Pew Research has just released this study on how Americans use their mobile phones to assist with in-store purchasing decisions.

There’s an underlying phenomenon here that’s highly relevant, I think, to nonprofit fundraising.

Pew reports that more than half of adult cell phone owners used their cell phones while they were in a store to seek help with their purchase decision:

  • 38% of cell owners used their phone to call a friend while they were in a store for advice about a purchase they were considering making;
  • 24% of cell owners used their phone to look up reviews of a product online while they were in a store; and,
  • 25% of adult cell owners used their phones to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store, to see if they could get a better price somewhere else.

What’s really going on here? Consumers are looking for reassurance … and they’re looking for it from the source they trust most — other consumers who are friends or who have written reviews based on their own experience. And they’re looking for comparison information, specifically with respect to price … seeking value for money.

In short, they’re realizing … “I don’t need to be on my own making this decision. Advice is just  a few taps away.” They are being trained to consult with others because it’s so easy and immediate.

So, now they’re home, having purchased a new iPhone or iPad, and your prospect mailing shows up. What might they do?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that they’ll pick up the phone and ask a friend … “Should I give to Worldvision or Save the Children?” Although indeed some might inquire of a friend if they support either. Or they might recall reassuringly that a friend has ‘liked’ one of the organizations on their Facebook page.

What I do think many (most even?) will do is go online for some form of validation. They’ll go to the organization’s website and poke around.

And, given the consumer shopping experience described above, where peer referrals are hugely important, what should they readily find?

I would suggest — above all — TESTIMONIALS!

Testimonials both from very satisfied beneficiaries of the organization’s work and from real donors who appreciate the organization’s accomplishments. Testimonials in a variety of formats, from short quotes to short videos.

Secondarily, but definitely not with the same weight as the testimonials, strong ratings from the charity raters (or some other straightforward reassurance/evidence about financial accountability and transparency). Price comparison isn’t really a relevant concept in the fundraising setting. But reassurance about money being properly managed and delivering big bang for the buck clearly is.

Few offers (or solicitations) are considered in isolation anymore. The best thing you can do to address that reality is make sure your online presence is your prospect’s reassuring friend.




This article was posted in: Communications, Media usage / trends, Mobile marketing and fundraising, Nonprofit management, Online fundraising and marketing, Research.
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