• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Whether it’s in person or by email, how you ask for donations can often make or break your fundraising campaign. This is especially true for big campaigns when you pull out all the stops with an amazing event, a beautiful direct mail campaign, and your best fundraising emails.

    Whether it’s in person or by email, how you ask for donations can often make or break your fundraising campaign.

    This is especially true for big campaigns when you pull out all the stops with an amazing event, a beautiful direct mail campaign, and your best fundraising emails.

    But let’s face it, writing effective fundraising emails is not easy. 

    But it can be done, if you follow a process to develop your own email messages. And if you’re patient.

    8 Steps to Writing The Best Fundraising Emails for Your Nonprofit

    Here are seven steps you can follow to write or even rewrite fundraising emails for your next campaign:

    STEP 1: Tell a good story

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    A good story is the foundation of any effective fundraising appeal.

    Begin your fundraising appeal with a story that pulls at the reader’s heart strings. Talk about a real person who benefited from your work. Make that person the protagonist. Make them the hero, not your organization.

    For example, charity:water talks about a woman who fell down into a well with her baby. And she was stuck in the well for over 2 days!

    See? Doesn’t that grab your attention?

    STEP 2: Make it about them

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    Fundraising works best when it’s one to one, between to people who share a common passion.

    and e-mail is always one-to-one (no one gathers their friends around a computer to read their e-mails). View your fundraising email as a unique opportunity to develop a relationship with someone who wants to receive your emails, and is possibly open to making a donation.

    Start by imagining a specific supporter that you’ve met a few times. Write your e-mail as if you’re writing a personal appeal this person.

    Tell them why their support is invaluable. Connect their support to the outcome. Use their first name, And write the e-mail in second person narrative (use the word “you” instead of “we” or “I”).

    STEP 3: Talk about the money

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    There are far too many stories in the news about a nonprofit using donations for purposes other than what the donor intended. Gain the trust of potential donors by being transparent about your funding gap (the gap between funds that cover admin costs, and what is needed to pay for specific programs).

    NPR are masters at this with their on-air fundraisers, which I’m sure you’ve heard. Their asks usually go something like this: ”Sponsors and grants cover administrative costs, but we need your support to make sure programs like Science Friday continues to reach people like you”.

    This approach communicates transparency and respensibility – making donors feel confident about how their dollars will be spent.

    STEP 4: Keep it short

    No one has time read a long fundraising email. In fact, most people will just skim it first, then either delete it or keep reading.

    Here are four tips:

    1. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.
    2. Limit the the overall email to 2-3 paragraphs.
    3. Break up the text with headlines.
    4. Enter your email copy into this readability tester.

    STEP 5; Tell them what their money will do

    $50 will not save all the chimpanzees. But it will help. Tell them exactly how the money will be used, and what outcome will result from their $50.

    This approach helps donors connect the dots between their donation and the outcome they seek.

    For example, in their “Build a Breakfast” campaign, No Kid Hungy told potential donors: “For just $40, you can connect a classroom of 20 children with a healthy school breakfast for an entire month”.
    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    This ask is very specific, immediate, and doable! This gives the donor of better sense of realistic, personal impact.

    STEP 6: Ask three times

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    Don’t forget about the call to action! In fact, make sure you ask three times in your fundraising appeal. But don’t just repeat the same phrase over and over.

    Ask different ways. For example, at the beginning of the e-mail you can say “you can make a difference”, linking to your donation page. In the second and third paragraph you can ask again: “Join others like yourself to make a difference”.

    Also, try asking once in between two paragraphs, in bold text.

    STEP 7: Tell them they can say no

    A good friend, who’s also fundraising consultant, told me her secret to success: People will often give bigger donations when they feel their personal free will is respected.

    According to a recent fundraising study, giving people the choice of NOT donating almost doubles the likelihood that they will donate!

    STEP 8: Don’t ask for money in the first email

    No one likes to be asked to make a donation if they haven’t heard from you in a while.

    If that’s the case with your nonprofit, your first e-mail should encourage your potential donor to learn more about the campaign.

    For example, charitywater often asks supporters to watch a video or read an article, before asking them to raise money.

    Leading off with a powerful story says that you’re not all about asking for money, which helps builds trust. It also helps you connect with your potential donor on an emotional level – where fundraising happens.

    What’s your tip?

    The applications for smartphones within physical retail environments already extend beyond in-store product or pricing comparisons by consumers. Moreover, the future use-cases that are likely to emerge in the coming year will expand across a variety of retail sectors.

