The Big 3: SEO, Email and Social [for nonprofits] | npENGAGE

The Big 3: SEO, Email and Social

By on Feb 2, 2011


Nonprofit Email Marketing, Search Engine Optimization & Social Media

Building your online presence can be difficult. It takes patience, diligence, perseverance, some technical know-how and a lot of time. When you take a minute to think about all the hours you’ve put in you begin get an idea of what it’s costing you.

With that in mind I’m sure you’d like to make sure you’re focusing your efforts in the right direction in order to achieve the best possible return on the investment of your time and money.

Let’s take a look at three big focus areas that should be part of your nonprofit digital marketing program. (You can Download Slides and Listen to the Recording from the webinar as well)

Search Engine Optimization

There are more than 280 Million websites on the internet and over 200 Thousand of those are U.S. based non-profits websites. Needless to say, without good search engine optimization (SEO), you’ve got a very slim chance of being found by people searching for things you offer (events, fundraising opportunities, volunteer opportunities, programs, etc).

So, what do you want to be known for on the web?

  • Do you run fundraising events?
  • Do you offer local or national programs?
  • Do you need volunteers?
  • Do you create educational material?
  • Do you put on local activities?

Once you’ve figured out what you want to be know for do two things.

First, use the Google AdWords keyword research tool to do some analysis for words and phrases you’d like to rank highly for in search results. The trick here is to look for words and phrases that have low competition and high month global searches. Once you’ve identified a few of these words and phrases start using them on your website. And don’t forget to produce content on a regular basis so Google continues to crawl your site.

Second, use HubSpot’s website grader. This tool will crawl and evaluate your website for a lot of the key elements you should be monitoring. You’ll gain some interesting and actionable insights that will help guide how you create content and manage your website with a focus on SEO. Here’s a sample for NetWits that I ran a few months back that will give you an idea of what to expect.

A few more resources that should keep you moving in the right direction:

Email Communication

Email marketing is alive and well! At Blackbaud we saw our non-profit customers send over 1 Billion emails in 2010. That seems like a huge amount, but to put it in context there were 247 billion messages sent per day and more than 2.8 million emails sent every second. Staggering.

The point to remember here is that email marketing (and communication) is a mainstay in the lives of a lot of people. It’s critical that you have an effective email marketing strategy in order to stay connected with those who’ve decided to engage with you (i.e. those who found you due to your great SEO).

A few things to consider when it comes to running an effective email marketing program:

  1. Make sure your website has a clear way for people to opt-in to receive emails from you and don’t ask people for a lot of information to sign up. Email address only is generally the best practice.
  2. Start a regular (weekly, monthly) newsletter where you deliver content that your supporters need, want, find useful.
  3. Build landing pages (for the calls to action you have in your newsletters) that have been optimized for those coming from your newsletter.
  4. Share what you do and ask for enewsletter subscriptions on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

A few more resources that should keep you moving in the right direction:

Social Media

Social media is no longer seen as a fad or waste of time or thing that young people do. In fact, we know that 86% of Blackbaud customers participate on social networks and over 90% of non-profits in the world participate on at least one social network. We also know that one of the largest growing segments is the boomer generation.

But the real key is that social media now helps with search engine optimization and (more importantly) gives you a way to interact with people (your supporters and people who are trying to learn about you) like never before. Make sure you’re actively looking for ways to incorporate social media into your online strategy.

While you’re thinking, here’s a few things to consider:

  • Claim your land. Think about what social networking sites are right for your organization and go create an account. The, make sure you promote your presence on your website.
  • Brand it. Most social networking sites allow you to do some level of branding – whether it’s a a custom background on Twitter or a logo designed to work on your Facebook page you can make your brand presence known.
  • Integrate. Think about ways to bring what you do together. If you’re using Facebook pull in your Blog, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr accounts so that you page fans can see where else you participate.
  • Think about incentives. Giving people who “like” your Facebook page is a great way to get them off the fence and taking action. Think about the type of things you could offer (free membership, product, access to Facebook only content, etc).
  • Engage. The is the critical point to remember. Social media demands you participate and engage with your supporters, fans, friends etc.

A few more resources that should keep you moving in the right direction:

Now, there’s no way I could cover any of the above topics with any level of detail in this blog post so make sure to check out the slides below as well as the links to the other resources I’ve provided. Happy digital presence building!

The Big 3: Search Engine Optimization, Email Communication and Social Media for Non-profits (Download Slides :: Listen to Recording)

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Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

Comments (7)

  • Frank – Under Claim Your Land, I think this is a great idea for non-profits — or really anyone that owns a brand — to “claim their land” and make sure that they’ve registered their org’s name on all the different sites. AND, an important step that almost everyone misses, if you’re not going to be very active on that particular social media site, make sure you post at least once and tell people where else to find you. Not every org should be on Twitter, has time for twitter, or has the resources to manage twitter, but every org should have their name registered as a Twitter handle. Tweet once with a link to your Facebook fan page (if that’s where you’re active) and/or your org’s website vs. leaving a blank page.

  • Deepa Naik says:

    Very comprehensive and some great information!

  • good information put it.

  • Eric says:

    I think you left out one that’s more important than social: mobile. For example, SMS donations technology are a must for the serious nonprofit. Virtually all the research out there says that your nonprofit will raise more money with an SMS donation service in the mix than it will without one. Offering SMS donations to your donors increases the number of opportunities your organization will have to collect donations from prospects.See

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