Cost Per Acquisition Campaign Strategies

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

cost per aquisition

Get More from Your Nonprofit Cost per Acquisition Campaign

For a long time we have worked with publishers like, Care2 and Daily Kos on cost per acquisition (CPA) campaigns. Often the ROI is good on those names for both fundraising and advocacy, but for some, a purely petition driven cost per acquisition strategy is not yielding the benefit it once did.

There will always be a need for list building vehicles – and petitions can and should be a part of it – but if folks use it as their only means, they may burn out the tactic and not develop any real alternatives.

Here are some tactics we think deserve exploration that enhance and go beyond your current cost per acquisition model:

Using organic content to drive search, conversions, and list building is critical to the future of nonprofits. For far too long we have all seen nonprofits generate content that is strictly on their own terms, without a thought of how the content could benefit the user. We need to move to a model of creating content that is useful to a supporter and spurs action. It is an upward battle to get content that starts conversions, but we need to be thinking of ways to do so. A lot of nonprofit content exists, and setting it up so people need to input their email address in order to access it can be the key to using content that results in conversions.

Paying for digital ads on a cost per click (CPC) model means you are only paying for people who click on your digital ads. These ads can help with conversions, as they are optimized for more clicks, but this type of campaign takes planning and needs to run over a long period of time in order to be fruitful. Clicking is only half the battle. You need people to convert to donors or supporters after they click.

In addition, using cost per impression (CPM) advertising to generate conversions can be expensive, since the ads are not always run to get the most conversions. However, with the right tools (tracking pixels to track conversions, for example) and ample time to adjust the campaign, this can result in new names for your organization.

Generally speaking, Facebook and Twitter are bad for conversions, with some notable exceptions, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. They are incredibly useful for growing your supporters within these platforms, however part of the problem has been that very few Facebook and Twitter campaigns are thought of in a way to really generate conversions and real interaction outside of the platforms themselves.

Using long form native ads to promote your group or organization is worth exploring and will really depend on budget and your audience to tell whether it could work for you.

Converting someone you meet at a door through a field program or an event to become a long-term member can be hit or miss, but so can any of the tactics I’ve listed above. With a focused program – using a mobile device, tablet or clip board to collect data – you can develop a relationship with folks, as long as you are clear on what data you need. Think beyond just name, address, and phone number. What additional data could help with a conversion?

Whatever you do don’t forget to focus on follow up. A major hurdle when it comes to cost per acquisition campaigns is a lack of planning on what to do with the names after you get them. The truth about acquisition however, you get the name, is that it is only as good as the work you do after you acquire the name. Having a real plan on emails, content and action requests for your newly acquired names will go a long way to improving the relationship you have with your acquisitions and your list in general.

Bottom line: Cost per acquisition and petition campaigns are good tools, but they should be a part of a larger list-building program, rather than the only aspect. What other tools do you use for list building?