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Digital Marketing for Nonprofits. 5 Mistakes to Avoid.

by Dan Linn on Sep 26, 2018 5:28:14 PM

Whether it’s gala events, soliciting donors or selling raffle tickets, nonprofit organizations live and die by theirdigital_marketing_for_nonprofits budgets and funding streams.

Finding a steady revenue stream can be vexing especially for smaller nonprofits.

Irrespective of their tenure as nonprofit digital marketers, newbies and seasoned professionals alike, are prone to make mistakes as they execute their programs and campaigns.

Because digital marketing is changing so quickly there’s a tendency to always look towards the next best thing and focus less on the lessons of the past.

But developing an awareness and understanding of past mistakes is one of the best ways to pave a path to future success.

Being aware of the most common nonprofit digital marketing mistakes can help ensure your organization avoids them in the future.

With that in mind, here are 5 of the most common missteps nonprofits frequently make.

Mistake #1; Not Knowing Your Audience. Most nonprofit marketers become consumed with the mechanics of digital marketing. For example, how to use Google AdWords to figure out ad unit sizes, without realizing that they need to understand their target audience.

As a marketer, you need to use the language that best resonates with your target personas.

It’s entirely possible that you will use a variety of descriptors at different times during the donor journey.

Being attuned to your audience gives you credibility that sets your nonprofit apart in the competition for donor dollars.

Key conclusions for gaining target audience insights include; talking to donors and your development team to discover what prospective donors care about.

Verify your assumptions to confirm or unmask what you assume about your target audience. Remember that this is not a one-time exercise, you need to validate your personas continuously.

Finally, to clear any doubts test your messaging with a select subset of your audience.

Mistake #2; No Social Media Strategy. Whether you choose to develop an organic social media strategy, a paid social media strategy or a blend of both, it’s vital to include one on your checklist.

A Bloomberg sponsored survey of over 500 nonprofits in 2017 shows that social media is the top channel for 9 different functions including sharing organizational news, supporter recognition, event promotion, fundraising and volunteer recruitment.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are all major communities where people spend significant time and it’s a huge mistake to overlook these digital marketing opportunities.

Key conclusions for social media strategy include; don’t underestimate the value of social media. Make social media a priority, try more than one network, but start small and be patient as it takes time to build up a following, find your niche, develop your voice and await the impact of your efforts.

Mistake #3; No Effective Use of Video. Video can have a huge impact for charities because this medium offers a chance to showcase the problems they’re trying to combat.

Using video will allow your organization to spread awareness about your nonprofit and trigger an emotional response that other media types aren’t capable of evoking.

Video doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of volunteers out there both at the amateur and professional level to lend a hand.

For video content there are student actors to act, staff members to interview or people who have been affected by the issues you’re campaigning on that are happy to talk about those issues.

Key conclusions for effective use of video; there are lots of different video types that your nonprofit could consider including trailers, animations, discussions, interviews and debates. Remember, the most important thing in the video is the message.

Determine the goals for your video before you create it. Is the primary goal to spread awareness, or encourage donations?

A good way to promote your video is through outreach. Contact others in your relevant field with the hope they will publish, share or promote something for you.

Mistake #4; Obsessing Over Making It to Page One in Search. Organic search rankings fluctuate continually based on location, time of search and more.

It’s not worth obsessing over. Instead make your priority keyword terms and try to land in the top 3 or 5 positions.

Subsequently, focus on the next set of your nonprofit’s priority keywords.

Key conclusions for obsessing over being #1 in search. Take a step back, put your ego aside and look at the big picture. It’s better to land more terms in top placements than to obsess about landing a few terms in the #1 search engine position.

Use data to guide your strategy. Watch performance metrics and align them to your budget.

Focus on quality and relevance, optimize for performance and not position in search.

Mistake #5; Not Testing Marketing Tactics. Many nonprofit marketers think of testing as a luxury. However, testing is critical to ensure you aren’t taking a shot in the dark.

There are many elements of a campaign you can test such as calls-to-action, time of day, headlines, day of the week, copy, landing pages, colors and tone/voice.

Remember to test one variable at a time. Otherwise, you won’t know the improvements associated with each variable. Testing one element at a time is the best approach for confidently making incremental improvements.

Begin with data to support your hypothesis. Along with stating your hypothesis, set your goal.

A good rule of thumb for a sample size is 1,000 website visitors.

It’s never a good idea to base a decision on a small amount of data.

Key conclusions for not testing marketing tactics; testing is critical to optimization. Start with a hypothesis, test one thing at a time to achieve clear results and gather enough data to establish significance.

Whether you’re a digital marketing dynamo or a social media maven making mistakes is human.

By following the tips outlined above you’ll be equipped to avoid major digital marketing disasters.

Given the improved ROI that inbound marketing has delivered for brands over the last several years, it should come as no surprise that many nonprofits are showing interest in adopting the inbound methodology.

If you’d like to learn more, download our eGuide entitled How to Use Inbound Marketing to Attract New Donors.

You can download it here.

How to use Inbound Marketing to attract new donors

Topics: donor communications, donor personas, Fundraising, buyer personas