High-end, Fine Jeweler

3.4x ROI on Direct Mail Campaign

High-end jewelry retailer drive conversion with WealthEngine’s prospect list

Challenge

Improve response and conversion rates of outbound direct mail campaigns to drive increased revenue from target customers.

Solution

WealthEngine identified a highly targeted list of 22,000 households with $5M+ net worth and custom demographic and lifestyle attributes.

Generated $281K+ in revenue from 130 customers in just 60 days

Proven Success

  • 2.6x – More revenue per customer
  • 340% – ROI
  • 1.6x – Higher median revenue per customer

Quark Expeditions

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Quark partners with WealthEngine to develop more targeted marketing efforts and yields a 20x return on investment through smarter campaigns.

Since 1991, Quark Expeditions has specialized in expedition cruising to the Arctic and Antarctic, on small ice-strengthened ships and icebreakers. Quark delivers an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for travelers by providing the best ships, the largest number of itineraries, unparalleled technical expertise, and passionate staff leadership, for voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica regions.

The Challenge

The luxury travel industry presents companies with a challenging customer demand: travelers are looking for extraordinary experiences delivered to them with exceptional service. Quark has to navigate through this challenge, as well as a few other difficult ones:

  • The typical selling cycle of a customer is longer with Quark than most travel companies, with the average time being 3-5 years between initial interest to booking.
  • Most of Quark’s customers only take one Polar trip in their lifetime; only about 10% of customers return for a second arctic vacation.
  • Taking a Polar expedition is a major financial and time investment, making it a significant proposition for buyers.
  • Quark is not only competing with other companies specializing in Polar travel, but they are also competing with those serving all adventure travel, or even a resort trip to Mexico or a summer in Europe.
  • Customers are changing – the people that may have taken these trips 25 years ago are not the same as those today, so it has become more challenging to find those who will convert.

With all of these challenges, understanding more about their prospects’ wealth and affinities is extremely important for Quark to help them better target their marketing and sales efforts.

The Solution

Rachel Hilton, Quark’s Vice President of Customer Experience, engaged with WealthEngine due to her experiences from a previous career role. She has a nonprofit background and was familiar with using WE in the fundraising space. After looking into the problem more, Rachel realized that there was an opportunity to append relevant wealth and lifestyle attributes from WE onto her own internal database in order to develop a target profile and find better prospects.

Quark engaged WealthEngine in multiple phases. The goal of the first phase was to develop recommendations for how to target new prospects. The WE team performed a detailed analysis of the customer base. Quark’s entire customer database was screened and appended with WE’s consumer database of over 240 million individuals. Over 1500 attributes were analyzed, including demographic, lifestyle, career, wealth, and philanthropic factors. From this analysis, WE identified a custom segment that best characterized the customers most likely to engage with Quark.

Using this information, WealthEngine performed the second phase, delivering an email campaign to a qualified prospect audience based on the aforementioned analysis of consumer wealth, demographics, and lifestyle data.

The goals of the campaign were as follows:

  • Communicate with a specific potential prospect
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Facilitate the increase of traffic to the Quark website
  • Generate potential leads
  • Support the conversion of prospects

A total of six touches were deployed throughout the year as part of the campaign. Because Quark was able to utilize WealthEngine’s comprehensive data set, they were able to target individuals that best fit their ideal profile through WE’s prospecting solutions. This meant that they didn’t waste time marketing to those unlikely to convert, and instead, focused their efforts on those that were most likely to drive bookings.

Results

WealthEngine’s analysis helped to shift Quark’s planning and strategy. Now that they had a better picture of their best customers, they could better segment their prospect base and build out a comprehensive strategy. Hilton explains, “We used our target profile to better adapt our messaging and become more tactical with our marketing efforts.”

Quark saw a positive impact using the analysis performed by WealthEngine. Some of their most significant results include:

  • Understanding that their target customers were older, high net-worth individuals with discretionary income who have shown affinities to travel, outdoor leisure, and cold-weather activities.
  • Executing five email campaigns and one direct mail piece, directly focused on these target profiles as the foundation.
  • Obtaining 77 new bookings as a result in the campaign, driving a 20x return on their investment with WE!
  • Increasing the speed at which customers are converting and flowing through their buying journey – by targeting individuals who are able to purchase.

