July 29, 2010
Case Study

'Mind Type' Segmenting Lifts Email Donations 42.5%: 6 Steps to Find Subscribers' Underlying Motivations

SUMMARY: If you want email subscribers to respond to a call-to-action, you need to understand what motivates them. The problem is, different groups within your database have different motivators.

See how the marketing team at the American Heart Association solved this problem with a take on segmentation called "mind type." By researching its database and uncovering the key interest areas of four unique groups, the AHA created an email nurturing campaign that spoke directly to subscriber motivations and increased donation rates 42.5%.
by Sean Donahue, Editor


Anu Gandhi, Director of Marketing, Consumer Health, American Heart Association, has a special responsibility to her email subscribers. She and her team support the AHA's "Go Red For Women" campaign, a national effort to raise awareness about the risk of heart disease in women.

Thanks to online and offline efforts, the cause-marketing campaign had a large following of women committed to improving their own heart health and spreading the word to their peers. Regular email communication was an essential tool in their awareness effort, but those messages were lagging in one key area -- online fundraising to support the cause.

The team wanted to improve email fundraising efforts, but in a way that didn't upset an audience who may have signed up for email for a variety of other reasons.

"We have a lot of accountability to provide information on health, heart disease prevention and what women can do to take care of themselves," says Gandhi. "We not only have to fund raise, we have to deliver these messages about getting them healthy."

To balance the goals of the email messages, the team needed to understand more about subscribers and what motivates them to be a part of the "Go Red For Women" effort.


Through careful database and audience research, the team segmented its list according to a variation on personas called "mind type," developed by Howard Moskowitz of Moskowitz Jacobs, Inc.

This approach organizes subscribers according to the messages they respond to, and thus captures their underlying motivations -- even if they were not aware of or could not articulate those motivations.

The team created subgroups within its database according to mind type, then delivered an email nurturing campaign that matched messages (stimulus) to a response. During that email sequence, a donation call-to-action was gradually given more prominence.

Here are six steps the team followed to create the mind types and develop an email nurturing campaign:

Step #1. Study the audience to understand motivations

The team used a combination of database research and audience surveys to understand the audience's interest areas:

- Database study

Roughly every two years, Gandhi's team conducted a database study to understand the makeup of its list. The team fielded a survey and studied results to find patterns such as:
o Age groups
o Ethnicity
o How they came into the database
o Activities in which they participate, such as attending luncheons, celebrating "Go Red For Women" Day, etc.
o Health and lifestyle changes they've made since joining

This research provided some of the background for identifying audience mind types.

- Focus groups

The team also convened a panel of 1,505 participants (482 current or past donors and 1,023 non-donors) to answer questions about their engagement with the "Go Red For Women" cause.

An online survey presented the panel with a series of statements related to Go Red, and asked them to rate how likely they would be to donate to the cause after reading those statements.

The statements contained a mix of concepts that could be used in future messaging, such as:
o Funding provides cutting-edge research and lifesaving public and professional education programs to help fight heart disease
o Wear your red proudly to support the fight against heart disease in women
o Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of American women
o Have an impact on the life of your friends... start the conversation about heart disease -- and the steps you and your girlfriends can take to reduce their risk

Step #2. Identify four main mind types

The team used statistical analysis to score individual messaging elements and find clusters of people motivated by the same concepts.

The results identified four major mind types:

- Help me do it

These supporters were seeking information and tools to help them take charge of their own heart health. For example, they were particularly interested in health tips, exercise techniques and heart-healthy recipes.

- Personal accountability

These supporters were seeking ways to take control of their heart health. They wanted tools to track their progress, or advice on sticking to guidelines recommended by "Go Red For Women."

- Education and how to get involved

These supporters were interested in the research that drives the "Go Red For Women" campaign. They also were looking for ways to get personally involved with educating others, such as participating in "Go Red For Women" Day and discussing the issue of heart health with friends and family.

- Solidarity and making the right choice

These supporters wanted to be part of a group of like-minded individuals. They sought information, inspiration and connections with other "Go Red For Women" supporters.

Step #3. Create message map according to mind type

With the four mind types identified, the team examined the existing "Go Red For Women" content library to find information and tools that would appeal to the different groups. The team also looked for gaps to fill with new content.

The process allowed the team to develop a message map for a series of nurturing messages uniquely targeted to each group.

- Content organized by mind type:

Each mind type track featured four messages with content pieces selected to resonate with that segment of the database. For example, content pieces selected for the "Help me do it" mind type included:
o Heart-healthy grocery shopping lists
o Educational content on warning signs for stroke and heart attack
o Information and checklist on what to expect from a heart check up

- Content and copy to move recipients through engagement cycle:

Because it was a nurturing program, the team also designed messages to gradually increase the recipient's engagement with the "Go Red For Women" campaign -- and inspire them to make a donation. They identified four phases of engagement, representative of a typical supporter's experience as they become more involved with the movement.

