Diagnosing the source of a leaky bucket isn’t always as easy as it may seem. For those who outsource their programs to external agencies and lose full visibility of why certain decisions are being made, finding clarity can become even more challenging. So how did National Heart Foundation (NHF), who over four years had seen a substantial and consistent decline in their telemarketing contact rate, manage to turnaround their program and lift rates by up to 23.5%? Below we share overall insights from our work with NHF and the three specific learnings they implemented to make significant change.
Review the segmentation strategy to include lapsed supporters
When working with NHF to take an in-depth look at their lapsed program and why their contact rates were declining, the analysis revealed that supporters who were typically trickier to convert or harder to contact were being excluded from calling.
This approach, although promising to deliver strong conversion rates, over time, had significantly eroded the opportunities within the reactivation program because supporters were either being contacted too much, or not at all. As a result, only 34% of their lapsed data was being used, which as we know, the longer they stay lapsed, the harder they are to reactivate in future.
By reestablishing connection with these supporters and introducing a unique lapsed donor strategy, NHF were able to convert their deeply lapsed contact rate of 2.9% to a whopping 26.4%, plus almost double their reactivation contact rate from 24.7% to 40.10%.
Eliminate donor fatigue by avoiding over-dialling
Another area identified as impacting the success of NHF’s telemarketing program was that some segments were being called monthly, and many others were being approached too soon after a previously completed conversation. Evidenced by a 5-8% contact rate decline each year, increase in supporter complaints and a significantly large proportion of wrong numbers being reported, it was clear that supporter trust was quickly eroding as donor fatigue started to set in.
To quickly pivot the downfall of the current segmentation strategy that had been in place, we worked closely with NHF to introduce a more reliable set of selection criteria for their calling which was based on use, recency, frequency, value, cancellation type and source.
Additionally, supporters who had been over-dialled were to be excluded and rested from calling for a time period determined by the level of over-dialing. Call gap metrics were also applied to each segment for the calling program moving forward.
Be comfortable with a slightly lower telemarketing conversion rate
The most significant shift that took place however, was a more strategic level of thinking that was adopted across the organisation – focusing on short-term loss for overall profit gains. By resting the high performing segments who had been over-dialed, NHF saw an immediate impact on conversion rates over the first six months of the new strategy.
Accepting that the overall conversion rate would no longer be at their previous level (as this calling strategy excluded segments that converted at lower rates), they embraced the more important metrics with foresight that the overall volumes of reactivated supporters would be much higher and in turn help mitigate the annual churn of their monthly giving program.
As expected, these supporters were gradually pulled back into the program, with the contact rates and average value of gifts lifting soon after.
NHF embarked on this new strategy in January 2020 and this is what happened:
When working with an organisation to improve the overall success and profitability of a program, looking at the current markers of success is key. Sometimes less valuable wins can be causing detrimental impacts on the more important factors behind a program’s success. By assisting NHF to regain control and supervision of their strategy, the Foundation not only increased the volume of records available for dialing, but sky-rocketed their annual income by 239%.