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How to Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Nonprofit

A nonprofit marketer looking at a laptop screen explaining inbound marketing strategies.

Knowing which marketing channels to choose for your nonprofit can help you get in front of the supporters who will be the most passionate about your cause.

Introduction

No matter what you’re promoting, taking a multi-channel approach to your nonprofit’s marketing efforts is the key to boosting visibility. And, with the advent of new, accessible technology, your nonprofit marketing team has more effective ways to promote mission-critical initiatives. It can be easy to get caught up in the many marketing channels available—but you should always prioritize quality over quantity. 

Narrowing down the right channels for your nonprofit’s audiences can prove a difficult task, especially given all of the unique strengths of each channel. However, by following these easy tips, you can pinpoint your nonprofit’s most effective channel that doesn’t break the bank. Let’s dive into our top three steps!

1. Conduct in-depth audience analysis.

One of the most important parts of a winning marketing strategy is specificity. Different messages resonate with different people, so honing your content accordingly through audience analysis is critical. Audience analysis is also useful for determining your nonprofit’s most promising marketing channels based on factors such as traffic, engagement rates, and conversion potential. Gauge the best channels to reach your target audience by:

  • Sending surveys. Including a simple questionnaire on your donation form, event RSVP form, or volunteer sign-up site can provide useful intel about how your converted audience found your nonprofit. It can be a quick checkbox on the bottom of the page that sends the responses straight to your CRM. Ensure the survey is as easy as possible to fill out to secure the most responses.
  • Viewing data from existing sources. If you already leverage certain marketing channels, pull relevant engagement data from those channels to gauge their effectiveness. For instance, for a digital campaign, you could focus on metrics such as click-through rates for email, engagement rates for social media, or conversion rates for search engine ads.
  • Creating personas. The best way to truly understand your target audience is to step into their shoes. Craft fictional, yet realistic personas that represent different segments of your audience. For instance, you might create a persona for your volunteer segment by giving them a name, gender, age, location, motivations, and struggles. All of these characteristics can give you valuable insight into why your audience prefers certain channels.

Once you’ve pinpointed your audience’s motivations, ensure you save your results in your CRM or marketing management software so you can identify trends over time.

2. Engage in competitive analysis.

Though you aren’t competing for customers like your for-profit counterparts are, your organization does compete for funds, volunteers, and donors. Understanding how competitors draw in donors can help you not only compete with them on those channels but also engage potential donors on different channels. Follow these steps to launch your competitive analysis:

  • Identify your top competitors. These will likely be nonprofits with similar missions and initiatives to you. Also, be on the lookout for nonprofits in your local area. Narrow down your list to the top five competitors.
  • Analyze their marketing presence. Compare and contrast each nonprofit based on its popularity on certain channels. How often are they posting new materials? What type of content are they sharing? Which of their channels is the most effective? How do they interact with supporters?
  • Brainstorm ways to surpass your competitors. Once you’ve seen what your competitors do well and their unique value propositions, you can figure out how to make your approach even better. Look for gaps in their strategy and think of ways to fill them with your own.

It can be challenging to track all of this information down when you want to get your marketing campaigns launched as soon as possible. However, working with a nonprofit marketing agency can help you streamline the process so you can see results faster. Fifty & Fifty’s guide to nonprofit marketing agencies suggests partnering with agencies that align with your budget and specialize in the channels you want to target. Also, look for agencies that understand the unique needs of nonprofits and can adapt their approach based on your mission.

3. Evaluate your options.

Once you have an understanding of what your audience likes and how your competitors engage with their audience, it’s time to start narrowing down your channels. Consider using the following benchmarks to pinpoint the best channels for your nonprofit:

  • Relevance. Based on your audience analysis metrics, determine the most relevant channels for your nonprofit’s supporters. For example, Getting Attention suggests putting more resources toward direct mail marketing than social media if you’re marketing to senior supporters.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Staying within your budget is crucial for preserving enough funds to pursue your mission. Tally up the total for your desired marketing approaches, including fees for any marketing software, agency assistance, or in-house work and check it against your allocated budget. If your strategy is under budget, you can start to think about adding another channel that compliments the ones you’ve planned for.
  • Engagement potential. No matter what you’re trying to advertise, you need to make it as easy as possible for your audience to get engaged in your content. For example, if you’re marketing your upcoming online charity auction, add interactive elements to your ads such as clickable countdown timers or sneak peeks of top auction items.
  • Integration possibilities. Depending on your campaign’s budget and timeline, you might be limited in which approaches you can launch. If you’re limited on time or money, ensure you can integrate your new marketing campaigns with integrated systems. For instance, it might be challenging to configure a new social media marketing software to advertise a Giving Tuesday event that’s only two weeks away.

Choosing the right marketing channels for your nonprofit requires you to strike a balance between understanding your audience, goals, and the value each channel offers. As long as you keep these benchmarks in mind, you can determine the best fit for your preferences.

Conclusion

Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll be in a great position to enhance your marketing efficiency! As long as you test your choices carefully, monitor your data over time, and choose channels that support your brand, you can enhance your reach and achieve your nonprofit’s goals.

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