If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, you’ve probably never promoted anything on the Internet. If you have, you might not be sure that you are covering all the bases. After all, running a nonprofit is hard work - and who has time to be an expert on everything? Today, we will be exploring the 5 most important nonprofit website marketing tactics you should be using right now, why they are so effective, and what sort of results to expect.
The search engines see your website based on the information you put on it. Plainly stated, they know what your nonprofit website is about based on what you say about yourself. They then rank you in the listings under search phrases that relate to the information you have presented, using the words you use and related phrases. Search engine optimization is the science and art of positioning what your website shows and says about you based on specific target phrases that you want to appear under. For example, a nonprofit that feeds the homeless may want to be found under “feeding the homeless” in Boston, MA. SEO is about making it very clear to major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo that your website is an organization that addresses homelessness in the Boston area. Doing this involves writing relevant content, adjusting the technicals under the hood to help emphasize and reinforce that, and linking to information about your service to the homeless community in that city.
Setting a budget aside to pay for traffic can help to speed up the process of attracting visitors before search engine optimization kicks in. With pay-per-click advertising, you can pay for top placement on major search engines. You do this by creating campaigns that contain ads and bid on specific keywords you are targeting. You are then charged the winning bid price every time someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. Basically, it’s free advertising until someone clicks. With PPC, it is critical that you understand the nature of relevance and how to bid properly before venturing too far. But once you have established your campaigns, the payoff can be amazing. We’ve seen pregnancy centers, for example, open their doors and almost immediately start seeing clients using solely PPC advertising.
Before we go too far into social media, let’s talk about the purpose and context of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the dozens of other large social networks serve the purpose of connecting people. In many cases, people frequent these websites to check on friends and family, not to view ads. The challenge here is to syndicate compelling content that will drive people back to your website and cause them to take action. If your post inspires that, then shares, likes and comments begin to mean something. But if your social media posting prompts no meaningful action, your investment is solely in establishing your brand, which can be a slow, painful process.
Learn each social network that you are participating in well before engaging in it too much. Create ways to drive people back to your own website, where you control the flow and presentation, not distracting friend feeds. Focus on engagements that help you accomplish your mission, not ones that simply stroke your ego with hundreds of likes.
Optimizing your content for search engines is one thing, but optimizing it in a way the provokes people to do what you want them to do is an entirely different task. Content optimization, or conversion optimization, is the process of monitoring, testing and updating your online presentation and improving the response rates you are getting from it. For example, you might have a page on your nonprofit website that asks potential donors for a donation. You might measure what percentage of people who visit the page complete a donation. Then, you can make changes to that content to see if you can improve the response rate. The same can be done with everything from event registrations to e-mail signups.
The last tactic is the most important, yet underutilized, one of them all. E-mail marketing still dominates as the number one way to communicate effectively and provoke action online. Period. No discussion. If you want to build your awareness, donations to, and involvement in your nonprofit, then start growing your e-mail list. You will start to notice that your website traffic, community awareness, and contributions will increase in proportion to the growth and use of your list. Make your e-mailing schedule consistent. Do not just send out a newsletter. In fact, don’t even call it that. Make the contents of your e-mail helpful and non-self-serving. Then, under the necessary information, talk a little about yourself and provide your subscribers with something actionable.
These 5 nonprofit website marketing tactics form the foundation of all internet marketing. They provide long-term, predictable results that, when done correctly and consistently, will work together with your website and content to increase donations, recruit your team and volunteers, and attract more clients to serve through your nonprofit’s activities.
Bonus Action Point: Write down what you are currently doing in each of these areas. Then, brainstorm what you can add to your current regiment to boost your internet marketing efforts.
Need help marketing your nonprofit website? Access the Nonprofit Internet Marketing Manual.