Sparking Ideas

6 Digital Strategies for 2015

In 2014, advertising's focus was on customer experience. Digital channels became increasingly important. As 2015 cranks into high gear, we've put together our top 6 trends in digital marketing for the year.

According to eMarketer.com and the Morey Group's National Cultural Attraction Visitor Study, the amount organizations spend on advertising does not correlate with the media visitors use when deciding to visit a museum, zoo, aquarium, or botanical garden.

2015 is the year in which to improve the effectiveness of your advertising, without relying on an increase in spending. As demonstrated in the graph above, the biggest gap between spending and usage is on the internet, which suggests more cultural attractions should increase their digital presence. 

Here are a few tips to narrow the gap between spending and usage, and more importantly, to create a greater impact.


1.   Google Grant – There is no more effective way for a non-profit to increase engagement than with a Google Grant.  A Google Grant allows you access to up to $10,000 a month in free Google AdWords search advertising. There are a few limitations to the grant compared to regular paid advertising. First, you are limited to a maximum bid of $2.00, so the grant won't be effective for more expensive keywords. The other main limitation is that your ads only show on Google.com and not the rest of Google's search partner sites.

We recommend using your Google Grant in conjunction with paid search advertising. Your grant is a great channel to test new keywords and ads, which you can then roll out to paid campaigns. In addition, you can use the grant to promote a wide variety of areas on you organization's website – areas that you may not promote otherwise. This helps drive traffic to your website, which grows your remarketing audience.

Overall, the benefits of the grant outweigh the limitations. In 2015, you should be taking full advantage of your Google Grant.


2.   Improved Targeting – Advertisers used to place advertising on specific websites to target a visitor.  Now we target a potential visitor on whatever website they visit. The trend away from "placement" targeting toward "audience" targeting began a few years ago, but 2015 should be a tipping point for non-profit organizations.

Last year, Facebook partnered with Datalogix to provide Facebook advertisers access to third- party consumer data. Third-party data has been a staple of display and video targeting through demand-side platforms for some time. This year, we expect to see most non-profit organizations utilize third-party consumer data, and first-party data (data collected through an organization's own web properties) as their key targeting tactics for digital advertising.


3.   Digital Advertising – Organizations should spend 25% to 50% of their marketing budget on digital advertising.  Our proprietary digital advertising coverage model helps define the appropriate amount by looking at your available target market and target audience, to determine the optimum level of advertising needed to reach that audience effectively.

In short, more and more of your target audience is online, and we have more and more data to help target them. While CPMs remain low as digital inventory increases (e.g. people are consuming more video, so publishers are producing more videos), 2015 is the year for organizations to invest heavily in digital advertising.


4.   Video – Digital advertising is growing as a whole, but online video, in particular, has grown by leaps and bounds in just the past few years. It's an engagement cycle that plays right into marketer's hands. People are consuming more video. Publishers produce more video content. People then consume more video. Marketers gather more data about the consumer and the videos they watch. Increased content and consumption allows for further reach and target audience penetration, while more data allows for better targeting.

The medium allows for very compelling creative, and with the ability to reach and target the right audience, it is a no-brainer that this advertising channel will be a favorite of marketers in 2015.


5.   Partnering – Due to high volume, agencies can offer cheaper digital advertising buys, email, and analytics than an individual organization can receive. While a lot of organization would prefer to keep their digital marketing in-house, the reality is that one way to keep costs down and performance up is to partner with an agency. Agencies get better rates. They also maintain a team of experts, which allows for seamless transition when a staff member departs an organization.

Look for more and more organizations partner with agencies, specifically for marketing platforms, to take advantage of low-cost agency rates and the plethora of platform experts ready to assist your organization.


6.   Cyber Week – An ever-growing portion of the business is Cyber Week – the name says it all, it used to be Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday have largely provided successful campaigns for non-profits in recent years. Beginning in 2013, we saw the potential for expansion of Cyber Monday and Early Bird deals. As a result, this past year Cyber Monday turned into a mildly successful Cyber Week.

In this day and age, when a consumer has 24/7 access through their mobile device, it doesn't make sense to limit your deal to your terms, like a one-day event. Rather, provide the consumer the opportunity to buy or give on their own schedule. In 2015, Cyber Week will be the standard.


At the Lukens Company, we specialize in effective integrated campaigns, and we would like to help you achieve your digital potential in 2015. For more information please contact Matt Seney (mseney@thelukenscompany.com) or John Morey (jmorey@thelukenscompany.com).  

The Lukens Company is a full service direct response agency. The Morey Group is a division of The Lukens Company specializing in market research and analysis.



Amazon Hopes to Make You Smile

If a large online retailer offered to give your non-profit a share of purchases made by your supporters would you be excited? Last year, that’s exactly what Amazon.com began doing.

Your members and supporters could be sending you a portion of the money they spend online right now. Which sounds great; but is it the right move for your organization?

Here are the details.

Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible sales to a charity of the purchaser’s choice... The catch? They have to purchase their goods through a different URL than that usually frequented by customers.

When visiting smile.amazon.com a customer adds items to their cart as usual, then selects which charity they want to support, from an available list of 501(c)3s. It's free for charities to sign up and there are no processing fees.

How to make it work for you!

For every $100 spent to purchase goods, only $0.50 (half of one percent) would be sent by the Amazon Foundation to your organization. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the “feel good” sensation people get when donating to a charity is roughly the same whether you gave $0.50 to the charity in the example above, or gave $20 directly.

For this reason, many non-profits have been hesitant to sign up for the program. In fears it would lower overall giving. This being said, a partnership could still be beneficial if you target your audience correctly.

For starters, avoid promoting this partnership to your members, gift membership buyers, or regular annual fund donors. We don’t want to run the risk that they stop buying gift memberships, because they purchased something on Amazon and supported you that way.

Instead focus promotion of this partnership to people who aren’t supporting your organization financially. These would be long-term lapsed members and people who have been supporters for over a year, but still haven’t given. This will ensure that any money you receive off their purchases is likely money the non-profit wouldn’t have gotten any other way.

How to use smile.amazon.com to support your non-profit

Due to the small purchase share you will receive, I’d recommend utilizing affordable email and site creative to keep marketing costs minimal.

    •  Use email to promote smile.amazon.com to lapsed and inactive supporters, asking them to make all of their Amazon purchases using this new link

        —  After the non-profit signs up, you can announce the partnership with Amazon and how it helps your mission

        —  During holiday season send emails letting lapsed and inactive supporters know how they can assist your mission while buying the gifts they need

     •  Feature promotional material (image or light box) on the organization’s website , which:

        —  Reinforces the messaging from your email campaigns

        —  Provides ongoing awareness for supporters

To add your organization's name to the available list of charities, please visit org.amazon.com. Amazon will require information for a bank account associated with the non-profit so Amazon can transfer funds into their account.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Strategist at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing firm in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or kmorris@thelukenscompany.com

This article appeared in Marketing AdVents, August, 2014.

Facebook’s New App Paper & Their Grab at Content Marketing

Content marketing is key to a sustained audience cultivation effort. After all, once you’ve brought in members, supporters, etc it’s what you provide and the stories you tell that will keep them engaged and help drive them through a cultivation process. To achieve a strong lifetime value people must continue caring about an organization so they will continue to invest in its future. Put plainly, content marketing is the art of crafting content that your target audience will find compelling, engaging, and valuable.

Paper, Facebook’s new mobile app, not only gives the site a fresh look;
it helps Facebook position itself as a content marketing platform.

New sections within the app segment news feed posts by content subject. For example, those interested in technology can see content on Facebook related to that interest, and so on through nineteen preset sections, in addition to the user’s news feed.

This tailored deliver of content should bolster response rates for newsfeed content that fit into one of the following subjects: technology, news, business, art, pop-culture, sports, food, photography, ideas, nature, urban-living, culture, family, cute pictures, humor, beauty, interior design, equality, and the GLBTQ community.

Simply adding Facebook into your content marketing mix won’t suffice to secure prime placement within sections either… Paper’s algorithm to generate these sections, weights content that is original to Facebook. This means that if you post the same thing on other social media sites, your eligible news feed post will display further down in the section; whereas varied “Facebook-only” content will be rewarded with higher placement within the app.

Even the method Paper uses to display posts is geared toward promoting content and a “newspaper” feel – where the name for the app comes from. Standard text and link posts are designed to resemble paper while clicking on a link within a post, unfolds a link like a newspaper. Photo posts appear as thumbnail images that fill its post region.

Posts with images will be promoted via an image rotator that occupies over 50% of your smartphone’s screen, while all posts can scroll right to left along the bottom of your screen.

So what’s the best way to add Facebook into your Content Marketing mix?

  • Update your content marketing plan to include original messaging to be used only on Facebook
  • To drive action, utilize posts with links and a custom image (600px wide by 315px tall). Note: These posts will get promoted in the image rotator and retain the image in the post, while still allowing traffic to your site.
  • Use photo posts to keep your organization “front-of-mind” on Facebook. These will also get promoted in the image rotator, but make reading text and clicking a link more difficult.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Strategist at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing Agency in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or kmorris@thelukenscompany.com.

This article appeared in Marketing AdVents, May, 2014.

Peering Into The Ether-Net

Change through technological advancement is the mainstay of digital advertising; and as such, you lead the charge, adapt, or find your strategies outdated and ineffective. The technological landscape advances rapidly so digital marketers must become early-adopters to test and develop tools we can use to communicate with an increasingly interconnected audience.

In 2008, integrating social media messaging emerged. In 2010, we began to aggressively advertise to consumers and supporters online. Likewise in 2012, retargeting through Internet-cookies and the ability to leverage consumer data online became the hallmarks to advanced digital campaigns. And by 2014, better audience and content analysis tools will allow us to finely target likely consumers/supporters and deliver messaging when they are interested in buying a product or taking an action.

