Marketing is the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. But how can you increase the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s marketing performance?
Of course there are many marketing channels available. Even if a nonprofit’s “marketing” might be as simple as the benefits of naturally occurring word-of-mouth promotion (which relies on the propagation of a story through personal contacts), there are always ways performance can be improved. For example, word-of-mouth promotion could be improved by something as simple as establishing a memorable and concise message (tag line) that supporters could readily repeat to others. Although this can be quite effective, it is limited in range and speed.
Social media provides an online extension for word-of-mouth marketing (and should be used), but can yield mixed results if not strategically and regularly executed. “Strategy” is the operative word here, since the “non-strategic” ways many nonprofits use social media does not always generate notable response. However, assuming you are using social media in any capacity at all, how do you measure its effectiveness?
The answers are more involved than the scope of this article, but an important factor is the goals for your social media strategy and which metrics will reflect those goals.
The important point for this article is that if you don’t have any way to monitor and measure results you may be spending resources on activities that are not very fruitful. Conversely, without measuring performance, you may stop doing some actions because you believe the results are not worthy of the effort, when in fact, there may be a steadily increasing social media awareness that is slowly building that was canceled due to the fact of its performance remaining unmeasured.
Direct mail is not on the radar screen of as many nonprofits as it has been in the past, since the costs of mail have gone up so much over the years (regardless of nonprofit mail discounts). Additionally, the lower cost opportunities of email and social media have reduced the necessity of direct mail. Yet, in some cases direct mail can generate greater performance now, more than ever, simply because people receive less physical mail that they are interested in, than in the past. Regardless, the point here is that if you are using direct mail, be sure to integrate some type of performance tracking facility, such as a call to action which can be measured.
TV may be cost prohibitive for many organizations. Having said that, highly local TV can be economical and in some regions there are free public service announcement (PSA) opportunities for local nonprofits. It can be worth some inquiries to see if your area does offer free PSA production and broadcast for local nonprofits. More to the point of this article, assuming you do get some TV promotion going, how will you measure its value? Providing your phone number, address or website is mandatory. But why would viewers contact you? And if they do, is someone asking these callers how they heard about you? Providing a compelling reason to contact your nonprofit and measuring the responses would establish a performance baseline for future consideration.
Email marketing, although less effective than in the past, is still a powerful channel for conveying a nonprofit’s story. Here are some metrics to monitor:
- How many people are currently in your email list?
- How many individuals are subscribing each day, week and month?
- How often are you mailing to them?
- How many are reading your messages?
- How many people confirm for events?
- How many people respond to volunteer?
- How many people donate when appeals are sent?
If you are using Google Ad Grants for community building and fundraising, email is an important component.
Charity events often represent featured highlights on a nonprofit’s annual calendar. How did people find out and confirm? Was it word-of-mouth, social media, direct mail, TV, email or some other channel? One way to measure at least some performance of all your channels is to ask each attendee at the registration desk how they heard about the event and check all that apply. This can help you determine which channels are performing the best for your particularly community.
Regardless of the marketing channel used, the point here is to quantify results for performance review and comparison.
In other words, the first step towards increasing nonprofit marketing performance is to “measure” what is already occurring as a result of current actions and comparing that to future actions. Although this concept would be deemed too basic to mention by professional marketers, it’s not a practice that is routinely exercised by all nonprofit organizations.
Stated as concisely as possible: QUANTIFY AND TABULATE YOUR MARKETING ACTIONS AND DATA!
The subject of nonprofit marketing performance should also include reference to the availability of $10,000 per month in Google Ad Grants, which is a free and ongoing monthly advertising budget available for most nonprofits. This is the nonprofit extension of the Google Adwords platform, which includes robust tables and charts to aid any marketer with their comparative analysis for the purpose of increasing nonprofit marketing performance.