By Jim LeFevre, Senior Director of Marketing, PIR
This article is part 4 of an 8-part series called “Bootcamp for Mission-Driven Organizations”.
In the beloved late-80s American baseball film, Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones whispers to Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come.” A website, of course, is different from an Iowa cornfield turned baseball diamond that attracts spectators by the droves (rent the movie, it’s a good one!). Simply creating one won’t pull in viewers. So, how do you get people to visit your website and stay until the final inning? To drive engagement, you must market your site once it’s built. And in marketing, like baseball, good pitching is essential. In other words: “If you promote it, they will click.”
How do you market your new .ORG website? We’ve assembled the following tips to help you break out of the minors and play in the major league.
Get to Know Your Fan Base:
If you’re trying to reach Yankees fanatics, don’t spend too much time pitching lifelong Red Socks groupies. Meaning, learn as much about your audience as you can. We recommend creating written “superfans,” personas of your ideal member, volunteer or customer, so you can tailor your message to resonate with folks with similar interests. Keep in mind that some regions have privacy laws that impact how you reach your audience, so do your research and consider your audience’s:
- Hobbies and interests;
- Social media platforms of preference;
- News sources or websites they may frequent; and
- Organizations they may already support.
Flesh out your superfans as much as possible, including things like common interests and activities. Defining your target audience will help ensure your marketing efforts reach the right people.
Throw Out the First Pitch
If you’re getting ready for opening day, you’ve likely spent many hours building the site, writing clear and cohesive content, choosing appealing colors and images, and paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO). Now it’s time to launch. Consider these tips to boost success:
- Include your superfans in the story. Draw them in with an email introducing your new site and invite them to check it out (note: in some jurisdictions consent to email marketing materials is required). A YouTube video link featuring a video message is another great way to make your announcement pop;
- Send out a press release and post it on your site;
- Invite your entire team to promote it. Encourage everyone in your organization to share your website via interactions with customers, donors, and volunteers (and make sure the web address is included in all email signatures);
- Incentivize. The virtual equivalent of free swag for superfans is to offer access to a helpful webinar or exclusive event. Have them fill out their contact information on your website to draw in traffic, but make sure to comply with all privacy rules and regulations when collecting user data.
Keep the Hits Coming
Now that you’ve been at bat, you’ve got to build on the momentum to hit a grand slam. Great ways to put power behind the swing of your bat include email marketing, advertising, and stepping up your social media:
- A good email marketing strategy says you care about your audience and encourage their participation. Make sure your emails are succinct, and if you need some guidance, www.classy.org offers ideas for generating great copy.
- Take advantage of low- and no-cost advertising on such platforms as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. Google Ad Grants offers in-kind advertising to qualifying non-profits. To see how these grants have helped other non-profits, check out this article on www.elevationweb.org. And for more free marketing advice, consider these guides from www.nonprofithug.org.
- Social media platforms are some of the best tools you can use to market your non-profit. Share bits of news your superfans can use, like mission, event photos, testimonials, volunteer stories, and more. Facebook offers a “Donate Now” button for your page, so take advantage of that!
Sustain Your Winning Streak
To keep your website in game-day shape, you’ve got to use the site to promote itself. That means optimizing the experience for your superfans with such ideas as:
- An email opt-in pop-up to generate more subscribers;
- Videos capturing the imagination and attention of visitors;
- A captivating “About Us” page that shares your story and mission; and, of course;
- A donation form so users can easily contribute to the cause.
Remember: If you promote it, they will click!
Launching your non-profit or good for the world business website can be overwhelming, but it also can be an exciting opportunity to drive your message. Here are some important things to think about when you’re getting ready to launch. Here is an example of a launch press release. And, here are some great tidbits to build your non-profit’s “buzzability.” Don’t forget to research any local requirements and rules for outreach via email and use of personal data.