Episode 30 – Interview with Lexi Savage

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Episode 30 – Interview with Lexi Savage


My guest today on the show is Lexi SavageLexi Savage is the Senior Vice President of Communications and Resource Development to the United Way of Palm Beach County. There, she oversees the marketing, events and public relations efforts as well as the workplace fundraising. Under her leadership, United Way of Palm Beach County has built a strong online presence and continues to grow their social and digital outreach in new and exciting ways.

Highlights from this Conversation

Related to Digital Marketing

  1. What has worked well for you?
    1. Targeted digital display ads
      1. Follow the donors and utilize cookies
    2. Native ads in Newspaper
      1. Like old school advertorial
        1. Topics like mentoring
  2. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
    1. Small – Hyper local publications
      1. Neighborhoods publications
    2. Facebook ads
      1. Targeted digital display has worked better
  3. What are you excited about?
    1. Strong call to actions online and responsiveness they are seeing
      1. People are more willing to click through and get to know a nonprofit
    2. People want to get to know the nonprofit
      1. Online is helping expedite that

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:09] Hi, and welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast. A podcast about nonprofit digital marketing and how to make it better, so that good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well.


[00:00:18] I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofit work and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites, for forty-eight nonprofits, in forty-eight hours.


My guest today, is Lexi Savage. Lexi is the Senior Vice-President of Communications and Resource Development for United Way of Palm Beach County. There she oversees the marketing, events and public relations efforts, as well as the workplace fundraising. Under her leadership, United Way of Palm Beach County, has built a strong online presence and continues to grow their social and digital outreach in new and exciting ways. Lexi, thanks for joining the podcast.


Lexi: [00:00:54] Thank you so much for having me.


Adam: [00:00:57] Do you have anything you want to add to that prolific bio there?


Lexi:  [00:01:00] I think that was pretty good, thank you.


Adam: [00:01:04] It’s a good start. Okay. That’s great, that’s great. Well, as you know on the podcast we try to keep it simple, so we’ll roll right into the first question. So, related to nonprofit digital marketing. Can you share with us something that is working well for you or has worked well for you?


Lexi: [00:01:18] Yes. I would love to share with you something that we really only started doing in the last probably six months and we’ve seen awesome results.


[00:01:27] So, we work with a local agency, and we’ve been experimenting for a while with targeted digital display ads, which we’ve had great success with but lately, we’ve been working with our local newspaper and doing what they call native ads, so it gives you that great digital content. They also print it, but we get this great digital content that shows up, you know, like an old school advertorial…


Adam:  [00:01:56] Right.


Lexi:  [00:01:27] …but in the modern age and online.  And we have awesome content…a great story…it links up to our website. It shows up in our social media feeds. It links out on the newspapers Facebook page, and their Ads. So it’s showing up in multiple locations, directing everyone to this story and through the story, to our site. And the ROI that we’re getting on that is incredible. We’re seeing really good results immediately from them.


Adam: [00:02:29] That’s fantastic. So what kind of stories are you writing for the… you know, the advertorials?


Lexi: [00:02:33] So most recently, our latest native story was focused on mentoring. January was National Mentoring Month and so we wanted to create awareness and we’re doing a lot of mentor recruiting. We have about fourteen hundred kids here in Palm Beach County that are on waiting lists. They want to be mentored, and we need to match them up with some good adult role models. We did a story. We highlighted a couple of success stories from some of the programs that we work with, and literally within a matter of days, we had eight new mentors.


Adam: [00:03:06] Wow. That’s some great return on investment. Fantastic.


Lexi: [00:03:09] Amazing. And you know, we had done all the traditional stuff of reaching out via Facebook…and doing e-newsletters and all of that, and we were just not getting that kind of return. Even with in-person events where we were face to face with them, we were not getting that many new mentors.  So, great result.


Adam: [00:03:29] Wow. So, are these newspapers that you’re using…I mean, are these local newspapers? Are they large newspapers…small newspapers? Like how would you sort of quantify that for our local audience?


Lexi: [00:03:40] It’s our local largest newspaper.


Adam: [00:03:43] Okay, okay. Gotcha. So largest local newspaper…the whole advertorial approach. I love that.


Lexi: [00:03:48] Exactly.  And then it’s been a really great for us, and so I plan to continue doing that. And I feel like you really get the most bang for your buck, because it’s all encompassing. It’s got the digital display ad piece. It’s got the social media piece, and it’s got a great content that inspires people to get involved.