    The applications for smartphones within physical retail environments already extend beyond in-store product or pricing comparisons by consumers. Moreover, the future use-cases that are likely to emerge in the coming year will expand across a variety of retail sectors.

    It has been a breakthrough year for indoor wireless location applications for retail, with ABI Research forecasting deployments to approach 25,000 by the end of 2014 -- that's up by more than 100 percent from 2013.

    "Vertically, the bulk of deployments are in clothing, big box, grocery, and shopping malls in 2014, driven by a variety of applications such as customer analytics, offers or coupons, product search, staff management, and navigation," said Patrick Connolly, senior analyst at ABI Research.

    Looking toward 2015, we can expect to see the quick serve restaurant (QSR) market growing with a significant demand for queue management technologies -- as illustrated by companies like Starbucks and Taco Bell, which launched queue-skipping smartphone applications in 2014.

    What is interesting is the technology mix today. ABI is seeing growth across all major technologies -- including BLE, Wi-Fi, and audio -- with 2015 being an important year for handset-based location, sensor fusion, magnetic field, and LED.

    Regionally, the focus has been very much on the U.S. market in 2014, but there are now many worldwide deployments. Therefore, expect market development activity to further expand and evolve geographically in 2015.

    This is a market where ABI says that they expect to see concurrent growth across the globe with more regional and vertical vendor winners, rather than one particular company dominating the whole space.

    ABI's latest market assessment found that shopkick/SK Telecom, Point Inside, and Aisle411 are now leading in deployments at a cross-section of brick and mortar stores.

    Over the past 12 months there has been a considerable change in deployments as companies have moved from a handful of deployments to getting into the hundreds and thousands of stores.

    In 2015, expect to see camera analytics companies -- such as ShopperTrak, Irisys, and Brickstream -- playing an increasing role as they expand their offering into BLE, Wi-Fi, and in-store analytics.

    Also, expect to see a lot of announcements around this growing category at the upcoming NRF 2015 event, as these companies launch new technologies and channel partnerships.

    Photo Credit: Store Tech Retail/shutterstock

    Protecting your WordPress website from hackers in 2015 will be a bit more complicated than adding a secure password to your login screen. We’ve seen it all. Hackers, like tiny mice that search for small nooks and crannies in your website’s framework, use every trick in the book to bypass your protection parameters. In the last few days, there was a HUGE WordPress website hack that exploited an outdated plugin that compromised more than 100,000 websites!

    Protecting Your WordPress Website from Hackers in 2015 will be a bit more complicated than adding a secure password to your login screen.  We’ve seen it all.  Hackers, like tiny mice that search for small nooks and crannies in your website’s framework, use every trick in the book to bypass your protection parameters.  In the last few days, there was a HUGE WordPress website hack that exploited an outdated plugin that compromised more than 100,000 websites!

    SO, HOW THE HACK DID THIS HAPPEN?

    It happened via a WordPress Plugin.  WordPress Plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site.  Through this small chink in the RevSlider plugin, which was confirmed by Security firm, Sucuri, hackers were able infect sites to load highly obfuscated attack code on every webpage. Since many users didn’t update their Plugin to the NEWEST version, their sites were exploited.  Thousands of websites were hacked and promptly blacklisted.  And no, we don’t mean by David Spader.  What we do mean is by the Search Engines.  This included Google, Yahoo, Bing and a slew of others.  Visitors to your website will be greeted with a screen similar to this one:

     

    Protecting Your WordPress Website from Hackers in 2015

     

    When search engines BLACKLIST your website, it can be detrimental to your business.  Plus, while WordPress has over 70 million live websites it makes it a bit more vulnerable to attacks like these.  Being blacklisted results in:

    • The Loss of Search Engine Rankings
    • Decreased Website Traffic
    • Loss of Revenue

    MY SITE IS INFECTED, WHAT NOW?

     

    5Four Digital has implemented a regiment for protecting every website we manage.  Below, our list contains detailed tactics to protect your website from hacker bots, live hackers and a slew of other attacks.

    1. Check Your Website NOW – One of our favorite tools is the Sucuri SiteCheck Scanner.  It will check your website for known malware, blacklisting status, website errors, and out-of-date software.
    2. If you HAVE issues, fix them immediately! – There are several websites, forums and online security firms to help fix your malware infestation.  A few include:
      1. Sucuri – Leading WordPress Security Firm
      2. Clean Website Backup – If you have a clean backup of your site’s contents, re-upload all of the site’s files to REPLACE the malicious content.
      3. Wordfence – a free enterprise class security and performance plugin that makes your site up to 50 times faster and more secure.

