Inbound marketing is most commonly associated with generating new business leads, so what exactly does inbound marketing have to do with nonprofits? Just like for-profit marketing where companies are looking to convert prospects into leads and leads into clients, nonprofits are looking to convert online and offline audiences from an awareness phase to an action phase. And, just like for-profit marketing entails investing in a company’s products or services, nonprofit marketing also entails making an investment, in this case, however, one is investing in a mission or cause.
What happens at the top of a nonprofit marketing funnel?
The top of the funnel is known as the awareness phase. At the top of the funnel, target audiences have casual interactions with an organization that are predominantly designed for exposure and the early stages of education. This is when people learn not only what your organization does, but start to equate your work with impact. During this phase, audiences may follow you on social media and engage with your social content (think ‘Like’s and comments). They may also decide to attend a no-cost event. Again, this is an exploratory learning phase where audiences aren’t ready to make a deep investment.
What happens in the middle of a nonprofit marketing funnel?
The middle of the funnel is where social engagement begins to deepen and audiences take action that is low to moderate risk. People aren’t yet at the point where they’re ready to make a donation, but they’re willing to do more than passively follow you on social media or merely subscribe to an e-newsletter. Think of this as the phase where you’ve captured enough of people’s attention to tell them about more than just what you do – now you have enough time to explain why it matters (in a creative and compelling way of course). The time audiences spend in the middle of the funnel is critical for building the trust necessary to drive people to the bottom of the funnel, which is where the most meaningful and measurable action occurs.
My audiences have reached the bottom of the funnel – now what?
The bottom of an inbound nonprofit marketing funnel is where volunteer sign-ups, event registrations and donations occur. At this point, audiences have built up enough organizational trust and confidence in your cause to make a meaningful investment of time and resources in your mission. To reach this stage, each and every communication during the prior two stages must have been on-message, audience-centric and mission-driven. While this is undoubtedly the phase organizations anxiously await, it is far from the end.
You’ve got new donors and volunteers – what’s next?
For nonprofits and for profits alike, the sales cycle is continuous. Now that you’ve cultivated these new audiences, your goal is to retain them. Retention encompasses everything from ensuring volunteers are well-informed about how their time has made a difference, to proactively informing donors about the impact their specific donation has made on your clients and the community.
Whether you are revamping your nonprofit’s donor cultivation, engagement or retention cycle or setting one in place for the first time, remember to focus on your intended audience(s), remain mission-driven and keep your organization’s impact at the forefront.
Great online marketing content is a poweful tool for attracting volunteers, donors, staff and the list goes on.