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Blackbaud CRM™ Marketing Effort Best Practices Part 2

Building the Pieces

Welcome back to our series about Marketing Effort best practices in Blackbaud CRM™. If you missed the first part of our series, check out Part 1: optimizing your system configuration.

In part two, we discuss the many items that you need to build out to complete a marketing effort. It is essential to take a minute and think about the pieces that you can build out ahead of time. Pre-configuration allows you to have frequently used items available to be reused across mailings and will save you time and energy in the long run.


Segments enable you to group constituents based on a wide variety of characteristics. Segmentation is key to the effectiveness of your fundraising by allowing you to target your best prospects with customized efforts, packages, and ask ladders.

Think about how you want to target your constituents and build out standard segments to utilize in your marketing efforts. You can create segments based on biographical traits (such as age and gender), giving history (LYBUNT, SYBUNT, nondonor), statistical scoring, wealth ratings, or anything that is important to your organization. It can also be helpful to build out some essential selections that can be used in the segment builder tool, i.e., "All Alumni," "All Parents," "Grateful Patients," "All Donors," "Recency," "Frequency," Monetary." By creating these building blocks before you launch into using Marketing Efforts, you'll save yourself a lot of time.


Packages represent the message and/or items delivered to a recipient in a marketing effort. Each segment that you add to a marketing effort must have a package attached to it. If you have standard mailings that you frequently send you can set these up for easy access. Don't forget to think about packages for every channel that you utilize: mail, email, phone, etc.

Ask Ladders

Ask Ladders are sets of suggested donation amounts that are printed on reply devices. Ask Ladders can be fixed ranges or calculated based on a constituent's giving history. In a Marketing Effort, you can assign ask ladders to individual segments to ensure each recipient receives the appropriate ask amount on their communication. We highly recommend that your organization devises a strategy around ask ladders. Then, set up some standard options for fixed and variable strings so that you have several available when setting up your efforts.


Seeds are any individuals that you want to include in marketing efforts to verify that the mail vendor sends out the packages correctly. These are often staff members, but they can also be Board Members or other prominent individuals that want to receive each segment in a marketing effort. You can associate one or more seeds with a marketing effort. Note: Every seed associated with a marketing effort receives each package in the marketing effort. Seeds will be included in your exported list but will not have an assigned finder number.

Seed records are independent of constituent records. Therefore, you can't search for a constituent record and identify them as a seed - you must create a seed record for each person to be included as a seed. Set a calendar reminder to review these seeds periodically and update any contact information or remove seeds you no longer want to be included. TIP: Add your standard seeds to Communication Template (see below) so that you don't have to add them to each effort manually.

Export Definitions

Export Definitions are used to create the output file that will be used to create labels, printed envelopes, or sent to a mail house. TIP: When creating an Export Definition for Marketing Efforts, be sure you are under the Marketing and Communications tab of Blackbaud CRM™. You will create your Export Definitions to be used in conjunction with a marketing effort in this section.

Start by creating a general direct mail Export Definition for your organization. TIP: When you get requests for new output fields, you can copy your general export definition and add the additional fields. Relevant fields to include in your export definitions include finder number, source code, name and or salutation, address, and ask ladder. You can further define what fields you will need to export with your team.

The column order will allow you to change the export order of the fields. You can accomplish this by clicking on the field name and using the up or down arrow. You can also edit field names by clicking the pencil icon in the toolbar. You can clean up the field headers, making it is easier for the mail house or staff to understand what the fields represent.

If you need to include output fields like the constituent first/ last gift amount, first/ last gift date, or cumulative giving amount, you can include smart fields in the export definition.

Communication Templates

Setting up all of the necessary pieces for a marketing effort can be time-consuming for end-users. Communication templates streamline and standardize the process.

You can build templates that include only the features and options your organization uses for direct marketing efforts making the setup process for end-users more streamlined. Here are some recommendations on how to use communication templates effectively.

  • Think about your organization's marketing strategy and calendar and set up several different communication templates that will allow end-users to save time.

  • A common approach is to set up different templates for each channel (i.e. standard mail template, standard email template, and standard phone template).

  • Another option is to build templates for specific types of efforts like recurring mailings or renewal statements. This allows you to preselect values for appeals, export definitions, exclusions, and more.

  • Lockdown the standard exclusions used in all mailings in your communication templates. This is an important quality control measure and can prevent calls from a constituent who received your mail piece even after asking not to be contacted.

Setting up these six components will undoubtedly save you valuable time when creating marketing efforts in the future.

Our next installment of the Marketing Effort best practices series will focus on the process of creating a marketing effort - including more time-saving tips!

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