July 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m. in Tips & Tricks by Kathy Powers
The Art of Conditional Content
You may have enjoyed our recent series of emails on conditional content. Here’s a recap of what conditional content is, how you can use it in Engaging Networks and further applications that can make your website, forms and emails stand out from the crowd.
What is “conditional content?”
Let’s start with what conditional content is. The premise isn’t new; conditional content has been a marketing technique for over a decade. Essentially, you’re displaying different content to users based on something that you know about them. Think about it this way:
IF User = Profile X THEN display = Content A
IF User = Profile Y THEN display = Content B
That’s important. You have to know something about the users for whom you are conditionalizing content. This can be as simple as geographic location or interests stored in your marketing database. Or it can be more complex, such as a query (or “Profile” as we call it in Engaging Networks) that you’ve established to identify donors or advocacy supporters who have different interests, and/or who give/take action at different levels.
What's a Profile, anyway?
A Profile is the method by which you define a sub-group of your supporters (stored in Engaging Networks) for targeting and reporting. For example, you might create a Profile called “All donors who gave at least 100.00 during the past 12 months.” Or you might create a Profile called "All donors in Australia who have taken an action." You can get very granular, if you want.
Sounds cool, right? But before you go off and conditionalize everything, think about it for a minute. Come up with a plan - even if it’s just a few sentences scribbled on a post-it note.
Coming up with a plan
Planning is a good thing. Your solid plan for conditional messaging should keep (at the very least) these three things in mind:
- Who are your various target audiences and why are you messaging these audiences via separate, distinct messages?
- Not sure where to start? This can be as simple as “donors” and “prospects.”
- What voice, author and message should each audience receive from you?
- Maybe your prospects hear from field staff about exciting animal rescues, while you donors hear from your Executive Director about new facilities to house the rescued animals. You can test that. (And you should!)
- What are your goals when using conditional content?
- Are you hoping to increase donations overall? Increase your average gift? Boost prospect conversions? Write it down. You can change it later.
Even a rough outline to get you started is worth doing. That way, you have a baseline to measure against, as you see results come in.
Let’s look at a couple of options for conditional content. Much of this is adapted from our recent Tips & Tricks series by Ben Childers, our Director of Client Services. [Sign up to receive our emails, if you want to be the first to know next time!]
The ability to build and send a conditional email depends greatly on the tools that you are using. Keep in mind that conditional content is not the same as “personalized” content. We’re not talking about salutations and “first name.” (I think and hope, that all decent email marketing tools can do that in 2018.) No, we’re talking about the ability to change entire blocks of content based on information about your recipient.
I’ve used many different systems to send email over the years. Six to be exact. And how you do this varies in each system. I won’t go into how to do it in other tools. I will say that I find our approach at Engaging Networks to be elegant and easy to use.
A quick look at setting up conditional emails in Engaging Networks
When creating an email campaign you have four choices, as shown below:
That first “One Email Campaign” option looks so easy, right? It certainly has its uses, for small lists or in a quick pinch. But if you’re not already doing so, you should instead select Conditional Content or Split Test Conditional. Why? Because these other options allow you to send different emails to different profiles that you have created. This means that your supporters who belong to the “Major Gifts” profile can have an email signed by your Chief Development Officer, along with a link to an event, while your supporters that belong to the “Please Click on Something” profile can have a subject line that begs them to open the email, using an engaging picture and advocacy action in the content.
With our “Split Test Conditional” option, you can test content within your conditional emails. For that Major Gifts profile that I just mentioned, you could change the language so that 50% of recipients get a link to an event, while the rest get a fundraising appeal. Then you can test each version, to see which images resonate best with your audience. Remember: Your supporters want individualized content that relates to them and the specific ways in which they interact with your organization.
Conditional content on landing pages
You’ve heard the word “locale,” right? Turns out, locales are not just your local coffee shop. In web-speak, a locale is a geographic location that allows us to render different content to visitors. This can be done by identifying the visitor’s IP address location, or by identifying their preferred language, as indicated in their browser settings. The latter (browser preference) is our default approach at Engaging Networks, because it’s a good indicator of the user’s actual language preference.
How do you enable Locales in Engaging Networks?
There’s a bit of set-up on the back end. First, you designate which languages you want to support. Then, for each field that provides a language alternative, you enter the specific alternatives. Example:
- Address - English
- Addresse - French
- Dirección - Spanish
When building pages, you set your locale, and then the form fields that you previously set up will display automatically. If my browser preferences are set to French, I will see “addresse.” You should review the effect of your changes in test mode before publishing your pages, so you can make sure that you’re happy with how it all looks.
So, if you are running a dual-language (or multi-language) campaign, you can use the native tools in Engaging Networks to ensure that your supporters will see content and form fields in whichever language they have selected as the default in their browser. No more translation tools needed.
Here’s an example of a basic sign up page in English...
...and here is that same page with French localization
You have total control over the translation of form fields and of all copy on the page. On top of this, you’re also able to set specific validators and tool tips for each localization. While this feature takes a while to set up, after you’ve added the translations once, these will always be available. You can save all page components to the “library” and access them from the page components menu at any time.
Conditionalizing form content
This will sound a lot like what we went over already back in the email section. The premise is the same. But the mechanics of setting it up are obviously a bit different.
As with email, imagine that your action, event or fundraising pages will display differently to users whom you define. Supporters in different donor groups will get different ask strings and messages. Just imagine the possibilities…
When a supporter comes to a donation page or advocacy page from an email campaign, we can leverage their profile membership to display different content, unique to each profile.
Using profiles, you can change the copy and content of a basic donation page to make it more relevant to particular supporters. Include different images, ask strings, or thank you language, based on what you already know about your advocates, prospects and donors.
Let’s recap our main points about conditional content…
- Conditional content helps you deliver the right message, at the right time, from the right person, to your supporters.
- Engaging Networks offers many ways to conditionalize content for your supporters, and to help you deliver that message effectively.
- Engaging Networks is language-ready, meaning that you can share your story with supporters in over 150 languages!
- You set the rules with conditional content. So give it some thought, create a plan and start messaging your supporters in ways that will boost your results.
- We just touched on TESTING in this story, but definitely test your results and optimize for your goals . The tools needed to test your emails and your pages are already built into the Engaging Networks toolset; we make it easy for you!
Other Resources you may like
There’s lots more to the topic of conditional emails, so if you’re interested in learning more, I suggest these three resources:
- Engaging Networks PLUS Webinars cover great topics—including conditional content.
- Clients and partners are invited and encouraged to discover our “Academy” learning platform, where you can learn how to successfully use conditional content in Engaging Networks. >>Learn More in the Academy
- Take a look at these articles from the Supportal. >>Find More Information in our Supportal