There are countless reasons why those in the nonprofit world are trying to adopt inbound marketing tips. They have seen these trends work in major brands and want to share similar success stories. Having worked in a marketing position at a nonprofit for over six years, I have heard and used them all – while reaching out to various generations to seeking out grants from foundations.
If direct mail is still your main workhorse, your organization has a lot to learn about marketing.
The following are myths that many nonprofits believe about inbound marketing or qualms that they have about their ability to implement it:
There is very little merit to this train of thought – especially if you have a website, have any social media accounts, or have ever sent an email. All of those common tools can be leveraged to launch your first nonprofit inbound marketing campaign. With the help of a few staff members or a dedicated marketing professional, inbound marketing can be achieved at organizations of any size or stage.
Many nonprofits believe that their demographic of donors is older, and therefore probably aren’t active online. As it turns out, 29 percent of social media users are between the ages of 45 and 64. In this day and age, it’s not safe to say that anyone isn’t “online” – smartphones are used by people of all ages, allowing us to access the internet anytime, anywhere. Being “online” is the new standard. Older people not only have internet access, they often have an active presence on social media sites. And as a general rule to fundraising, reach people where they are.
Wouldn’t that be nice? No overhead costs, expenses, or unforeseen exceptions? However, we don’t live in that kind of world. You need to expect that not all money raised will go right to your mission. You need some resources to stay alive. Think of your organization as a living breathing body. You need food and water to survive. Not to mention, marketing will eventually help you garner more donations for your mission.
Well, no one likes to fill out forms. However, if you provide them with valuable information for filling them out, then they will be more likely to do so. Use these forms as a way to build your email database, prospective donor list, alumni list, or any other constituent base that is fitting for your organization. This will help you improve your ability to reach out and spread the word about your cause. Have something on your site that people will want to download, and ask them to fill out a form in order to receive the free download.
It’s simple – tell your story. What makes your organization special? Who in your organization is doing anything unique? For example, if you are in education, write about how an individual teacher in impacting the lives of your students with a specific lesson.
There are thousands of stories within your organization that happen on a daily basis – share them with the world on your blog and social media. These stories are how you are going to gain that following who wants to donate to your organization because they can relate to your stories and content.
Sometimes direct mail does work, yes. Again, it may not be working to the full potential. Do your direct mail pieces direct traffic to your website? Inbound marketing allows you to track the effectiveness of your email efforts and improve them over time. Not to mention, think about the money you will save on postage by giving your message new life online.
Also, it is a little less obnoxious to send several emails each month than it is to send several pieces of direct mail. You don’t want to make your donors feel like you are hounding them for more money. A great way to leverage emails – in a non-bombarding kind of way – is to update them on how far you are away from your goal and ask them to increase their donation to the next giving level.
Are you guilty of believing any of these myths?
The case for inbound marketing is simple: data drives strategy. Continue to gather information about your constituent base – what drives them to take action? Track your results and use that data to build strategy. With the right data about your constituents, you can raise more money and awareness through inbound marketing.