Winning the Internet

Small-scale Facebook Campaigns for Better Email Performance

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.


Brian O’Grady of Trilogy

As we get ready for Netroots Nation 2015, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s most exciting training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Brian O’Grady of Trilogy, who’ll be leading Small-scale Facebook Campaigns for Better Email Performance, along with Kirin Jessel, also of Trilogy.

NN15 Training Session

Small-scale Facebook Campaigns for Better Email Performance
Email remains the medium of choice for digital organizers to communicate with their list. But your members only spend a fraction of their day in their inboxes. We have multiple studies showing that users who see Facebook ads are more likely to donate to a fundraising email. By communicating with your email list with Facebook ads, you can improve email performance—even on a small budget. In this session, we’ll present a step-by-step guide to building and analyzing a campaign around this cost-effective tactic.


Q: Tell us about yourself and your experience with digital fundraising.

A: I manage the advertising practice at Trilogy Interactive, so part of my focus is making sure we build email lists that balance quality, scale, and spend. Because ads and email are hooked into each other at Trilogy, we have a good understanding of what it takes to get a list ROI-positive and what specific levers make that possible.

I worked on the digital ads team for the president’s re-election, and at Lipman Hearne, a marketing firm for mission-driven organizations. Before that I worked for DoubleClick/Google and then Publicis Groupe, in account management and ad operations, which is where I cut my teeth in digital and data-driven marketing.


Q: In your opinion, what is the most common mistake that organizations make when doing doing email fundraising?

A: I’d actually say that we’re at an interesting time where even smaller campaigns and nonprofits are really focused on best practices–segmentation, testing, measurement, etc–and sharing that knowledge in a way that’s good for the practice area overall. I don’t think that was the case even three or four years ago, when I might have said, “The most common mistake is that people are focused on click through rates before action rates” or something like that.

But I’m looking at this from an ads point of view, where I’m not engaged in email on a day to day basis–part of my job is to think about ways we can engage supporters across digital channels. From that perspective, email is just one in a series or cycle of touchpoints. And not being aware of that, I think, is a mistake. There is a broader question of whether email fundraisers tend to focus on short-term goals over long-term viability, but that might be outside the scope here.


Q: Why is it important to think about running Facebook ads when doing email fundraising?

A: From a purely tactical, dollars-and-cents perspective, we’re beginning to see strong evidence that this particular type of advertising is great at converting non-donors into donors, which is the holy grail of supporter management in my book. More generally, we suspect there is much more to the relationship between social, ads, and email, and we’re at a point where it’s easy, or at least possible, to quantify that.


Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation, and how can they connect with you?

A: The session is really going to be focused on the brass tacks of getting a campaign like this set up for success: How you open a Facebook ads account, where you upload your contact list, etc. So if advertising is completely new to you, or if you think you want to try this but don’t know how to budget for it, we’re going to demystify all of that.

Folks can contact me at ogradybt at gmail or they can follow me on twitter at @ogradybt.


To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2015 in Phoenix, register now.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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