Marketing

Conservation Land Trust Marketing for 2021

July 12, 2021

9 mins

Conservation and land trust leaders have a hefty responsibility on their shoulders. Working to raise awareness and support for protecting our nation’s natural lands has never been more challenging. Conservation land trust marketing needs to be intentional and strategic, but nonprofit leaders often wear multiple hats and it’s difficult to know where to concentrate marketing efforts.

With an unending barrage of news and information competing for the public’s attention, conservation and land trust leaders must strategically use digital marketing assets to reach new audiences, secure funding for urgent needs and ongoing projects, and protect our cherished lands for future generations.

Nonprofit organizations like land trusts need a unique approach to marketing and communications that requires an intimate understanding of the mission and a shared passion for the work. We’ve seen the challenges first-hand as we’ve worked with several land trust, conservation, and environmentally focused nonprofit organizations over the years, so today we are sharing the top digital marketing best practices for nonprofits that have helped the clients we’ve served.

Our hope for this post is that you will discover new ideas and fresh perspectives to fuel your own nonprofit communications plans. Let’s dive in!

1. Conservation Land Trust Marketing Methods Must Be Relevant

Conservation land trust marketing must embrace new techniques to reach new audiences. In these ever-changing and unpredictable times, you’re not only fighting to protect and preserve the lands in your care, but you’re also fighting for likes, page ranks, click-through rates, and shares that capture your audience’s attention and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

We’ve discovered that, as the digital marketing landscape has changed, nonprofits like conservation and land trust organizations that keep in step with new methodologies are sustaining and growing engagement with new audiences.

The good news is that content is still (and always will be) king. We are willing to bet that you already have a wealth of fabulous content on hand, you may just need help planning how to repurpose that content. For example, many nature-focused organizations produce beautiful print marketing materials. It’s easy to take that same content and repurpose it on your website, social media channels, and email campaigns.

The problem is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that content can only serve one purpose. When in reality, it takes a person seeing the same message up to 7 or 8 times before the message truly sticks. This is why creating great long-form content and then breaking it down into smaller chunks for social media is an effective marketing strategy for nonprofits.

2. Start With Personas

Before you start brainstorming ideas and creating new marketing content, be sure that you’re clear on who you’re trying to reach. Create content that your ideal donors and supporters want to read. The way to do this is by creating customer personas. We know you want to reach everyone, and while we may agree that everyone needs to be engaged in protecting our national lands, your messages aren’t likely to make a personal connection unless you tailor them specifically to a defined customer persona.

Personas, also known as customer avatars, are sketches of your ideal customer. Think through the demographic descriptions and psychographic details of the people you’re trying to reach. What are their interests? Where do they spend their time? Where do they spend their money? What challenges or objections do they face that could interfere with the connection you’re trying to make with them?

The goal here is to put yourself in your persona’s shoes and identify the topics and issues that are important to them, as these interests relate to your organization’s work. Then come up with a list of specific terms or keywords that you think your ideal personas are searching for online. This is the first step in the process of keyword research and will help you create marketing messages that resonate with more people.

3. Nail Your Branding and Visuals

Land trusts, conservation, and environmentally-focused nonprofits have something that many nonprofits do not have—great visuals. Marketing in 2021 is laser-focused on images and video. Make no mistake, content still reigns supreme, but content without a visual is not going to get as much attention if not paired with a photograph or video.

But beyond photos and videos, great branding will firmly establish your vision and dedication to your organization’s mission. Make sure that your logo, color palette, fonts, and style are reflective of the work you are doing. Then make sure that look and feel appear consistently across all marketing materials—both print and digital—and appeal to the audience you’re trying to reach.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Keyword research is relatively new to the marketing mix, but it is absolutely crucial to connect with the right audiences online. It can be a complicated process but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Simply defined, keyword research helps you discover the specific terms your personas are using to research topics online that are relevant to your work. There are many tools that can assist you in this research, such as SEMRush or ahrefs, but you don’t need a fancy tool to conduct your own keyword research.

Start with a list of keywords you think your personas are using to search online for information relevant to your organization. Think both broadly and specifically. Ask current volunteers, donors, and board members for their input. The more potential keywords you come up with, the better. You can always pare down the list once your research is complete.

Next, type the keywords into Google and evaluate the results. Often Google will include a section list of terms “people also ask” that can give you clues about additional keywords you could add to your list.

Pro Tip: There is a nifty little browser extension called Keywords Everywhere that is very useful when conducting keyword research on Google. It’s intuitive to use and can provide a great deal of helpful information while performing keyword research.

5. Create Content Optimized for Specific Keywords

Have you ever wondered how to come up with ideas to blog about? There was a time, long ago, when blogs were basically an online journal of sorts. Those days are gone. Today blogs are a major way to attract organic traffic to your website when you are writing posts based on keyword research as part of a marketing strategy called content marketing.

Content marketing is one of those terms that can mean many different things depending on who you talk to. For us, content marketing means using keyword research to drive blog topic ideas that answer questions your audience is searching for on Google and creating optimized content that answers those questions.

