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Taking Nonprofit Inbound Marketing Automation to the Next Level

The following is the second part of this two-part cross-post series by Social Media For Nonprofits. Click here to read yesterday's part one post, Basics of Social Automation for Nonprofits. Click here to read the original version of today's post.


Following on from last week’s post about choosing a social listening and light automation platform, we’re now going to look at automation on a larger scale: email marketing automation, CRM (customer relationship management) and lead nurturing.
Unsurprisingly, in-depth automation platforms which include these features tend to cost more than the auto-scheduling and listening-oriented tools we discussed last week. Where light automation and scheduled posts will simply save you time, “serious” marketing automation software will open up new possibilities, from nurturing leads to managing and cultivating supporter relationships.

Picking Software

As a nonprofit with a limited budget, picking a marketing automation platform might actually be easier than it would be for a large company with more funds. There are so many platforms to choose from, and they all have their merits — but many can be eliminated simply for their higher price tags.

The real challenge comes in deciding if you want software that is strictly fundraising oriented, or all-encompassing and able to serve in the day-to-day as well as during fundraising campaigns.



Most marketing automation software includes the same basic tools and functions: reports and analytics, web forms, email marketing, and lead nurturing. Some software leans more towards SEO and content creation, whereas other tools will be better for CRM or contact management (with additional features like live web chat). Obviously, all platforms will have different user interfaces, so you might want to consider exploring each platform via a free trial or basic plan. You may not be able to experience all features this way, but you will get to see which platforms are a pleasure to use and which seem to overcomplicate things for you. This really comes down to personal preference.
Which Platform?
Best for: Deeper levels of management and analytics, with marketing automation all in one platform. This is a major player, with lots to offer.
Drawbacks: It’s pricy. They do, however, offer a free consultation to help you determine what you need most, with personalized pricing for nonprofits based on your needs.
Best for: Fundraising campaigns and outreach. Emarketing and tracking is available for an additional fee, in partnership with Constant Contact.
Drawbacks: You’ll still need a separate automation platform for interacting on social media beyond sharing donor pages.
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Best for: Those in need of an advanced, robust option. This platform has pretty much everything you’d need to automate your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts.
Drawbacks: If you aren’t ready to commit (or at a place where such an overarching effort makes sense for your organization), this may not be the right fit. It’s certainly worth checking out in advance of ‘leveling up’ though!
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Best for: Targeting donors able to give with their Giving Score analytics tool. Training online or in-person is available, but it’s not free.
Drawbacks: Email marketing and social media integration require higher level plans. Other tools, like Blackbaud CRM are sold separately.
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Best for: Tracking campaigns in-progress.
Drawbacks: A variety of services are offered, but they are all separate.
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When to Invest in Marketing Automation Software
If you don’t have any experience with automation software, it may be beneficial to first experiment with the less expensive, post-scheduling kind that we discussed last week. This will help you get a better idea of what you want from the software, and will give you an opportunity to hone your method and strategy before parting with a larger amount of money.
Readers: have you tried any of the automation software mentioned in this post? If so, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments!
*Please note, Social Media for Nonprofits has used some of these automated options in the past, or may in the future. Our endorsement/review of any sites are independent and not tied to any compensation or special pricing.
RituSharma_Headshot1-e1400655363204Ritu Sharma is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Social Media for Nonprofits, an organization committed to bringing social media education to nonprofits worldwide. She convenes thought leaders and leading practitioners in the social space in the unique TED meet Twitter style conferences. She speaks frequently on a variety of topics in the nonprofit and social media spheres with a passion for effecting social change through social technologies.
Topics: Communications