Monthly Archives: June 2013

Social media vs email. Can we talk?

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Brett de Hoedt gets asked to train people in social media across Australia and of course he’s happy to oblige. He almost never gets asked to train people in eMarketing but he usually insists on adding it to the curriculum anyway.

Clients ask Brett to train in social media – they should really make a broader request:

“Train us to use whatever means at our disposal to best drive traffic to our website, build relationships with stakeholders, alert and inform people and look important. Most of all we want to convert as many people into taking some form of action with minimal effort.”  That, dear Citizen, would be email.

Social media is new and sexy, eMarketing is old and familiar – but it should be your priority.

Definition: eMarketing is just communicating to people, usually lots of people at a time via email. We use MailChimp to do this; you may use Campaign Monitor, Vision 6 (bad idea) or something similar. Maybe you send mass email via Outlook (God help you.)


email vs social media

Email beats search engine optimisation and destroys social media as a way to drive conversion. You all owe email an apology.

The problem is this: in most cases, for most organisations in most situations…email beats the tight hipster jeans off social media. It ain’t even close as this study conducted by Monetate and reviewed by blog Convince and Convert  shows. It is based on 500,000,000 website visits to e-commerce sites! Only .71% of people who came to a site via social media were converted into buyers. Email converted four times more. Only 1.55% of visits to e-commerce sites were delivered via social media. Email accounted for 2.82%. That’s a huge difference – would you like to nearly double your traffic?

The study investigates e-commerce sites but the goal in e-commerce is exactly the same as in the non-profit world: conversion. By “conversion” we mean inspiring people who see your message to take an action such as visiting your site, donating, buying or booking a ticket.

Why email wins?

email vs social media

The further you move from websites and email, the smaller your audience. We made this graphic ourselves. Can you tell?

Potential audience: aside from using the internet to search websites, email is still the second most common use of the WWW. As you move from using websites and email, to Facebook and Twitter your potential audience shrinks dramatically. At the end of this journey is Google +, Pinterest, Instagram and the like. Would you use mail to reach audiences if only 20% of people had addresses? How about if only 5% had addresses? Of course not.

Building your base: want to dramatically boost the size of your database? Of course you do. (If you don’t please resign.) Well that boost is easier said than done for social media which is usually slow to build. There are lots of ways to dramatically increase your email database – from competitions, petitions, to gaining emails from those who participate in your programs or in exchange for resources such as fact sheets and whitepapers.

Response: this is where email destroys the competition. Simply put – nothing beats email for driving traffic your website. A benchmark for the open rate to an email is 25%. 20% or less means that something is horribly wrong. Some Hootville clients have consistently scored 50% open rates. The equivalent to open rates on Facebook is “virality”. If your Facebook posts scored 25% virality you would be on the board of Facebook. A 1.5%-2% virality percentage is typical. Would you call 100 donors if you knew that on average only 2% of people would take your calls?

Segmentation: do you segment your Twitter followers or Facebook friends? With email this is standard operating procedure and a smart and easy move.

Automation: email can be set-up to automatically send emails based on time. Eg: seven days after subscribing you can send a thankyou and a list of seven articles to read. Eg: a year after a course was taken, send out an automated email alerting them to another course. You get the drift.

Portability: email is just as omnipresent as social media on smartphones and tablets.

Social media compared to email marketing

Can you guess? Yep. Email wins again.

At risk of overplay the excellent downloadable Monetate report shows (left) that email-driven visitors spend more time on your site.

In defence of social media:

Social media plays a large part in building your reputation. That reputation may well assist people to act on your emails when they receive them.

Social media is fast, fun and free.

Social media is a far superior way to stay in the minds of politicians and media who devour social media like they once devoured flagons of tariff-protected claret and cartons of Viscount cigarettes. (Ask your parents about this.)

Social media is excellent for keeping hot-to-trot stakeholders informed and outraged. It’s grist for their mills. It keeps your most passionate followers attached to you.

You want to be a leader? Best look like one – get on social media.

Social media should be in most organisations’ marketing mix. Some organisations may be more inclined to benefit from it than most especially:

youth-related causes with youthful audiences;

passionate causes into which people opt-in such as animal  causes, marriage equality, environment and dying with dignity causes. These audiences wants information, they want actions to take, they want grist for their kill.

