Automated Marketing: Let’s Get Personal

By Katrina VanHuss

Emails released based on real-time behavioral data have been shown to increase open rates by 50 percent and conversion rates by 350 percent.

Last week, I wrote about the Great Reformation, which is the impending destruction of your organization’s org chart due to the advent of new technology that delivers the statistics above.

First, online fundraising platforms put traditional marketing tools into fundraisers’ hands, and now automated marketing platforms are dissolving the line between lead generation and closed deals, also called donations. Our world is changing.


Although automation extends beyond just sending emails in a special way, we’ll focus there. What is different? We use the “sonar versus a megaphone” example to help folks understand why we have to pay attention. With sonar automated marketing, you get pings back in the form of measured responses, which you can react to on an individual level. With traditional segmented, variable data email marketing, you are using a megaphone. You can only shout, again and again, with a variety of messages. Any modification to the individual’s experience beyond the first drop is painstaking, error-prone and unlikely due to human bandwidth constraints.

Having the technology to effectively create an individual marketing campaign for every single person is amazing, but the technology also allows us to put to work some psychological tools we could not otherwise do in an automated sense.

Automated marketing works together with traditional, inbound marketing to increase efficiency and scale. There are two main reasons that I believe will compel every nonprofit—both large and small—to use automated marketing tools within the next five years. They are:

  1. Efficiency
  • Drive faster revenue growth
  • Focus on the right prospects
  • Develop relationships even before they become supporters
  • Engage at the right time(s)
  1. Scale
  • Reach more supporters/prospects
  • Enable personalized interactions with each supporter

Automated marketing works together with traditional marketing, rather than replacing it. Inbound marketing creates compelling content to attract and acquire supporters/donors. Inbound’s job is not to find leads, but to help leads find you. What does having great, relevant content do? Inbound marketing can deliver the following:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • More favorable attitude toward brand
  • More prospects with less investment


But inbound marketing has limitations. It is necessary, but not sufficient, to acquire (enough) supporters in today’s noisey media world. The two most critical limitations of traditional marketing are:

  • It is difficult to target specific audiences
  • It doesn’t get people to act

As I’ve written in previous blogs, getting people to act is the critical first step to developing alignment with the organization’s mission.

Back to the statistics:

Personalized, 1:1 emails based on real-time behavioral data have been shown to increase open rates by 50 percent and conversion rates by 350 percent, according to Jupiter Research.

And Marketo notes that nurturing relationships with leads who aren’t ready to buy “can result in 50 percent more leads at 33 percent lower cost.”

Next time, we delve into how automated marketing, combined with psychological strategy, creates unprecedented results.