‘The quality of your data is so important’: five digital marketing tips for nonprofits

·5 min read

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted organisations across the globe to make changes that will have a lasting impact on the way they interact with consumers. The clear trend to digital and mobile has increased at pace, with some companies even accelerating the digitisation of their customer interactions by several years, according to McKinsey Digital. Meanwhile, nonprofits swiftly diverted their offline budgets to increase their online marketing efforts and virtual events replaced in-person ones.

“Nonprofits have had to reassess traditional marketing strategies quickly, but the shift to digital is here to stay,” says David Ragones, senior vice president and general manager of Nonprofit Cloud at Salesforce.org.

“As nonprofits had to adapt to meet changing community needs, many realised that in order to grow and maintain their impact they would have to transform as well,” he says.

Salesforce.org observed a correlation between organisations with high digital maturity – defined as the ability to use data to inform decision-making, reach new audiences, personalise communications and forecast fundraising income – and the confidence to respond quickly.

In the new digital landscape, it’s vital that nonprofits continue to prioritise digital marketing. Here’s five tips on how to do it:

Maximise data
The key to all successful marketing campaigns is, of course, data. It generates insights that are invaluable for driving marketing activity that delivers personalised experiences and is central to advanced audience segmentation, efficient reporting and effective forecasting.

“The need for robust data management will only continue to grow as donors seek to understand how their contributions are being used, and how supporters’ efforts are furthering the mission,” says Ragones.

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) has been working with Salesforce since 2017 to plan, deliver and evaluate its marketing efforts. “We’re trying to build a single customer viewpoint so we can see all the different interactions we’re having with supporters via live data, which helps us understand how our campaigns are working,” says Stephanie Fletcher, digital performance manager at GOSH Charity.

Before moving to Salesforce, the nonprofit was using a non cloud-based system, which wasn’t integrated with any of its digital tools. This created operational silos that slowed down collaboration and made agile marketing difficult. Now, GOSH Charity has a centralised data system with connected communication channels, which is encouraging cross-department collaboration.

Jennie Sullivan, senior individual giving manager at GOSH Charity, says the difference has been profound. “Knowing that everyone within the organisation has access to this data has completely changed the way we work and the whole organisational culture as a result,” she says.

“Everybody from our supporter care team, to product managers and fundraisers can actually see what supporters are saying first-hand, so listening to our supporters has become really embedded in the organisational culture.”

Incorporate data into strategic planning
Leveraging digital channels and virtual events has created a massive opportunity for nonprofits to widen their reach to find and acquire new supporters. “Digital marketing activities generate helpful insights into the behaviours and preferences of different audiences – and that data can, in turn, fuel personalised communications and campaign agility at scale,” says Ragones. The results of digital marketing efforts can be analysed faster than offline campaigns, he adds, and used for strategic planning.

Don’t neglect digital events
The shift to digital presented new opportunities for nonprofits. While many in-person events have recommenced, digital events and experiences have proved to be effective in overcoming geographical barriers and encouraging engagement from donors who might not otherwise have participated. As eager as we may be to get back in the same room, it’s vital nonprofits continue with the marketing activities that have yielded results during the pandemic. This could include hybrid events that have in-person and virtual elements, supplemental digital content or even post-show recordings for people to catch up on something they missed.

Personalisation is key
It can be difficult for supporters to choose which one nonprofit to support. The key to gaining and maintaining support will be in the relationships an organisation can build with its different audiences. Ragones recommends creating a “holistic, personalised experience” for supporters, which means developing strategies that build lasting relationships that go beyond asking for support.

“To create the sense of personal connection that many of today’s supporters desire, nonprofits must make it as easy as possible for supporters to stay engaged on their terms, and to feel that they have a personal stake in the [organisation’s] mission,” he says. They need to show supporters how they, personally, are making an impact, he adds.

Provide seamless supporter experiences
For a seamless supporter experience, nonprofits need to understand their constituents, which touch points are most effective, and what types of content each audience segment is most responsive to. Further, with the rapid increase in online donations over the course of the past year, nonprofits will need to understand how supporters want to give, and what kinds of communication they want in return.

With Salesforce and Nonprofit Cloud, nonprofits can capture the insights required to fuel strategic digital marketing that’s centralised and connected. “If this data is in one place it can be interpreted with AI, and nonprofit organisations can respond with personalised communication,” says Ragones.

“The quality of the data you hold is so important,” adds Sullivan. “You need the right data structured in the right way. Many of our supporters have a personal connection to GOSH, so supporting the charity is a really special decision – especially if they’re a parent – and we need to be able to capture and reflect that.”

Ultimately, nonprofits need to augment and scale their strategies to stay relevant, reach new supporters and support the changing needs of their communities, according to Ragones. “The digital foundation that nonprofits are building today will help them to increase their organisational resilience and strategic agility in order to navigate whatever the future holds.”

Learn more about Salesforce.org’s Marketing Cloud for Nonprofits

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