Next Steps

Quark has not only seen outstanding results from their email campaign, but they have also gained invaluable insights from WealthEngine’s profile of their customer base. They are using this analysis to help with other marketing initiatives, such as lead generation and brand strategies. The biggest value add for Hilton has been the outstanding results of this initial campaign. “I have been impressed with the accuracy of WealthEngine’s data and the impact targeted prospecting has yielded,” says Hilton.

Quark’s efforts have been recognized and shared across the other family companies within the parent TUI AG group. Hilton says, “We are in a position where we can share marketing best practices. We’ve let all of our sister companies know about WealthEngine and the results you can get from targeted marketing efforts.”

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

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“WealthEngine has given us so much to work with,” explains Keith Niles, Senior Database Analyst for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), the fundraising arm of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. “Basically, we now have a wealth of quality, actionable data, thanks to the screening we performed through WealthEngine.” GLAZA has traditionally had a sizable number of prospects and names; in fact, the membership database alone holds 64,000 households and about 300,000 records. Meanwhile, the Zoo staff includes only one prospect researcher, Michelle Mesrobian. And, while Mesrobian handles the Zoo’s prospect research, she is also responsible for donor relations and, most recently, was named project manager for the Zoo’s feasibility study in preparation for an upcoming capital campaign.

Continue reading “Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association”

Le Moyne College

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Having worked at Le Moyne College for over 20 years, Deborah Reinhardt Youmans has learned how to build value into a prospect research management program. When she first started as Director for Advancement Research, the College was spending significantly on prospect research and wealth screening tools but wasn’t applying the information in a strategic and team-oriented approach to realize strong returns on investment. Today, her strategy involves routine donor and prospect screenings, internal data mining, ongoing prospect tracking, and more importantly, prospect management meetings in close coordination and communication with development officers.

Communication

“The bottom line is that everyone involved in fundraising has to work as a team and that requires each individual to take responsibility for what he or she is here to do. You hold yourself accountable for the role you play on the team, as should those around you,” says Reinhardt Youmans. “You also want to remember that philanthropy is a volunteer action for a common good, while fundraising is the ability to look through the eyes of a donor. Each member of your team needs to embrace that a joyful donor is your destination and, of course, enough of them to make goal!”

At Le Moyne, prior to any solicitation visit, the staff assigned meet with the Research Department and agree on the amount the prospect will be asked. “Yes, our profiles have the suggested ask and all the data and analysis to back it up,” says Reinhardt Youmans, “But, I have found that this simple process of meeting prior to a solicitation helps to build the team atmosphere, boost the confidence of those going out, and forces a meeting of the minds. You may need to role play Scenario A and Scenario B with the staff assigned, while at the same time trust their ability to make the right judgment call during the visit.”

Building the Pipeline

Reinhardt Youmans is a firm believer that “screenings should be used to confirm top level prospects and identify those up and comers for the next campaign. If you are using a screening now to identify new major donors for your current campaign, you’ve missed the mark from a timing perspective.” She adds, “While I expect Research to continuously identify, screen and qualify prospects that is only one piece of the puzzle, as the most important step is moving those potentials into the pipeline to build relationships. Another important piece of the puzzle is the fact that relationships provide ‘knowns to the unknowns’ for additional pipeline movement.”

Having been a team member for three campaigns at the College (Building on Excellence, Tradition with Vision and Achieving New Heights) she notes that the best-run campaigns for the highest return on investments (ROI) are those where each member of the team is knowledgeable and embraces the vision, mission and strategic plan. “That means that your alumni office is the point-guard for discovery, every office on campus is the point-guard for discovery, every event, every mailing, every email, every social media posting, every incoming response to the Annual Fund Appeal is a point-guard for discovery. If you are simply screening for capacity ratings without understanding the crucial aspect of building and maintaining relationships, you are blind to what is out there and what can be.”

