A must read for all digital fundraisers – latest free Global Digital Statistics Compendium from We Are Social


It’s that time of year again – when fundraisers the world-around take a breath after the end of year seasonal donation high and get ready to do wonderful things in the year ahead. So, when better to get yourself a good dose of digital market insights to help underpin your planning.

Step forward those generous folks at We Are Social – who are back with a better than ever update on their annual Global Digital, Social, and Mobile Statistics Report.

As well as global summaries, within the reports 376 pages you’ll also find country-specific sections, so you can get some real insight on your own markets as well as understand how you fit into the world-wide picture.

And, best of all – it’s free to download from SlideShare. What’s not to love!

Happy planning!


Kick-off the New Year with a healthy dose of global digital stats

The strategy projects I work on often involve organisations working in multiple countries, so I’m always on the look-out for research reports that offer country-by-country comparative digital usage data – to help assess the need for office-specific variations in plans or expectations.

With this in mind, it was great to see the Global Digital Statistics Report the kind folks at We Are Social Singapore have just made available through Slideshare (you can flick through a copy above).

From Regional Comparison data across internet, mobile, and social media usage, to detailed snapshots on 24 countries, it makes very interesting reading for anyone wanting to keep-up with how the digital world is evolving outside their local market.

12 digital fundraising trends for 2012 #6 Ebooks

Back in November 2007 when Amazon kick-started the eBook market with the launch of its first generation Kindle, suggestions that they could ever come close to replacing printed books were typically treated with disbelief and distain. However, the chart above, presented by Amazon’s CEO last September, tells a pretty clear story about the growth of eBooks since then. In short, it took just four and a half years for Amazon to reach the point where it was selling more eBooks than print editions.

Of course, Amazon isn’t the only print or e-bookseller around. But their competitors have also released reports on the incredible speed at which eBook sales are growing and by the middle of last year eBooks were reported as making-up 13.6% of the US adult fiction market, with growth still accelerating. Barnes and Noble, the largest book retailer in the US, say that this digital transformation is happening even faster than they are seeing with music and movies.

So, whether or not we like the idea of the comforting, multi-sensory experience of reading a printed book (got to love the smell of a newly opened book) being replaced by a StarTrek-like world of digital tablet readers, there is no escaping what the sales data is telling us. In the same way that my great 1980s double cassette tape and record deck got consigned to the attic when CDs came along; and my CD collection now gathers dust as the whole lot fills a puny percentage of my MP3 player’s memory; so we are witnessing here an inescapable shift towards eBook reading.

I admit it is difficult to imagine the sale of printed books drying-up completely (although, of course, we have seen that happen with vinyl records over the last 20 or so years). However, I can fairly easily imagine a significant proportion of the printed versions of ‘throw away’ publications like newspapers and magazines being replaced by interactive digital versions – and that’s where I think this trend starts to look interesting for fundraisers and other charity marketers.

My doormat stands as a testament to the fact that even when a donor engages with a charity online the way that most will respond is primarily through printed and posted materials. These include a range of supporter newsletters and magazines which I’m afraid, despite the obvious time and money invested in them, all too often seem to me the ultimate ‘throw away’ publications. Those organisations who are more serious about online communications send me ‘e-newsletters’, which is better. But, even when they are well designed, these are still really more ’email’ than anything else – so tend to be read when I’m reading other email and as a result receive at best a quick browse.

Meanwhile, a growing proportion of my ‘real’ reading is now done using a mobile digital device – especially when I’m travelling, as I will often take along my Kindle or read an Ebook downloaded onto my smartphone. That’s proper immersive reading – so immersive that I missed a Tube stop the other day because I was so deeply into a book on my phone (I couldn’t have said that a few years ago).

Importantly, this sort of activity can no longer be brushed-off as only seen amongst a small number of early adopters. Pew Research reported last year that the percentage of US adults with an eBook reader doubled in the six months between November 2010 and May 2011 to 12%, and based on the incredible Christmas sales volumes being reported I wouldn’t be surprised if this doubled again in 2012. [Update 23/01/12Latest Pew Research says US eBook reader ownership reached 19% by early January 2012]. Other countries are lagging behind the US, but seem likely to catch-up pretty fast. Here in the UK, YouGov Research reported that 2.5% of UK adults received a eBook reader this Christmas – with those aged over 55 twice as likely to receive one as those aged 18-24. Add-in the massive growth in Smartphones, iPads and other Tablet PCs, which can also function as eBook readers, and the potential market of eBook reading charity supporters starts looking really interesting.

All of which leads me to think that there must be an opportunity emerging here for non-profits looking to offer these digitally-equipped donors a more engaging read than is possible through a traditional e-newsletter. Depending on the platform you choose, think copy, photos, videos, audio, web links, interactivity, even augmented reality – all consumed in a ‘reading’ rather than traditional ‘computer browsing’ mode.