Adam: [00:04:07] Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of like a nice all-in-one package there. You know it can’t go wrong. Why not give it a shot?


Lexi: [00:04:14] Exactly.


Adam: [00:04:14] That’s great. I love that. I think you might be the first person that’s mentioned that on this podcast. That’s a really exciting approach and it’s fun when you know, what we might consider to be older school things, work out really well, and still work. You know, I mean, I think it’s surprising some of the old school things that still work. And that’s great because there’s so much new stuff out there, people forget the tried and true methods. So… Okay. Great. So related to nonprofit digital marketing. Can you share with us something that has not worked well that we can learn from?


Lexi: [00:04:47] Well, you know we were talking about the size of the newspaper and who we work with in that regard. And I would say our market here still does go to a decent amount of print.


[00:05:01] You know, we have sort of an older demographic here in Palm Beach County. So the print publications are still popular but I will say, the one thing that really has not worked for us, was working with some of the small, really hyper-localized publications.  Here in South Florida, we have a lot of gated communities, where folks will have kind of their own neighborhood publication, that’s both online and in print. And we experimented working with those a little bit, thinking ‘Oh, that will be really targeted to the zip codes that we’re interested in working with’, knowing that there are… you know…higher net wealth areas and that just really did not work for us. We didn’t get much of a return on our investment, and it was almost as expensive as working with our big local newspaper to do stuff online.


Adam:  [00:05:55] That is so fascinating. Like, I would immediately have expected exactly what you said, which is ‘Hey, these are the target markets. We can go by neighborhood.’ And when you’re talking ‘the neighborhood’, and you would expect that because it’s so hyper-local, so niche, that you’d get a huge return on investment. And what you’re saying, is ‘No. That’s not the case at all’. At least in your experience of experience so far.


Lexi: [00:06:17] Yeah.  In my experience so far, not to say that we wouldn’t necessarily try it again. But, for what we spent on it, and you know, all of us nonprofits have very limited marketing budgets.


Adam: [00:06:27] I do know, I do know.


Lexi: [00:06:29] We appreciate the things that can give us the most bang for our buck.  Like this native story, which is like, yeah, the revamped advertorial. I love it.


Adam: [00:06:37] Yeah, that’s fantastic. I love that. Okay. So, hyper-local publications didn’t work so well. Is there anything else that hasn’t worked well for you? I got to dig a little deeper here, just in case.


Lexi: [00:06:52] Well, you know, we’ve been playing around too with our social media advertising. And I think so far, you know, really working with Facebook ads, we get a lot more attraction from targeted digital display ads than we do from Facebook ads. And especially how, you know, the algorithms keep changing…and the way that your boosted posts or your paid ads sponsored ads show up in people’s feeds constantly, seems to change. And the agency that we work with I think is on top of that, but we get the look-through’s but we’re not getting the conversion rate that we get on these native stories.


Adam: [00:07:35] Okay. So, that’s the same thing that you mentioned for the targeted display ads. Let me just ask a little bit more about that. What..you know, what platforms are you looking at for the target display ads, and sort of what efforts are you putting into that?


Lexi: [00:07:46] So, the way that we’ve worked with it is following the donors and the demographic that we’re looking at, and utilizing cookies versus paying for a particular platform. So we’re popping up on Huff Post, New York Times, Forbes really depending on where our targeted donors are.


Adam: [00:08:13] And what platform? Are you are using like Tablo for that or are  you using something else?


Lexi: [00:08:16] You know what? I pay an agency to do that because that part [00:08:16] [indistinct]     


Adam: [00:08:21] Oh good. Okay. Even better, even better. So that is not your concern.


Lexi: [00:08:28] Honestly that part of it is not my area of expertise. And I know that they  have the ability to experiment with different platforms, and they even do AB message testing for us, which is awesome.


Adam: [00:08:41] That’s great, that’s great.  Well, that’s great. So, for our listeners’ sake. One good platform for that to consider, is Tablo, to help you show up in some of those types of publications, and follow folks around. So, that’s great. Okay.  And so, now, for the last question – and it’s really a fun question, related to digital marketing or digital marketing for nonprofits. Tell me something that you’re excited about.


Lexi: [00:09:05] Well, I’m really excited about the strong call to actions online and the responsiveness that we’re seeing. And that people seem more willing now to click through and to have that experience, and to first get to know a nonprofit online. And I really feel like that shift has been made more recently.


