Building an effective multi-channel marketing strategy for your nonprofit
By Stephanie Tippitt, VP Digital Strategy
Do you ever feel like there are too many options in digital marketing?
Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, email, Google… how do you know which ones to use and how much to invest in each one? Should you stay with the traditional channels, or do you try the “shiny new penny” and see how it goes?
BDI’s client partners often ask me these types of questions in search for a clear strategy to help drive traffic to their website, and ultimately increase donations.
In this article, we’ll talk about a few important steps that every nonprofit needs to take before crafting a multi-channel marketing strategy. We’ll also begin part 1 on how to have effective multi-channel marketing for your nonprofit – specifically for email marketing and paid search.
Next time, we’ll discuss several of the paid media channels like Facebook, Display and video in YouTube and OTT/CTV. Let’s dive in!
2 Steps to Take Before Crafting a Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Know your donor.
When evaluating the channels that will be most effective in your multi-channel marketing strategy, it is critical that you understand your donor’s profile – age, likes, interests, income, location, etc.
The more you understand about your donor segments, the better you can plan the digital channels that may be the most effective for your nonprofit.
Step 2: Evaluate your website and donation page.
Before applying any new tactics to your multi-channel marketing strategy, it’s important to first evaluate the foundation of your online giving program – which is your nonprofit’s website and donation page.
- Do these platforms offer a clearly defined reason to give?
- Are they easy to use on all devices?
- Are the giving options flexible?
Personally, I love talking about websites and donation pages – it’s a passion of mine. I’ve probably built over 50 websites starting with .aspx sites, to HTML sites, to full CMS sites with WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace and Wix. You can read more about website strategy here, and donation page optimization here.
After you’ve reviewed the website for key fundraising levers and optimized your donation page for the best giving experience – now it’s time to drive more traffic to the website using multi-channel marketing!
What does effective multi-channel marketing look like?
To put it simply, multi-channel marketing is integrated, consistent messaging across all channels, both online and offline. When done correctly, it will create the multiple impressions needed to motivate a donor to take action for your cause.
Over the last two years, many nonprofits have seen record numbers for donor engagement and donation revenue. During this time, the digital fundraising landscape evolved, making it harder to find new donors and track their interactions across channels. So, what does effective multi-channel marketing look like today?
As fundraisers we know the golden rule of marketing still applies – deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. It was true back in the early days of marketing and it’s still true today. But how do we do that well in digital? We add on to the golden rule:
Deliver the right message to the right person at the right time on the right channel.
Each person is unique and will respond better to the channel in which they are most comfortable.
This is why multi-channel marketing is still so necessary and effective. Older donors 65+ still respond well to direct mail offers, whereas the younger demo in Gen Z rarely will open much less respond to mail. But the right Facebook, Instagram or TikTok message will get them to engage. When evaluating the channels that will be more effective, again, it is critical to know your donor.
Google recently framed it this way:
To stand out in 2022, brands should be more intentional about communicating their value and authentic purpose. You have to create messages and experiences that are true to your brand and relevant to people, reflecting their needs. In this context, relevance is as important as reach.
They call this definition the, “ABCD framework.” And though this framework below is written for product marketing, as fundraisers we all know the effectiveness of storytelling in our communications with donors:
- Attention: Hook and sustain people with an immersive story
- Branding: Brand early, often and richly
- Connection: Help people think and feel something
- Direction: Ask them to take action
Research shows that ads with ABCD drivers are likely to see a 30% lift in short-term sales.
Layered digital campaigns will help deliver the right message to the right person at the right time on the right channel.
Remember – make sure your organization has a fundraising-focused website and optimized donation pages. That way, landing page traffic from your paid campaigns have the best chance at converting.
There are many different digital channels you can use to drive traffic to your website and donation page. Email, Facebook, organic Social Media, YouTube, Programmatic Audio and OTT, to name a few. First, let’s look at a core channel in nonprofit fundraising – email.
Email Marketing as a core strategy
Email marketing reporting took a hit this year when iOS15 launched its new mail privacy protection (MPP) back in September 2021. To summarize this change, all emails sent to iOS 15 devices now register as “open,” regardless of whether the recipient actually opened it or not.
So, if you are seeing 30% and 40% open rates this year on your campaigns, sadly, those are inflated. You can read more about this iOS change here.
Despite this update, email is still one of the best ways to communicate directly with your donors, especially if that is the channel from which they were acquired.
A few quick tips to remember about your email marketing:
- Create a communication calendar. This should include a variety of messaging including fundraising, advocacy, affirmation, thank yous and report-backs. Varying your email communication is essential to keep your subscribers interested and engaged in your emails. Sending only fundraising emails is a sure way to increase your unsubscribe rate and decrease your engagement.
- Perform list hygiene. It’s important to check your email lists often to remove any “dead weight.” Develop a list hygiene strategy that removes subscribers if they are not engaging with your emails, giving a gift or visiting your website. Pull these individuals out of your full communication stream and put them back into a Reactivation series. Then, create an email preference option where they can choose what type of communication they want to receive from you.
- Use a strong email platform. It’s important to choose a robust platform that has strong list management, high IP reputation, and segmenting/targeting options. For even more great ideas on email marketing, CLICK HERE to check out this article by Ashley Prior, one of our email marketing experts on the BDI Digital Team.
Paid search as the first layer to your paid media strategy
Paid search is a core digital channel that should be included in your overall fundraising program. Paid search options include Google Grant, paid Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, Bing Grant and Bing Paid ads.
Let’s break a few of these down:
1. Google Grant offers up to $10,000 of free ads to qualified nonprofit organizations. The Grant program is a great opportunity for an organization to expand its reach into the market and use search to drive donations, traffic to the website and interest in the organization.
We recommend using Google Grant as your initial base search strategy, and then add Paid Google ads. Because Google gives priority to paid accounts, your Grant account ad will always show below the Google paid listings. Using both Grant and Paid, you can expand your reach by securing search terms you cannot get on Google Grant (mostly the higher value terms and generic terms).
2. Microsoft advertising is another great layer in the paid search program. Though there is less search volume available on Microsoft (because Google owns the majority of the market share), it can provide a positive return in specific donor audiences.
3. BING has recently opened up their own grant program with free advertising dollars available to qualified nonprofits.
Understanding the impact of website conversions
This is one last tip that I promised to return to: how to understand donation page and website conversion rates.
Conversion Rate = # Unique Donations / # Unique Visitors
In 2021, the average conversion rate for a main donation page on desktop was 17% (Source: M+R Benchmarks).
On average, we see website conversion rates of 8%.
In simplistic terms, here is the power that multi-channel marketing has to drive traffic to your website:
100,000 annual unique site visits
100,000 x 8% website conversion rate = 8,000 gifts
8,000 gifts x $150 average gift = $1,200,000
Increase the website traffic by 20% and you can generate an additional $300,000.
(125,000 x 8% = 10,000 x $150 average gift = $1,500,000 gross increase.)
Of course, some of the funds you receive will be used for the cost of your ads. But as long as your digital program is maintaining a healthy ROI, the core theory applies – increased website traffic = increased revenue.
As digital marketing continues to grow and become even more complex, there are huge opportunities to use multi-channel strategies to better connect with your donors.
And how do we do that? By creating a layered digital marketing program that uses all your channels… helping reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time, in the channel they prefer.
Do you have questions on this or any other ideas for your nonprofit’s digital strategy? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our resource hub for more fundraising tips at https://bdiagency.com/resource-hub-fundraising-blog/.