Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on marketing to spread the word about their mission, and one of the most cost-effective options in the nonprofit marketing toolbox is content marketing. Done right, it’s a powerful tool that uses engaging content to lead visitors through the marketing funnel and inspire them to take action, like donating or volunteering.
Perhaps most importantly, content enables your organization to build trust with new potential donors and supporters. It allows you to communicate the work you do authentically.
You may be familiar with the saying, “Content is king.” But what does that mean, and why does it rule?
Simply put, content is the reason visitors find and connect with your organization. Content helps nonprofit organizations demonstrate expertise and authority in their niche, engage their audience, and gain new supporters by appearing in search engine results for relevant search terms. So, when it comes to building an online presence, content really is king.
What Is Content Marketing Strategy and Why Is It Important?
Content marketing strategy is simply another way of describing the process of planning, developing, and managing useful, promotable, and consumable content. A clear and well-defined content strategy is essential, and understanding what makes content shareable and valuable is imperative to its success.
Crafting a comprehensive content marketing strategy for your organization requires an upfront commitment of time and resources, which can be scarce in the nonprofit world. However, front-loading your effort will save you considerable time and stress in the long term.
Before diving in, it’s essential to consider the needs and goals of your organization to maximize your efforts. Continue reading for useful tips to help you get started on the right path — and avoid common pitfalls along the way.
1. Determine the Purpose of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Start the process by identifying the intended purpose of your content marketing strategy. Do so in clear and concrete terms. Knowing the “why” will help you define your target audience, your goals, and the best ways to reach each, creating the foundation of your larger content strategy.
2. Understand Your Audience
Your audience is the most critical piece of your content strategy. The key to creating compelling content is understanding what audiences are looking for and how best to educate them on your mission. To do this, start with a deep dive into data: find out who you’re reaching out to and what they want to learn about your nonprofit or cause. You can do this with surveys, focus groups, site analytics, or other research methods.
Once you know who your audience is and their interests, it’s time to create a blueprint for future content based on these insights. Your goal should be twofold: first, to educate people about the issue at hand with helpful information; second, to make sure it leads to engagement opportunities, from newsletter signups to donations and volunteer events.
The types of engagement that you promote with your content should relate directly to the priorities of your content marketing strategy.
3. Define Key Performance Measures
Defining your goals ahead of time is the only way to know if you’ve reached them once you publish your content. Measuring this is essential to developing a successful content marketing strategy. Further, frequently assessing the success of your content strategy will allow you to improve its implementation over time constantly.
Whatever your goals are for each piece of content on your website or social media channels (and there can be many), make sure they align with one another so they don’t become competing priorities.
4. Examine Your Existing Content
Although it can be daunting, looking at your existing content marketing efforts is a critical step to ensure you’re setting realistic goals for your strategy.
You can begin the process by answering these questions:
- What types of content are we publishing?
- Where are those pieces being published? (For example: on your website or blog, in an email newsletter, or on social media)
- How much time and money have we spent creating this type of content over the last year?
A thorough assessment of your content in all its forms across all your platforms is a great way to learn what is and isn’t working. It will also help you determine where to improve your content and its delivery.
5. Align Your Content So It Answers Questions
It’s one (crucial) thing to understand and be able to articulate your intended message with your content. It’s another (equally important) task to connect it with your audiences’ questions. The end goal should always be to help consumers of your content navigate their customer journey. You want to meet their needs in a way that shows you understand the kind of information or resources they need and that you appreciate them.
6. Identify Content Distribution Channels
The next step in creating an effective content strategy is knowing which channels to use to optimize readers’ time spent on and overall engagement with your content.
Use your channel metrics to identify both short- and long-term strategies. Both should include more than one channel (an “omnichannel strategy” in the marketing world). In addition, your strategy should incorporate online channels (including social media) and offline channels such as conferences and direct mail.
7. Develop a Content Calendar
Once you map out what you want to do, based on an audit of your existing content and goals, put together a content production plan (also known as an editorial calendar). It should include a process to determine the content type (e.g., a blog post versus a webinar or a video). You also need to decide who will be responsible for creating the content, how the content should be pushed out to your audiences, and the deadlines.
Of course, your content calendar doesn’t have to be cast in stone. It’s a plan, and plans change, so you must also be flexible to enable your organization to pivot when necessary, so don’t be afraid to rearrange things. However, following your content calendar will go a long way toward captivating new users.
Marketing nonprofit organizations can be challenging, particularly when you’re stretched for staff and resources. But having a strong content marketing strategy is often the most economical way to help build awareness and increase support for your organization.