The biggest revolution in the last few decades has been the emergence of the internet and with it digital marketing. This has transformed how nonprofits conduct marketing — making it unnecessary to have ads in a newspaper or on TV, let alone send letters via the post soliciting donations.
In this article, we will look at some digital marketing tips that are important to the success of a nonprofit in the modern age. These tips will keep your nonprofit competitive and in sync with stakeholders.
What is digital marketing and how can it benefit your nonprofit
Digital marketing refers to the process of using electronic devices and the internet for marketing. This includes such activities as building a website, placing ads on social media platforms, blogging, emailing, etc. Digital marketing is an invaluable tool regardless of the size of your organization or target audience.
Here are just a few of the benefits of adopting digital marketing:
- Attract more funding: You can easily and quickly connect with ideal donors and other stakeholders anywhere on the planet. A website or social media page gives you access to a global audience.
- Save on marketing: Most digital marketing channels are cheaper when compared to offline options. 49% of organizations say digital marketing gets them the best ROI.
- Build stronger relationships: Digital marketing tools allow you to personalize and customize your marketing messages for each donor based on actions taken, interests, and other factors. This results in stronger and more intimate relationships with your donors.
- Build credibility: Research indicates that trust in nonprofits has been declining at a rapid pace. So before donating, people want to find out more about your nonprofit. And guess where they do their research? Online, which may include your website and social media pages.
Top 5 digital marketing tips your nonprofit can’t do without
1. Invest in email marketing
Despite so many gurus predicting that email is dying, it is still one of the communication mediums with the highest Return on Investment (ROI), with every $1 invested bringing back $40.
Email marketing involves building a database of email addresses of people who have donated, volunteered, or shown interest in your nonprofit. You can send emails to these people asking for more donations or support at any time. The more subscribers you have, the better.
And the best part is you can get started with email marketing for free on most email marketing platforms. But even if you outgrow the free plan, paid plans are very affordable.
However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for if you want to get the most from email marketing. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Have a Call to Action (CTA): You wouldn’t believe how many times organizations send emails without CTAs. Always make it a point to ask people to take some form of action, be it reading your blog, donating, or following your organization on social media. But then don’t make the mistake of thinking the more CTAs the better. Studies indicate that having just a single CTA button increases clicks by 371%. So, if the CTA button is “Donate Now,” don’t also have another button asking them to visit your YouTube Channel.
- No long paragraphs: There is nothing worse than an email with paragraphs that stretch out like oceans. Such large bodies of text may be bearable on a large computer screen, but remember that most people read emails on their smartphones. So, do your subscribers a favor — keep paragraphs short. Research by the Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack III found that short paragraphs, 1 or 2 sentences, get more than twice the attention online.
- Segment your list: Even if you have the most persuasive copywriters on your team, if you’re blasting the same message to your whole list, your email statistics will be depressing. You need to know what your readers want to hear, group them based on these similarities, and send emails that are in line with the needs of each group. As an example, your volunteers will want different content from what your donors may need.
- Personalize your emails: Write each email as if you are sending it to one person. The more you personalize, the more interesting and engaging your emails will be.
- Use email automation: One of the best things about email marketing is the automation options you get. You can have a series of emails written in advance and set them up to go automatically based on what action the user has taken. If they subscribe, for example, you may have a series of emails set up to thank them and ask for a donation. And if they donate, you may have another series of emails ready to go thanking them for the donation, and perhaps asking them to consider joining your monthly donation program. This saves you plenty of time as you don’t have to send each email individually. And each email sent is customized based on where the subscriber is in their journey.
2. Create a strong social media presence
While email is for nurturing the people who already know your nonprofit, social media is great for creating awareness among strangers. And there are so many platforms to use, from Facebook to TikTok. You can open an account on any of these platforms (pro tip: find ones that resonate with your audience!), which is free, and start creating content.
Anyone on the platform can see your content and engage with your nonprofit. If they are interested in your cause, they may even decide to follow you. Social media networks are constantly changing their rules and features. But the key to success never changes — keep creating great content consistently. This also dramatically improves your chances of getting discovered.
Another thing you need to think about is the platforms you will be using. This is tricky as you need to target the platforms your ideal audience is already using. Each social network has its distinct demographic profile. So, do some research. Here are the top social networks worth checking out:
- Facebook — It is one of the biggest social media networks out there. And 97% of nonprofits say that they have a Facebook page.
