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The donor journey and the importance of content marketing

Adding content marketing into your fundraising mix isn’t as simple as sending out a few tweets and adding a few Facebook posts to your monthly content. Thinking through strategic initiatives that involve your nonprofit’s goals, donor journey and content resources are all important aspects to consider before jumping in.

Your donors are at the forefront of the initiative. Get to know them throughout their decision-making journey to set a content marketing strategy that encompasses their likes, supports their needs, and meets them where they are.

What is the donor journey?

In short, the donor journey is the process that takes them from Point A to Point B – from not knowing who you are to donating. While there can be many sub-phases of the donor journey, there are typically four distinct phases donors go through as they gear up to giving to your nonprofit. You may think of them similarly to a customer’s journey and they can look something like:

  • Awareness > Consideration > Purchase > Advocacy
  • Awareness > Interest > Decision > Sale
  • Awareness > Research > Decision > Appreciation

The above examples are all variations of the same phases which show us that: Donors are first figuring out who you are, why they should care, what you do/who you serve and then, ultimately, when they’re feeling good (and when they trust their donations will make an impact) they give.

How does content marketing play a role in the donor journey?

Throughout your donors’ journey, there are touchpoints. These are oftentimes instances of monthly emails, possibly some social media posts and maybe a video or two. These examples are all instances of content marketing tactics. To move your fundraising to the next level, it’s important to establish a strategic content marketing plan that’s built on a combination of your nonprofit’s overall goals and your donors’ journey.

By understanding the phases of your donors’ journey, you can create a content marketing strategy that not only provides brand awareness, trust and engagement, but that increases your donation amounts. Not only do we need to understand our donors, but we must understand the content types and channels that are most effective at establishing ongoing relationships with them. For instance:

  • Content with images receives 94% more views than content without (Hubspot)
  • 80% of Americans are more loyal to purpose-driven companies (CONE)
  • Nearly 75% of consumers say they are comfortable receiving texts from brands (Mobile Monkey)
  • Three-fourths of us feel frustrated when a website experience isn’t personalized to our needs (Forbes)
  • A whopping 77% of internet users regularly read blog posts (Impact)
  • There is more than one ‘right’ social media platform for nonprofits with Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter leading the pack (Forbes)

Where to begin?

We could rattle off stats all day about the importance of both understanding consumer (donor) behavior and channel usage related to content marketing. The point is, use a combination of what you know (and what you may need to dig into) to map out your content marketing plan.

At a high level, compile the answers to the following as a starting point for crafting your content marketing strategy specific to your donors:

  • What are your fundraising goals for the year?
    • Dollars raised
    • Types of donors
    • Campaign-specific needs
  • Which current channels work best for engaging donors?
  • Where do your donors (and potential donors) hang out online?
  • What does your current website/donation page traffic look like?
  • What areas of your website see the most traffic?
    • Where does that traffic come from?
    • How much time do users spend on those pages?
    • Which keywords are leading people to these areas of your site?
  • What are your staffing needs if you increased content production or strategies?

Tactics to consider

There’s no shortage of channels related to content marketing. As you look to increase your awareness online, appear in search results as donors are in their research phase and ultimately be chosen as ‘the one’ to whom they’ll donate, think about how any (or many) of the following can increase engagement with potential (and current) donors:

  • Blog post series
  • Email marketing
  • Video
  • Webinars
  • Free downloads or resource guides
  • Social media posts
  • Podcasts

Ensure that the tactics you choose are aligned with how/where your donors are most likely to engage/receive content. Just because you are a heavy Facebook user, for example, doesn’t mean it’s the preferred channel for your donors. Do your research. Plan from there.

Keep the cadence consistent

Once you start, you can’t stop—your donors will expect ongoing engagement on their time, not yours. In that vein, before you choose too many channels, decide which tactics make the most sense for your audience and your current resources. Do you have an adequate system for keeping track of content and content ideas (our guest speaker next month has great advice on content calendars—her templates work for small businesses and nonprofits alike)? Do you have someone who can execute deliverables and monitor results/conversations online? Will you have the resources to pull metrics and pivot when one tactic or another works well (or leaves you with lack-luster results?)

Content marketing is not simply creating content for content’s sake. It’s about establishing relationships with your donors, creating a sense of trust and wealth of resources that creates conversation and engagement. The beauty of using digital tools to support your nonprofit content marketing strategy is that you can easily track success.

Join us on May 27 for a free “Ask the Expert” discussion with Melissa Harrison, content marketing strategist and CEO at Allee Creative. Reading this post after the event date? No worries! Use that link to view the webinar on-demand.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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