“How much should I spend on my Facebook ads?”
“How much time should I spend on social media strategy?”
These are the most frequently asked questions I hear from nonprofits in my line of work as a digital marketer.
It can be particularly difficult to gauge how much of your resources to invest when you’re running a campaign for the first time, or if you’re starting to approach your social media posts in a strategic, big-picture way. Digital marketing and paid online advertising can feel overwhelmingly complex, especially when you don’t have previous results to help you estimate a rate of return on your investment.
The reality is that there’s no right answer to these questions—but there are some tactics to help you get the biggest impact from your resources.
From my experience, your success really comes down to five key elements in how you approach your campaign.
Before we get started, ask yourself a few questions to establish what success looks like for your campaign:
What is your ultimate goal?
Is it to increase email sign-ups? Or to increase subscription purchases?
How much are those worth to you?
How much are you comfortable spending?
With these answers in mind, here are the five steps to achieving these objectives and ensuring your organization’s digital marketing campaign pays off.
1. Build a Deep Understanding of Your Audience
The first thing you absolutely must do to succeed in any marketing campaign, online or otherwise, is to define your intended audience.
I’m not just talking about demographics (age, income, gender)—although it’s obviously good to know those things too. Invest time and research into learning your target market’s goals, challenges, desires, aesthetic preferences. … Think about why your audience could be moved to donate to your cause, to attend your events, and to choose you over other organizations competing for their time and attention.
The more you know about your audience, the more specific your marketing can become. It will help you pinpoint them in the audience profile that your Facebook ads target, and to choose which social media platforms they spend most time on, helping you meet them where they hang out online.
2. Use Language That Speaks to Them
Once you know and understand your audience’s motivations, as well as where they’re engaging on the Internet, you can start connecting in a tone, style, and medium that suits them.
If your past campaigns aren’t performing as well as you’d like, you might not be finding the right ways to communicate with your audience through your imagery, copywriting, video, or graphics.
Does your audience consume more video than long-form copy? Maybe you should invest in more visual content, and fewer blogs and e-books.
Does your audience use direct, conversational dialogue? Maybe you could make your copy more personalized and casual.
3. Consider Where They Are in the Funnel
The marketing funnel is an instant guide for how to interact with the people who are consuming your content. The idea of the funnel is that your audience flows from awareness (the top of the funnel) to advocacy (the bottom of the funnel), following a path that starts at a spark of interest in what you do and progresses to spreading the word about your organization.
If your marketing campaign is meant to introduce your work to an audience unfamiliar with your organization, avoid asking them to buy something or to show up in person to an event, or any other action that could feel like they’re making a commitment. They’re just getting to know you! Instead, start by showing them educational content about what you do—offer them value first before you try asking for something in return.
On the other hand, if your marketing campaign is focused on existing members of your community, you can ask more from them. You’ve already established trust and a rapport; they know your mission and have expressed support. With the right content and phrasing, you can ask for that purchase or attendance, and they’re far more likely to say yes.
4. Track Data on All Conversions (As Best as Possible)
I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is to track conversions wherever possible. A conversion is when someone completes the action you are targeting—that could be giving a donation, signing up for a newsletter, or attending an event. In order to improve on the model of your digital campaign, you’ll need to be able to record the number and outcome of actions taken during it.
If you use multiple third-party systems, such as an events program or an online store platform, it can be difficult to track this data, but I have helped my clients find some solutions. For example, if you’re using a Facebook ad to promote an event, you could be directing them to an events program that can make it difficult to track conversions. One hack is to redirect RSVPs from your event page to a specially made thank-you page on your website, which you can then count as conversions.
Just remember, your audience often won’t come to you directly. They may have seen a Google ad first, felt a spark of interest but not clicked the link, before finally clicking your Facebook post days later. In this case, both the Google ad and Facebook post are responsible for making this connection. To make sure you’re getting a more accurate view of where your conversions are coming from, consider using Google Analytics to track user acquisition and behavior for your website.
5. Analyze Your Results, and Try Again!
You probably saw this coming given #4, right? The beauty of digital marketing is that you can collect data, assess results, and try again based on what you’ve learned from analyzing them.
You can even analyze and adjust elements of your marketing mid-campaign! Is your ad getting zero clicks? Try new text or a new image. Is your email open rate disappointing? Try sending the same news with a different subject line.
Remember that the results you’re looking at are based on human behavior, which can and will surprise you. Shocked the red “Click here” button in your email worked better than the green button? Me too. But if the numbers show that it’s the more popular option, go with the red.
With a better understanding of your audience, and adjustments to meet them where they are, you can create better marketing content for your nonprofit. And by tracking and analyzing outcomes, you’ll know how to improve for next time. With these techniques, you can focus your campaign to achieve the metrics that matter to you, and you’ll be able to make the most of your valuable resources: money, time, and people.
For more ideas on how to create an effective digital marketing campaign, join my free webinar on 5 Things Every Digital Marketing Plan Should Have hosted by Wild Apricot on November 15 at 2 p.m ET. My webinar is part of Wild Apricot’s Free Membership Growth Online Summit 2018, so you’ll also get free registration for four other expert webinars that week.
Hope to see you there.
Amy Jacobus, Amy Jacobus Marketing, helps creatives, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits increase their impact with marketing strategies that are comprehensive, clever, and masterfully designed. She understands the challenges that come with small staffs, limited budgets, and time constraints—which is why her online classes and workshops help you break down big-picture goals into bite-sized, actionable steps. By combining smart marketing with excellent project management, Amy’s aim is to elevate your brand, amplify your reach, and better organize your approach.