By now, you’ve heard a lot about how Fathom gives back to the community, including through May 3rd’s first annual Nonprofit Marketing Summit. I was incredibly proud of my fellow Fathomites that day for putting in tremendous thought and effort into their presentations, and the way we made online marketing accessible to the non-technical Marketing Directors and Development Directors in attendance. If you haven’t flipped through the slides yet, never fear – I’m going to give you some tangible, quick ways to make a big impact, based on what we reviewed on Friday. If you want more details, the links will take you to the presentations so you can dive deeply into each subject.
1. Take advantage of Google
They’re a $289 billion company, so you’re darn right they should be giving back to humanity, and they do. If your nonprofit isn’t getting its $10,000 in free online marketing dollars, then what are you waiting for? Get your Google Grant application in today! One of my clients, ARZU Studio Hope, uses its Google Grant to drive thousands of paid clicks to its website, leading to donations and purchases of their handmade rugs. Moreover, familiarize yourself with Google for Nonprofits, as there are some nice perks in there that can help spread your organization’s message. Finally, ask your website developer to set up Google Analytics (totally free) so you can start understanding the behavior of people on your website, set up goals that you can easily measure, and much more. These days, I live and breathe Google Analytics, and I can’t believe I spent 12 years working in nonprofits without having used this helpful and insightful tool.
Without getting too technical, what you write influences how you rank in search results; how you rank influences how much traffic you draw; and how much traffic you draw directly correlates to how many donations you’ll receive, volunteers you’ll engage, and supporters you will speak to. When it comes to SEO, start small – pick 30 keywords relevant to your mission that you want to focus on, and then direct all your content creation to include those 30 keywords. You can use this free tool to set your baseline rankings, and then try to see them improve over the next 12 months. My suggestion is to ask your entire staff to write one blog per month, and then you – the savvy Internet marketer that you are – can go through their posts and “optimize” them by inserting those target keywords.
3. Conduct a “Poor Man’s Conversion Analysis”
As my colleague Mike Perla is the first to say, “Drive all the traffic you want to your website, it is worthless if it doesn’t convert.” To understand how conversion works on your website, sit down with someone who has never been to your site before, but who represents your target audience. Ask them what they’re feeling throughout their experience. Focus on readability, usability, and easing the person’s flow through the site. One tangible example – when my nonprofit switched our online giving tool from the cumbersome PayPal to the more streamlined JotForm, we saw our online giving shoot up overnight. Most importantly, know what actions you want your audience to take – donate, volunteer, advocate, etc – and have clear, concise calls to action that will engage them. Want to go deeper, or have a tech-savvy volunteer? Set them up with Visual Website Optimizer (also a free trial) to A/B test different messaging, formats, and calls to action so you can better understand what resonates with your audience.
Social media and video are here to stay, so you better get used to them. You don’t have to do it all yourself – these are the perfect
activities where interns can pitch in for volunteer hours or class credit. When I was a Development Director, I sent emails to all the local universities and design schools begging for video interns; pretty soon, I was inundated with amazing students doing fantastic videos (this one even led to us winning a $100,000 national competition!). I’ve also been impressed by ThunderClap, an easy-to-use platform for spreading the word quickly through social media. So whether we’re talking about charity:water’s mini-documentaries or just Gangnam Style, video is incredibly powerful, and it spreads like wildfire through social media. Leveraging these tools to spread your message will take your nonprofit’s digital marketing from good to great.
So I know what you’re thinking – there’s no way you can fit this into your already-packed days, or you don’t have the knowledge or skills to do these things. Don’t despair! Online marketing is a marathon, not a race. Construct a marketing plan and stick to it; try to spend one hour a day working on these activities over the course of many months, and you will see results.
Even more important, think about these tasks as your own professional development, an investment in your own professional future. By building your knowledge of Internet marketing, you are building knowledge and skills that are critical to the 21st century workforce. And who knows? Maybe it will be you teaching at the Second Annual Nonprofit Summit!