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Engage Your Donors, Members, and Volunteers Using Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing, a methodology that seeks to attract constituents through generating valuable content and experiences, is a powerful tool for growing your organization. Inbound marketing helps audiences find your cause while utilizing "pull" tactics that draw in potential supporters to create brand awareness. Such tactics include content creation, blogs, events, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media.

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Inbound marketing solves the problem of audiences being overwhelmed and oversaturated with marketing and sales messaging and in turn builds longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of causing audiences to feel that they are being pressured or "sold to," inbound marketing is educational and entertaining and gives value to your constituents.

Inbound marketing effectively supports nonprofit organizations because it increases your online presence and drives awareness of your organization and its mission. And it does this without the high cost of traditional marketing methods such as advertising, public relations, or even events.

Using the Inbound Framework

You can implement the inbound framework at your organization by defining and strategizing your marketing and communications around these four key components.

  • Attract: Increase your online presence and drive overall awareness for your organization through messaging that draws in strangers who share commonality with your organization or who you deem to be a good fit for deeper involvement (but more on that later).
  • Connect: Turn visitors into prospective members, volunteers, or donors by encouraging engagement and conversion to increase your constituent database.
  • Engage: Inspire involvement and volunteerism, generate donations, and grow your membership while nurturing the growing list of constituents you've been generating.
  • Inspire: Strengthen your existing connections with current donors, members, and volunteers for long-lasting relationships.

Define Your Target Audience

The messaging, platforms, campaigns, and initiatives that fall into these four buckets are all shaped around one critical aspect: your target audience, or target personas. Every organization has a target audience, but not all organizations have their audiences clearly defined. In order to have an effective marketing and communications strategy, your organization needs a road map for who it is trying to attract, what they need to know to connect, the desires and drives behind their decision to engage, and how to inspire them in a personalized way.

To start building your target personas, check out this free tool to learn more and visually define who you are trying to reach.  Did you know that TechSoup's Digital Marketing Services offers full-funnel marketing audits to define your personas, the messaging to use, and how to turn them from strangers to promoters?


Attract: Leverage Content

Creating engaging content, using SEO best practices, and implementing user-first design will increase traffic to your site organically. It is important that content created on this stage is easily shareable and developed in a way that viewers will actually want to share it! What do your constituents already look for online? What problems are they trying to solve? What information do they need? Answer these questions through your content.

Attract Tactics

  • Blog Posts: Write educational and informative posts to reach the audience in the beginning of their journey.
  • SEO: Ensure that audiences can find your organization when Googling related searches.
  • Social Media: Reach your audience where they are online.
  • Infographics: Infographics are an eye-catching and memorable way to highlight statistics related to your cause.
  • Videos: Engaging and impactful content shows your mission and impact.
  • Podcasts: Be innovative and use audio marketing like a podcast to show success stories or raise awareness.

Read more about improving SEO for your organization.

Connect: Nurture Leads from Stranger to Supporter

Generating traffic and an appropriate audience is just the first step in growing and engaging your constituents. Once contacts are on your site or interacting with your organization, you'll want to give them clear incentives and directions on how to get involved or connect.

Create conversion goals such as newsletter sign-ups, donation requests, or volunteer registrations. Offer the visitor something of value to encourage engagement. Leverage your mission, values, and impact. Audiences who care about your work should be easily converted through clearly stated information and clear next steps.

Connect Tactics

  • Forms: Be sure there is a clear process for submitting information at conversion.
  • Calls to Action: Strategic buttons throughout your website help to lead a visitor to their intended next step and ideal end goal.
  • Landing Pages: Utilize clear, action-oriented copy and clean designs to convert more traffic.
  • Contacts: Make sure the information you're working so hard to collect has a place to go and be monitored, sorted, and leveraged.
  • Donation Funnel: Lower the barrier to support by ensuring an easy-to-use donation funnel with multiple options to donate and a trusted, secure online process.

Engage: Use Personalization Without Sacrificing Scalability

Engagement is about maintaining and nurturing the relationships you've formed through the attract and connect phase. At this point, the constituents in your database have shown interest in your organization or your mission, but they need convincing in order to take the next step. Typically, constituents at this phase believe that your organization is doing good work, serving an important purpose, or making a difference. Now you just need to convince them that their involvement — through donations, membership, or volunteering — helps your organization drive change.

Engage Tactics

  • Contact Relationship Management (CRM) Software: Gain a deeper understanding of your audience and target groups of contacts based on similar properties and demographics.
  • Closed-Loop Reporting: Leverage marketing analytics to make sure you're targeting the right audience on the right channels.
  • Email: Build trust and stay top-of-mind.
  • Website Analytics: Enhance understanding of website traffic to inform your marketing strategy.
  • Marketing Automation: Nurture leads through the user journey through automated campaigns.

Inspire: Increase Retention by Delighting Your Supporters

Inbound marketing is not just about building new relationships, but also about maintaining and leveraging existing relationships. Continuing to provide remarkable content to your audiences encourages deeper involvement in your organization.

Here you will turn one-time donors into recurring donors; a volunteer from a single event into a contributing member of the organization; an interested constituent into a board member. Leverage deeper reasons into "why" while instituting personalization into the pitch.

Inspire Tactics

  • Surveys: Make sure your processes are set up efficiently and that the information you are sharing is working
  • Smart Calls to Action: Customize the goal or offering on a page to consider where in the life cycle a contact is.
  • Smart Text: Personalization leads to higher rates of conversion. Smart text can help introduce new offerings and cut out the noise of information that visitors already know.
  • Social Monitoring: Track mentions, tags, or responses to your organization on social media and keep control of messaging while being responsive to questions or concerns

Grow and Engage More Effectively with TechSoup

The migration to digital-based outreach for nonprofits has been sped up over the last few years. While this can expand your reach and attract a larger audience, it also means there is greater competition for resources. TechSoup's Digital Marketing Services can help you stand out from the crowd with branding, strategy, email marketing, fundraising, event planning and management, and more. Contact us today to start preparing for the busy end-of-year giving season.


Additional Resources

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