Defining donors by channel is a bit like defining me by whether Amazon, USPS, UPS or Fed-Ex delivers my packages. It’s accurate and objective but I rarely make that choice and it’s inconsequential to why I bought what I bought.
The channel I give in is often a function of exposure and where I happened to see and act on the ask. And of course, the channel of transaction is always given way too much credit for the gift.
And lastly, saying people who give in multiple channels are better donors is akin to saying people who give us more are worth more. It’s tautological, not insightful.
Death to Channels.
But wait, channels are a useful proxy for what matters in the game of reach and frequency.
If Reach is King, Frequency is the Court Jester. It’s believing in the bettor’s fallacy, that good outcomes are just around the corner if we just keep sending more. Email results in 2022 vs. 2021 show the sector send more emails to fewer people and raised less money.
But hey, if you don’t ask, they can’t give, right?
Reach is breadth, the number of people exposed once to your campaign. Frequency is repetition and it has massive diminishing returns, very quickly reached and turning negative, more = less.
But, you can’t run a campaign without some repetition, the same person being exposed more than once. How to minimize frequency and tuning out? I
Reach is King, Modality is Queen. I use modality here to refer to different presentations of the same pitch – oral vs. visual vs. written, long vs. short, etc.
It turns out that I can greatly reduce the downside of irritation from over-exposure by mixing up modality. My brain doesn’t process it as redundant, it processes as novel and different. And channels tend to have innately different modalities – e.g., SMS, Facebook ad, email, direct mail.
Long live channels.
But the law of diminishing returns is undefeated and there is Goldilocks modality/channel mix of 3-4.
Five or higher causes not just diminishing but negative returns. More = less, again.