Importance of Matchbacks in Direct Mail Fundraising

January 26, 2015
by Jeanette Cassano

In direct marketing, we have the ability to quantify our results so that we may measure our success and provide a direction for our future marketing efforts. Since these efforts are no longer focused on a single channel, it has become increasingly important, yet more difficult, to identify the originating source for donors.

It is with confirmed response data that we are able to maximize our return on investment by effectively allocating resources across appropriate channels. In an omni-channel environment, donor information can be captured via confirmed links or codes assigned by-channel- such as clicked through email links, completed ad landing pages, reply devices or key codes . In particular, attribution of online responses to the right direct marketing source has become increasingly difficult.

Yet when no codes or confirmed sourcing is available for the initial donor information, then matchback analysis can be used to develop a more complete picture of the original sources for donors. It allows for more accurate tracking of individual results and more accurate projections on the original marketing efforts. It is at that point we can then more effectively allocate resources across channels because we can now better connect our marketing investment with our marketing results.

As we all know, the digital world has become increasingly more important in our lives and those digital preferences translates into how donors respond to fundraising appeals, including direct mail appeals. According to a Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker study, “Donors 66 and older are now just as likely to make their contributions to charity online as younger donors.” The study also found that 53% of these same donors prefer to go online in response to a direct mail appeal. In fact again according to the same study, three out of five donors of all generations have given a gift on-line.

Herein lies the growing need to accurately attribute donors to their right source; when 1) these donors are responding to a direct mail appeal & 2) the original source for the donor may not be immediately known.
This trend challenges marketers to question their current business practices. Why? Because if we correctly attribute online responses to direct mail efforts, then we can improve tracking and more accurately determine acquisition results that end in better predictive validity for future campaigns. And if we do not and only follow through on single channel responses, then we are creating incomplete and inaccurate reporting on a campaign.

We need to have data from across all channels applied correctly before we can fully determine if direct mail prospecting efforts and, more specifically, individual acquisition files are really working. Indeed, as prospects become more comfortable using multiple channels, this ratio of respondents going online to donate as a result of a direct mail appeal will not only be maintained but will most likely continue to increase.

For example, 30% or more of donors from certain files choose to respond online to a direct mail appeal. Imagine if that percentage increases on the current files and/or the ratio increases on other files that are included in your mailing campaign. It then becomes imperative that we institute more robust campaign reporting by fine tuning our attribution analysis. Success or failure of a list or even a campaign can easily turn on those respondents that are left out of the final review.
Put simply, integrated marketing requires integrated analytics in order to accurately measure response and the overall success or failure of a campaign.