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Making The Most of Digital Marketing Tools: 5 Quick Tips

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Marketing is a critical part of running a successful nonprofit. Whether you’re planning an exciting new campaign, improving your volunteer program, or hearing from beneficiaries about how your services have improved their lives, you want to get the word out to your community. Doing so helps demonstrate why your work is important and encourages your supporters to take action.

There are many digital marketing tools out there that can help you spread your messages far and wide. But using them efficiently and strategically can be tricky, especially if you’re spread thin running other parts of your nonprofit’s operations. 

That’s where this mini guide comes in. We’ll walk through five quick tips to help you make the most of your digital marketing tools. As you dive in, remember that you don’t have to be a coding genius or expert online marketer to get the most out of your tools. All you need is good ideas, and many digital tools can do the rest. Let’s begin!

1. Optimize your nonprofit’s website.  

As your organization’s internet outpost, your website is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. Think of it like a storefront, where internet passersby can stop in to learn about your mission and take actions like donating or signing up for an event. Like a well-decorated store window, a well-designed and functional website draws visitors in. 

So, how can you optimize your website and ensure that it’s the best “storefront” for your mission that it can be? Follow these best practices: 

  • Ensure navigation is streamlined and intuitive. Create a menu that showcases your most important pages, and place call-to-action buttons in prominent places throughout the website to help direct visitors to your action pages. 
  • Check for and resolve any accessibility issues. When your website is accessible, people of all abilities can use it. Familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and check for any glaring issues using Google Lighthouse. Some issues, like images needing alt text, can be easily resolved, while others may require the help of a web developer. 
  • Improve your online donation form. In addition to being a marketing tool, your website can also be an excellent digital fundraising tool. Spend time improving your donation form. Brand it with your logo, color scheme, and other brand elements, and ensure it’s quick and easy for donors to use. 
  • Automate matching gifts. To further streamline the online donation process, consider embedding a matching gift database on your donation form. Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy that allows donors to give more without reaching back into their wallets, as their employers financially match their contributions. A database empowers donors to see whether their employer offers gift matching and kickstart the process. 

Even minor details can affect how well your website markets your mission. Before pushing any updates live, ask a staff member or trusted volunteer to test your changes and provide feedback on their experience. Getting another pair of critical eyes on your website will help you see additional areas that could be improved. 

2. Maintain consistent branding across platforms.  

The best digital marketing strategies ensure that your organization stays on your supporter’s minds. What’s the secret sauce you need to make this happen? It’s a simple recipe: An effective branding strategy. 

Successful branding means that your supporters will recognize your work no matter where they see it. For instance, they might see your logo on a social media post about an upcoming fundraiser or receive an email that talks about your specific approach to your cause. In both of these cases, they’ll know that these messages come from your organization. 

Keeping your branding consistent across platforms is essential. Not only does this unify all of your marketing efforts, but it also builds brand recognition. When your brand is out there for the world to see, it becomes more and more familiar to your community, as does your mission and your needs. 

There are two types of branding you’ll want to make sure stay consistent across all your digital marketing efforts: 

  • Visual branding: This is probably what you initially think of when you hear the term branding. It encompasses your logo, color scheme, typography, and graphic design style. 
  • Messaging: Your brand extends beyond colors and font choices. Your organization has a certain way of talking about its mission, and a certain tone or voice that is unique to you. This impacts the words you choose to describe your work, the punctuation you select for your sentences, and more. 

There are additional benefits to keeping your brand consistent everywhere you use it. First, the consistency makes your organization look more professional. Second, it also helps you build trust with your community. When they see your nonprofit’s branding, they’ll recognize messages that come from your organization and feel confident in taking the actions you ask them to, whether that’s donating or sharing a blog post with a friend. 

3. Leverage the Google Ad Grant.  

Have you ever Googled something and seen an ad above the typical list of search results? They typically look like this: 

Google search screen for wildlife conservation and ad result for Defenders of Wildlife

These are pay-per-click (PPC) search ads, where organizations post an ad on Google and pay a fee each time the ad is clicked. This type of digital marketing is effective, too. On average, organizations see a 200% return on investment (ROI) with PPC ads.   

The good news is that for nonprofits, this advertising opportunity is free through the Google Ad Grant program. Google offers qualifying organizations $10,000 in monthly ad credits to spend on making their own Google ads. And, as long as you maintain your account, you can automatically renew the grant each month. 

Follow these steps to get started with the Ad Grant: 

  • Sign up for Google for Nonprofits: This will involve providing your tax ID number, contact information, and other organizational details. You’ll also need to register with Percent, Google’s technology partner. 
  • Install Google Analytics on your website: With this free tool, you can track conversions that take place on your website’s important action pages, like your donation page or events registration page. 
  • Submit your website for review: You’ll wait for the Google Ad Grants team to give your website their approval. Then you can create your Ads account, which you’ll also need to get approved. 