Build Trust

Before you begin any forward-movement, advises Reinhardt Youmans, come together as a team. Understand the value and contribution that each role in the Division gives to your fundraising efforts. During a campaign, take the time to correct actions, recalibrate and celebrate. Post-campaign, come together and freely discuss, openly and honestly, what went right and what did not go as planned. “You have to reflect upon yourself, you have to discuss issues and then be willing to let go of any past hurt and grudges that often occur during the hectic pace of a campaign and the urge to make goal. As a group, you cannot move on to what you will ‘become’ or ‘do’ in the future until you are willing to spend time, resources, money and your own internal energy and emotions to make the decision to move forward as a cohesive unit.”

Move it Forward

Reinhardt Youmans advocates regularly scheduled meetings where those identified are added to portfolios based on ‘agreed-upon’ criteria that every member of the team supports. Portfolios can be built and fine-tuned based on the level of giving, the specific passions of the prospect and in truth, the personality and skill level of the development staff. One should include all relevant development staff in the meeting, as that heightens not only the team atmosphere, but forces open and honest communication. Tracking also helps Research evaluate how close their original capacity ratings were to the final ask, as this type of confirmation for the capacity ratings and ask amounts ensures that future requests are well planned and executed. “You learn when to push and when to pull as those added to portfolios are tempered with those that need to be removed. If you as a researcher are credible, your involvement and advice during these meetings is valuable. You have to remember that each member of the team is to be open-minded to provide constructive criticism and to accept it. When you have the right team atmosphere, specific talking points can ‘smart’ at times, but all is positively given and positively received.”

Le Moyne’s success is also due to the donor relationships nurtured by development officers. “We measure a development officer not by the number of donations they generate but by the number of visits they make to a prospect, because we have found a strong correlation between the frequency of visits and resulting gift,” says Reinhardt Youmans.

Le Moyne’s current prospect tracking process is based on several closely monitored factors:

  • Length of the average cultivation cycle
  • Length from initial visit to the ask
  • Proximity of the suggested ask to the final close and any variables
  • Common occurrences among prospects, at varying gift levels

“In the short term, it allows us a snapshot of where we are and where we are headed. In the long term, it is an invaluable tool for strategic planning towards the next campaign,” explains Reinhardt Youmans. “Research should always be ahead of the curve, preferably two years out, and we need to start building the relationships now in preparation for the next campaign.”

Build Momentum

Le Moyne, established in 1946, has a relatively short history, compared to the other 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. Le Moyne is just now coming into its own as a strong fundraising entity as prospects have reached the higher levels of giving. Le Moyne’s last campaign, Tradition with Vision from 1996-2001, resulted in the achievement of $30.5M to their goal of $25M and garnered their first $1M gift. Their most recent campaign, Achieving New Heights from 2004-2010, experienced the College’s first $5M, $4M, $3M and $2M gifts. “We were also fortunate to receive a $50M bequest in fall 2008, but the moral of the story is not the amount, it is the fact that in over 30 years of contact and stewardship with the prospect, no one dropped the ball. That, in a nutshell, should be the outcome of prospect management.”

“You have to keep moving forward and remember the mission of your organization.” She advises, “The more that you can be a team player and work closely with your development staff, the better your response will be as you build trust and evaluate whether the gift capacity and actual ask amount are on target, time after time. The technical skills, art and science required for Research should never be prioritized above the mindset of what you are doing this for. These are some of the tools to help you get to the finished product; they are not in themselves the finished product. Your finished product is a loyal and well-stewarded donor with the recognition that it took a team of individuals to make it happen.”

Yale-New Haven Hospital

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Qaya Thompson, Development Researcher at Yale- New Haven Hospital (YNHH), doesn’t believe in creating any barriers to prospect research. “I support seven development officers (DOs),” says Thompson, “and I want them to have accurate wealth information when and where they need it, as timing is everything in fundraising. All of our development staff have access to FindWealth Online and use it as their primary prospect research tool.” The development officers have been shown how to use and interpret the analytics, such as the WealthEngine gift capacity ratings and P2GTM (propensity to give) scores, which are also integrated into YNHH’s Raiser’s Edge database. Thompson adds, “If they need further information or justification of data, I do in-depth research and create a more comprehensive profile.”

