But many nonprofit leaders still have a lot of questions about how the different pieces of an online marketing strategy can fit together.
Some questions I’ve been asked in the past include:
Should we start a blog?
What should we publish on that blog?
Should we market ourselves on social media?
How does email marketing fit into our overall strategy?
How is email marketing different than the emails we’re already sending?
And last but not least: I already have a blog, so do I need to do email marketing too? (Or, less frequently, the reverse.)
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Blogging and email marketing can be two of the very best strategies in your marketing toolbox, and they work best when you use them together—just like peanut butter and jam!
In this post, I’m going to be sharing the strengths of both of these marketing strategies, then talk about how you can use them together to connect with your potential new members.
Why Your Organization Should Have a Blog
I recently asked an audience of nonprofit and association professionals how many of them had a blog.
Only about 20 percent raised their hand.
This really surprised me, because sharing useful content online is one of the best strategies to gaining new members and donors these days.
We’ve worked with a lot of organizations at Wild Apricot, and many of them have said that the tactics they’ve used in the past to attract new members haven’t been working nearly as well as they used to.
And a big reason for that is because people now rely on Google and social media to find new organizations to support or join.
So, having a blog (and publishing on it regularly) allows you to:
Provide educational value to potential members. Let’s say you have a gardeners’ association. If you write posts related to the best plants to add to a spring vegetable garden, for example, your potential members will see that you know your stuff and can help them improve as well.
Spread the word about your organization at little to no cost. Many other ways to get new members or donors can be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. Assuming you already have a website, it’s easy to start blogging and sharing your content online—and getting your current supporters to share it as well.
Showcase the amazing work your organization is doing. Sometimes you just have to toot your own horn, or that of your members. To continue the example of the gardening association, maybe they helped plant a community garden, or one of their members discovered a more effective type of fertilizer for a certain plant. This is both information that can benefit potential members and inspire them to join you—so why not share it out?
Why Your Organization Should Use Email Marketing
So, you’ve written some amazing content.
You’ve shared your organization’s story, as well as some useful advice to help your potential members see the value in joining you.
It’s time to see the new members and donors roll in, right?
Well, not quite.
Converting donors and getting new members is all about building relationships—and that’s where email marketing comes in.
Smart email communication allows you to:
Connect with your donors and volunteers on a more intimate level. Most people check their email first thing in the morning, before they check any other online channel, and they use email more frequently than anything else. Email communication gives you the chance to reach potential and current donors more directly (and more intimately) than you can by using social media or blog posts.
Build trust with your audience. When you’re sending subscribers useful and/or emotional content on a regular basis, they can begin to know, like, and trust you as an organization. Experts say that 70 percent of the people who visit your website will never return—but if you capture a potential donor’s email address before she leaves, you have a connection that you can build on to foster a long-term relationship.
Ask people to donate, volunteer, or become a member. Once you’ve built a relationship with your subscribers by regularly sending them top-quality content, it’s easy to make a pitch without worrying about overselling or coming across as pushy.
Using Blogging and Email Marketing Together to Promote Your Nonprofit Online
The good news is that you don’t have to choose between blogging and email marketing. These two tools work best when you use them in conjunction!
Your organization can publish regular, attention-getting content on your blog, then send that content out to your email mailing list to help you build connections and develop trusted relationships with your subscribers.
And if you’re worried about not having enough content to share with new subscribers ...
When you publish a new post, send it out to your list!
All you need is a short email that includes a little description of the post, a few words about why people should read it, and a link to the post. Some email service providers even allow you to automatically push your blog posts out to your list. You can just set it up once, then publish blog posts anytime without having to manually send them out to your list.
You can also send a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter to your subscribers that includes links to your most recent (or best) posts.
If you’ve set up a unique autoresponder to send to new subscribers (an automatic email that goes out whenever someone gives you their email), you can also feature some of your most popular blog posts in those messages. It’s a great way to get more eyeballs on some of your older content, too.
I also recommend creating an editorial calendar that includes the blog posts and email marketing campaigns you’re planning. Your calendar can include common themes that you’ll feature across all of your marketing channels.
Blogging and Email Marketing—Two Complementary Strategies for Your Nonprofit
Your goal every month is to publish a clear, coherent message for your audience—and that includes all the tools in your nonprofit marketing toolbox.
By having a blog, you can develop interest in your organization, showcase the great work you’re doing, and provide value to potential members.
By using email marketing, you can build a deeper relationship with your new subscribers, learn more about what they want to see from you.
There’s no reason you should choose between blogging and email marketing. Your nonprofit should be doing both—and in my webinar on April 30, I’ll give you my best advice on how to choose the topics that will work best for you, how to capture potential new members’ emails, and what to send them once you have them. Join the webinar 3 Keys to Growing Your Organization with Content, hosted by Wild Apricot on April 30 at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to sign up.
Tatiana Morand is content manager at Wild Apricot. She loves discovering new and exciting topics to write about in the nonprofit and association space and getting them to rank on the first page of Google.