Thanks to the Internet, donors are more empowered than ever to make informed giving decisions. With the growing number of digital channels available to them, today’s savvy donors are becoming less influenced by traditional marketing methods and are instead opting to use search engines and social media platforms to gain knowledge about charities and causes before committing their support. As a result, ROI has declined for many traditional outbound lead generation tactics commonly used by nonprofits including print ads, direct mail, cold calls, and email newsletter campaigns.Enter inbound marketing
According to HubSpot, inbound marketing has been the most effective form of lead generation since 2006. Unlike traditional marketing, inbound marketing is designed to pull your ideal prospects to you through quality content, keywords, optimized web pages, and links around the terms your audience is searching for online.
Here’s how the inbound methodology works. When you provide your audience with a wide range of educational content that addresses their pain points, they’ll begin to recognize your brand as a knowledgeable and credible resource worthy of engagement. You then have an opportunity to establish trust and build an emotional connection between your prospects and your cause. If done correctly, your prospects will give you permission to guide them through your donor journey and convert them into loyal donors and/or full-fledged members who regularly support your cause and brand.
As stated in HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 report, 78 percent of nonprofit marketers believe that inbound is the best approach to reach their audience. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to run an inbound marketing campaign for your nonprofit in 7 steps.
1. Define your purpose, goals, and benchmarks.
What are you trying to accomplish, and how will you define success?
Whether you’re looking to increase brand or cause awareness, grow your membership, build loyalty, or raise funds, you should be able to state your primary purpose and goals for running your inbound campaign. Set specific, measurable, and realistic goals at the onset of your campaign planning. As part of the goal setting process, identify some quantifiable benchmarks such as acquisition, consumption, engagement, and conversion metrics for your campaign.
2. Identify your audience.
Who do you want to reach?
Your inbound campaign success hinges on your ability to target the right audience. You’ll need to identify your audience personas—fictional representations of your ideal target audience—to gain a deeper understanding of your audience's behaviors, motivations, and goals. Creating personas will help you segment your audience into different groups and create tailored content for each audience segment (e.g., donors, volunteers, advocates, etc.). If you haven’t already created personas for your nonprofit, this step is an absolute must before launching your campaign.
3. Create a landing page.
What actions do you want visitors to take?
Build a landing page that leverages a compelling headline, inspirational storytelling, and powerful images to bridge an emotional connection between your cause and your audience. Your call-to-action should drive visitors to act in a specific way (e.g., donate, volunteer, or join). Be sure to include a short form to collect personal information from your leads. This is perhaps the most critical part of your landing page.
4. Optimize your campaign for SEO.
How will your audience discover your campaign organically?
Make sure the content for each element of your campaign is optimized for SEO. Understanding your audience and knowing which questions they’re asking will help you select the best keywords for your campaign. Linking your content to the right long tail keywords will allow your audience to search online and discover your campaign even after you’ve stopped actively promoting it.
5. Promote your campaign.
What channels will you use to promote your campaign?
Kick off your campaign with a blog post. Blogging is a proven way to attract qualified visitors to your website. HubSpot reports that 79 percent of companies with a blog saw a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013. A high quality blog post will allow you to announce the campaign to your blog subscribers while driving traffic to your landing page.
With an ROI of 4300 percent, email is still an effective tool for nonprofit marketing. Segment your contact database to ensure you’re emailing your blog post and landing page links to the right audience.
Your social media networks will also play a big role in promoting your campaign. Consider which platforms make the most sense for your audience, optimize your content for each platform, and always follow social media best practices. You might also consider other forms of earned media, as well as paid channels to promote your campaign.
6. Develop a lead nurturing flow.
How will you follow up with your new prospects?
Let’s say your landing page successfully converts prospects to leads, leads to donors, or single donors to members. That’s great! But your work isn’t done. In fact it’s just getting started. Successfully implementing lead nurturing and follow-up campaigns require understanding the various stages of your donor lifecycle. Create automated emails with content that further educates and engages your prospects as they enter each stage in your funnel (e.g., awareness, consideration, decision, and donation). Not only will this process help you qualify and convert leads, it will also help you earn the trust and loyalty needed to build and retain lasting relationships.
7. Analyze your results.
How will you measure campaign effectiveness?
Don’t wait until the end of the campaign to track performance metrics. Measure each element of your campaign every step of the way. If you determine that something isn’t working, immediately make the necessary adjustments to optimize your campaign or a particular element. Once the campaign has ended, analyze your final acquisition, consumption, engagement, and conversion results to see how they stack up against your original goals and benchmarks.
Download our free ebook to create audience personas and generate more leads for your nonprofit.