Continue reading “Yale-New Haven Hospital”

Ronald McDonald House Charities

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The Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana affiliate is the largest chapter of Ronald McDonald House charities in the United States, providing over 22,000 nights of respite annually to families of hospitalized children. The chapter was formed officially in 2005 with the merger of several independent houses, although the first area house was opened in1977. The charity currently operates four houses in the greater Chicago area. In addition to providing housing for families near its affiliate hospitals, Ronald McDonald House Charities-Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI) operates a Mobile Care unit, providing vaccinations and physicals to children in underserved areas, awards college scholarships to deserving and economically-challenged youth, and has recently opened the first in-hospital Family Room in Illinois, in conjunction with affiliate Edward Hospital.

The Challenge

Director of Capital Campaign Lisa Mitchell joined the RMHC-CNI fundraising team of four in 2009 and was asked to manage the organization’s first ever capital campaign. The $30MM campaign had been planned and the silent phase launched in 2008. The campaign is to fund the building of the world’s largest Ronald McDonald House, with 14-stories and 86 guest rooms.

Mitchell came from an advertising, marketing and branding background. Starting in 2000, she worked on the advertising campaign for McDonald’s corporate account. This led her to Ronald McDonald House Charities, where she began volunteering by preparing meals for families staying at the homes. “When asked to join the staff, I was a novice fundraiser,” says Mitchell, “but a committed volunteer and donor with a true passion for the mission and the good I could see being done in the community.”

Prior to launching the campaign, RMHC-CNI screened their entire database to help them evaluate their potential for fundraising and to reprioritize their prospects. When Mitchell came on board, she felt the screening was a useful tool, but she realized the top prospect lists had been exhausted and she still needed to raise $10MM. With only four staff members in development, she needed to narrow the prospect lists and specifically identify potential supporters connected to their 30-member board and 26 member campaign steering committee. “I needed very specific, immediately actionable information that our board members could use and be successful with. When I took over the campaign management, we were in a stall. I wanted to quickly breathe life into the campaign and regain momentum,” says Mitchell.

The Solution

Mitchell worked with WealthEngine to create a high-potential prospect list using Circle of Friends analytics. RMHC-CNI provided their list of board and steering committee members (their “Inner Circle”), and WealthEngine determined who their connections (Circle of Friends) in the community were. Once those connections were identified, they were screened and profiled, providing Mitchell with lists of 147 individuals sharing a connection to their board and steering committee members. Each connection is someone with a relationship to the organization through an Inner Circle member, and has the capacity to significantly impact the campaign and the future of the charity. This was exactly the specific, actionable information Mitchell was looking for.

The Result

“This campaign has allowed us to push our board and committee members in directions they would not have gone before,” shares Mitchell. “They are dedicated advocates and donors. And both our board members and WealthEngine’s Circle of Friends Analytics have helped to make us aware of many potential new friends. It helped our best, most enthusiastic supporters realize that they had even more contacts that could help the charity than they had realized.

Next Steps

With $24MM of their $30MM goal now in hand, Mitchell and the team see the end in sight. The new House, located in the downtown area of Chicago, is now complete and open as of June 26, 2012. For the past several months they have been able to conduct “Dusty Shoes Tours” which Mitchell describes as “one of our best sales tools.” As neighbors from the densely populated downtown area are invited and attend these tours and other campaign events, they see firsthand what the charity is all about and catch a passion for the mission. “We have a very high success rate in keeping donors,” explains Mitchell. “Once in, they stay in.” For this reason, she feels optimistic that their many new capital donors will continue to help by contributing to operating support and program funding when the campaign is complete.

RMHC-CNI still has 18 months and $6MM to raise before the end of the campaign in 2013. After the opening of the house in June, Mitchell plans to revisit the targeted prospect lists they received from WealthEngine and continue a structured approach to engaging donors through their board and volunteer connections, and through tours and other events designed to allow potential donors and volunteers to see firsthand the enormous impact of RMHC-CNI.

All four RMHC-CNI development staff members came from backgrounds other than fundraising, and none had worked on a campaign prior to this one. The tremendous success of the first RMHC-CNI campaign is a testament to them, to the organization, its leadership and its mission. It demonstrates that with passion and perseverance, leadership and vision, and a few key tools and technologies, anything can happen.

