With its year-old custom Web page program, the American Diabetes Association has demonstrated that consumers respond well to tailored offerings. Visitors who’ve signed up for customized Web sites since the program was launched in November 1998 have made an average donation of $60, more than three times the non-Web donation of $17.
The customization process is relatively nonintrusive. All the ADA requests is the type of diabetes the visitor has (immune-mediated or not), if any; a ZIP code to promote local events; and whether the visitor is a health care provider. Visitors are then steered to a page where they can indicate the type of information they wish to receive – news updates, product developments, nutritional information, and research bulletins. The Alexandria, VA-based organization maintains a rolling database of articles and site links, and has a dedicated specialist who classifies articles according to 17 interest categories.
Once information is collected, a custom site pops up when the person logs onto the ADA’s URL (www.diabetes.org). Visitors with type one diabetes, for instance, might receive bulletins on new pumps that others might not. Even sidebar advertisements are customized: a healthcare practitioner would not view information about anti-diabetes discrimination or fundraising efforts. And the content is updated at least once a day.
Joanne DelGiorno, the ADA’s national director of direct response marketing, feels that asking about the information desired is less intrusive than survey questions. “We figure that by opening up the dialog, essential data will come eventually,” she says. “We are anticipating a long-term relationship, not a one-time hit.”
The time when transactional data is incorporated into a profile may not be far off. The ADA has entered into a relationship with online retailer ValueAmerica.com, and will be able to base some of its content and positioning decisions off visitors’ spending patterns, such as soliciting participation in a bike-a-thon to people who recently purchased a helmet.
The Web program is an outgrowth of the ADA’s direct mail donor campaign, coordinated by Burlington, MA-based DM services bureau Epsilon. Three years ago, under Epsilon’s tutelage, the organization set the goal of identifying its donors, and created an “I have diabetes” flag within its file. These donors (there are currently more than half a million in the file) have proven to be the organization’s most valuable: on average, their donations are $10 higher per name than non-diabetics.