effective digital marketing for nonprofit

Nine Unique and Effective Digital Marketing ideas for Nonprofits

Watch on Youtube or read the transcript below 

In the world of nonprofit marketing, you are always looking for new ways to get more people involved in your cause. Whether that’s by increasing traffic to your website or raising more money through donations, there are a number of tactics you can use. This this video will cover 9 digital marketing strategies for nonprofits and how they can be effective!

First, understand your target audience.

A lot of marketing experts say that the first step is to know your audience. If you’re not sure who might be interested in your cause, it’s worth investing some time and energy researching them before launching any social media campaigns or posts. Before you can market effectively, you have to find out what your biggest supporters are like. Here are a few questions to get started:
  • What do they do?
  • What are they like? 
  • How much have they given? 
  • How much have they volunteered? 
  • Have they found you by themselves, or did someone introduce you to them? 
  • What do they love about you the most right now?
These questions will help you understand your target audience to make sure that you are communicating well with them.

An ideal target audience persona is essentially a pretend biography with all kinds of information about them. To create one, gather everything you know about your most important donors and volunteers. Then, write it down as if it were only a person or a mere section of them.

All your marketing materials should speak directly to that person. It is an effective tool that makes your message more personal and focuses your message. Best of all, your marketing will speak more directly to prospects who share your persona’s characteristics and interests. The more information you have about potential supporters, the easier it will be for you to tailor your message so it resonates with them! understanding your target audience is the first step in creating an effective marketing campaign.

Personas are a powerful tool for nonprofit marketers, but they’re not always easy to identify or understand. It’s worth spending a little time considering who your audience is and what you know about them before diving into persona development. 
  • Think about passions, likes/dislikes, interests, volunteer work. Any information you have about potential supporters will be helpful when identifying their traits and motivations;
  • Your prospect research may provide valuable insights on characteristics unique to specific segments of your target population. These could include demographics, such as age, or behaviors, such as volunteering or social media usage patterns.

Second, develop content that your audience will enjoy.

To market effectively, you’ve got to have a plan in place to keep you focused on your goals and prevent you from chasing every exciting idea you come across. Your plan will help you quickly identify what’s working and improve it, rather than spending time on work that will not lead to your intended outcomes.
A development plan is a key tool for building awareness of your nonprofit organization’s programs, services or mission as well as communicating the value you provide.
Most prospects will not be interested in hearing about everything at once. Identifying which pieces of information are most relevant to each audience segment can help guide your marketing efforts;
Developing an effective message takes some trial and error. Experimentation can be more fruitful if you have a system in place for evaluating how successful messages really are, so you know where to focus next.
Let’s say you run an environmental nonprofit and understand your target audience is Millennials who are very concerned about the future but are frustrated because they don’t know how to make a difference in sustaining the environment. You could create a series of videos or blog posts on ways that members of your organization have made an impact on the environment through your nonprofit. Knowing that Millennials are likely to be very active on social media and are consumers of video content are two important things to be aware of when considering what content to create. If instead, your nonprofit is targeting an elderly audience, your strategies might include email, direct mail, and phone calls. 


Third, learn how to communicate effectively on various social media platforms.

No two social media platforms are the same, so why blast the same message across all your platforms?
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all freeways your nonprofit can communicate valuable content to prospective donors. Facebook has a higher percentage of users who use it daily, which means more opportunities for leading potential donors to your site. However, Facebook also has an algorithm, where posts with lower engagement rates will eventually disappear from feeds. To counter that, post multiple times each day. 
Twitter messages only last around 20 minutes before disappearing into oblivion. Tweets may go viral easier than Facebook posts. 
Blogging is a powerful digital marketing tool for nonprofits because it helps people find you through search engines.  It also has the power of social media behind it, so when someone shares your blog post they’re sharing content with their followers, who may then share with theirs and on and on. Posting blogs not only gives prospective donors information about what you do but can help get them more invested in helping out.

Fourth, communicate consistently.

