August 4, 2022

7 Minute Read

Nonprofit Marketing: A Digital Strategy Framework for Growth

Non-profits have a huge edge here when it comes to executing digital advertising. It’s called Google Ad grants, and It’s a game changer.

Non-profit marketing is tough.

With the explosion of branded content, digital marketing has become a damned competitive space – regardless of your niche or industry.

It’s hard enough for an organization with a decent marketing budget to build a substantial audience, let alone for an underpowered, albeit scrappy, non-profit team.

But recently, it dawned on me that there’s a massive content promotion edge that belongs solely to non-profit marketers that could empower them to dominate the blogging scene of their niche. And, if done right, drive a substantial amount of engaged, new visitors. (If you’re in the midst of launching a new content or digital initiative, I highly recommend checking out our tutorial on running automating content audits).

So, today I’m thrilled to share:

  • An actionable framework for any content team to grow their top of funnel website traffic
  • The unique, overlooked opportunity that non-profit marketing teams aren’t taking advantage of

Even if you’re not in non-profit marketing, stick with me.

The actionable digital framework below can still be powerful for the for-profit teams out there as well. First, I’ll outline the strategy, then explain the unique advantage that applies specifically to non-profits. With me? Let’s roll.

Challenge: Lacking Resources for Online Traffic Growth

Before diving in, I’m going to assume that you’re already familiar with the benefits that blogging can bring to your business. (If not, check out some of the blogging statistics from this recent Hubspot report.)

Most organizations understand that they should be creating content in order to drive more traffic. But, the challenge they tend to face is finding the sheer time required to create valuable blogs that rank organically and deliver results quickly enough to please senior leadership.

Typically, marketing teams that are unable to rank well organically still continue to blog, but they depend on paid social media or native advertising to drive traffic and reach new audiences. This creates a challenge for non-profit teams.

They usually don’t have the resources to achieve organic growth, nor the budget to compete in the paid social space.

Keep in mind that paying to place content in a stranger’s social feed is fairly disruptive. I say “stranger” because teams often use paid social to target a new custom audience that has yet to engage with the brand.

They try to inject content into a user’s social feed, when in reality, they don’t know if they’re in the right mindset for reading in-depth content.

Regardless of how specific your targeting is, disrupting a cold audience with an in-feed ad will rarely deliver stellar results. You have to provide value to your audience before you can expect value in return.

building audience non-profit

Solution: Amplifying Blog Traffic with Strategic Pay Per Click (PPC)

As marketers, we’ve gotten so attached to paid social for content distribution that we forget there are other content promotion opportunities out there.

So, how do we promote our content when we know our audience is actively engaged in a content consumption mindset?

PPC. Invest in promoting your owned content (your blogs, not product pages) via Google Ads – A channel where we know our audience is literally searching for answers. Assuming that you’re creating blogs targeted around specific long tail, informational keywords, the cost per click (CPC) will be incredibly inexpensive due to low competition.

This is because brands typically focus most of their PPC budget on transactional keywords, not top-of-funnel informational keywords.

In addition to driving traffic via a lower CPC using paid search (rather than the traditional paid social approach), this method also creates a far more positive first touchpoint between our audience and our brand.

Since the blog is solving the problem that triggered their initial search (as opposed to disrupting them by inserting our content into their newsfeed), we have the first step towards developing true brand affinity.


Content Marketing Workflow – An Agile Approach for Consistent Results​ ​

Targeting Long Tail Keywords with PPC – A Real Life Example

In a past life, I worked for a Colorado non-profit called the Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association. Using them as inspiration, I did some quick keyword research (less than 15 minutes worth) and discovered a shining example. The phrase “colorado gardening calendar” has great monthly search volume and a ridiculously low CPC due to the fact that nobody is targeting it.

According to the Google Ads data below, a $90 ad spend would generate upwards of 1,000 visits. Not to mention that the people who search that specific term are the exact people the association would want to engage with. #Winning.

average monthly searchesOnce a user visits the website, there’s the opportunity for social media retargeting to continue the relationship and drive additional conversions through the funnel (subscriptions, donations, purchases, etc.). The best part? Social retargeting ads drive vastly higher conversion rates than typical social ads. Thus, your social CPC will likely decrease as ROI increases.

It’s a win-win.

Why Specific Non-Profits Have a Ridiculous Content Advantage

So, you’re probably thinking, “Anyone could implement this… why is this strategy so specific to non-profits?” Great question.

It’s not. Technically, any marketing team could employ the framework above immediately.

But, non-profits do have a huge edge here when it comes to execution. It’s called Google Ad grants, and It’s a game changer. Qualifying non-profit organizations can get a FREE monthly AdWords credit. The kicker is that the maximum CPC is $2, a price that’s typically too low to effectively bid on competitive, transactional keywords.

However, as we found in the example above, some long tail keywords will be less than the $2 maximum. Depending on your niche, it’ll probably be less than $.50. That’s huge.

In an attempt at brevity, I’ll skip the obligatory summary paragraph and leave it at this:

  1. If you are a qualifying non-profit, you can essentially get your blog posts to rank #1 and drive substantial traffic, for free.
  2. If you don’t qualify, you can still use this strategy to supercharge your content efforts and significantly grow your site’s monthly traffic.

Need more help with your blogging efforts, or some expert guidance to write killer paid search ads?

Our copy team recently shared some of their most actionable copywriting tips. (These tips were originally intended to only be circulated internally, but we found them so valuable that we opted to share them with the world). Check it!

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