[00:09:30] I don’t know if you and your listeners would agree, but especially you know, with the millennials and the younger workforce generation, and for us in particular, because we really work with a lot of corporations, we know that people wanna get to know the nonprofit before they’re gonna get involved…hand over any money.


[00:09:50] For us in the past, our best wayin  has always been through hands-on face-to-face volunteerism, and we are excited in how these online marketing opportunities are allowing new donors and new volunteers to get to know our organization first, and then hopefully we get to have that face-to-face, like this you know, recent work that we’ve done around mentoring and the fact that we have new mentors signing up essentially every day since we’ve been running it, is amazing to me, because they’re trusting.  They’re trusting the publication. They’re trusting us before they’ve even met us. And then we know once they meet us they’ll have a great experience. But to me that is really exciting, because there’s so much more that you can do online, and reach so many people at once, versus what I can do by myself, face-to-face.


Adam: [00:10:44] Yeah, yeah.  And I think that’s a great reminder for nonprofits is that people do wanna get to know your organization, and the best way for us to share what we’re about, is our website. And our website should be a very holistic, very easy to understand snapshot of who we are…and what we do…and what we’re about…and why we’re doing it. And then, and like you said, and have strong calls to action that are asking people to respond and to get involved in whatever capacity we need them to get involved in. But I mean, I think…I think that’s the key…like every nonprofit must have a solid website for their hub. Would you agree with that?


Lexi: [00:11:21] Absolutely, and I think that one thing that I’ve really learned too, is that your first call to action doesn’t necessarily need to be – and maybe it shouldn’t be – asking for a donation.  You know, when you’re doing something like disaster recovery, or you know, there’s that immediate and urgent need. But really, that opportunity to get to know your organizations through reading some interesting content…or learning how they can get more involved through a membership group…or volunteerism…or something like that, really seems to be what’s working best. And it gives people that opportunity to get to know you and then they can decide if they would like to give you some money.


Adam: [00:12:02] Right. Right.  Because people want to be engaged and they want to engage in content that matters to them not necessarily be pushed to do what we want for them to do, you know. So I totally agree, your first call to action really should not be to donate.  Probably needs to be more about list building…or getting somebody to sign up or ask a question or something that’s gonna begin some type of relationship. Some type of connection.


Lexi: [00:12:24] Exactly.


Adam: [00:12:25] I love that, I love that. Well, let me see if I can recap our conversation up to this point, and then you can fill in the gaps as you see fit, and we’ll talk about some final thoughts. So, for what has worked well, you said ‘Targeted display ads has worked very, very well for you and you’re getting a high return on investment’. Also, native ads in newspapers like advertorials that get promoted, and produced and released in several different types of contexts, has been really helpful, and has helped you to engage people to actually sign up and mentor which is really exciting.


[00:12:56] And you said that under things that haven’t worked as well, ‘small hyper-local publications’, that I think you and I both would have thought would work amazingly well, did not work well. And Facebook ads, though interesting, has not worked nearly as well as the targeted display advertising, which has worked a lot better for you.


Adam: [00:13:13] And for what you’re excited about? Strong calls to action to elicit responsiveness from people to get people more willing to click through and get to know a nonprofit. And that people want to in fact know a nonprofit and really understand the depths of what you are about…and who you are…and kind of begin that relationship, before they get involved in some other way. And being online is sort of helping to expedite that. Did I miss anything for that recount?


Lexi: [00:13:38] No. That was an awesome recap. Thank you.


Adam: [00:13:42] Alright.  I love to take notes and I love to learn. So, this great. These notes will be posted during the episode too online so that other people can benefit from them as needed. So…do you have…Lexi, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with our listeners?


Lexi: [00:13:56] I would just say for anyone who is in a nonprofit, whether you’re a large organization or small organization, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. I know we all have limited budgets, but when you are willing to you know, kind of step out and try something new, that’s often when you can be surprised by some really great results.


Adam:  [00:14:18] I love that. I totally could not agree with you more. Nonprofits need to test…and try…and experiment…and grow…and fail miserably, and try again. So, that’s really fantastic. Well, Lexi, thanks so much for joining the podcast. I really appreciate having you.


Lexi:   [00:14:32] Thank you.  I appreciate your time.


Adam: [00:14:35] And thank you to our listeners for listening to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast. To get more resources about nonprofit digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com, where you can find more podcasts, blogs and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, Adam, your host, you can find me on Twitter, @ajwalker or on my blog at adamjwalker.com, where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks for listening and tune in next time.


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