The four engagement stages were:
o Initial interest/information seeking
o Internal behavior changes
o External behavior changes
o Donor

Here's how the nurturing series looked for the "Help me do it" mind type:

- Email #1. Initial interest and information seeking:
o Headline -- "Every Choice You Make Has an Impact. It starts with your grocery list"
o Content -- Online shopping list generator, information about the AHA's heart-check mark labeling system for heart-healthy foods, more information about shopping for heart-healthy foods

- Email #2. Internal behavior changes:
o Headline -- "Empower Yourself with the Answers. Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack?"
o Content -- Heart attack warning signs, stroke warning signs, information on dialing 911 in emergencies

- Email #3. External behavior changes:
o Headline -- "Use your birthday as a reminder to check your heart health. Do you know your numbers?"
o Content -- Checklist and benchmarks for a heart checkup, invitation to join Go Red's BetterU progam, an online nutrition and fitness program, heart-healthy recipes

- Email #4. Donation
o Headline -- "Our Hearts. Our Choice. Take Charge of your Life..."
o Content -- Multiple donation calls-to-action, description of how a donation helps the Go Red cause, link to online shopping to support "Go Red for Women"

Step #4. Select a portion of the database for pilot email program

To test this new nurturing series, the team carved out a portion of its database to receive mind-typed emails. They chose 4.23% of the database at random to receive the nurturing series.

Step #5. Survey audience to assign recipients to a mind type

Before sending emails, the team needed to segment this portion of its database according to mind type. The problem was, the team didn't know in advance which mind type was the best fit for each subscriber.

To segment the audience, the team built an online survey that was fielded to recipients at the first point of engagement in the pilot program.

"In some ways, we were asking them to tell us what kind of newsletter they wanted to get," says Gandhi.

- The survey featured five statements related to "Go Red for Women" or heart health, and asked recipients to rate how each statement resonated with them on a scale of 1-9 (one being "not at all," and nine being "very much").

- The five statements were:
o Funding provides cutting-edge research and lifesaving public and professional educational programs to help fight heart disease.
o "Go Red For Women" ignites women's energy, passion and power to band together and wipe out heart disease.
o Every choice you make can have an impact on your life. Our Hearts. Our Choice. Choose To Live.
o For as little as $25, you can make a difference today.
o Use your birthday as a reminder that it's time to know your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose numbers.

- Subscribers in the pilot program received a preliminary outbound email that featured a range of content links. Recipients who clicked on a link within that email were presented with the survey page before being taken to their destination.

- The team used an algorithm to assign subscribers to a mind type based on their answers to the survey.

Subscribers that did not take the survey were assigned to two default mind types:
o Personal accountability
o Education and how to get involved

Step #6. Send nurturing messages and monitor metrics

Once subscribers had been assigned to a mind type, the team sent the appropriate four-message nurturing series. Emails were sent every two to three weeks.

As mentioned above, the messages' content and copy was designed to move recipients through the engagement cycle and encourage donations. But the final email's donation call-to-action was also highlighted in a red box, surrounded by copy written to appeal to the motivations of each mind type.

For example, the "Education and how to get involved" final message featured the following copy for its donation call-to-action:

"Did you know -- Heart attacks and heart disease can strike even when you are in good health, and without warning.

"What we can do -- Unite to raise awareness and take action against heart disease. Education and research can help keep thousands of women from dying each year."

Messages tailored a recipient's specific mind type made strong connections with the audience. In general, Gandhi and her team saw that people who were mind-typed were twice as likely to respond to an email, either by opening, clicking or donating.

"I'm really happy with way it worked out for a number of reasons," says Gandhi. "There are donations, and also engagement -- how many people are clicking, opening emails, and doing things."

The team used its "Personal accountability" and "Education and how to get involved" segments to compare the impact of mind typing. Those were the two segments that included both recipients who had self-selected the mind type through the survey, as well as those who had not responded to the survey and therefore were not mind typed -- i.e. a control group:

- Open rates for the "Personal accountability" segment increased from about 30% to 40% for subscribers that had been mind typed.

- Open rates for the "Education and how to get involved" segment increased by five to six percentage points for subscribers that had been mind typed.

- Clickthrough rates for the "Personal accountability" segment increased from about 10% to 20% for subscribers that had been mind typed.

- Clickthrough rates for the "Education and how to get involved" segment increased by about four percentage points for subscribers that had been mind typed.

- Donation rates were 42.5% higher from subscribers who had been mind typed.

Based on these promising results, Gandhi and her team are working to apply mind types to the entire database. The program offers a clear way to match email messaging with the issues that are most important to individuals in a large, diverse database.

"It's good because it lays [your segments] out in a way that's really clear," says Gandhi. "It's hard to differentiate one subscriber from another."

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from the AHA's mind type email segmenting pilot program

Members Library -- How to Refine Your Database: 4 Important Variables to Track for Ultimate Segmentation Strategy

Members Library -- How to Use Personas to Lift Revenue 500% in 7 Easy-to-Follow Steps

MarketNet Services provided the mind type strategy and developed the email nurturing campaign

Moskowitz Jacobs, Inc.

Go Red For Women

American Heart Association

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