Lessons Learned on the Campaign Trail

Mitchell has been learning fundraising and campaign management as she goes, and has some valuable advice for other novice fundraisers:

  • Carefully allocate your time. It’s time-consuming to work with committees and volunteers. Identify the movers and the shakers early on and spend most of your efforts supporting them. Don’t waste too much time with those who aren’t active.
  • A great way to engage people is through volunteering. If you’re lucky enough to have volunteer opportunities, ask prospects to get involved to experience the mission for themselves.
  • Don’t be disturbed by the natural ebb and flow of donations. You’ll go through periods where everything “clicks” and you are energized, and then will come a period where nothing seems to be happening. If you are patient, all the groundwork you’ve put in place will come to fruition and you’ll soon be in another period of reaping.
  • Be flexible. As the new RMHC-CNI house opens, donation requests may need to change. People might not want to pay for a mortgage. But they will want to fund the activities and programs that are going to take place onsite, so a new and compelling case for support will be needed.

Oregon State University Foundation

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Oregon State University is Oregon’s Land Grant University and one of only two land grant universities in the country (the second is Cornell University in New York) to also hold sea, space and sun grant designations. The university was founded in 1868 and is approaching its Sesquicentennial or 150 year anniversary. Oregon State boasts strong agricultural, forestry, and engineering programs, as well as a superb ocean sciences program. At 26,000 students, the Oregon State community is home to students from all 50 states, and over 100 countries. The Oregon State University Foundation, the fundraising arm of the university, launched the public phase of OSU’s first ever comprehensive campaign in 2007 with a goal of $625 million. Raising more support from more sources at a faster pace than imagined, they have since adjusted their goal upward twice, and now stand to raise over $1 billion by the campaign close in 2014.

The Challenge

One of the campaign priorities directly impacting the university’s ability to raise the needed funds for this campaign and to lay the groundwork for future improvements in fundraising capacity and effectiveness was the Discovery Project. The establishment of the Discovery Project was deemed a campaign goal and sought to qualify 6,000 individuals (potential donors) identified capable of giving $25K and above for the major gift pipeline. This goal was shared by the Advancement Services, Prospect Research, and Fundraising teams. Advancement services would source the necessary data, prospect research would identify and verify the capacity of prime candidates, and major gift officers would qualify potential donors through direct contact.

Mark Koenig, Senior Director for Advancement Services at the OSU Foundation, joined the team in 2008, shortly after the public launch of the campaign, and became an integral part of the team responsible for building the Discovery Program. “Prior to 2008, we, like many institutions, screened our data the traditional way,” shares Koenig. “Prior to your campaign, you would do a full data base screening and never look back until the next.” When Koenig came on board, bringing experience from Rice University, Georgetown University and George Washington University, things changed. “OSU had done a full database screening with another company and had imported the returned data directly into our Advance database. It was problematic – no verification of the results had been done. Unfortunately, the data was just dumped in and not used strategically,” says Koenig. His first order of business was to back track and complete verification on the data that was in the data base.

This earlier screening had suggested to leadership that there were 6,000 individuals in the database capable of making major gifts to the campaign, and it was from this data that leadership included a discovery goal of 6,000 qualified prospects in their campaign strategic plan.

The Solution

Looking to do screenings in a more precise, structured and actionable way, Koenig brought in WealthEngine. “I had worked with WealthEngine in the past, and I trusted the data, so I added it to the slate of tools we use here at OSU. We started doing what I call ‘surgical screenings,’” says Koenig. “These are actually changing the way we do our work. We screen about 30,000 records per year, divided into mini-screenings, and they are tied to specific university goals.” Koenig attends management meetings, and as goals are identified for a project in agricultural sciences or a new building or other project, he and his team mine the university data to determine which records are appropriate to send for a miniscreening. They use WealthEngine’s on-demand screening service, which allows them to upload up to 6,000 records at a time and have them screened and returned the same day.