Clearly not all donors will be interested in the option to download a digital publication, and it may be more relevant for subscription publications (if your content is good enough, perhaps that offers you a new income stream?). But as eBook adoption continues apace, it seems likely that a significant number of those who choose to give to you online might find this type of donor communication of real interest.

To-date the only UK charity I know of who is testing this is Epilepsy Action, who have made their Epilepsy Today magazine available for the Kindle. While the Museum of London recently launched an App-based monthly subscription serialised graphic novel to tie-in with their Charles Dickens exhibition, entitled ‘Dickens: Dark London’.

If you know of any other non-profits testing the addition of Ebook content in their donor or member communications then do let me know.

This is the sixth of 12 posts that I’ll be publishing throughout January on trends I think will prove to be important for digital fundraising in 2012. You can find the previous trend post, on Mobile App vs Mobile Web, here.

12 digital fundraising trends for 2012 #5 Mobile App vs Mobile Web

It was back in September 2010 that Wired featured the cover story  ‘The Web is Dead – long live the Internet’, explaining that the traditional means of engaging with data on the Internet by browsing pages on the World Wide Web was fizzling-out as we increasingly turned to Apps to make the connections and access the information we want. This demise being driven by the incredibly rapid adoption of Smartphones – with finger-driven smaller screens on which traditional web browsers typically offer a less than ideal user experience. More heat was added to the debate just last month when the CEO of Forrester Research presented an interesting argument at the Paris LeWeb conference for why the shift from Web browsing to what he termed ‘App-Internet’ is the next natural evolutionary step for all computing.

Based on the sustained hype around Mobile Apps over the last couple of years, including in the non-profit sector, you could easily be led to believe that this evolutionary step has already been made and that if you don’t have a Mobile App at the heart of your next digital campaign then you really can’t be taking digital engagement seriously.

However, the truth is somewhat different and, looking ahead to a year when supporter engagement through mobile digital devices will continue to grow in importance, it is important for non-profit marketers and fundraisers to understand that Apps aren’t always where it’s at for all of their digital engagement needs.

Mobile App use has certainly soared over recent years, but announcement of the Web’s demise remains somewhat premature based on the mobile usage data available. The first signs of the two approaching parity only came at the end of last year, when comScore released data showing the numbers of US mobile device subscribers using Apps just passing those browsing the Web on their device – at 44.9% (up 3.3% in 3mths) vs 44.4% (up 2.3% in 3 mths):

Interestingly, this data was taken by many of those in the App world as evidence that the war was over and Apps had won. But I read it somewhat differently – as the two are both still growing faster than any of the other uses listed (as an aside – you’ll see that texting is still growing apace too, so fundraising growth opportunities continue to be available there). For those interested in the equivalent data for Europe you can read comScore’s EU5 Mobile Benchmark Data for Sept 2011 here – which shows a similar picture

Examining other data helps shed some light on the growth seen in both mobile Web and App use, as it appears that at present consumers are actually using them for somewhat different activities:

If it’s online shopping (the closest category to donating) that you’re into then Mobile Browsers still apparently dominate, as they do for Search. It’s when it comes to users communicating with each other in the ‘Inform’ and ‘Connect’ categories that Apps take the lead (e.g. Twitter and Facebook Apps). This will undoubtedly change over time, with retailers launching App-based catalogues at the same time as HTML5 offers more mobile-friendly options for browser-based UIs – but for now there seems to be a clear Browser/App divide between Spending and Connecting.

With this in mind, when you reach the point of considering mobile opportunities and requirements in your digital fundraising planning this year – don’t just be led off blindly to invest your time and/or money on another charity App to add to the pile of rarely downloaded and even more rarely used vanity apps created over the last couple of years (I know there are some exceptions to this – but I’ve found them sadly few thus far). Stop to think about just what role a mobile Website might play in your strategy as compared to a Mobile App.

It may be that you need one, or both, or neither.

Because, of course, it’s also useful whilst in the midst of the whole Mobile Web vs Mobile App debate to remember that while both are growing apace, Mobile browsing still only makes-up a small proportion of all Web browsing – still under 10% according to recent data from Net Applications:

So perhaps you should begin by focusing on getting your main website and key landing pages performing better – and once that’s underway come back to the question of Mobile App vs Mobile Web?

This is the fifth of 12 posts that I’ll be publishing throughout January on trends I think will prove to be important for digital fundraising in 2012. You can find the previous trend post, on Microdonations, here.