However many of us are communicating with people who used our services long ago, donated once, are members because it is obligatory or because their loved one uses your service (among many others). These people are less passionate and do not want to follow your every tweet or Instagram image. (Who could blame them?)

They do however use email everyday to conduct their working lives.

using email to boost website traffic

Email needn't be boring.

Could your organisation function tomorrow without social media? What about if you lost email? Exactly.

It’s similar for your audiences – they can and do look at social media but they do and must look at email.

Finally: what brought you here? Email? Social media? Random Google search? Directly typing in our URL? Even with Hootville savvy, social-media literate audience nothing ever beats the ol’ Hootville Lowdown. Bless you email. Your comments welcome.


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Reading list June 26 2013

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Do you evaluate your programs? Do you believe in evaluation? Of course you do. Well you should read this piece from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) which claims that most charities should not bother to evaluate their work.

Heard about Twitter lead generation cards? Now you have. You’re welcome.

Using Slideshare? Perhaps you should – simple, visual, fast-to-consume presentations can work very effectively. Learn more here. Don’t mention it.

What sort of content gets email readers excited and clicking?

A review of PR-supremo memoir Trust Me I’m Lying.


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A rollicking MUST READ for charities, fundraisers and regulators.

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Needless to say, we believe every word posted on the Hootville website is a gem to be read and treasured by our citizens. Then of course there are the genuine must-read items. This alarming piece of investigative journalism spotlighting America’s 50 worst charities is such an item and should be consumed by anyone who cares about fundraising and charities, those in the profession, serving on NFP boards or our new regulator the ACNC.

Rating Australian charities

Vital statistics, at donors' fingertips.

Sadly we didn’t write the article – the Tampa Bay Times in Florida did with the assistance of The Centre for Investigative Reporting. The paper has a pugnacious reputation and this multimedia extravaganza of data-driven journalism has award-winner written all over it.

Essentially America’s 50 worst charities have been named and shamed. These are ‘charities’ which raise much but donate little. They purport to represent all the right causes – sick kids, women with breast cancer and of course, this being America, police, fire and the military. Funds raised however, go mainly to the founders ands their kids, sons-in-law and best friends.

One note: when you read “solicitors” think fundraisers soliciting for donations by phone or mail not lawyersAnother note: this article is about downright corrupt, fraudulent charities – not merely the inept, lacklustre or meaningless.

It could never happen here – could it? Of course it could. And it does. The Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) should read this to know how the bad guys operate.

Though this media project is laudable as hell and will have impact (mainly by giving prospective donors reasons to not give) America is already blessed with an ongoing non-profit organisation devoted to breaking down charities’ balance sheets and rating their effectiveness. It’s called Charity Navigator and it is astounding. We’ve raved about it here before.

America's worst charities

James T. Reynolds Sr does not come out of the article looking very good.

Six thousand charities are rated and compared against rigorous criteria: admin costs, debt levels, fundraising costs, CEO salaries. Solid apples-with-apples comparisons. The site trawls the financial returns and annual reports and breaks them down. The information is available quickly and simply 24 hours a day.

Charity Navigator does not just concentrate on weeding out totally dodgy operators – it’s mission is far broader and more valuable than that. It rates 6000 charities showing the mediocre as well as the mendacious. It is all about transparency and effectiveness.

For instance – imagine if we could compare every Australian charity in terms of the CEO’s salary as a percentage of total turnover. What an interesting reads that would make.

We desperately need something just like Charity Navigator here in Australia. Now. It would do more to educate and reassure the giving public and weed out the half-baked and ill-conceived than just about anything else, perhaps even the ACNC.

(Thanks to the ever on-line Roslyn Grundy for alerting us to the article.)


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Vale Jeffrey Smart: a brief anecdote

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Jeffrey Smart

Jeffrey Smart. Born 1921, died 2013. Met Brett in the late 1990s.

By Brett de Hoedt.

The best thing for me about being a journalist was the access it provided to people, places and institutions that are generally roped off.

I was an inexperienced but damn hungry journalist back in the late 1990s working for a free (albeit glossy) magazine The Melbourne Weekly when I got access to the late artist Jeffrey Smart.

My overburdened deputy editor announced that he was too busy to keep his interview appointment.

“Oh God – I have to interview Jeffrey Smart. I don’t want to go.”