Location Profiling

The advertising future promised to us in futuristic sci-fi movies is drawing closer, as mobile phones allow us to target and identify audiences based on an individual’s GPS location.

Recently advertisers began using a mobile phone’s GPS to serve ads relevant to their location. For example a person could receive a text message coupon for 25% discount on coffee, as they near a local coffee shop. The counter-point to this strategy is whether the promotion is bringing in people who would have walked by the shop; or if it’s simply allowing people who would have paid full price to get a discount, therefore decreasing revenue.

This technology is developing into a more mature strategy. By developing profiles from this location information we can tell the difference between regular customers and those who would add revenue. Therefore only these people would receive a discount as they near the shop.

Another strategy that will become more common, is reaching out to regulars of competitors and serving them promotions before they’ve made their decision to grab coffee. In this case a regular customer of Shop A, could receive a promotion for Shop B an hour before they normally head off to Shop A. This allows us to reach an audience before they’ve made a purchasing decision and grow business. Furthermore, these profiles would measure duration at a location, so we could remove likely employees from any marketing audience.

A political organization might use this strategy to reach members and staffers on Capitol Hill with messaging on how to vote on upcoming legislation. A museum could develop a local audience of people who frequent other museums and send them promotional materials to become a member or attend an exhibit.

Video-Content Advancements

In addition to new audience selection tools, our ability to target content will be enhanced by 2014; and with the continuing trend of video consumption migrating from broadcast to the digital space, video advertising will become more prevalent in persuasion/branding campaigns. To target video advertising, marketers rely on producer-generated descriptions and tags. These tags allow marketers to tailor video ads to content relevant to our goals; but what if the producer doesn’t accurately tag their content, to increase their ad revenue?

New content-verification technology allows ad networks and demand-side platforms (DSPs) to scan video content on the Internet to develop transcripts of the video’s audio. From these transcripts, advertising platforms will be able to accurately identify and target relevant content to marketers using video advertising.

Today’s emerging technology may become tomorrow’s standards. Our goal must be to ascertain which new prospects make the most sense, so we can test and adopt them early on, to continue pioneering digital marketing.

Expect to see these emerging technologies used to drive audience analysis and refinement in the next stage of digital advertising. Allowing us to shrink the digital space into highly targeted audiences using well-informed data and profiling technologies, to maximize campaign ROI.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Account Manager at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing Agency in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or kmorris@thelukenscompany.com.

New Social Media Advertising Tools: Twitter Advertising & Facebook News Feed Retargeting

According to Experian Marketing’s 2013 Digital Marketer Report, 27% of internet users’ time online is spent on social networking sites. And naturally where the consumers are, the marketers go. It’s no wonder that social advertising spending is on the rise and social networks are finding news ways to allow brands to interact with these consumers. There are two trending developments in social media advertising that the TLC digital team is following closely:

1. Twitter Advertising:

Twitter recently opened up self-service advertising, allowing marketers to create campaigns through the popular platform and engage with users across the Twitter-verse. Options for advertising on Twitter include Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets, both of which can then be strategically targeted by location, demographic, interest, and device.

Promoted Accounts (which appear in the “Who to Follow” tab and are marked as “Promoted”) are ideal for growing a social fan base and enhancing an organization’s Twitter presence. Whether your organization is gearing up for a big announcement, about to launch a major campaign, or just seeking more supporters to engage with online, Promoted Accounts can help get you noticed.


Promoted Tweets (which appear the Twitter feed and are marked as “Promoted” and can be “Dismissed” by users) boost your message’s visibility—and are a great way to promote an upcoming event, special deal, new exhibition, matching gift campaign, or timely advocacy message to existing and potential followers.


Stay tuned for more insight as we begin testing this new advertising platform with TLC clients this summer!

2. Facebook News Feed Targeting:

Recognizing an opportunity to connect brands with their users, Facebook has stepped up their advertising game recently, offering products like Custom Audiences and Partner Categories. And now they’re rolling out News Feed advertising, which will put your message front and center where people spend the most of their time on Facebook.

With Facebook News Feed advertising, visitors to your organization’s website can be tracked using anonymous cookie data, and these individuals are then served ads on Facebook. Preliminary data from Facebook is showing that these retargeted news feed ads are producing click through rates 20-40x higher than the standard Facebook ads that appear on the right side of the screen. We’ve observed in numerous TLC managed campaigns that remarketing ads also typically generate higher conversion and purchase rates than other targeting methods. This is definitely a trend worth testing.

New opportunities in social advertising allow organizations to reach a relevant new audience and target existing and prospective supporters that are more likely to be loyal to their cause. Interested in how social advertising can work best for your cause? Talk to your Account Manager or a digital services representative – we’re always happy to help navigate the ever-changing world of social media!