Nonprofit Marketing 101: 5 Things to Stop Doing

March 5, 2019

Tony is a marketing genius. He is a genius because he learned from decades of focusing on the wrong marketing tactics what works and what doesn’t. He watched the marketing industry change from magazines to a highly digital ecosphere. He witnessed the demise and resuscitation of print marketing (it remains a myth that print is dead). But most importantly, he has seen the demographic characteristics of the buying generations change from traditionalist to boomer to Xer to millennial which has wrought the most changes and demanded that all of us in the world of marketing take a re-look at our marketing tactics.

Customer research is never a one-and-done project. Your customers change over the decades, so if you haven’t researched their buying habits since 2013, it’s probably a good idea to start there. Your customer personas drive everything that you START and STOP doing in marketing.

Here are five things you should stop doing this year so that your marketing can reach the goals you have set for it.

1. Stop Ignoring Analytics

We would never release a new website or app without extensive testing, yet we encounter business and nonprofit leaders implementing new marketing tactics regularly without having a solid plan in place to evaluate how they are doing. A solid rule of marketing is: measure, then measure again.

What should you be measuring? Here are a few items for your website and social media.

Website Analytics:

  • Am I generating more traffic to my website this year vs. last year?
  • How much does it cost to convert a visitor and how much does each lead to your website cost? (Commonly referred to as: Cost per conversion and cost per lead)
  • Most popular content on your website and top exit pages: Where are your website visitors clicking and what content is making them leave your site?
  • Form conversions: which forms are working to get prospective donors into your business development funnel?
  • Social media traffic: Which social media sites and campaigns are producing the most traffic to your website?

Social Media Analytics:

  • How many followers do you have and is that following growing?
  • Which platforms have the most re-shares of your content?
  • What type of content is most frequently being shared?
  • What is your engagement rate across each channel?

2. Stop Marketing With Tactics and No Strategy

The difference between strategy and tactics boils down to methods versus means. There are vehicles you can use to communicate but you also need the roadmap (or strategy) that outlines the road that vehicle will travel to lead people to your brand. As it pertains to tactical marketing, you may have heard some of these terms before

  • Spray and Pray Marketing
  • Spaghetti Marketing
  • Shotgun Marketing

The assumption in each is that your marketing is comprised of a myriad of different tactics that have no connection to an underlying strategy that is subsequently connected to organizational goals (see number 1 above ). Trying to market without a strategy is like attempting to drive a ship without a sail.

Instead of wasting time on the newest equivalent of Vine and investing in a trend today that might not even exist tomorrow, dedicate that time to a comprehensive marketing strategy. Figure out what the top 3 things your nonprofit should focus on this year to make an impact on your prospective donor and volunteer base. Then do those 3 things exceptionally well.

3. Stop Putting Off Website Updates  

If your website hasn’t been updated since 2015, it’s time to freshen it up. It may not need an entire design overhaul, but content, messaging, and imagery should at least be refreshed. Sometimes a simple content and messaging update can help boost lead conversions.

If your website is not performing across a variety of metrics, both content and design changes may be warranted. Check your analytics (again, see item number 1) to determine what pages are performing and what content is driving conversions. Determine if this is where you want to see conversions.

Consider doing a survey of new donors to determine how user-friendly they feel your website is. Did they have any problems navigating, finding information, or do they have suggestions to make your website easier to us? That information will help you assess if your website is meeting your customers’ needs.

To see the impact of a website update, check out how one of our clients increased their donations simply by updating their website!

Not sure what on your website should be updated? Check out the questions we asked before we blew up our own website and started over last year.

4. Stop Ignoring Social Media

It’s hard to believe we are saying this in 2019, but alas, we must:

Social media is not a fad, it’s the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution — Erik Qualman, Socialnomics

In the last 5 years, we have run into a staggering number of nonprofits who are either completely absent from social media, or are seriously under-optimizing the impact they could have. Social media is one of the most cost-effective tools for nonprofits, so if you have a small budget, consider investing more efforts into building your social media presence.

As of June 2018, here are the statistics on the number of users on six major social media platforms:

Facebook: 2.07 billion monthly active users
Instagram: 800 million monthly active users
Twitter: 330 million monthly active users
LinkedIn: 500 million members
Pinterest: 200 million monthly active users
Snapchat: 178 million daily active users

(Statista and LinkedIn)

The way products, services, and nonprofits are communicating in this digital age is on social media. This especially applies to nonprofits. Social media channels provide a fantastic way to “story” your brand and demonstrate with imagery and video how you are directly impacting your constituents. Donors love stories (as do prospective donors) and social media is the most powerful connective channel on the planet right now.

5. Stop Marketing in a Bubble

When you develop a marketing strategy, who is in the room? Is it connected to your overall organizational strategy? What about your development department? Are you marketing in conjunction with how you are developing your donor base or are the two disconnected?

The biggest mistake we see marketing departments make is developing a plan or tactics that are devoid of input and integration with other departments. We see this across both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. If your top 3 marketing tactics are not directly connected through development goals to the main organizational objectives and, gulp, the organizational vision and mission, your marketing may produce results, but they will be the wrong ones.

Make sure your marketing is directly connected to the goals of the organization and other departments by setting up regular intra-departmental check-in meetings. Have your marketing objectives laid out directly next to the goals of your development department and your organization. Regularly review these as a marketing department to ensure you are staying on track.

Do you have questions? We can help. Give us a shout, send an email, fill out our snazzy contact form, or send a pigeon. We would love to hear more.

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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