The world today is rapidly changing, and never before has an adaptive marketing strategy been more necessary to succeed. An adaptive marketing strategy is one that is constantly changing based off relevant, accurate data in order to reach qualified individuals in the most effective ways. These types of strategies do not rely solely on one specific type of marketing. They are digitally based but use other forms of traditional advertising to enhance and reinforce the messaging seen online.
Unfortunately, however, many nonprofit organizations today tend to think about marketing mostly in traditional terms, with a heavy emphasis on print, radio, and television advertisements. Digital marketing is typically not top of mind, and, in many cases, has the lowest allocation of budget. In addition, digital marketing efforts are often not integrated into other marketing channels; they are just left to run independently of other forms of marketing. This thought process must be challenged. At Cause Inspired Media, our team of experts has found that when digital advertising is given a higher level of priority, not only can the return on investment increase, but the insights gained will help hone other advertising efforts for the greatest impact.
Cause Inspired Media’s chief operations officer, Sean Kerr, states:
The transition to digital isn’t so much a hard switch as it is an ongoing reevaluation. At every stage and in every project you need to understand where your audience is, how they engage now, and what you can do that matters to them. This is just as true for nonprofits today as it is for any organization trying to tell their story. Be in front of your audience at the right moment whether it is digital or traditional.”
In the last couple years, organizations have begun spending more money on digital advertising than ever before. The reason is simple: return on investment (ROI). With low barriers to entry, combined with the ability to customize messaging and target highly specific audiences, digital marketing has been proven to generate higher returns than other traditional forms of media. Although traditional media can be effective in its own right, digital marketing can be used to develop a strong foundation from which to promote a brand.
In a digital space, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money in order to create a consistent brand image, or to promote a campaign. Instead of overpaying for one small column in a newspaper or a brief radio commercial, an organization can use its website, social media pages, and search engines like Google (with the Google Ad Grant), to promote its cause as often as it chooses, while maintaining already tight budgets. Such breadth is rarely possible with other forms of traditional advertising.
Engagement also plays a major role in the success of digital advertising when compared to its traditional counterpart. With digital advertisements, users are encouraged to take action and interact directly with the organization so that their needs can be addressed almost instantly. Organizations can use chat features to discuss a particular event or campaign with a potential supporter in real time. A campaign description on a web page with impactful images/video can have an instant effect on engagement and giving. Because traditional forms of marketing lack this level of interaction, these types of engagements would not only be time-consuming and require an additional step (a call to the organization), but might not happen at all, as users become disconnected with the message.
In digital marketing, engagement can be tracked, along with hundreds of other significant data points, by using Google Analytics, a free service for tracking and reporting website traffic. Google Analytics provides data regarding website visits and ad exposure, allowing users to make changes in real time to make their campaigns as impactful as possible. This immediate feedback is mostly unattainable with traditional forms of advertising, and it would be nearly impossible (and incredibly costly) to make meaningful changes to a campaign once it has already gone live; imagine someone trying to click on a billboard.
Even if a potential supporter does not complete a desired call to action during his or her first interaction with an organization’s website or advertisement, the individual is not lost. By using historical data from Google Analytics, marketers can remarket to individuals they know have interacted with their website content in a specific way. This historical data, combined with Google’s results-driven artificial intelligence, provides an opportunity to interact with potential constituents that traditional marketing simply does not have the capability to provide.
This historical data also includes audience insights. Audience insights are data regarding the search terms that took users to a particular website, the amount of time spent on the site, specific pages visited, devices used, and much more. This data can help organizations find and specifically target new, previously unknown audiences. An organization might feel confident about who constitutes its target market and what type of marketing is effective for this group, but Google Analytics can help ensure that opportunities aren’t missed.
This is especially true when digital marketing efforts are combined with traditional marketing. Because the cost of traditional advertising can be very high, it is best to use the data and insights learned from digital marketing to make the dollars spent on other forms of advertising more effective. For example, if Google Analytics shows that the majority of site visitors and users responding to calls-to-action are located predominantly in a few select geographic locations, the organization might choose to mail pamphlets to only those specific zip codes, rather than across their entire city. By doing this, the organization saves money and increases the return on its investment, because the individuals who received the pamphlets are more likely to support the organization than persons living in other areas.
Reaching untapped audiences and showcasing brands in innovative ways have never been more important in the nonprofit industry. By embracing an adaptive marketing strategy, nonprofits can keep pace with a constantly evolving world. Based in digital advertising but including specific forms of traditional advertising, an adaptive strategy can help nonprofits increase their returns and cement their brand image within their community and among their supporters. Utilizing digital advertising solutions along with helpful tracking and reporting tools, such as Google Analytics, can help nonprofits gain important insights that can hone other existing advertising efforts for their greatest impact.
Emily Dietz is strategic planning and operations manager at Cause Inspired Media, a firm that helps nonprofits build their passions into successful campaigns that grow their organizations.