     

    HOW DO I PREVENT A VICIOUS CYBER ATTACK ON MY BUSINESS?

    1. Keep WordPress UPDATED – keeping WordPress updated will protect you from hacks from older software
    2. Keep Your Plugins Up to Date – Like the recent RevSlider debacle, it’s a good idea to keep your Plugins up-to-date, as well.  ithemes_security_icon
    3. Delete Any and All Plugins Not in USE – If you have Plugins installed, but not using them, delete.  DELETE. DELETE.
    4. Use a Security Plugin – There are a few GREAT security Plugins out there that will protect your website for FREE (as well as enterprise)
      1. iThemes Security - The easiest, most effective way to secure WordPress in seconds.
        1. iThemes puts great tactics in place that utilize a user-friendly interface.  With it you will be able to:
          1. Change the URLs for WordPress dashboard areas including login, admin and more
          2. Completely turn off the ability to login for a given time period (away mode)
          3. Create Difficult Passwords and 30+ more…
    5. Wordfence, Ultimate Security Checker and more are also available.

    We believe creating a thriving online business begins with great website design, a simplified consumer experience and a secured website users are proud to visit.

    Which channel should you use? The correct answer to that question will always be "all of them," if it's possible within your time and resources to do so. As a matter of practicality however, Twitter is definitely the top choice if there is a choice to be made. What about Facebook, you ask?

    There's no question that using social media for customer service is something that every company should be doing. We recently highlighted 10 ways that you can use customer service to improve your company's customer service through social channels, so if you need some more good ideas after this you should check that out.

    If my word isn't good enough for you on the subject (even though it would hurt a little), I've decided to give you some more information about the subject and present some examples of how some of the biggest businesses are doing it well. You should also know that 71% of customers take to online customer service because they don't get answers or resolutions through traditional channels, and 74% try three or more customer service channels to get their issues resolved.  

    Which Channel Should You Use?

    The correct answer to that question will always be "all of them," if it's possible within your time and resources to do so. As a matter of practicality however, Twitter is definitely the top choice if there is a choice to be made. What about Facebook, you ask? After all, Facebook has more users than Twitter - or any other social network - by far! While that's true, it doesn't mean that the way consumers use Facebook necessarily conforms to a customer service channel, at least compared to Twitter.

    Facebook's immense user base contains a large number of people who don't really even understand what social media is. Mom and dad, or even grandma and grandpa, use the site to keep up with their family and friends that lives a distance away. Statistically speaking, they don't go much deeper than that online. They are the smallest demographic of online shoppers, for instance. So, it stands to reason that if they aren't making purchases online, they also aren't looking to social media for customer service issues.

    Another way to gauge whether you should choose Facebook or Twitter is to look to the experience of others. A year ago 77% of the Fortune 500 companies were using Twitter (not necessarily for customer service), with the Huffington Post predicting that all of them would be there in the coming few years. Also, whenever you read a story about businesses using social customer service it rarely references Facebook, almost coming across as an assumption that Twitter is more ideal for that aspect of social business. This is certainly not to say that it's not alright to use both, and that would likely be a wiser choice. In fact, Google+ is even making a strong showing in this area in some cases, simply because of the use of Hangouts video chatting and the widespread use of Android devices. Don't limit yourself unnecessarily, but if you need to focus on one customer service channel, it should be Twitter. The easiest way to eliminate this conundrum is to use a social media management dashboard that will gather your feeds from across all channels into a single place. Problem solved.  

    Nike

    Nike is well known for their excellent customer service online, and they were one of the first to figure out that a dedicated customer service channel was a good idea. One of the things that makes them so good is their quick responses and the fact that they're there 7 days a week. They also tweet with their @NikeSupport handle far more than their @Nike marketing channel. Far more. As of today the support channel had over 348K tweets, while the @Nike handle had tweeted only just over 17K times! As you can see below, their response time is usually less than an hour - 39 minutes in this case, and the response is great.

    Target

    @AskTarget is another very responsive Twitter channel for customer service issues. They keep it upbeat, try to answer questions and solve problems quickly, and never get testy with their customers. You'll notice that quick responses are common among the companies who do social media customer service well. In this case they took 3 hours, but compared to most they're still well on top of things.

