walk you through some best practices and time-saving tips to make your experience with marketing efforts efficient and successful! The series will cover the following topics:

  1. Best Practices in System Configuration

  2. Setting Yourself Up for Success - Building the Pieces

  3. Marketing Effort Set Up

  4. After the Mailing - Tracking Results

In part one, we are focusing on the very first task that you will encounter when your organization is implementing to Blackbaud CRM™ - system configuration. There are several items related to marketing efforts that you will want to focus on including - appeals, source codes, and finder numbers.

Appeal Structure

In Blackbaud CRM™, appeals are defined as planned efforts that your organization undertakes to contact constituents. Appeals are part of a hierarchy that helps to organize and track the results of Marketing Efforts. Every Marketing Effort that you create must have an Appeal assigned to it, and one Appeal can be tied to multiple marketing efforts. The Appeal Category can be used to organize and group your appeals for reporting purposes.

As you are configuring your system, you will need to decide exactly how you want to use appeals. There are different schools of thought, and it often depends on the size of your organization and the way you strategize your marketing and communication efforts.

Here are two different approach examples of appeal structures:

  • Broad Definition: with this approach, you create fewer appeals with more broad applications. For example, you might have an “FY19 Annual Fund” appeal that you assign to nearly all of your marketing efforts. This approach is often used by larger organizations that don’t want to be constantly creating appeals.

  • Narrow Definition: using a more narrow approach to structuring your appeals can be helpful, especially if your organization is focused on multi-channel solicitation. For example, say your Giving Tuesday campaign will be composed of multiple efforts - a kick-off mailing, several email blasts, and a phonathon effort. By creating an “FY19 Giving Tuesday” appeal, you could group all marketing efforts associated with the Giving Tuesday campaign, making it easier to track and report on results for the overall campaign.

Source Codes

When deciding on the structure of your source codes, it is always good to start with a brainstorming session. Include representatives from all the departments in your organization as well as your mail vendors or marketing vendors (if you use them) and other key stakeholders.

There are many things to think about when you start to build out your source code in Blackbaud CRM™. Source codes are built from its parts. Start by defining the source code parts

Blackbaud CRM™ provides system source code parts like Segment, Package, and Channel. If there is an element you want to include in your source code that isn’t included in the system source code parts, you can add it in the User-defined source code parts area. Here you can add things like year, month, or category (Acquisition, Lapsed or Renewal), etc. Blackbaud CRM™ allows you to create as many source code parts and source code layouts as you need.

System source code parts

On each part type, you define all the possible values you want available for different source codes. These values can be fixed or variable. By setting the value to “?”, the system will allow any letter or number which maximizes your number of combinations available. Our best practice recommendation is to allow Blackbaud CRM™ to assign a package code and other parts that do not need to have any “visual meaning” to the source code.

User defined source code parts

When deciding on source code parts, keep in mind several of the out of the box Marketing and Communications reports in Blackbaud CRM™ rely on parts of the source code. Having a standardized source code will enhance your reporting capabilities.

Don't assume you only need one source code. If you're doing true acquisition mailings, you'll need one source code structure for those efforts and another (or others) for your other efforts. Why? Acquisition efforts require list codes, while renewal and other in-house efforts do not. Hence the need for more than one source code structure.

It is best to keep the first group of characters the same for all source codes, but the last couple of characters may vary based on the type. If you choose several different source codes, be sure to have a detailed source code structure document to be shared with your data caging and mail house or any other vendors you are using. Once you have your parts defined, you can create the source code layout. A source code layout defines the rules for source code, including the position, format, and code parts included in the code, as well as the values allowed for those code parts.

To create a source code layout, visit the Source Codes page under the Marketing efforts section of the Marketing and Communications tab in Blackbaud CRM™. Click the Add button, and give your new source code layout a name. For example, you might call one Acquisition Layout and another House (or Internal) Mailing Layout.

You will add parts to each of the source code structures you set up.

Once you have built your source code parts and layouts, you are ready to add it to your marketing efforts. To apply your source code to a mailing go to the Effort Settings tab and choose your source code. The last step is to add the source code field to your marketing export definition. This will ensure that it is included in your output file that goes to mail house, which will allow the vendor to print it on reply device with the finder number.

Finder Numbers

A Finder Number is a unique, sequential number assigned to each record in a marketing effort - it ties the constituent or the list member to the specific mailing.

Finder numbers are typically printed on the reply device and can be formatted for barcode scanners. Finder numbers are a huge benefit for the gift processing and fundraising/marketing teams. They help fundraisers/marketers accurately track responses to their marketing efforts, and make the gift entry process faster for the gift processing team by automatically populating a donor’s name, address, and source code (and therefore marketing effort) when users enter or scan the finder number in the batch (or via import.)

When you are configuring your system, you will need to set up your finder number width. This is configured in the Finder number settings under the Configuration section of the Marketing and Communications tab.

On this screen, you will need to specify the first finder number to be used in the sequence - by default, this is set this to 1. If you want to start from another number you can make that change. You will also need to specify the number of characters available. Note: We recommend that you use 17 characters, the largest width allowed. This allows you to have the maximum number of finder numbers available to you in the system and exponential growth - finder numbers go fast.

Another feature we recommend using is the check digit. This feature appends a single digit to each finder number generated by an algorithm. The algorithm detects single-digit errors as well as transpositions of adjacent digits, ensuring that finder numbers are entered accurately during gift entry.

By following these recommendations during your Blackbaud CRM™ system configuration, you will ensure that marketing efforts will function seamlessly for your organization. In Part 2 of the “Marketing Effort Best Practices” series, we will discuss how to set yourself up for success.

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