Educating your donors on what you do and how they can help is a basic step towards converting them into a donor.
Communicate with consistency by sending out emails at least once every two weeks to those who donate or volunteer with your organization.
Treat email like a social platform.  Create a list of subscribers and segment them into different categories using tags.
You could have one list for potential donors who signed up to volunteer or made their first donation, sending them emails about the work your organization does. But if you had two lists—volunteers who donate and volunteers without donations—you’d want to communicate with each group differently because it’s likely that those on the second list will respond better to messages about how they can make an impact in other ways than donating money. Use social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and email marketing tools such as Constant Contact, but don’t spam people by flooding their inboxes with too many updates from various platforms! 
If you’re great at communicating via video, do so on a regular basis.
Be aware of your audience and the best way to reach them. Creating meaningful connections between people will increase engagement in whatever forms make sense for your nonprofit. You can create an online community where everyone listens and understands each other’s needs.

Fifth, be a storyteller

Whether you’re telling an audience about the need for your nonprofit’s services or mobilizing people to help with a major campaign, storytelling is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. 
It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or likes you get on Facebook if people don’t care about what you do and why they should support it. Without a compelling story, all those statistics mean little in terms of getting people excited to be part of your mission. You need to understand your story and tell it in a way that’s authentic. 
What are the best ways for you to communicate what makes your nonprofit so unique? How can you use storytelling on social media, website content, presentations or email newsletters?
Every story should have
  1. Characters: People who will get help from your organization.
  2. Conflict: The problems your organization is working to solve.
Resolution: How your organization is making a difference.
Consider using the app storybird.com. I’ve provided a link in the description button below


Review your website and ensure that it is working for you rather than against you.

For many nonprofits, even the TOPIC of the website is a sore subject! You know how important it is to have an attractive, functional website, but how do you get to that point? How do you know if your website is working or not? 
There are a few things I look for immediately when I’m evaluating a website.
Is there a prominent ‘Donate’ button above the fold (which means what is visible prior to scrolling down)? You need to make it easy to donate, become a member, and volunteer, and make it obvious where to do so.
Does it look good? If your site looks like it was designed in 2003, it WILL hurt your credibility and trustworthiness.
Look for ways to optimize your website so that it is more user-friendly. Optimizing your site will help you to rank higher in search engine rankings, which means that potential donors and volunteers are more likely to find you when they need assistance. Optimization should also include updating the content on a regular basis and focusing on keyword phrases related to what you do as well as how people can get involved with what your organization does.
Taking the time to process what your nonprofit has to offer enables web visitors to transition seamlessly into a subscribe page that will encourage them.


Seventh, always work on expanding your email list.

Email is still the most popular way to reach potential donors, volunteers, and constituents. Researchers at Penn State found that “The vast majority of people who are reached through email donate.”
You should be using a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact (or another mass-email campaign platform) for donating campaigns because you can typically set up automated follow-ups to let recipients know about your organization’s latest happenings in an easy, convenient manner.
By using digital marketing, you can offer your visitors resources to help them meet objectives and goals.
Create a guide that tells your story or solves a problem for your audience, educating people about your cause, your organization, or other key information that they should know.
Create and promote an online petition to amass a list of potential supporters.
A survey is another way to get key information from people who share a common interest with your nonprofit’s mission. To begin, make sure that you have the right information such as questions and start building your list as you go.
Create an email course on a topic that your audience would want.
Develop a video series related to your most popular blog posts and send them out in separate, sequenced emails.
Make a cheat sheet: For example, if you have a focus on nutrition or local foods, make a PDF of a list of all the local farms and their specialties in your area.
In lieu of the traditional ‘sign up for our newsletter’, focus your efforts on asking people to sign up to your email list in exchange for access to one of the above. There’s much more incentive for website visitors to do so, and you’ll start off on the right foot by providing value to their lives and welcoming them into your community! 


Eight, find tools and resources to help your marketing efforts.

Marketing is SO much easier when you have an arsenal of tools and resources to help you do better work and save time and money. Everyone has different needs and interests, so I suggest doing your research to find the tools that will help you.
Here are a few resources that I find valuable. I don’t have any affiliation with any of these. I just use and like them all. 
Create a spreadsheet of your top keywords and then research tools that can help you rank for those keywords.
Find out what other nonprofits are doing in their marketing efforts, both digitally and offline. What do they post on social media? How often? Are there any videos or infographics they have created to share with the public?


And lastly, DON’T use ‘me marketing,’ use ‘you marketing.’

The focus of your marketing materials should be either your organization or your target audience. Sure, you need to communicate what your nonprofit stands for, but how are you including the target audience in the story?
People will enter your organization from a variety of angles and from a variety of vantage points because of your involvement in the community. It is your job to ensure that visitors feel comfortable as they make their way through your organization and find meaningful ways to become involved.

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