The Crisp Digital Business Series: Danny Denhard, Director of Growth at JustGiving
In the next interview in this series Matt speaks with Danny Denhard, Director of Growth at JustGiving.
As one of only two people in the world to be named ‘Danny Denhard’, JustGiving’s Marketing Director was always destined to stand out. It’s a fate he’s built for himself, in fact, over an impressive 18 year career in Digital Marketing. After stints in finance, at agencies, at hot-property start-ups and as a consultant, Danny arrived at JustGiving in 2016 with a track record of excellence in Growth and Network-Effect Marketing.
We caught up with Danny as he embarks on an exciting new phase at JustGiving. Heading up the company’s new dedicated Growth team, he’ll be leading the way with quick iterations and digital innovations. We were eager to find out more about the ideas behind his achievements.
Matt: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Danny. First off, how is digital enabling you to engage your markets?
Danny: As JustGiving is one of the largest online marketplaces, digital is very much at the forefront of our strategy. We have three key aims. Firstly, we want to engage our users and our users’ user base.
Secondly, we want to acquire and retain new users through our online digital platform.
Third, we want to make our community happy.
One way we differentiate ourselves in that respect is by creating what we call “shareable assets”. We develop shareables that are hyper-personalised for you – you can even be part of the creation process. In the end, your experience with sharing is much more unique and meaningful. On other platforms, this process is often much more generic. We’ve had real success on offering personalised content, that takes into account exactly what you want to share and when you want to share it. It can be pulled from your personal milestones, your training routine or anything like that, so it’s extremely specific.
Matt: How are you leveraging digital to identify intent?
Danny: Intent is based around identity, and identity can be very different from person to person. Identity variations can be identified from the language that we use. It’s vitally important to understand that, to respect it and to build it into your digital strategy. You and I might look very similar from a demographic standpoint. We might have similar backgrounds, similar intent, similar things we want to achieve. But we might use very different language when it comes to search. Language becomes a unique identifier that reveal what we actually want to do.
I think one thing people fail to remember or sometimes ignore is that almost every user has a number of online identities, and those personality types can be very different. Personal online identity only really came around about ten years ago, with the rise of Facebook and LinkedIn. These platforms are where you’re most likely to be yourself and to be most truthful. Facebook is that one single identity that most people have, which has really shaped the internet into being a place you navigate as yourself, not just as a handle or avatar. LinkedIn, meanwhile, has become your professional identity.
On the other hand we have anonymised platforms like Reddit, where your username and the identity you’ve cultivated drives how you interact to a great extent. Then we have Instagram, which is about aspirational identity: your highly-filtered and edited “best self”.
All these platforms have different messages catering to different types of intent. What’s constantly important throughout is respecting the value of connection between people. For any company, it’s essential to add value to intent. Unpicking how that works is incredibly important, especially in a world where people are using different online platform profiles like Facebook to log in and access your products.
Matt: How is digital enabling you to increase meaningful reach?
Danny: At JustGiving, our purpose is to help people raise money for the causes that they care about. So far, over 24 million people have used our platform. Over $5 billion dollars has been raised for great causes. That money is typically given by our users’ closest friends, their family, their colleagues, their local community and sometimes even by strangers. For us, digital is essential to that process, because it’s where people are most connected.
We’re a network-effect company. Every time one of our users shares something, it triggers different loops and networks. You reach different audiences at different times. It’s vital for us that this process continues. We wouldn’t be able to create positive change to the same extent if we couldn’t work alongside other networks and platforms. Digital is central to understanding and unpicking how to connect with more and wider networks and communities, thereby helping to raise more and more money.
Matt: What trends do you see digital impacting on within marketing in the short-term future?
Danny: I think we will see that digital continues to enable us to target audiences in more specific ways. We’re finding much easier and quicker ways to do segmentation and identify sentiment, so you can target people extremely effectively by understanding what they want. Mid to long-term, digital is always going to be vital to any personal or corporate marketing strategy. I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the only areas where you always need a presence, no matter how big or small you are.
Matt: What one thing do you think digital could do better for JustGiving?
Danny: I think digital is only as good as the information you put into it or expect out of it. Your community is very much restricted by the algorithms and reach that different existing networks offer. So when it comes to the content you share, the format really influences how many people see it and what kind of reach or engagement it achieves within the community, whether it’s an URL, a photo or a video. One thing digital could do better for us is that we have to understand those different nuances more completely so we can leverage digital products and platforms in the most effective ways.
We want our business and our community to become more connected and to raise more money for the great causes our users are passionate about. Digital has already helped to enable that, but the more widespread and popular it becomes, the harder it gets to manage the greater algorithmic filtering that has to be applied. For us, it becomes a case of getting people to understand how that works. They can then develop their own personal narratives and stories in the right way to connect with the best amount of people possible.
Matt: Brilliant and thought-provoking chat Danny, JustGiving is such a fantastic positive brand and it’s been great to hear your thoughts.
Danny: Great connecting with you Matt.
NOTE: If you’d like to be considered for the Crisp Digital Business Series please do get in touch with me via my LinkedIn profile. And of course if you have any digital business needs please do take our Digital Scorecard or get in touch.