Direct mail is pretty much a thing of the past; TV and radio spots are expensive; and those little neighborhood journals thrown on driveways are run over and thrown in the trash. So how does a non-profit develop and implement a marketing strategy? It has to be digital, of course. And developing a marketing strategy really must first and foremost focus on your goals:
Are you trying to get greater participation? Perhaps you are offering classes or instruction of some sort, and you are trying to increase the number of participants. Perhaps you have a campus organization of Jewish students and you are looking to increase membership.
Are you trying to improve your financial picture? Maybe you have a school that needs more enrollees so that you can continue to thrive and support your mission; perhaps you are looking for donors to continue the projects and outreach programs you have.
Once you have those goals clearly established, you are ready to develop you digital content marketing strategies that will help meet them. Here are 7 possibilities for you to consider.
Develop and Maintain a Website Blog
This is no longer an option for any organization, profit or non-profit. If you don’t have a blog as a part of your website, with regular postings of great content, you are already “behind the 8-ball.” If you use the right platform (e.g. WordPress), you can get a whole host of plug-ins that will allow you to post media of all kinds, such as videos, but so much more:
You can insert share buttons, so that readers can share your great content on their social media pages
You can provide for reader comments and feedback to which you can respond. Getting conversations going is a great way to boost readership and “conversions” (getting people to do what you want them to do).
You can link to your blog posts from your social media pages with compelling “teasers” that will bring readers to your posts
You can tell your story. Blogs are a great way to talk about your organization and what it does. You can feature members of your team; you can insert photos and videos of events – anything that will increase traffic and readership.
If you are going to have a blog, remember that you cannot “ignore” it for periods of time. You must have posts on a very regular basis if you want people to continue to come and read. Once you let it “lag” you lose readers and they don’t come back!
And if you are going to blog, do some research and learn how to create a blog that will engage people from the start and keep them reading.
Use Social Media for all It’s worth
Facebook is obviously the preferred social media site of the majority of Internet users. And if you will have a page that is really engaging, you can drive people back to your site and blog via your page. You can use your page for so much:
Invite people to events
Put in “teasers” to great blog posts on your site with a link to them
Publish photos and videos of all of your good works
Ask visitors to share information about what you are doing – and give them a chance to participate in what you do.
Use Instagram and Twitter to drive people to your Facebook page or to your site and blog. Tweet out teasers to special elements on your site or posts on your blog.
Consider a Microsite
Particularly if you are involved in donation campaigns, it is a good idea to have a microsite dedicated to that purpose alone. You can have links to that site on your regular site and on all of your social media pages. On your microsite, you want to have lots of media that focuses on the great work that you do – showing your team members in actions and the recipients of the activities and programs that you have. Evoking emotional responses on the part of readers is always good, and most people want to feel that they are contributing to a really worthwhile cause. Show them that you are really worthwhile.
Place Ads on Strategic Websites
You know your target audience. Where do they hang out besides Facebook? Probably on other websites that are important to them. Purchase ads on those websites or set up reciprocal arrangements that can mutually place ads on each other’s sites. For this to be effective, you really need to find the right sites. Contract with a firm that can find these sites and write great ads might be a wise expense.
Direct Mail My Be a Dinosaur, but Email is Not
Again, once you know your target audience, you can develop email lists. You can add to those lists by engaging visitors and offering them something. They have to provide an email address to get it. This is called “gated content.” Over time, you will develop a solid list so that you can begin to send out newsletters. Make the subject title really catchy and compelling, and most will open them. Give readers a chance to share your newsletters with other – put those buttons right in the email itself.
Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Website/Blog
You need to get a feel for how well your content is doing, so you know what to do more of and what to change. Google analytics is free, and you can get all kinds of great information from these reports – how many new visitors are you getting in a given period of time? How long are they staying on each page? Where are they bouncing (leaving your site or blog), how many shares are you getting per blog post? All of this information should drive what you revise and what you keep.
Be Aware of Emotional Appeals
There is a lot of research out there on appealing to emotions of visitors and readers. Read up on some of this and see if you can gear your content to appeal to these emotions. When you entertain, add some humor, or tell a really poignant story, you capture interest and a willingness to take the next step to participate. Think about this as you design your site content, as you come up with topics for your posts, and as you post things on social media.
There you have it – 7 steps you can take right now to grow your readership and get people involved in your organization’s goals and mission.
About the author: Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes at Premier Essay about education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.