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Nonprofit raises over $100k with retargeting ads in year-end campaign

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION

$7k

Ad spend

$109.5k

Funds raised

1,563%

Return on ad spend

The challenge

Despite economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, IJM wanted to drive more donations than ever for Holiday Gift Catalog 2020, a year-end campaign to raise funds for humanitarian causes around the globe.

The solution

IJM worked closely with Feathr’s Implementation Services team to launch three programmatic advertising campaigns through Feathr’s ad platform, helping them raise $109,500 in donations in just seven weeks.

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For more than seven years, IJM has produced a Holiday Gift Catalog focused on raising revenue that will have a direct, personal impact on someone’s life, such as helping a widow start her own business or funding counseling for a child who has been rescued.

But as 2020 was drawing to a close, the team at IJM wondered how they could drive significant revenue in the middle of a global pandemic. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to reassess our goals and think about the realistic expectations we should have for people who are suffering economically, but where we still want them to give. So we had to readjust our goals and lower them a bit,” said Jared Arango, regional lead for paid media at IJM. 

IJM had already used Feathr to promote various initiatives throughout the past couple of years, including a general retargeting campaign for Holiday Gift Catalog 2019. To meet their 2020 goals, IJM decided they would run a full multi-channel marketing campaign, using Feathr for display advertising, combined with other efforts like email marketing, organic social, and paid search and paid social. 

“For 2019's Holiday Gift Catalog, IJM only had one main Feathr campaign, which was focused on retargeting anyone who had visited IJM.org with a Holiday Gift Catalog ad," said Arango. "This year [2020], we did a similar retargeting campaign, but we were able to incorporate additional creative assets. We did email mapping as well, and we also used a search keyword campaign to target people who had searched things around ‘gifts that give back’ or ‘charitable gifts’ and other things people might be searching around the holiday season.” 

IJM also called on Feathr’s Implementation Services team to help keep things running smoothly. “We decided that since this is such a big campaign for us, and there’s a lot of things going on at the end of the year, this made sense and we needed the assist,” said Arango.

After about two months of planning, IJM launched Holiday Gift Catalog 2020 in mid-November and raised $109,500 – the highest dollar amount they had ever brought in for this campaign through display ads. 

Driving donations during a pandemic

Though IJM had to adjust their goals for the Holiday Gift Catalog 2020, it still performed better than any previous year despite taking place in the middle of a global pandemic. 

“I know a lot of companies have suffered in this season. We didn't see a ton of that here, and I think that is related to our type of organization,” said Arango. “People might not be as apt to buy a car right now or invest in travel obviously, but when it comes to helping other people around the world who are also suffering as the rest of the world suffers together, it’s a different call to action.”

He added, “We still succeeded in achieving our goals, so year over year there was an increase, and although it may not have been exponential as we may have wanted, it definitely did better, so that has been a success story for our organization.”

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Ad from IJM's Holiday Gift Catalog 2020 retargeting campaign

Teaming up with Implementation Services

IJM designs most of their creative assets in-house. “We don’t have a very large marketing team compared to the goals we have every year,” said Arango. “But we have a really great design team, and we are conscious of how our brand is perceived, especially since there are legal implications and certain things we can and can’t say, so most of what we do is in-house from a marketing message standpoint.”

For Holiday Gift Catalog 2020, IJM designed all of the ads in-house to maintain continuity in look and feel, since their designers were already working on landing pages, emails and direct mail pieces across the campaign.

“We did work with the Implementation team to understand how to improve some of the asks, such as what we should and shouldn't say – for example “Learn More” vs. “Donate Today” for different audiences,” Arango said.

Once the ads were created, IJM had several calls with the Implementation team to determine which ads made sense to use in which campaign. In addition to running the retargeting, email mapping and search keyword campaigns on behalf of IJM, Feathr offered strategic advice throughout the process. 

Arango added, “I would sometimes have fairly complicated questions, and they were always willing to explain what was happening with the campaign and how I should look at some specific data. There were also lots of recommendations they suggested, but we didn’t have capacity to do them all. But I appreciate the forward thinking – like are there any shifts we can make? Is there another ad we can get up that can help capitalize on our efforts? It was great seeing all the ideas they had, and they even gave me some ideas for best practices I could incorporate moving forward on different campaigns.”

“What’s nice about Feathr is that you can aggregate everything in one platform and have a unified approach. With display ads, some marketers can get discouraged pretty easily by running ads on four different platforms and then not seeing results. The thing about Feathr is that it aggregates all of that together, which saves me a lot of time and strategy work, and having it all in one place to see overall results is really useful.”

Jared Arango, Regional lead for paid media - IJM

How Feathr fits into a multi-channel strategy

Effective digital marketing is about leveraging multiple channels, and Arango is a strong believer in understanding what each channel can actually do for you before figuring out how to make them work in sync. 

“It’s hard to compare display ads with other types of channels,” he said. “Display ads are unique in the sense that they exist all across the web. Some people think of it as the same as a direct conversion channel, like sending an email, but this is not the case. With display ads, you are actively becoming a part of their life and their journey on the internet, but it takes time and needs to be part of a multi-channel campaign.”

As for IJM’s 2021 plans, Arango suspects things will remain virtual for a while longer, which makes other types of campaigns like geofencing a little harder to pull off. “Our best-performing campaigns have been retargeting, so we will be focusing more heavily on that this year,” he said. “With retargeting, you have a clear designation that someone has done an activity that identifies them as a qualified lead, like visiting our site or engaging in some way, so we will be leaning more into that this year.”

He also discussed plans to set up more highly targeted campaigns around specific pages on IJM’s website, with the intention of bringing in conversions over time.

“Holiday gift catalog is unique in that it lasts for a specific period of time and then ends. What we want to do in 2021, with Feathr and with our other platforms, is have some ‘always-on’ ads that are working for us throughout the year. There may not be a lot of people who are specifically looking at our casework around exploitation of children, compared with our homepage, which gets more traffic. But if we have some campaigns that are always on, they may not get a lot of traction in a two-month period, but if you span that out in the course of a year, then people who are visiting that specific page will start seeing ads about that casework, and we think there’s a lot of value there,” said Arango.

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