top of page

Blackbaud CRM™ Marketing Effort Best Practices Part 3

Marketing Effort Configuration

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Efforts

Welcome back to our series discussing best practices for managing Marketing Efforts in Blackbaud CRM™. After reading parts one and two of the Marketing Efforts Best Practices series, you should have a better understanding of system configuration, and how to create the building blocks of your program. Now comes the real test - creating your Marketing Efforts!

The Setup

To add a new Marketing Effort, visit the Direct Marketing Efforts section of the Marketing & Communications area. When you add a new Marketing Effort, the system will prompt you to choose one of the communication templates you created. Provide your new Marketing Effort with a name, assign an appeal, select the channel, and set the launch date of the effort.

As you continue using Blackbaud CRM™, you will build up a long list of previously completed Marketing Efforts. TIP: Start the process of creating a new effort by copying an existing effort from the system. If you send mailings with similar criteria to the same audience, choosing an existing effort to reproduce will allow you to make a few updates rather than starting from scratch.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort

Once you have created your effort, you will enter detailed Marketing Effort configuration screens. There are 5 primary tabs - Segments, Universe, Exclusions, Effort Settings, and Basic information. TIP: we recommend that you start at the last tab and work your way backward or ask your administrator to change the order of the tabs. Starting at the end and working toward the beginning allows you to add all the required elements before adding Segments (the most complex step) to the mailing.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort

Basic Information Tab

This tab lists out the information that you entered when you first created your Marketing Effort: template, name, description, appeal, channel, launch date, etc. You 'don't need to do anything here unless you want to make changes to the information you previously entered.

Effort Settings Tab

The Effort Settings tab has many sub-tabs. Most of the settings in these sub-tabs have been set up in your communication template. The sub-tab that you will want to pay most attention to is the Source Code tab. TIP: set up this tab before adding segments to the effort. Edit your source code values and set the main parts of the code first. Example: if you have a fiscal year as part of the source code structure, the value will be the same for all of your segments. Setting those on this tab prevents you from having to select those values within each segment that you add to the effort.

Exclusions Tab

The Exclusions tab is the place where you will select constituents to suppress from the Marketing Effort. Your exclusions can be set using Solicit Codes, or you can exclude selections of constituents using specific criteria.

TIP: you can exclude constituents that have been included in a previous Marketing Effort. When adding a previous Marketing Effort exclusion, the Marketing Effort you select has to be activated. If you want to exclude constituents in a non-activated effort, you can export the data file from one effort and import it as a selection to use as an exclusion in another.

You can set up exclusions in your communication templates to save time and prevent errors. If there are solicit codes that need to be applied to all mailings, then adding them to the template will set them as the default. TIP: You can even set the exclusion as ""locked"" so that no one can remove it from the effort.

Universe Tab

Some organizations use the Universe tab extensively; others don't use it at all. Selecting a universe for your Marketing Effort can ensure that unintended recipients don't end up in the effort. For example, a university might find it helpful to set their universe using a selection of "All Alumni" for particular mailings. This will ensure that only constituents who are alumni end up in the effort. The segments can be used to break down the universe by donor status, college of graduation, etc. No matter what criteria you add to each segment, constituents that do not exist in the universe won't be included.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort

Another important, yet often overlooked feature on the Universe tab is the option to send to one person per household. Who you mail to might vary based on the characteristics of the effort. For example, you may want all qualifying members of a household to receive an email; in this case, you would uncheck the "Send to one person per household" option. In contrast, with a mailed effort, you may want to send one mail piece to the household even if both members of the household qualify for the mailing. In this case, you would leave the option "Send to one person per household" checked.

TIP: When you select one per household, and both members of a household fall into different segments, the system will send the highest segment in the hierarchy. For example, Sally Jones is a board member and alumni, and her partner, Jim Smith, is an alumnus with no gifts on his record. The first segment in the mailing (the first one in the list) is "VIPs," which includes board members. The second in the list is "Alumni with donations," and the third in the list is "Alumni without donations." Sally and Jim would only get the package attached to the segment Sally Jones qualified for- the "VIP segment" when one per household is checked.

Segments Tab

The Segments tab is where you define and categorize the constituents that you will include in your Marketing Effort. You can add different types of segments, including a constituent segment, a list segment, a test segment, or segment group.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort

TIP: Keep in mind when adding segments that the hierarchy is imperative. The list order defines the hierarchy. The first segment in the list is the highest priority and so forth. The system checks segment by segment to see if the constituent matches the criteria for that segment. Then it moves to the next segment listed in the Marketing Effort and so forth. A donor can't be in more than one segment, so the system will place constituents in the first (highest) segment that they qualify for.

Constituent segments are used for all house ("house" is marketing slang for all constituents within your database) or renewal mailings.

