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Missouri food bank builds integrated marketing campaigns to fight hunger

The Food Bank for Central & Northeastern Missouri
4 min read
Jun 29, 2023






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The Challenge

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri (The Food Bank) has a communication and marketing team of two. From assisting with events to press releases and digital advertising to email, they do everything to spread the word about The Food Bank’s incredible work. But it felt like there was a better way. The team wanted to integrate their email campaigns with their digital ads, collecting insights and data about their audiences that they could then build on.


With Feathr, The Food Bank was able to bring all its email, digital advertising, and data into one platform. And by building a journey for their supporters, they were able to create awareness through geofencing, and then double down on engagement through email and retargeting campaigns, bringing in big results.

With a team of two, Katie Adkins, the director of communication and marketing, has her work cut out for her. 

From being the organization’s spokesperson to helping out at events, building community awareness, and designing the next email, Katie and her team do everything to spread the word about The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri (The Food Bank) and its life-changing work.

Like so many nonprofit teams, she says about her own department, “We do a little bit of everything as a small team.” 

In the past, that included one solution for email and another for digital advertising. And then they’d jump into Facebook or Instagram and launch additional paid ads. It was working, but she was certain there was a better way.

Bringing it all under one roof

It wasn’t that their email platform wasn’t working. It wasn’t that their advertising wasn’t reaching new audiences. It was that it wasn’t connected. And this was limiting their ability to tie the campaigns together and see the big picture.

The cost may have been the initial reason why The Food Bank brought everything together through Feathr, but after taking off on the platform, the biggest win felt like the time she won back and the insights she was able to gain.

Katie said, “Constant Contact was a really easy thing to cut because Feathr had email integrated right in the platform. And that would be beneficial for us because then we can see a holistic view of the way that all of our donors are behaving.”

Instead of a one-off email campaign, their ads were better aligned now, and all the data was being fed into one place — one that they owned — so that their team could make the best decisions going forward. 

Katie has become so comfortable working in Feathr that she isn’t even concerned about the email that was going out a few hours later, “I have an event email that's going out this morning that I haven't touched yet, but I know I'm gonna be able to send it out by 9:30 because the template is already set. All I need is a little bit of information and it'll be really easy to access the list that we've been sending to.”

Roping in new audiences with geofencing

Front of mind for Katie was reaching a younger generation with the mission of The Food Bank: “It's really important for us to continue to recruit younger folks because we know that we need to build that consistency, so we always have people who are donating their time and invested in the mission.”

Everyone is online more and more these days. The latest trends suggest the average American spends over eight hours online each day. And this is especially true of younger generations who grew up in the digital era.

Recruiting new generations is just part of the long-term mission of serving the community. She said,  “Food insecurity doesn't happen in a bubble. We want neighbors to be able to access as many services as possible to attain food security. And to expand our services, we need to reach more people in different ways than we have before.”

One of the key ways The Food Bank planned to reach new supporters was through geofencing. With geofencing, they could serve mobile ads to people based on physical locations they had visited. 

Katie knew these new audiences likely wouldn’t donate the first time they heard about the organization, which is why she had a plan. She said, “It's not always about people going and signing up but rather about raising awareness. Then when they see the ads that our media partners are running on news stations, they're primed to want to sign up for something.”

But geofencing opened up so many new doors to expand the community: “You have specific neighborhoods where we know that food insecurity is more prominent. We can geofence senior centers or anywhere we have high-risk populations, and then we can even geofence our own Central Pantry location so we can remind people of all the other resources that are available to them.”

Closing the loop with a well-timed email

But how does The Food Bank continue to build on these new relationships?

For Katie, relationships don’t happen overnight, and she’s conscious about the journey someone takes with her organization. She said, “We never do anything that's one-off. Everything is built into a waterfall campaign where somebody would get two, three, four touches followed up by something a little more personal.” 

This focus on her audience’s experiences and perspective paid off in big ways. After the hard work of reaching new people with their message and building authentic and organic touch points, they closed the loop with one email. 

She said, “We ended up raising over fifteen thousand dollars with that one email.”

Collecting actionable data to better navigate the future

But the campaigns don’t end when the last dollar comes in. The team is building data to make more informed decisions about next year’s campaigns or even next week’s.

The Food Bank collects website engagement data through Feathr’s Superpixel, allowing them to understand the digital journey users take and reach these unique segments with the right message for them.

Feathr’s Conversation campaigns, which add surveys to website pages, are yet another way Katie collects insights from her community. She said, “One of my favorite campaigns is the Conversation campaign. I feel like it doesn't get enough attention because it's really, really cool.” 

She placed a survey on the Food Bank’s volunteer page, asking those who were signing up about why they were interested in the organization. This allowed her to begin segmenting volunteers into groups, reaching each individual group with opportunities that spoke to them especially. 

Good data is at the heart of effective marketing, which is why it’s so important for The Food Bank to have all their information in one place.

Katie said, “When our volunteer coordinator comes to me and says, ‘I'm having a hard time recruiting volunteers,’ I'll have that information in Feathr and I can have an answer for my teammates when I need it.”

This conversation has reminded her there’s more work to be done engaging with her growing audience: “Now that we've talked about it, I'm thinking, ‘Oh I need to build a Conversation into the new page so that I can figure out what is what people are most excited about with the new food pantry.’ Then I can run more effective ads to those groups.”

The work of effective marketing never stops because it’s ultimately about building meaningful relationships. And that’s a lifelong project.

“We want neighbors to be able to access as many services as possible to attain food security. And to expand our services, we need to reach more people in different ways than we have before.”
Katie Adkins

Director of Communication and Marketing, The Food Bank

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The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri (The Food Bank) is a regional disaster and hunger relief network that acquires and distributes millions of pounds of food annually to partner agencies across a 32-county area. The Food Bank partners with more than 145 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and nearly 200 schools to ensure food gets into the hands of those who need it most. The Food Bank provides food at no charge to its partners, which means hunger-relief organizations across the area can focus on serving their communities first. Learn more at https://sharefoodbringhope.org/


Columbia, MO



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