I heard opportunity’s knock and answered it. After all; I was prepped, having recently read most of a weekend magazine article about Australian ex-pats living in Tuscany in which Smart was mentioned. I had viewed just enough of his highly distinctive work to recognise it unaided. No fruit, no flowers, no plump naked ladies – I got it. I felt I knew enough to plumb Smart’s depths and write a piece thick with insights. I was clearly the man for this task.

My boss was taken aback by my enthusiasm and satisfied with my rapidly presented factoids: Adelaide-born, Tuscan-based, homosexual, old, urbane. I knew it all, got the gig and hopped the tram to the Arts Centre where I met Smart and his part-time Australian promoter / archivist / webmaster.

I cannot recall the second man’s name but Smart was clearly grateful for his contribution to the construction of his reputation. “He’s a real estate agent, of all things and he understands websites,” explained Smart bemused at the breadth of the man’s talent.

Smart seemed bemused with life generally. He was more than generous when I declared my lack of formal (or informal) art training. “Self-education is often far superior,” he said. Having acquired no formal education since, I’ve quoted this wisdom this many times and for that alone I owe Smart a thankyou.

Walking slowly though the Centre, he provided a one-to-one tour of his works. He never rushed, nor gushed and certainly never waxed about any “need to paint”. He seemed to be assessing how his works had held up since their conception. I mainly tried not to say dumb things.

In the foyer outside the Fairfax Studio hung (and still hangs) a multi-panel landscape of a freight train pulling through a scrubby bush setting: Container Train In Landscape.

A decade earlier I’d sat in that foyer digging the scene with friends as a precocious teenager enjoying live late-night jazz. I always felt that I understood the painting more than the music. Now the artist was talking me through his process.

He was devoid of pretension and repeatedly asked me for my (worthless) opinions which I readily provided. For an ambitious boy from suburban Melbourne with creative tendencies this was living. He was Whitlamesque; charming, worldly and charismatic, though with less of the ego. He was, in the American sense of the word: classy.

My regard for Smart doubled; quadrupled. So too my knowledge of the artist – admittedly from a very low base.

Vale Jeffrey Smart.


Iron Man 3 was an opportunity to talk mental health

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mental health marketing

Does this guy seem a little...tense?

We spend a lot of time in Media Savvy 101 talking about finding catalysts for media coverage. Catalysts are triggers to approach media. Catalysts make your story more pertinent and topical NOW.

Some catalysts are internal such as your milestones, breakthroughs or fresh data. Some are chronological such as Mother’s Day, the hottest day of the year, exam time. Other catalysts are external including major cultural events.

advice for PR in mental health

3D glasses, on. Check. Begin film.

Iron Man 3 is such an event. Any movie surpassing the $1 billion mark is a big deal. Brett finally took his father to see the latest instalment (in 3D no less) and was left with two clear thoughts: 1. He would very much like to be Iron Man and 2. Tony Stark’s battle with anxiety / PTSD was an opportunity to seek media coverage about the condition.

If this seems far-fetched please rethink: media outlets from Hollywood Reporter to NPR tackled anxiety / PTSD thanks to the movie. Did any local mental health orgs take the opportunity to reach for the phone and say to an afternoon ABC radio producer and say something a little like this:

“Look you probably know that Iron Man 3 is one of the biggest films of all time and one thing we at The Psychology Institute find remarkable is that Tony Stark, the hero inside the Iron  Man suit actually admits to anxiety and PTSD from his previous battles – the battles in The Avengers. We thought this might be an interesting time to explain what PTSD and anxiety are, the causes and how to manage the conditions. We could play some audio and explain what we’d recommend for Tony so he can keep up his super heroing.”

Maybe it is too late for Iron Man 3-related media hits – but what’s next? What big film, musical, song, singer or TV show can you exploit as a catalyst for media coverage. Think broadly.

Note: it’s not just mega films that create catalysts. Quartet was a tiny, simple, sweet film set in an English nursing home for performers and artists. It raised an opportunity for discussion on aged care, relationships in older age and the fate of retired performers in Australia. And for the record Brett’s folks enjoyed it very much.



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Can your leader lead like this?

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Media training for CEOs

Stand and deliver or be caught in the crossfire.

Chief of Army David Morrison scored universal plaudits for his uncompromising, weasel-word-free video.

While your chief may not need to address endemic sexual abuse and discrimination, she should still be able to cut the mustard when crisis hits.  Which reminds us

With some very simple technology you can video blog cheaply, speedily and effectively.

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