by Jessica Seward, Marketing Manager, Salsa Labs
Looking back at 2013, were any of your campaigns truly remarkable? Or, did you take a steady and consistent approach, relying on social media, emails, and one-off call to actions to grow your base?
If the answer to both of these is yes, stop reading, close your browser and go do something else instead. But if you answered yes and no, then there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on opportunities to excite supporters and grow your community at the same time.
Why? Great campaigns are one thing, but to be truly successful, nonprofits also need to shepherd their existing supporters into doing more.
So how do great campaigns and programs that deepen relationships with supporters co-exist, and how can you develop yours? Well, it starts with a good book – The Noble Arsonist. Free to download, this e-book simply and succinctly demystifies the process of achieving great movement marketing.
For a quick synopsis, here are just some of the strategies recommended, plus two essential ingredients you shouldn’t overlook:
Understand your audience. Great marketing starts here. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone will be interested in your cause. In reality, the more you refine who you want to talk to, the easier it is to reach them. Take a look at demographics (age, gender, etc.) but don’t forget psychographics too – personalities, values, interests and lifestyles. If you don’t have the budget for fancy market research, do it yourself! Here are a few low-cost ways to build a picture of your target audience:
- Write a short profile of your target. How old are they? Where do they work? How do they spend their time? What other organizations do they support? In doing so you’ll help build more clarity around your communication activities and build consensus internally as to your target audience.
- Run and test Facebook ads. These can actually teach you a lot about who you want to reach because they you can run hyper-targeted ads, slicing and dicing your audience in all sorts of interesting ways. You’ll quickly learn which groups your ads and message resonate with.
- Use a good-old fashioned online survey to collect information about your audience.
Develop your engagement ladder. Regardless of how targeted you are, your audience will respond and connect with you differently and audiences at different levels of engagement need customized interactions and communications. Map out your levels of engagement (for example, a default ladder could have five levels – crowd, community, congregation, committed and core) then identify actions or hooks that will move people to the next level. It could be signing a petition, sharing your social content with others, and so on.
Define how you’ll measure outcomes. Build wiggle room into your campaign to monitor and track success. As you are developing your creative, run test messages and see which perform best (likes, shares, actions, etc.). Then figure out how your marketing activities fit into the big picture. For example, it’s always great to get more Facebook “likes” – but is that uptick meaningful? Will it result in more petition signatures? If you can’t measure something, seriously question whether you should continue investing time, effort and money in it.
Use your marketing and outreach activities to connect and care for your supporters. Many nonprofits make the mistake Facebook and Twitter are the answer for growing their cause. Tre trouble is there is too much noise on social media – making a big splash by just updating your profile isn’t going to cut it. In fact, it’s a problem that applies not just to social media, but to all communications channels – email, online ad, SEO, and so on. So how do you use these tools effectively in such a noisy space?
When you’re building your online strategy, break down your activities into two buckets – 1) Heartbeats and 2) Remarkables. Both are critical but have different objectives. Heartbeat activities deepen relationships with friends – like a steady flow of Facebook updates, campaign success stories, and e-letters – connect you regularly with your supporters, keep them close, and your nonprofit front of mind. Then there are Remarkables – campaigns that make a big splash. Essentially, the two-pronged approach of heartbeats and remarkables is a solid strategy for using social media and other online communications more effectively and help feed and grow your movement.
Now for tactics. We’re running out of space in this blog post, but if you are looking for examples of tactics you can use to keep a steady rhythm of outreach going (heartbeats) alongside some big splash (remarkable) campaigns, take a look at chapter 4 and 5 of The Noble Arsonist. You’ll also get lots of ideas for blending online activity with offline action and measuring success.