Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Member/User/Donor — Just for a Minute

Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your MemberUserDonor -- Just for a MinuteI'm working hard on transitioning the Getting Attention e-update to a new email service provider (ESP).

The change is long overdue. After my current ESP "lost" my lists last summer, the last in a series of huge snafus, I knew it was time to go. But that's another article, coming soon — how to choose the right ESP and set up or transition most painlessly.

Like many transitions, this one has proven to be much more laborious than I expected. Any change in software means a change in user interface, which can be tough. But what's been most interesting is that the decision making involved has opened my eyes more fully to my reader's experience — from start to finish.

I am a communications specialist, set up ESPs for clients all the time and receive countless e-newsletters myself. But despite that experience, I hadn't fully thought through the complete sequence of tiny steps that makes it easiest for a new subscriber to sign up or a current one to customize his reading preferences or account settings.

Here's an example: In the constant testing we're doing during this transition, we realized that the "manage preferences" form is keyed to each sign-up screen (which has to be tied to a list), rather than to each record. So if Sam is on three lists, it's not possible for those three lists to show up just for him when he wants to unsubscribe to one of them. Either everyone sees that selection — whether they are on those lists or not — or we just include the list that most folks are on (Getting Attention).

We've figured out the way to design the forms to be most broadly relevant but then realized that the current ESP has the same issues. Unfortunately, we never tested it all the way through every step of all processes from the user's point of view. Mea culpa!

Lesson Learned: Put yourself in the shoes of your audiences — each and every type represented from members, to supporters and program registrants, etc. — and work through every key process you want them to complete.  Do it proactively, and its much more likely they'll become loyalists!

Nancy Schwartz on August 5, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Strategy | 1 comment
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  • Bill Huddleston

    Pet Peeve – “Communication is one of our top priorities” is a statement many non-profits make, but then they proceed to make even the simplest difficult, much less a more complex process such as newsletter management.
    I can’t tell you how many NP websites have only one e-mail address “info@nonprofit.org” even though I know the name of the ED or Development Director and just want to send them a message directly.
    Or, try and find the physical address of some non-profits, it’s often buried multiple levels down, or not posted at all.
    For charities that are in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) it’s amazing to me how many want to run a “stealth” campaign – they’re in it, but they don’t put the CFC logo on their website, they don’t tell anyone about it, and then they “surprised” that they didn’t do better. Think that doesn’t matter? In 2008 the amount raised through the CFC went UP by 1%, compared to the declines in most other areas of giving.
    Bill Huddleston
    Start with the simple things, like a phone number or e-mail address.

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