Using information gleaned from keyword research, brainstorm a list of content ideas surrounding the keywords. Writing content that answers questions people are already searching for will help your website rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP). It’s much better to create a content marketing strategy based on keyword research because you know that people are searching for these topics already.

As you plan to write your content, keep these Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices in mind:

  • Choose one focus keyword for each blog.
  • Make sure that keyword appears in the title of your blog post, in at least one h2 heading, and several times throughout the body of your post.
  • Write blog posts that are between 800 and 1000 words, minimum.
  • Link anchor text to other posts on your website. Avoid hyperlinking words like ‘read more.’

If your website runs on WordPress, consider using a plugin like Yoast that significantly simplifies on-page SEO optimization.

6. Promote Blog Content Using SEO and PPC Advertising

The two primary ways to get more traffic to your website are using paid advertising and implementing SEO techniques to attract organic traffic to your blog content. If you’ve done your keyword research and performed on-page optimization, that should be enough to generate a fair amount of organic traffic.

It’s important to remember that SEO is generally a long-term play. It takes time for the search algorithms to crawl and index your site for new keywords so you may not start seeing an uptick in traffic for several months. If budget allows, paid advertising can amplify your messages faster.

This is a good time to mention the Google Ads Grant for Nonprofits. Securing this grant can help your nonprofit organization get more from pay-per-click advertising. We’ve written an extensive post about how to get up to ten thousand dollars of free advertising on Google. It’s worth a read and could be exactly what you need to get the word out about your land trust or conservation efforts. Read More: How to Get Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits. 

7. Incorporate Video into Your Nonprofit Marketing Strategy

Conservation organizations and land trusts have no shortage of compelling visuals to share with the world. Showcasing the work you do using brand videos is a powerful marketing tool that can be repurposed in multiple ways.

Brand videos can help you to showcase the lands you serve, show needs, and move people to action. Videos make a more memorable impact on our brains than words can on their own. Let your audience see the work you’re doing and show them how their support will help protect lands for future generations.

8. Check Your Digital Footprint

When was the last time you Googled your organization name? What about your leaders or members of your board? How your nonprofit is represented online is called your digital footprint. This includes everything from directory listings to social media mentions and online reviews.

It is crucial to regularly review and audit how your organization, and its representatives, are appearing across the web. You must ensure that there is consistency on every website or online directory listing that includes your organization. Google crawlers note inconsistencies in how your name, address, and phone number are listed online, which can hurt your overall page rank.

If you need help evaluating your digital footprint please let us know. One of the marketing services we offer nonprofit clients includes performing an audit of your online presence and cleaning up any information that is out of date or inconsistent.

An added benefit of monitoring your digital footprint is social listening. You can reach more people by discovering what people are saying about your organization (or the keywords you’re targeting) on social media or on other blogs. This may lead to opportunities to make new connections and cultivate relationships in places you haven’t considered before.

9. Build Community Strategically and Intentionally

With great, long-form content on your website, now is the time to repurpose that content in different ways. Here are some ideas to help you use one blog post in multiple applications:

  • Break the post into chunks of 300 words or less. Post that content along with a fantastic photograph of your lands to social media. Use a tool like Buffer to schedule the posts in advance.
  • Create branded hashtags and use them consistently. This is incredibly effective on Instagram. People are looking for photos of your lands, give the people what they want!
  • Follow hashtags relevant to your organization and comment on other people’s posts. This fosters new connections and online community.
  • Consider brand videos and other ways to share your content using videos. YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. You have beautiful lands to share with the world, use video to convey those important messages.

Your land trust, conservation efforts, and environmental stories need to be seen and shared. Leverage these digital marketing best practices for nonprofits to reach more people and garner support for your cause.

10. Maintain a User-Friendly Website

Social media is important. YouTube can propel your message forward in powerful ways. Content marketing can help you strategically reach more people—but your website is the cornerstone of your nonprofit marketing efforts.

Your website needs to be user-friendly, easy to navigate, informative, and showcase the beauty and environmental needs your work so hard to steward and protect. Ultimately, all the other social media, advertising, and marketing tools will lead people to your website, so make sure it is the very best it can be.

We’ve been in the nonprofit website design business for decades. We’ve written a post titled The Ultimate Guide to Conservation and Land Trust Web Design specifically with environmentally focused nonprofit organizations in mind. We hope that content will help to guide you as you work to create the best website for your nonprofit.

How Can We Help?

Cross & Crown is a creative digital marketing agency with extensive experience creating marketing assets for environmentally focused nonprofits. Our creative team has a deep affinity for the natural lands and greenspace we’re blessed to live and work in here in beautiful South Central Pennsylvania. We hike the trails, we camp in the forests, we kayak the rivers and streams, and deeply understand the urgent need to protect and preserve these sacred spaces.

It is our privilege to partner with passionate world-changers who are committed to their mission and vision. We would be honored to serve you. Please schedule a meeting with us today and let’s discover how we can work together to further your mission and reach more people with your message.

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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