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Content Marketing for Nonprofits: How to Be Effective

By on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A majority of nonprofit organizations are using content marketing to share their work, recruit supporters, strengthen relationships, and inspire action. The Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud’s 2015 study found 61% of nonprofits are using content marketing.

What is content marketing? Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive action.”

Only 5% of those surveyed said their content marketing efforts were very effective, and 30% said it was effective. A whopping 45% were neutral on whether content marketing was effective.

Even so, 69% of those surveyed said they are creating more content this year. And increasingly, they are marketing their content on a variety of platforms:

  • 93% on social media platforms (not blogs)
  • 89% in person events
  • 88% enewsletters
  • 86% articles on their own website
  • 86% illustrations/photos
  • 82% videos
  • 58% blogs
  • 53% infographics
  • 53% print newsletters
  • 44% print magazines
  • 41% case studies
  • 41% microsites
  • 40% research reports

Interestingly, in-person events were rated as the most effective (74%) content marketing strategy, followed by photos/illustrations (65%), enewsletters (64%), social media content (63%), print magazines (60%), print newsletters (57%), videos (54%) and microsites (53%). When it comes to social media platforms, sixty-three percent felt Facebook is effective. Fifty-four percent think Twitter is effective. Forty-seven percent say YouTube is effective.

And they are publishing frequently. Twenty percent are publishing new content on a daily basis and 28% are doing so several days a week. Sixty percent of the most effective nonprofit marketers and 58% of those who have a documented content marketing strategy publish new content daily or multiple times per week.

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How can your nonprofit organization stand out from the many others engaging in content marketing and be more effective in your content marketing efforts?

Tip #1: Make a plan and write it down. Draft what your content marketing strategy will look like. The Content Marketing Institute reports that organizations that have a written strategy are more likely to report being effective. Only 23% of those responding to the Blackbaud study had a written strategy.

Tip #2: Follow your strategy. Sticking with your strategy will improve your effectiveness. The Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud research found that those following their strategy closely were more likely to rate their efforts as effective.

Tip #3: Use metrics to evaluate your effectiveness. Examine metrics like website traffic, page views, engagement through social media, fundraising, number of people assisted, visiting time on a website, and event attendance.

Tip #4: Continue to invest in photography, illustrations and video. The use of images and video reverberates throughout content marketing. A photo shared on Facebook can be used in an e-newsletter, on a website or in a video.

Tip #5: Focus on improvements. Consider where you can improve your approach to content marketing. Do you want to be a better storyteller through your content? Do you want to showcase more visuals or videos? Do you wan to understand metrics better or look at return on investment? Do you want to get a better grasp on an audience?  Or do you need a strategy for mobile or content optimization?

Talk to us: How are you using content marketing effectively? What strategies work for you? Do you have a written strategy for your content marketing program? Where do you want to improve?

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media and work-family balance. She also reviews books on her blog. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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