DiscoverDigitalLife.com – great free online insight from TNS

One of the fascinating, and challenging, things about consumer-focused digital planning for clients in different parts of the world is understanding how adoption of different aspects of digital communications technology – from social networks to smartphones – differs from country to country. To help with this, over time I’ve built-up a diverse toolkit of research and data sources and just last month a great new tool was added to this in the shape of the Discover Digital Life study from global research company TNS.

Described as “The largest and most comprehensive study of the global digital consumer, ever.” the study is based on research with almost 50,000 regular online users in 46 markets. This scale means that many countries on which it can be difficult to access comparative data have been included (including Norway – which was especially handy for me as I was preparing my session for the NORDMA MMM @Norge Conference in Oslo last week).

As well as data on ranked importance of different online activities, level of social networking activity, and relative use of computer vs. mobile devices for internet access, it also includes a useful Digital Lifestyles segmentation – from ‘Functionals’ to ‘Influencers’.

Clearly, this makes for a vast amount of research data. However, the nice folks at TNS have made a whole chunk of it available free of charge through a great interactive online tool at discoverdigitallife.com, that lets you not only examine the data for one country but also compare this onscreen with any other country.

Well worth a browse to help you form a clearer picture of the online lives of the consumers you want to engage with.

The fast growing potential for Smartphone Fundraising

Last week, Ericsson analysts announced that, according to their estimates, the world’s 5 billionth mobile phone subscription was reached on Thursday July 8th, and they illustrated the pace of growth with the fact that there are now more mobile subscribers in China alone than there were globally in 2000.

While such a milestone is a clear reminder of the growing ubiquity of mobile phones, it’s actually the parallel growth in mobile broadband subscriptions that Ericsson also report in the same news release that I think is all the more exciting from the fundraising point of view. They forecast 3.4 billion mobile broadband subscribers by 2015, up from 360 million in 2009 – which is in-line with other market estimates and represents the level of growth that has led analysts at Gartner Research to announce earlier this year that mobile phones will actually overtake PCs as the most common web access device world-wide by 2013.

This might seem like a crazy forecast, given the relatively low levels of mobile web use we see today. But with multiple studies showing month on month exponential growth in mobile web user numbers and eMarketer analysts predicting that there will be more mobile internet users in China by the end of this year than the entire population of the US it’s already looking like the technology adoption curve to beat them all.

All of which is why, when I was asked to present the Hot Topic: Digital Fundraising session at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention here in London last week it was Smartphones and the incredible range of new fundraising opportunities their mass adoption looks set to offer us that I took as my hot topic subject.

You can see my full presentation above or view it on Slideshare here – and if you’d like to read more about some of the emerging new fundraising opportunities then you can also take a look at my article in the April edition of the Resource Alliance’s ‘Global Connections’ e-newsletter.


New digital tracking study reveals UK consumer views on promotional email and social media use

Last Thursday I was out at the launch event for the DMA’s Digital Tracker Study, a research initiative (backed by online research company FastMAP and email marketing company SilverPop) that aims to provide regular insights into some of the key questions online marketers are asking in relation to using email and social media use.

I’ve embedded a copy of the main research presentation above, so you can take a look at the top-line findings (or click here to view on SlideShare).

As is always the case with such research, some of the observations just confirm what most good online marketers know already – like the fact that traditional sales promotion techniques (money off or free delivery) work well in email.  But I did find some of the insights related to people’s use of Spam flags and also the difference between use of mobile devices to access emails and social media sites of real interest. Plus, there are also some great headline stats – like almost two thirds of recipients finding less than one in ten promotional emails of interest (which might explain some of the dismal click through rates many email marketers see).

Here are some of the insights that jumped out at me – but do take a look yourself and see if the results confirm or counter your own experience or current thinking:

  • 43% of UK adults receive over 20 promotional emails a week – so there’s lots of competition for attention in their inbox
  • 64% of people find just 1 in ten (or less) of these emails of interest to them – suggesting that if you can be truly relevant than you can really stand-out
  • 19% of people will flag your email as Spam if they feel they receive too many and 18% will Spam flag emails they don’t recall signing-up for- so make sure you send a memorable ‘welcome’ email in response to every sign-up and then watch your frequency if you don’t want your email campaigns blacklisted (although the more relevant and thus ‘valuable’ your email, the less frequency should be a concern)
  • A further 8% use the Spam flag instead of opting-out if the opt-out process seems too slow or unclear – so, again you’re risking blacklisting if you don’t make it as easy to opt-out as you did to opt-in
  • The majority of email is still read on desktop (67%) or laptop (49%) devices – but 11% of adults now also read them on mobile devices
  • Interestingly, this contrasts with 18% of people using mobile devices to access their social networks – suggesting a very different mode of use between email and social networks, which marketers need to take into account