List segments are used for acquisition mailings. Mailings in which the list of constituents doesn't belong to you (or isn't in your database). These could be purchased lists, shared lists, etc.

Test segments allow you to test different variables in your marketing strategy. For example, if you want to determine the most effective premium, one half of a segment might get a tote bag, and the other half might get a calendar. Once you have added a segment to your Marketing Effort, you can click on the segment you want to test and click the "Add." In the dropdown, click "Test segment." You can then specify the group size you want to test with - either by a percent of the original segment or a specific number of constituents.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort Test Segments

Segment Groups allow you to save time when setting up your effort. If you have several segments that will get the same package or ask ladder, for example, you can save time by adding them all at once as a segment group.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort Segment Group

TIP: You can create your segment group under the Segments section of the Marketing & Communications area.


Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort

Calculate Segment Counts

Once you have added all your segments, it is time to run your segment counts. This step needs to be done to export or activate the Marketing Effort. The calculate segment counts process refreshes all selections in the segments, universe, and exclusions, so you have the most up to date counts. This process also assigns finder numbers to each record included in the Marketing Effort.

TIP: When you calculate segment counts, you can choose to refresh all the selections associated with the Marketing Effort and update the source analysis rule data. We suggest updating source analysis at the time of activation and not each time you refresh segment counts.

After segment counts are calculated look at the exclusions report identifying which constituents were excluded and for what reasons. If your segment counts are lower than expected, it could be a result of the exclusions you chose.

TIP: You can run an export process at this point to double-check your file before activating the effort. Checking the file is a good quality check to ensure everything looks as you expect.

Export Effort

Marketing effort uses a marketing export definition to create the actual mail file or email list (for externally generated emails). TIP: you create the marketing export definition in the Marketing & Communications area, under the Packages heading as opposed to the Administration area.

Once your export process has run, Blackbaud CRM™ offers you several options to organize your output files. The Multiple Files option allows you to split your data and create one file per source code, per state, per package, etc. The Grouped Files option also allows you to split your file but enables you to create fewer splits by grouping records. For example, you could choose to group by source code and then select multiple source codes to include in each file as opposed to one source code per file.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort

Once you have exported and downloaded your file, you will want to spot check the entire file. It can be helpful to include extra fields in your output that will allow you to do a quality check. For example, consider including a college of graduation or class year, the last gift date, a nickname, etc.

Here are a few suggested data quality checks:

  • Blank address lines

  • Missing zip codes

  • International addresses

  • Blank or incorrect salutations

  • Any fields printed on your mail piece as variable data (source code, finder number, etc.)

  • Other "unique to your organization" checks as appropriate

Activate Marketing Effort

Once you are confident your effort is fully configured, and the segments include the correct members, click "Activate Marketing Effort" to "lock" the records that are included in effort. Activation will ensure any gifts received as a result of the effort will be associated with the assigned appeal.

After activation, details including the appeal name, Marketing Effort name, date sent, segment name, test segment name, package name, source code, and finder number appear on constituent records that are included in the Marketing Effort.

Remove Members

Often it is necessary to remove constituents from a mailing after the data file has been exported out of Blackbaud CRM™ and the effort has been activated. Since the effort is activated, it means the effort is on each constituent's record. TIP: You can use the Remove members feature to remove constituents from an activated Marketing Effort, which will also delete the communication from their constituent record.

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort Remove members

You can remove members of a mailing one-by-one or in bulk. To remove in bulk you will need a file that contains lookup IDs and finder numbers associated with the constituents that need to be removed. Click "Remove members" from the effort taskbar at the far left of the effort page. Browse to find your file containing the IDs and finder numbers. The system will remove them from the mailing, remove the communication from their record, and adjust your counts.

Configuration Options

Ever notice how close the “Calculate Segment Counts” and “Activate Marketing Effort” buttons are to one another?

Blackbaud CRM Marketing Effort Calculate Segment Counts

These are two very powerful buttons that do drastically different things. One will refresh your segments with newly qualified members, and remove those who are now disqualified. While the other will lock in all aspects of the marketing effort and write the communication back to all constituent records.

For obvious reasons, you would not want to mix these up. Activation before any necessary changes to your segments are completed would lock out your ability to further refine your effort. On the flip-side, re-calculating segment counts when you intended to activate could be equally problematic, especially if you’ve already provided the exported mail file to your vendor or dropped the mailing, as finder numbers may be reassigned as people move in and out of various segments.

We’ve shifted the buttons to give you a little more breathing room!

We built this free configuration because this has happened on more than one occasion to more than of our customers. If you'd like this free configuration, please email us.

We hope you've enjoyed this post. Our last installment of this series will be available next week and we will focus tracking results after your effort has been activated.

bottom of page