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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Three Pro Marketing Tactics Nonprofits Can Learn from For-Profit Businesses

Let’s face it, Most nonprofit organizations probably don’t know how to focus on stellar marketing efforts. They mostly get their goals achieved through fundraising events and word of mouth.

There are many benefits that a nonprofit can gain from an effective online marketing strategy though. In order to create a marketing strategy, nonprofits need only analyze how for-profit online businesses are competing.

In doing this, nonprofits can learn valuable information that can help their organizations get more volunteers, donations, advocates and other forms of support they need for their important work.

Here are five hand-picked examples of service and product based businesses, in some not-so-exciting industries, that are setting the bar extremely high with their online marketing efforts:

If you closely examine the above websites, you’ll learn that there are three main ways in which a nonprofit can emulate these five online businesses to achieve marketing success.

SEO is important, even for a nonprofit website.

Most people don’t give a second thought as to why a particular website appeared at the top of the Google page when they performed a search. They simply trust that Google delivered the best information about what they searched for.

That’s because most people aren’t aware of search engine optimization (SEO), which refers to the set of Google’s “rules” that can be followed by the owners of websites to ensure that it is well ranked in the search engine results. Yes, you read that correctly. A website that uses SEO has the ability to rank highly in search engine results. High rankings mean more visitors to the site.

The five example websites above effectively use elements of SEO so that they can attract potential customers, investors, suppliers and stakeholders.

SEO elements include (but are definitely NOT limited to):

  • Proper website structure
  • Quick loading pages
  • Use of keywords (that people are actually searching for)
  • Descriptive page titles

With SEO and a proper conversion plan, search engine visitors can be converted into volunteers, donors and advocates for a nonprofit organization.

I recommend that you begin your descent into the SEO rabbit hole at Google, via their guidelines for webmasters. And, whatever you do, stay away from blackhat SEO at all costs. The short term gain isn’t worth the long term misery should you get caught breaking Google’s “rules”.

Tip: Definitely use and implement the suggestions from Google’s website speed test tool to make your site more SE friendly.

Mobile friendliness matters. A lot.

Since there are more people accessing websites from mobile devices than desktop, it’s important to ensure that the content on a nonprofit website is accessible from both desktop computers and mobile devices.

The importance of this aspect was iterated by Google which updated its algorithms to incorporate mobile friendliness as a ranking element. As such, websites that are not mobile-friendly could risk being left out of the search results for the world’s largest search engine.

Like all five of the example websites above, businesses focus on improving mobile friendliness since they recognize that there are many potential customers using mobile devices. If nonprofit organizations can create mobile friendly websites, they too can draw in more volunteers and donors.

In the twenty-first century, making websites mobile friendly also helps to reduce the bounce rates. If visitors go to a website and experience difficulties in reading the content, they are likely to leave quickly, and this is referred to as bouncing.

As such, if your nonprofit website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, your SEO efforts may not bear fruit since a high bounce rate could mean that mobile visitors are frustrated when they visit the site.

Tip: It’s important to use Google’s mobile friendly tool to see how your site scores.

Social media marketing is vital… and free!

Social media marketing (SMM) has been one of the biggest marketing aids of the twenty-first century. It allows for small businesses to find a marketing avenue that is much more affordable than traditional channels.

So why should nonprofits incorporate social media into their marketing strategies?

  • Stakeholders who may be interested in the operations of the nonprofits can be attracted using social media campaigns.
  • The nonprofit organizations can create relationships with potential donors and volunteers and share relevant messages that motivate them to action.
  • 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.

Online marketing can help a nonprofit  reach as many people as possible, but active social media marketing is also effective in helping to increase traffic to a nonprofit’s website.

In summary, nonprofits can invest in developing websites that help to complement their marketing strategies by:

  1. Optimizing their websites using SEO best practices to make sure they can be ranked highly in the search engine results.
  2. Making their websites speedy and mobile friendly so as to cater to the many potential mobile visitors.
  3. Effectively using social media to increase the reach of their marketing strategies.

 By the way, if you represent a nonprofit or a worthy cause, please see the pinned tweet at the top of my Twitter profile, and then email me at melanie(at)positiondigital(dot)com for some free advice.

 Happy marketing! 

Melanie Nathan is a 14-year digital marketing entrepreneur and expert SEO. She writes for Huffington Post and has bylines all over the Internet at tech, health and marketing publications. She offers pro bono services to nonprofits and worthy causes. Connect with her on twitter to learn more.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog