Nonprofit Marketing Strategies: 5 Trends to Watch

Nonprofit Marketing Strategies: 5 Trends to Watch

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Explore nonprofit marketing trends in this guest post submitted by SalsaLabs.

Nonprofit marketing is one of the key strategies that organizations must develop to share their cause, collect donations, attract event attendees, and maximize impact for the community. However, it’s also one of the strategies that nonprofits tend to put last on their to-do lists. Therefore, nonprofits rarely maximize their full marketing potential. 

Recent events related to the global pandemic and economic downturn have made it more important than ever for nonprofits to reach their supporters and establish connections. While some donors may find it more difficult to give right now, others might be more driven to do so. Therefore, establishing connections now will help set you up for an even stronger fundraising strategy in the future when post-pandemic life comes around.

Paying attention to the key strategies, trends, and upcoming opportunities around nonprofit marketing can help you maintain the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build even throughout a pandemic. The primary nonprofit marketing strategies that can help you succeed in building connections and relationships with supporters include:

  1. Automating as much as possible. 
  2. Leveraging the best donor data. 
  3. Creating a multi-channel outreach approach. 
  4. Optimizing digital content for mobile.
  5. Making the most of lead capture forms. 

When your nonprofit plans virtual fundraising events, devises online fundraising campaigns, or creates other digital engagement opportunities, it’s important that your organization’s online marketing is also up-to-scratch. This will help ensure adequate participation levels. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these strategies to learn more about how to maximize your organization’s marketing initiatives.

1. Automate as much as possible.

With ever-advancing technology, automation has evolved to become one of the most advantageous strategies out there for organizational marketing. Of course, it’s not a tool that will do the work for you. Instead, marketing automation helps nonprofits advance already-strong marketing programs to be even better.

For instance, one of the most valuable marketing automation tools that nonprofits can take advantage of is an email series. An email series is triggered when someone takes an action in regard to your nonprofit, such as downloading a guide or signing up for your newsletter. 

Once an individual is in the series, you can set up your automation tool to send multiple emails to that supporter over a dedicated time span, guiding them to give, register for a virtual event, or complete another goal that will further their engagement with your nonprofit.

However, you should also think about the skills your nonprofit needs to master before this strategy can become successful. You need to: 

  • Create an attention-grabbing email subject line. Subject lines should correlate specifically with the message you’re sending, while also creating a sense of urgency for the supporter to open and read that email.
  • Write the email that will capture supporters’ attention. Your email content should appeal to the segment of supporters to whom you’re reaching out. Be sure to personalize the content with the supporters’ names and use the message to adhere to their interests. 
  • Segment donors by the trigger-source for the email series. Consider what trigger you used for that supporter to be entered into the email series. What does this tell you about them? How can you use this information to reach them better? For example, someone who downloaded a past newsletter might want to sign up for your future newsletters as well. 
  • Analyze the effectiveness of each series. Collect metrics about each email series in use such as the open rates, click-through rates, and resulting conversions. Then, see which ones are the most effective for engaging your supporters. Consider employing A/B testing to get more accurate results. 

Marketing automation extends past creating email series. While this is a great tool, it’s important that you combine email campaigns with other automation strategies such as posting timed messages to social media, generating personalized one-off emails from templates, pulling automated marketing reports for analysis, and more. 

If your nonprofit uses a comprehensive marketing strategy right now, consider how technology can make it even more effective and efficient. This SalsaLabs article about smart engagement technology explores how you can implement automation and other strategies to elevate your fundraising and communications efforts.

2. Leverage the best donor data. 

When asked, “What is the most valuable tool at your nonprofit’s disposal?” many organizations respond with, “fundraising pages,” “my website,” or something similar. However, when it comes to nonprofit marketing best practices, one of your organization’s most valuable tools is more likely to be donor data. 

Donor data is what enables your organization to plan events that will intrigue your audience, craft messages that will capture their attention, and see if there are major prospects hidden among your supporters to whom you should reach out separately.

Generally, there are three steps to effectively leveraging donor data for nonprofits: 

  • First, nonprofits must collect data from donors. Your organization can do this through the use of lead capture forms on your website, fundraising forms, surveys, event registrations, email campaigns, conversations, and more. 
  • Next, nonprofits must store and organize this information. Data is little to no use if it’s illegible. With a donor database or nonprofit CRM solution, you can store all of the important metrics in donor profiles for later use. 
  • Finally, nonprofits must leverage the data for better marketing. For instance, you may reach out to supporters using the platforms they prefer according to their profile, employ language that appeals to their demographics, and simply use their preferred name in communications. 

Donor data is used to personalize the communication you have with supporters. It helps your organization build relationships, which are vital for future donor retention and compiling the perfect fundraising asks. 

