Your Nonprofit’s Website and Communications Playbook for the Road Ahead
Originally published at https://blog.techsoup.org on June 17, 2020.
The nonprofit playbook has changed forever. New rules of website development and digital marketing are playing out in real time as COVID-19 continues to disrupt our sector.
Maintaining relationships with supporters, volunteers, funders, and community members is vital, but this demanding task is even more formidable as nonprofits are pivoting to leaner, virtual operations as we consider the road ahead of us. That’s where creating a playbook for modernizing your website and digital marketing communications can serve as a lifeline to navigate this uncertain reality.
Right now, your nonprofit may be running leaner than ever, with a smaller, more remote staff to achieve your goals. You’ve likely had to pivot overnight to supporting virtual events, online fundraising, and mobile to engage your advocates and support those in need.
This band-aid approach can’t last forever, as many nonprofits quickly learn that their website and traditional digital marketing platforms are not connected or capable of scaling for the long run. This is where establishing a playbook of tools and technologies comes in. Long perceived as a tool of big-time nonprofits, modern marketing tools and website technologies are now accessible to nonprofits of all sizes with free to affordable solutions for startup, small, and mid-size nonprofits.
Many nonprofits are unaware that they may be already using website platforms and communication software that have the built-in tools the new playbook demands. We’ve taken some of the guesswork out and provided the top seven tools your new website and digital marketing playbook should include.
What’s in Your Website and Communications Playbook?
By adapting and modernizing their websites and communication platforms across channels, nonprofits can optimize stakeholder engagement and work to retain funders during these unprecedented times. They can chart a progressive path forward, reimagining how they use email marketing, landing pages and forms, campaign management, lead nurturing, CRM integration, social media, and marketing analytics.
1. Social Media Automation
Know what your members and supporters have to say about your nonprofit’s events, offerings, mission, and impact and how they respond to email messages, fundraising, and website content. Incorporate that data into your website and digital marketing campaigns. As things slowly return to center, but with potentially limited staff and face-to-face interactions, social media will become one of your main mouthpieces to attract users to your site and enroll them into your marketing campaigns. Segmenting, automating, and scheduling your posts through tools like Buffer, Sprout Social, and @Hootsuite can save you a ton of time and help increase your conversion rates as you reconnect with your key constituents when they need you most.
2. Personalized Email Marketing
Email is the tried and true communication channel that nonprofits use to engage with their constituents. It is a must-have in your playbook. Email is also the most effective when automated, which means no more mass emailing.
Accessible tools such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and others are available to help. You can test your email content, create beautiful email templates that match your audience segments, preview your emails across platforms and devices, and do advanced email reporting.
Platforms such as HubSpot and leading donor platforms enable customizing content interactions through related workflows. For example, you could send a happy birthday message to a loyal funder or a thank-you message when someone makes a pledge. This can make the difference between an engaged supporter and a lost prospect.
3. CRM Integration
Your playbook should include a plan that integrates your website platform with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform. A fully connected CRM will allow you to transfer lead information seamlessly from your website to your marketing and fundraising teams.
Better alignment between marketing and fundraising will improve the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s campaigns. Your CRM system should talk to your marketing automation platform, and your marketing automation platform should speak to the rest of your communication platforms from donation software to social media and e-mail. Salsa, Neon CRM, Salesforce, and Kindful are just a few CRM-driven platforms to improve your nonprofit customer relationship management in these uncertain times.
4. Lead Nurturing
Send the right information to the right stakeholders at the right time. Lead nurturing is the process of sending a series of automated emails that will trigger based on their interaction with your nonprofit’s content. Being able to nurture members, donors, and volunteers based on a variety of attributes (behavior, demographics, and engagement stage) is critical for your nonprofit as you seek new ways to virtually connect with your supporters.
5. Campaign Management
Campaigns are the workflows you use to nurture leads in sales. In the case of nonprofits, this could be gaining new funders and members. Campaigns have both timed and triggered events. To run successful campaigns, your nonprofit needs to send direct and personalized emails to a large number of people. In the months ahead, make sure that your nonprofit campaign management tools within your platform support both inbound marketing and outbound campaigns.
6. Call-to-Action Pages
Also known as a landing page, a call-to-action page is any page on a nonprofit website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action. These landing pages help increase conversion rates through targeted promotion. You can market multiple offerings to audiences using highly customized landing pages with specifically targeted content such as event registration, donations, member registration, volunteer application, and so on.
Many marketing automation systems have easy-to-use landing page builders. Make sure you select a landing page builder, such as HubSpot, that enables you to create multiple calls to action.
7. Visitor Tracking
Monitor everyone who frequents your website by tracking their behavior, including which pages they click, which forms they visit, from where they access your nonprofit’s site, what keywords they typed into their search engine that directed them to your website, and so on.
Many website platform applications and plug-ins deliver real-time alerts to nonprofits when a lead, prospect, or donor visits the website. Visitor tracking should also be able to segment your database upon those tracked activities. It is critical that you gather as much data as possible about your prospects, so you can meet their newly evolved needs and modes of communication.
The Road Ahead
During this time of such uncertainty, nonprofits need to adjust their communication and marketing practices in order to hold their supporters’ interest and maintain a strong brand voice. Leverage modern social media, email marketing, and other digital tools — and appropriately build them into your website and digital marketing playbook. If you do this, your nonprofit can connect with constituents more quickly and effectively than ever before.
Make sure you’ve got everything in place to prepare your communications for the road ahead. TechSoup’s Digital Marketing Services are a perfect and cost-effective solution to help pivot your strategy. Schedule a marketing consultation today to speak with our marketing experts and get prepared!