“Prior to sending the data, we look for those records in our sweet spot for capacity, age and other factors, and once we get the data back, research verifies the findings from the top down. Verification may take 15-30 minutes per record, depending on the complexity of the data matched,” explains Koenig. He points to one recent example, in which they screened a segment of prospects for OSU’s College of Engineering. “We got the results back, and there were 8 prospects in the $5 million+ capacity range. When we had reviewed them all, we ended up with two we didn’t know. One turned out to be a previously unidentified potential donor with huge capacity. Trust me, that was an invaluable find.”

The Results

Using the surgical screening method with WealthEngine, the OSU Foundation has already identified 7,815 constituents with capacity to make a gift of $25K or more who have had little to no contact from the University prior to identification. These were added to prospects already rated to make a total pool of 11,277 new prospects for the Discovery Project. Overall, the University has a pool of 22,366 rated prospects.

Research analysts spend approximately 25% to 30% of their time on screening verifications (or identifications), and major gift officers are tasked with qualifying the identified prospects forwarded to them by the Research Department, with goals for qualification varying by individual based on portfolio composition, longevity in field work, and other goals. “The important thing,” says Koenig “is that they actually have goals. That’s a key to making the Discovery Project work. If major gift officers didn’t have qualification as part of their goals, it simply wouldn’t work.”

Of the pool of prospects verified by research from the WealthEngine screenings, 3,462 have been qualified either by phone or through face-to-face contact. A qualification, according to OSU metrics, can be either positive or negative. “It is as important to learn that someone is not interested in the university as it is that they are,” Koenig explains. “We’re just a lot happier when we find out they are.”

Of the 3,462 qualifications, 1,506 or 44% have been positive and therefore have moved into major gift officer portfolios for cultivation. 569 of those, or 16% of those who were qualified, have been solicited for a major gift, and 184, or 5%, have made gifts to the campaign. These gifts have resulted in $11.4M in contributions to the campaign.

“The amazing thing is that this $11.4M in revenue is directly attributable to the work we’ve been doing. We didn’t hire any additional staff, we didn’t add to travel or hospitality budgets, the only direct expense attributable to the Discovery Project is the surgical screenings we’ve been utilizing since 2008,” according to Koenig. The screenings and the FindWealth Online subscription together have averaged about $9,175 per year, for a total over the past five years of $45,875. Because no other direct expenses were incurred in the project, ROI can be calculated as:

“While it’s true that staff time has been devoted both to the verification of prospects and the qualification of prospects,” he explains “the truth is that these staff members would have been doing prospect identification and qualification anyway, and likely it would have been much less efficient. Realizing a 24,750% ROI is simply phenomenal, and makes you wonder why everyone isn’t doing it.”

“When I started, I was leery of the 6,000 goal,” shares Koenig. “I wasn’t confident of the historical data we had on file. But now that we’ve been screening our prospects on a routine basis, and put the time into qualifying them, we have 11,000 prospects in our discovery pool, waiting to be qualified. Now it’s just a matter of time before we exceed the original 6,000-prospect goal.”

With responsibility and accountability built into the discovery process at OSU for both the research office and the major gifts team, the Discovery Project has been a huge success. Koenig stresses the importance of having leadership committed to a data-based approach to fundraising, and being disciplined about tracking activities and results. “We have to be aligned with the overall goals of the university,” he adds. “If we had to do a lot of full profiles of prospects, we wouldn’t have time to do this. Because the goal is to fill the campaign pipeline and seed the pipeline for the next campaign, we’ve been able to focus a lot of our time on discovery, and it has paid dividends.”

Next Steps

The OSU Foundation has taken its data-based approach beyond reporting and metrics and is building a formidable modeling arsenal, including ratings for enthusiasm, engagement and a just-released planned giving score. Having multiple dimensions on which to evaluate and cross-tabulate prospects allows Koenig’s Advancement Services group to serve many functional units. In addition to the major and annual giving teams, they provide data and analysis to the Alumni Association, who have used the enthusiasm score to identify volunteers and committee members, and the planned giving group, who have used data to limit their mailings from mass appeals to more targeted and actionable subgroups.

Koenig looks forward to the coming year, when he is planning to enrich the data files with demographic, behavioral and consumer data. With this addition of data in combination with his modeling scores, he hopes to create more powerful tools to guide and inform University strategies.