April 27, 2011

How nonprofit supporters are using their smartphones

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And how nonprofits need to adjust to the new mobile marketplace

Guest post by Tonia Zampieri
Director of Marketing, Smart Online

Last week I presented at the NCTech4Good conference here in North Carolina. Our session, “Mobile for Today’s Nonprofits,” was a combination of recent discussions held at last month’s NTEN conference on the big four of mobile as well as an overview of findings from our recently published whitepaper on consumers’ use of smartphones titled, “A Mobile World: How supporters are using their smartphones, and why you should care.”

The first thing many people think when they hear mobile is text2give. But that’s only one of the four pillars of mobile. Here’s a rundown:

Mobile websites

Nonprofits need to embrace this as a necessary piece of their overall marketing strategy. An early first step is creating mobile optimized landing pages for their most critical calls to action. I chose to highlight the organization Soles4Souls (“recycling shoes for people in need”). In the presentation above, notice how their site looks on a desktop vs. a mobile device. This example shows clearly how critical it is to select the most important calls to action – or risk losing the mobile visitor.  Do you study your site analytics to track how many visitors are connecting via a mobile browser?  I’d recommend starting to do so – Google Analytics has this feature.

SMS & text2give

text4babyNext we highlighted SMS – text2give is a subset of this. I felt it was important to differentiate between the two to further educate nonprofits on the importance of not just raising money with mobile but also delivering programs. A great example of this was the Text4Baby campaign, a free mobile information service from National Healthy Mothers designed to promote maternal and children’s health.

Mobile applications

Should nonprofits venture into the world of mobile apps? Some thought leaders go so far as to suggest there’s no need to do so. My answer? It depends: Do you have a brand to uphold? Is your target audience using smartphones – or will they be soon?. In the presentation I spotlight the National Parks Conservation Association and how they created their app – not with the explicit intent to get more donations right away but to grow a new engaged audience that will eventually be cultivated into supporters.

Mobile giving

Ahhh, yes. You can raise money through mobile, even if you aren’t the American Red Cross.  While they paved the way for showing us how powerful mobile giving and mobile fundraising can be, I highlighted how important it is to begin with the basics before you consider text2give. Look first at how your Web donation page looks on a smartphone. It’s time to ask why you should make it mobile optimized – and soon!

Incorporating mobile into your communications plan

The second part of our presentation focused specifically on smartphone usage. With sales continuing to skyrocket, user adoption could be as high as 50 percent of all mobile phones by the end of 2011, experts say. When you look at some of the latest sales and usage statistics, like ComScore’s recent market share report, it’s probable that this could happen even sooner.

My associate Anusha shared with the group the highlights from our whitepaper.  We asked consumers how and when on their smartphones vs. desktops do they a) open emails? b) engage with websites? c) use applications? We found the results compelling – and hope you find it helpful in setting a strategy for incorporating mobile into your organizations’ marketing, communications and fundraising plans.

Tonia Zampieri is director of marketing for SmartOnline, Inc., in Durham, NC. SmartOnline provides cross-smartphone app solutions to the nonprofit sector. She holds an MA in nonprofit service, leadership and management and created one of the first nonprofit-related mobile applications, Tap-n-Give, previously available for download on iTunes. You can follow her on Twitter at @iheartcharity.
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