- TikTok: Although a new player in the social media space, TikTok is quickly proving to be an invaluable tool for anyone serious about digital marketing. It’s great for connecting with Gen Z donors, which account for 60% of users on the platform.
- Instagram: 73% of nonprofits use Instagram for digital marketing, and this number is only going to continue growing with time. Instagram is also great for connecting with younger donors.
- Twitter: It has been around since 2006 making it one of the biggest and most important social networks. And it also has a very active community. It’s the second most important social network after Facebook for nonprofits.
- YouTube: 57% of people who watch nonprofit videos end up making a donation, making YouTube a great idea if you are serious about increasing your social media presence.
3. Do more virtual fundraisers
Advancements in digital communication have furthered the popularity of virtual fundraisers. Instead of inviting people for a physical fundraiser, you can host the fundraiser on the internet, allowing everyone to attend virtually.
And there are thousands of stories of nonprofits raising millions fully online. The Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation raised over $1.2 million with an online 50/50 raffle. In only 24 hours, over $2.3 million was raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital via a live-streaming video game fundraiser.
Since the world is quickly moving online, it isn’t far-fetched to conclude that virtual fundraisers are the future of fundraising. The best part about these virtual events is that they are easy to organize. And they don’t cost as much as their offline counterparts — you don’t have to book a venue, organize food, security, etc.
With a virtual event, people can attend the fundraiser from the comfort of their homes. And since you are not limited by space constraints as you would with a physical room, you can have hundreds of thousands of people attending your event at once from all over the world. In the past, this kind of wide reach would cost a fortune, but not anymore.
Here are some virtual fundraisers you can organize:
- Virtual gala
- Virtual race
- Virtual tour
- Online raffle
- Online Sweepstakes
- Virtual concert
- Virtual happy hour
- Virtual auction
- Livestreaming video game fundraiser
4. Focus on creating magnetic content
You have probably heard the phrase “content is king.” It was popular in the early decades of the internet and it remains true even today. If you want people to pay attention to your digital marketing efforts, you better have something worth saying.
So what makes great content? The rule is simple — the content needs to be useful, entertaining, engaging, and credible. People are on the internet to learn and to be entertained. So if your content checks these boxes, you should be good. Your content can be an article, a video, an infographic, a social post, a podcast, or an ebook.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you are creating your content:
- Embrace the power of storytelling: It’s almost impossible to have bad content when telling a story. And being a nonprofit, you should have lots of these. The stories could be related to the work you are doing, the lives you have impacted, etc.
- Break text with colorful graphics: Content just doesn’t mean text. You can also share your message with images, graphs, and other visual elements.
- Answer questions: One of the simplest ways to write great content is to simply answer questions. This is especially helpful if you run out of things to say or are wondering what content your readers may be interested in.
- Use video: Video is probably the best way to share your content. In the last couple of years, it has exploded in popularity. Another benefit is that video makes consuming content easier than text alone.
5. Improve your website
The sad thing about nonprofits is that they don’t invest in good-looking, easy-to-use websites. If you are to succeed with digital marketing, your website should be the #1 thing to improve. Remember, this is where your donation pages will reside. So, not only do you want the website to function properly, but you also want it to give the right first impression.
Here are some ideas:
- Mobile first: When creating pages, think mobile first as people now mostly browse the internet on their phones. Ensure that text is easy to read and that all other elements are adapted for small screens. Everything must be tap friendly.
- Improve your SEO: A simple way of getting free traffic is via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which refers to the process of following the best practices to have your website show in search results. You may need to use the right keywords, build backlinks, and have authoritative content to improve your SEO.
- Improve website speed: When it comes to browsing, slow speed kills. If your website takes too long to load, people are not going to stick around. This is why it’s important that your website loads in at least 2 seconds. You can achieve this by using compressed images and removing any elements that are slowing your website down.
- Streamline the donation process: Don’t have too many pages leading to the donation. The more streamlined your donation possess, the more donations you will get.
It’s impossible to struggle as a nonprofit if your marketing is good. That’s because great marketing will create more awareness about your cause, and get you more funds. And digital marketing is the one tool you can’t ignore if you want to stay competitive in your niche and reach the right stakeholders. The 5 tips shared in this article should help you build a solid digital marketing strategy.