Marketing Goes To Washington: How One Think-Tank Gets The Message Out


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This is the second in our Knowledge For Nonprofits series, which is made up of articles, interviews and tips for nonprofits. The first article on social media for good can be found here. The series will continue to be rolled out on It’s All About Revenue over the coming weeks.

When MarketingSherpa announces their annual awards for organizations, there are some big names you’d expect to see on the winner’s list. But a think tank? Probably not.

Yet, that’s exactly where the Center for American Progress (CAP) landed. The nonprofit was awarded the Silver Medal for best personalization/segmentation at the MarketingSherpa 2011 Email Awards. And, for Brian Komar, the reason for CAP’s success is that the organization has moved well beyond email blasting. “Our program is just incredibly segmented to target influencers,” Brian, who is Director of Strategic Outreach at CAP, said.

He’s not kidding. The organization contains multiple lists with hundreds of thousands of contacts, from influencers throughout Congress and the press to policy elites and donors spread across country. “If we tried to send everybody everything everyone would just unsubscribe,” Brian says.

So CAP uses the Eloqua platform in multiple ways. One vital way is to make sure influential people who help shape policy in the country get only the materials relevant to them. It’s government affairs database, which contains more than 10,000 contacts, is completely segmented by role or job. So if CAP wants to advocate an energy policy with Congress or the Administration “we can segment our messaging to ensure it reaches those offices and individuals working on energy,” Brian added.

Brian Komar, Director of Strategic Outreach, Center for American Progress

But CAP also uses targeting and segmenting for fundraising. The nonprofit monitors how donors, from individuals to foundations, are interacting with them on online. “We are able to identify audiences not only by what issues they may have expressed an interest in,” Brian pointed out, “but also through a lead scoring analysis that adds interest based on actual online behavior.”

He provides an example of how CAP targeted the most frequent visitors to the organization’s website for a quick-turnaround, low-dollar campaign at the end of last year. It raised $25,000.

Brian credited the organization’s investment in marketing automation and an integrated CRM solution run through for making it possible to run highly-engaging campaigns despite having a nonprofit’s level of staffing. An email marketing team of essentially two people churned out 3,300 email batches last year, Brian notes.

“What people say they are interested in is useful, but what is far more useful is their actual activity,” he said.

Brian admitted CAP is seen as an outlier in the world of nonprofits, many of which don’t place resources into sophisticated technologies. In fact, he often gets “puzzled looks” when he mentions foreign terms like lead management, lead scoring or marketing automation among other think tanks. But, he insisted, there’s no reason that has to be the case.

“There’s no reason,” Brian said, “Why nonprofits can’t be run like the best of the businesses.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jesse Noyes
Jesse came to Eloqua from the newsroom trenches. As Managing Editor, it's his job to find the hot topics and compelling stories throughout the marketing world. He started his career at the Boston Herald and the Boston Business Journal before moving west of his native New England. When he's not sifting through data or conducting interviews, you can find him cycling around sunny Austin, TX.


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