According to AccuData’s guide to data marketing, using data in your marketing efforts can lead to five times the ROI, so it’s clearly an avenue worth pursuing. Whether it’s quantitative or qualitative, all data that you collect about your supporters is valuable for your nonprofit when you use it to inform what you say to entice donors. 

3. Create a multi-channel approach.

A multi-channel marketing approach involves the use of multiple channels (email, direct mail, social media, etc.) to reach out to and communicate with supporters. 

When you devise your multi-channel fundraising approach, take it a step further by considering how each of the channels works together to communicate best with supporters. 

For instance, consider the following: 

  • Direct mail has greater brand recognition than digital marketing. But it’s easier to encourage action with digital action because you can create links. If you combine the two, you’ll establish a connection with donors offline before encouraging online giving. 
  • When you reach out to donors over and over again via email asking for donations, you may feel a little bit like you’re hounding your supporters. They feel the same way. However, switching up your channels and diversifying your message keeps supporters interested and on their toes. For instance, switching to an advocacy action from donation requests can create some diversification.
  • Social media can be used to facilitate two-way interaction so donors have the ability to engage with your outreach. For instance, you may live stream events, use surveys or polls, or connect people from your social media page to your website. 

When you carefully craft your multi-channel marketing approach, you need to make a conscious effort to visualize and encourage the “next steps” donors should take after encountering your message. If they should give on your fundraising page, link them there. If they should sign up for your event, connect them to your event registration page

The advantage of this approach is that you are driving supporters deeper and deeper into your communication network, further engaging them with various aspects of your mission.

4. Optimize digital content for mobile. 

One leading trend in the marketing world is the idea of mobile optimization. More and more people are accessing the internet via smartphone rather than their computers to search the web, scroll through feeds, and conduct research. In fact, around 17% of Americans are considered “smartphone only” internet users. 

If your content isn’t responsive to a mobile screen, your nonprofit will lose the visitors who find it frustrating to navigate your information. For example, when supporters need to zoom in and out or scroll sideways to see images on your website, it can be very difficult to observe every great feature it contains. 

Make sure the following resources are optimized for mobile to boost your communication strategies: 

  • Emails. This may seem simple, but many times organizations format emails on their laptops but never check them on mobile. Make sure your supporters don’t abandon emails and miss important information because they can’t easily read the email on their phone.
  • Your nonprofit website. Since your nonprofit’s website is the cornerstone of your online presence, it needs to be able to effectively reach, engage, and convert donors no matter how they access your site. Like in these examples, each and every page on your website should be accessible from any screen. Make sure to choose a CMS that makes this possible and easy to achieve. 
  • Auction software. If you’re hosting an auction, offer mobile bidding through an app or optimized site. This makes it easy for attendees at a live event to bid from their seats and continue mingling. For virtual auctions, mobile bidding means attendees can check in on their items conveniently from anywhere; they’re not stuck to their computers all day. 

When you’re looking at software solutions to enhance your nonprofit’s marketing initiatives, be sure to look for features surrounding mobile optimization. And know that “mobile responsive,” which means only emails or forms are sized correctly for mobile devices, is not the same thing as “mobile-optimized.”  Mobile optimization refers to building a webpage that is designed specifically for mobile, rather than designing for desktop then ensuring it’s responsive to mobile screens. 

5. Make the most of lead capture forms.

Lead capture forms can be used on your nonprofit’s website to acquire new supporter information. There are several ways to include these, collect information, and reach out to new supporters in the future. For instance: 

  • Including a downloadable resource, such as an informative PDF about your mission from your website, is a great way to collect email addresses to keep people informed. 
  • Adding a newsletter signup form on your website is the most common way to collect new email addresses from supporters. You can quickly get new supporters up-to-date on the latest news at your organization and encourage them to get involved
  • Using widgets to link to social media. Social media widgets link people directly to your page on social networks. When they follow you on those networks, you can feel assured the supporters will run across your updates on their normal feed. 

When you create these lead capture forms, make sure you use a call-to-action design that will draw the eye. For instance, use a large colorful button or small icon images that entice supporters to click and engage with the site. 

After the supporter submits their information, it should be loaded automatically into your nonprofit CRM. From there, they can be placed in the appropriate marketing segments and sent additional resources from your nonprofit. Organizing this information in your CRM will help you make the most of these resources and expand your nonprofit’s email list. 

Nonprofit marketing strategies help your organization reach out to your supporters for support, provide organization updates, and more. It’s an important initiative that shouldn’t be taken lightly. These five strategies will help you take full advantage of your nonprofit marketing. Good luck!

About the Author:

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. 

Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.