A Guide to Digital Experience Management for Nonprofit Organizations


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Article ImageDigital experience management (DXM) connotes the coming together of strategy, technology, and process to provide the True North of highly satisfying digital interactions to customers. This fundamental notion of DXM remains relevant across industries, including nonprofit organizations (nonprofits)-although your DXM priorities, approach, and techniques may vary based on your core mission and goals.

Unfortunately, nonprofits usually find themselves operating under severe resource constraints-budget limitations and staff shortages are almost a given. Staffers (sometimes part-time) play several roles, and in such a scenario, dedicated staffing for digital projects seems to be a luxury. However, we all have experienced high-quality digital interactions in other spheres (such as commerce and marketing); right or wrong, we have come to expect the same from nonprofits. This sets the bar for nonprofits high, and DXM is fast becoming a strategic imperative. With this in mind, here are eight DXM projects that nonprofits should consider, beginning with the relatively simple and ending with those requiring increasing levels of expertise/investment.

1. Web presence-A website is the starting point, and it should crisply tell your story and provide the necessary information for interested stakeholders.

2. Social media-Social media (e.g., Facebook or the leading social network in your country) can help you publicize the work of your nonprofit and can help build a community that is attracted to your mission.

3. Mobile-Mobile is replacing desktop as the digital touchpoint; particularly in developing countries, digital means mobile. Nonprofits are currently underinvesting in mobile experiences. At a minimum, your website should be responsive (i.e., mobile-friendly), and you can even explore if a mobile-first strategy makes sense for some stakeholders.

4. Digital marketing-It may seem surprising to digital natives, but many nonprofits still rely on direct mailers to a great extent. Digital campaigns (e.g., email marketing) can expand reach, as well as enable personalization and targeting. Using registrations and subscriptions (via web, mobile, and social channels), you can start to develop a marketing list. This signals that you are now getting ready to leverage the power of digital tools and techniques (such as personas, analytics, and content marketing).

5. Personas-Nonprofits run the spectrum in terms of scale and scope, but all of them serve three broad groups of stakeholders:

  • Customers (i.e., people you serve)
  • Donors (individual and institutional)
  • Staff (employees and volunteers)

Each group (and subgroup) has specific needs and preferences. For instance, your customers may be accessing the website via a low-speed internet connection. Or your staffers may be in the field and need offline access. Understand your audience and tailor their digital interactions accordingly.

This sets the bar for nonprofits high, and DXM is fast becoming a strategic imperative.

6. Analytics-Web and other analytics tools help you identify patterns and segment your audiences. You can understand what's working and what's not working with your website and email campaigns and iteratively use that to increase effectiveness.

7. A/B testing-A/B testing, or observing which of several alternatives works best (e.g., which email subject line leads to more opens; which call to action leads to more clicks), and using the "winning" alternative has become a staple of web/email marketing. It is fairly straightforward to implement and should also be part of your toolkit. (For more, check out EContent's "A Guide to A/B Testing Tools" in the September 2015 issue.)

8. Content plan-Each of your stakeholders has a specific information need. A past donor may want to know the impact you've had, while a potential donor may want to know how his donation will be used. In addition to providing the right information to them, you want to increase engagement through the use of rich media (such as images and video). Also, consider different content formats (such as blog posts, customer testimonials, and case studies).

Tools and Technology

It is beyond the scope of this article to describe the tools required in detail. Depending on your objectives, you may consider web content management (WCM), web analytics, and digital marketing tools (or some combination of them).

The good news is that you don't always need a lot of expensive tools to implement the previously mentioned DXM projects. If you have access to the technical expertise required to stand them up, there are several open source options as well. Many commercial vendors offer discounts for qualifying nonprofits-be sure to ask the vendor if it has nonprofit pricing. 

The tools you choose should not only meet your DXM requirements, but also be aligned to your technical expertise levels. You don't want tools that bog you down with complex implementations and ongoing administration.

Conclusion

Resource-constrained nonprofits are constantly looking to do more with less (i.e., scale up while simultaneously reducing their overhead). DXM can help achieve that goal across several important areas-be it fundraising and advocacy or outreach and operations. Furthermore, it may not always be apparent, but there is a high degree of competition in the nonprofit space--for the attention of donors, volunteers, and even the people being served. DXM can be a differentiator for digitally savvy nonprofits.    

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)


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