    Zappos

    Zappos has been synonymous with excellent customer service since day one, so it's no surprise that they would also be one of the best companies when it comes to social customer service. One thing that sets them apart from even the others in this list is that they have a dedicated support channel that is available 24/7. When a new rep starts their shift, they introduce themselves. They have conversations with people - about things other than shoes, like the weather or the coffee they enjoy. Check this interaction out:

    How do you follow that up? By turning it into a sale, of course:

    Don't you want to hire that person right now? And they are quick to let people know when things happen, like their call center being down for maintenance. Now that's good customer service!  

    JetBlue

    JetBlue is another company known for excellent customer service, both on and offline. Their quick and pleasant responses have earned them a great reputation, even if the person didn't mean to contact them:

    And in the following example, they ask to know more about a damaging customer service issue on the ground with one of their flights, again within only a few minutes. Also note that the interaction wasn't instigated by the customer, but was a result of them monitoring for potential interactions:

    Xbox

    How does the Xbox team know that they're doing a good job on Twitter with customer service? They actually hold a world record for it. No kidding. Guinness lists them as the "Most Responsive Brand on Twitter", and that's quite a title. They're known as the "Elite Tweet Fleet", and their engagement is obvious by looking at their numbers. They currently have passed 1.75 million tweets, and are actually following 213K Twitter users. How's this for customer service:

    If you check out their feed, you'll see why they rate so highly in the twitterverse. Those guys stay busy. Another note on best practices from them: they clearly state on their profile what hours and days they are open. Keep that in mind.

     

     

     

     

     

    On the heels of the North Korean hacking debacle related to the film "The Interview," Sony wasted a golden public relations opportunity.

    Whether you are a casual news observer or a rabid consumer, you’ve heard some degree of buzz about Sony Pictures Entertainment’s heavily promoted new film, “The Interview,” which depicts a satirical attempt to assassinate the huggable North Korean dictator, King Jong Un.  And following a cyber attack against Sony thought to be related to the film, on Thursday the comedy was pulled from theatrical release due to a subsequent terrorist threat against theaters set to premiere the film – an attack now being attributed to North Korean hackers.

    It goes without saying, of course, that the debacle has saved the film’s star, Seth Rogan, from being the center of yet another horrendous Rottentomatoes review. Beyond that, however, is the opportunity typically born from strife. And the events have offered Sony a unique public relations opportunity – one that the studio quickly wasted – in positioning itself as a symbol of American freedoms and resolve, instead of as the quivering victim Sony now appears to be.

    “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film “The Interview,” we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” Sony said in a statement.

    Following its retreat, a Sony spokesman said there were “no further plans” to release the film, and the highly educated C-list Hollywood elite then joined intellectual aristocrats like Donald Trump and former beauty pageant contestants leading FOX News coverage to express their collective sighs and outrage about Sony’s cowardice.

    Even the 23-year-old intern running former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s Twitter account weighed in Tweeting, “.@SonyPictures don’t cave, fight: release @TheInterview free online globally. Ask viewers for voluntary $5 contribution to fight #Ebola.”

    Ebola! Yeah! That’s relevant! Good for you, intern!

    So where is the true lost opportunity here? On the heels of a rare event like this, how can a brand or organization score a public relations victory, set themselves apart as leaders, and engage with their audiences on an unmatched level?

    Instead of cancelling the film altogether without any real pronouncement nor plan to speak of, what if Sony had followed Romney’s intern’s advice to a degree and released the film online for free? Or, what if Sony partnered with one or all of the major television networks to broadcast the film uninterrupted by commercials, much like NBC did with “Schindler’s List.” It would have made a demonstrative statement about Sony’s willingness to forgo profit (which it’s losing, anyhow), and be perceived as an organization supporting the same American freedoms and virtues that our political leaders fail to support on a daily basis by spending 99.9 percent of their time bickering with one another.

    Instead, we had to read silly, shallow statements from the studio like, “Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like.”

    Blah, blah, blah … noise, noise …whatever.

    Without question, at a time when Sony could ill-afford to do so, it lost badly here on a film that reportedly cost some $44 million to make. We all grieve for Sony’s studio execs who earn tens of millions annually in compensation.

    More than anything, what Sony really lost was an opportunity to make a statement. Instead of standing strong and thinking strategically, the film studio chose to place its corporate tail in embarrassing depths between its legs. It’s a self-inflicted wound and lost PR opportunity that it will never recoup.