Traditional, in-your-face marketing methods have directly impacted trust between consumers and brands. For context, in 1984 people saw about 2,000 ads per day. By 2014, people were seeing upwards of 5,000 every day.
This constant bombardment has made consumers hyper-aware of sales pitches and overly aggressive marketing. In fact, people often seek to avoid these ads entirely: more than 615 million devices currently have ad-blocking software installed on them.
Today, you have to be strategic about how you market yourself to the public in order to earn and hold their trust. And where traditional marketing tactics may fall short, content marketing thrives.
That’s because content marketing dictates you think about the value you provide your target audience above all else, not what you’re “selling” them. Putting your audience first, and constantly delivering relevant, useful, and valuable content, can help you build trust with them.
In this post, we’ll go over how content marketing can help establish trust and improve your nonprofit’s metrics, drive brand awareness, draw in new supporters, and establish your thought leadership. Then, we’ll walk you through 4 content marketing examples to demonstrate how you can make the most of your efforts.
How Can Content Marketing Help Your Nonprofit?
Before anyone reads your messages and responds to your appeals, they need to trust you. Focusing on the value your content provides your audience, above all else, helps lay the foundation for this trust, but it can also help your nonprofit grow the following metrics:
- Leads: Content marketing brings in 3 times more leads, per dollar spent, than paid advertising
- Influence: 61 percent of U.S. online consumers make a purchase after reading blog recommendations
- Conversion rates: Content marketing has 6 times higher conversion rates when compared to traditional marketing tactics
- Traffic: Publishing 16 or more blog posts per month can drive 3.5 times more traffic to your site than publishing zero to four
Blog posts are one of the most popular forms of content marketing, with 53 percent of content marketers claiming it’s their top priority. However, your content marketing efforts can, and should, stretch well beyond your blog posts to include:
- Social media posts
- White papers
- Resource guides
- News announcements
Regardless of what you create, the key to success is to focus on the needs and wants of your audience. Always ask what value this content brings them and why they should care about it. It’s also important to note that content marketing is a long-term effort, so remind your team to be patient while awaiting results.
4 Pro Tips for Nonprofit Content Marketing
Before we dive into our examples of content marketing, there are a few quick tips to keep top of mind.
1. Set SMART Goals
It’s important you set specific goals around your content marketing efforts: what do you intend to accomplish? For example, maybe your overall goal is to drive traffic to your fundraising campaign pages.
When your goals are clearly defined, you can consistently create content that serves these goals. Without this definition, you run the risk of delivering off-message assets that may hurt more than they help.
2. Publish Regularly
It’s crucial you establish a consistent cadence of blogs, marketing email sends, and social media posts. Then, put it in a central place your entire team can see. First, this helps avoid oversaturation issues, like sending three emails to your audience in one day. Second, this consistency helps build that foundation of trust between you and your audience.
If you publish blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, your audience expects content on those days. The more consistently you deliver, the stronger the trust between you and your audience can become.
3. Get Design Involved
Breathe new life into existing content or make new assets pop with lively designs. Creating content with design elements in it also opens up new doors to market your content across various channels.
For example, you can take an old blog post filled with a lot of text or data points and turn it into an infographic. This infographic could be more engaging and shareable for your audience than a text-heavy blog post. From there, you could also take screenshots of the infographic and publish small segments of it on your social media channels with a strong call-to-action to click back to the full blog post.
4. Remix and Reuse Content
Building off the previous point, you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel with your content. What do you already have that you can remix and reuse?
Don’t be afraid to update old blog posts and republish them with new information or take power quotes from your podcast guests and include them in an email to your supporters. Very quickly, you’ll notice that one asset can become many.
Examples of Content Marketing in Action
To help inspire your content marketing creativity and strategy, we outline four real-world examples from our own efforts below.
The Classy Roundup
Every Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. PST we send out a weekly content roundup. Our subscribers receive an email with the blog posts that have been published in the last week, new resources or guides, webinars, and other announcements.
Our creative content marketing comes into play in the way we arrange the content in the email, the graphics we use to make it visually exciting, and the copy that teases the content.
We also take advantage of the different sections in the email to promote our non-blog content like webinars…
Newly released assets, like data reports…
…or our annual Collaborative event.
The roundup is a huge driver of traffic to our blog, and every Tuesday we notice a major spike in people coming to our site from the email send. What’s more, these are qualified visitors that engage with our content, buy tickets, and download resources.
How to Nail Your Nonprofit’s Elevator Pitch
This blog post was published in 2015, but it continued to earn organic traffic and social media engagement. So, we decided to update it with some fresh content.
We asked: How can we add more value to this post and make it even more relevant for our audience? Our answer was to show nonprofits what an elevator pitch looked, felt, and sounded like by making a video.
Further, we decided to hook our audience with a humorous approach. Thus, “10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Nonprofit’s Elevator Pitch” was born. We embedded the video into the top of the newly refurbished blog post:
We knew this video would also be a great piece of content to market on Instagram as well, but we needed to shorten the length. Our video team cut everything but the most impactful 30 seconds and turned it into a quick teaser with a strong call to action that drove people back to the full blog post:
This was an incredibly fun project, but we made sure to balance the humor with value. People came for the humor but stayed for the actionable insight on how to create and deliver an elevator pitch.
How to Grow Your Run/Walk Event
Initially, this was created as a long-form guide, but given how popular the run/walk event is we wanted to make it easier for people to discover this content and download the full guide. We decided to use SlideShare because it’s a highly interactive platform that showcases graphic design content very well.
The key to success here was to create a new piece of content from the guide that had the power to offer standalone value to the reader, whether or not they actually chose to download the guide. To build the SlideShare, and the blog post it would be embedded in, we boiled down 10 of the most helpful tips from our guide:
You’ll notice the design aesthetic remains the same across the guide and blog post to ensure our audience knew the content was related despite changes to the titles. We created a sticky web of content that someone could land on, where all roads eventually led to a download.
Generational Giving Infographic
Infographics are a great way to convey a lot of data and information in a digestible way. At the same time, they’re great candidates for reusing on multiple platforms.
When we published our generational giving infographic, we noticed that it had major engagement from our audience across our different promotional channels: social media, blog, and email:
Depending on the way its designed, your infographic may have organic breaks where you can naturally chop them up into pieces for specific use. You’ll notice that each generation here has a break point and can stand on its own in the wild without the rest of the graphic’s context.
We made use of this in another blog post about engaging different generations of donors. It helped break up the long text of the post and make the reader’s journey more visually exciting:
No matter where you are in your content creation and marketing journey, the tips outlined in this post can help infuse creativity into your work and yield assets that stretch far across your marketing channels and improve your metrics. As you go, remember to set clearly defined goals, publish consistently, incorporate design, and use what you already have.
If you’d like to learn even more about developing your nonprofit’s content marketing strategy, make sure to join us for the Collaborative in Boston this June.