Once you’re up and running with a Google Ads account and your credits, you can start creating your ad campaigns and running ads for keywords that are important to your mission. 

Keep in mind that managing this entire process can quickly become quite complicated. You’ll need to conduct keyword research, create ads, track your ads’ performance, optimize your action pages, and stay compliant with Google’s program policies. 

Because of this, Cornershop Creative recommends hiring a Google Ad Grants expert to manage this marketing channel. The right agency can help you fully utilize your monthly Google Ads budget and stay up to date with Google Ads best practices. Since you can create ads for free thanks to the grant, consider using some of your marketing budget for hiring an Ad Grants professional. 

4. Use AI wisely. 

The rise of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools over the last few years has been an exciting development in the world of digital marketing. With generative AI tools like ChatGPT, you can input a short prompt and quickly create text and images. 

Using AI in this way may sound like a great shortcut for creating content for your marketing efforts. However, it’s important to remember that relying on AI to do all of your content creation work for you is not the best move. Here are two big reasons why: 

  1. Relying on AI to produce a perfect product will usually just lead to more work. While platforms like ChatGPT have many promising capabilities, they’re not perfect and their responses typically require extensive editing to get right. 
  2. AI lacks the nuanced understanding, creativity, and empathy that humans have. If you want content that truly resonates with your audience, you’ll need to be involved in creating it. 

That being said, there is still a place for AI in nonprofit marketing work! You just know how to use it wisely. Here are a few things that you can use AI for:  

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Outlining content and content calendars
  • Creating a first draft of website, email, or social media copy 
  • Sourcing data and statistics (Just be sure to double-check the information on your own!)
  • Generating ideas for visuals 

The next time you sit down to write a social media post or the copy for a web page, try thinking of generative AI as your personal writing assistant. Ask it to help you rewrite sentences to be stronger and more engaging, or to give you ideas for eye-catching headlines and images. This way, you’ll maintain your organization’s brand voice but also speed up the content creation process. 

5. Prioritize building relationships with supporters. 

No matter the specific channels or tools you use for digital marketing, your primary goal should always be to strengthen your connections with your supporters. 

The challenge lies in standing out from the crowd. Your nonprofit isn’t the only organization trying to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered by digital marketing. While your cause and your unique approach to your mission give you a leg up, you’ll need to do a little more to catch your audience’s eye and capture their hearts. 

Try these best practices: 

  • Segment your audience. Segmentation is the process of grouping your audience members by their shared characteristics and interests. For example, young donors and older donors likely have different motivations for contributing to your cause, as well as different interests and perspectives. Recognizing this and creating different marketing materials for both groups will help you better connect with both of them. 
  • Personalize your communications. Instead of addressing your donors with a generic greeting like “Dear Valued Donor,” be sure to use their actual name (or preferred name!). Doing so immediately makes the message feel more personal and special.  
  • Share the impact your supporters are having on your cause. Knowing that they’re making a real difference motivates supporters to keep giving. You can demonstrate impact in several ways, from sharing your annual report on your website and spotlighting volunteer work on your social media profiles to writing a blog post that calls out specific examples of recent advocacy work your supporters have engaged in. 
  • Interact with them on social mediaSocial media is a great place for posting quick updates and sharing things like photos and videos related to your mission. However, avoid posting and ghosting—in other words, don’t just post on your profile and walk away! Make sure to read and respond to comments and direct messages. This will help supporters feel like your organization cares and know their voices are heard. 
  • Express sincere appreciation. Your supporters are the backbone of your nonprofit, so they deserve some thanks. Stand out from other nonprofits by sending thank-you notes as quickly as possible. Using email marketing platforms or eCard tools, you can even automate these messages so they arrive right after a donor submits a donation. But don’t forget to take things a step further and send a personalized thank-you note later! 

Whether you’re cultivating new prospective donors or hoping to maintain relationships with existing volunteers, relationship-building should be a priority as you engage in digital marketing. Do your best to remind supporters why they should stay engaged with your organization by letting them know you care about them and appreciate their support. 

Making the most of your nonprofit’s digital marketing tools can be challenging, especially when you have other priorities to juggle. Use the tips in this guide to refine your current marketing strategy, and remember that you can always reach out to a skilled professional, like a nonprofit web designer, for extra help when your marketing efforts need a boost. 

Author: De’Yonté’s a late-80s baby who found his passion for web design and development during MySpace’s heyday, when he helped his friends create awesome profiles. He’s spent the last three years specializing in WordPress and conversion optimization, and is an active proponent of coding guidelines. In his off time he enjoys cooking, Rugby, and hanging out with his wife.