Content Marketing for Nonprofits, Part 3: Making the Most of Your Budget
By Jeremy Schmerling, Manager, Business Development
Content marketing is a cost-efficient, yet effective, approach that allows nonprofits to engage directly with stakeholders and position their organizations as a source for valuable information. The most successful content marketing campaigns provide relevant, trustworthy content (Part 1 in the series) through the appropriate digital channels (Part 2 in the series).
While most nonprofits appreciate the importance of marketing and outreach, their marketing efforts often face stiff competition for budget dollars from other mission-critical internal tasks. Further still, many nonprofits operate with small internal teams responsible for a number of different initiatives. Given the unique challenges of the nonprofit landscape, the opportunity for nonprofits to maximize the impact of their marketing efforts is great. Making meaningful connections with stakeholders by keeping content marketing central to your marketing strategy can widen the reach of your content without draining your budget. To further optimize reach with minimal resources, nonprofits should:
1. Track ROI Closely
Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of digital marketing efforts is significantly less labor intensive than doing so with traditional marketing. Most digital marketing platforms have built-in analytics that allows you to measure their success. For each initiative, marketers should track:
- Donations, memberships, registrations, etc. that can be directly attributed to a marketing communication
- Engagement rate – Opens, clicks, and shares
- Unsubscribe or opt-out rate Engagement
After measuring the ROI of specific campaigns, nonprofits should tailor future efforts accordingly to avoid focusing their limited resources on unsuccessful campaigns/programs, uninterested audiences or unused platforms.
2. Automate Wisely
Marketing automation can save small, overworked teams a great deal of time. Because of rapid advancements in marketing software and cloud-based tools, marketers can now automate email and social media campaigns to varying degrees. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools, like Salesforce, Marketo, and Eloqua, require an upfront investment but offer timesaving benefits. They allow for mass mailings, automated thank you notes, and user-friendly list management. Additionally, their reporting capabilities provide insights into a nonprofit’s target audience ̶ data that would require massive resources if pulled together manually. They also enable marketers to measure ROI of various campaigns.
3. Consider Supplementing Staff with Consultants
When a nonprofit team feels stretched too thin, it may be more efficient to look externally for marketing resources. A qualified consultant can come on board and ramp up marketing initiatives much more quickly than existing team members who are already working at capacity. Additionally, they can bring best practices from other organizations and a fresh perspective.
Consultants are often the answer to satisfying scalable resource needs. Since consultants require less commitment and investment than a full-time employee, nonprofits can set their marketing on the correct course, measure success, and then determine whether or not to transition the temporary employee into a full-time position. Consultants are also valuable for projects with a limited scope and finite timeframe, like events, conferences, or seasonal campaigns.
A well-planned digital marketing strategy that focuses on developing and distributing relevant, quality content through appropriate digital channels can help nonprofits accelerate their fundraising efforts. Over the next few years, nonprofits that successfully leverage content marketing, social media, and new digital tools will continue to extend their reach without significantly increasing their marketing budget.
Jeremy Schmerling is an energetic Business Development Manager at McKinley Marketing Partners with a primary focus on helping nonprofit organizations and trade associations fill their hiring needs. Jeremy has a strong understanding of different communicative styles and an appreciation for people’s unique backgrounds, which he attributes to his University of Maryland communication degree and his experience traveling abroad and living in Rome. Jeremy loves working and living in the DC metro area. In his free time, he likes to travel, play in charity sports tournaments (including a basketball tournament that raises money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society), and give back to the community – especially by participating in programs that allow him to play sports with disabled or disadvantaged youth.