Crisis UK – ‘What prompted you to support us?’

by Neal Dodd on 04/01/2019

Attributing response remains a great challenge. Understandably, marketers want to know which channels are working for them and where their media spend will be most effective.

There is no quick and easy answer, but I worry about the dangers of isolating media channels when doing so. As a case in point, I’ll take you through a customer experience that I have recently had with Crisis, the UK charity.

I don’t work with Crisis and I am sure there are some more sophisticated attribution models being employed behind the scenes, so this is really just an observation from an outsider based on one part of the customer journey.

I’ve previously donated to Crisis and I’ve been impressed with the joined up thinking of their campaigns. The headline ask of reserving a space for a homeless person on Christmas Day is a powerful message and I know many people who contribute ahead of Christmas. I’m aware of the charity and the issue of homelessness is something I try to support when I can – particularly at Christmas.

Early in November I received a door drop at my home promoting their Christmas campaign. Around the same sort of time, I received an addressed mailer, which for a charity the size of Crisis is probably a difficult duplication to avoid. I can’t recall which came first. They were good reminders of a donation that I intended to make at a later date and I kept them.

I’m fairly sure I also saw a Crisis TV advert at some stage in the build up to Christmas but I can’t be sure. Closer towards Christmas Day, I then received at least one email.

I know I’ve heard Crisis radio adverts before, though from memory I believe this was in 2017, when it first caught my attention.

Late November / early December was a busy time for me at home and whilst I always intended to donate, I only actually got around to doing it a few days before Christmas Day and the email did help as a reminder.

When I went through the process, I was asked ‘what prompted you to support us today?’.

The drop down box had a whole host of options, including advert in newspaper/magazine, Google, Crisis TV advert, Letter in the post, Leaflet in the post, Radio Advert, Email and Leaflet in newspaper/magazine.

I was fascinated but a little perplexed. I think there are a few problems with this approach:

  1. Can you rely on the answer?

I work in marketing and I’d stopped to give this some real thought – but I didn’t know the answer. Was it the email that reminded me, or the door drop / DM that had first alerted me? What are the chances your average consumer would spend much time thinking this through?

Would they even understand the terms used? I’m not even sure which option related to the door drop I’d received, and I work in the industry! I think that ‘leaflet in the post’ is the door drop option but I can’t be sure.

How many consumers would just pick the first one on the list that they recognise seeing? Or even, just the first one on the list because they’re not really interested in the question and want to get past the page?

2. Why only one channel?

This is the big one.

The charity are using an integrated campaign to produce the best possible overall result. Most likely, they’re fully aware that the effects of media channels when working together is greater than the sum of its parts. Email and door drop / DM combined with ABL advertising is a sensible and proven approach.

So how can we split those back out when considering response?

Unquestionably, at least three and probably closer to five media channels affected my behaviour – some in the short term, some in the longer term. The answer to the question ‘what prompted you to support us today’ is a complex one and involves a story. It’s certainly not the result of a single interaction and a single media channel, which I’d wager is the case for the majority of donations received.

How do we distinguish between the channel that introduced the campaign to a consumer vs the channel that converted the consumer?

3. It’s not all about ROI.

Of course, all clients are looking for a return on their marketing investment. But it’s not as simple as number of responses per channel vs spend per channel.

The DM and door drop pieces include a direct response mechanism where people can fill out a form and post back their details. It also directs people online, or to call a phone number.

If I decide to go online and donate, I may well do so via Google, as it’s generally quicker than typing out a URL. Once that is done, and ignoring the last click / Google ads issue, Crisis are then solely reliant on me choosing the correct option from the drop down list that they provide.

Even if I do, are we saying that the TV advert had no effect on me at all?

Or how about, if I click on the link in their email 7/8 weeks after I received their door drop, I suppose I should probably answer ‘email’ to their question. Does that mean the door drop had no effect on me? Of course not.

The answer here surely lies in reviewing the success of the campaign and the contribution to longer term goals for the business, rather than focusing on ROI of each channel for an individual campaign.

Crisis are most likely doing that, I’m sure and this is not a criticism of their overall approach as I don’t know what it is.

That said, I cannot help wonder what the drop down box is for and how the results from that survey will be used for future decision making. It raises an important question about how success is measured – both on an individual campaign level and longer term.

As someone who often faces the question of ‘what response can I expect from a door drop campaign?’, I would have some real concerns about the data will be taken at face value.

Often we put together plans for clients for whom door drop is their only current media channel. Some clients may question the level of response, but when questioned also identify a surge in website visitors and subsequent enquiries, which presumably can only be allocated to the door drop campaign?

We work with a number of businesses to help analyse the success of their campaign and we have a range of methods that help us take into account more than just direct response, particularly where multiple media channels are involved. There is no perfect science and the options are different depending on the size of business and use of media across the year, but it’s something that should be considered carefully.

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– who has written 123 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

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