When it comes to marketing your business, you’re only as effective
as your marketing plan. Without a set of concrete goals and detailed steps for
achieving them, it’s difficult to stay on track and impossible to measure the
effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
For many businesses, a new year is a natural time to plan
for the year ahead and begin implementing new strategies and schedules. Whether
you’re in the midst of planning your marketing for the year or are waiting for
a slower time to plan, the following tips can help you begin to think about
making this year the best yet for your marketing.
New Year’s resolutions have a reputation of being short-lived. Make a resolution for 2019 that you’re sure to keep—a commitment to marketing your business better! These 5 trends are on our radar for the coming year. Incorporating any one of them into your digital marketing strategy can help 2019 be the best year yet for your business.
Are you tired of sales pitches? Do you hate feeling like you’re being sold to? So do I. Like many consumers today, I want more from the companies I choose to do business with.
There are two key things you need to know about consumers today:
They make purchases and do business based on trust
Purchases are made on their own timetable, whether or not it aligns with your business
In other words, traditional marketing styles no longer have the impact they once did. Consumers are more discerning and focused on the value your company can give them rather than simply the products or services you provide. If traditional marketing is sale-based, today’s approach is education-based.
When was the last time your print marketing strategy was freshened up? When was the last time you looked at your creative approach, value proposition, and media mix with fresh eyes? If it’s been a while, maybe now is the time. Here are three areas to consider to improve your multi-channel strategy.
Picture your marketing strategy 10 years ago. It probably looked a lot different than your strategy of today. Now imagine you were still using the same marketing content and tactics from 10 years ago. Do you think you’d be successful?
Probably not. Marketing is constantly changing, as new technologies are introduced, new trends appear, and younger generations enter the market. To be effective, your business must change, too.
Recognizing the need to change your strategy is the first step. But change isn’t always easy. How do you know what to change? And how do you make it happen?
Is your website ADA Compliant? Did you know it should be? If not, you aren’t alone. ADA compliance marks a major change to the digital marketing world. It’s important to know how your website stacks up.
What is ADA Compliance?
Years ago, we didn’t have designated parking spots for those with disabilities, or ramps to allow wheelchairs easy access to buildings. Today, it’s common to see these, which is due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law was enacted to ensure that all individuals have equal access to a business’s goods and services.
Under the law, a business is considered a place of public accommodation, and must remove any barriers that would keep a disabled individual from accessing that business’s offerings. While this has long referred to physical barriers, in 2010 there was a request from the US Department of Justice to amend the law to include the digital realm, namely websites.
Currently there are no strict guidelines that legally require websites to be accessible for people with disabilities. However, lawsuits have been successfully made against companies that lack accessibility features.
What do you need to know? Don’t be caught off guard. Until recently, most marketers didn’t know about ADA compliance. This gave them no way to prevent lawsuits, because they lacked the knowledge that there even might be a problem.
The ADA status on websites was expected to be finalized this past January. While that fell through, the courts continue to step in and file lawsuits against companies whose websites are found to violate current ADA guidelines. Be proactive by making changes to your website now. Besides potential legal issues, it’s good business practice to make your site as accessible and easy to navigate as possible for all your customers.
Make Your Website ADA Compliant
The best way to understand how your website stacks up against compliance standards is to do a comprehensive assessment of your site. You may want to contact your website service provider for more specific information, and to make changes you’re unsure how to enact. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 give a comprehensive overview of what is required for different levels/standards of compliance.
Some common adjustments you can make to your site include:
Each image you include on your site should have an alt text description. Visitors to your site may be unable to see images, or the images themselves may not render on all devices. Alternate text will fill in the blanks, allowing visitors to understand the content presented in the image and what information you are trying to convey. Website builders like WordPress clearly identify where to place the alt text when adding an image. The words you use in your alt text descriptions are also important–learn how to write effective alt tags. Effective alt text labels also serve to help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Audio & Video Transcripts
For every video or audio clip you include on your site, it’s helpful to include a link to a page with the content transcribed into text, for those who can’t hear the audio or who cannot view the video properly on their device. Also include captions on the video itself.
Your website will be more functional for all visitors if text is at a high contrast to the background, making it easier to read. If the background color of your “Products” page button is too close to the text color, it will be difficult for visitors to read the text and understand where that button would take them.
Some people must use a keyboard rather than a mouse to navigate on the web. So, your website must be fully navigable using only a keyboard. Some websites are set up so that just by pressing the “Tab” key, a visitor can move across the heading and sub heading categories of your site, easily finding which page they want. To make this function easier, it’s important to have consistent navigation throughout the site. All headers and footers should appear the same on each page, with the same buttons linking to the same pages.
Include clear links to your home page as well as to a site map page. From the site map, visitors can easily find the page they’re looking for without navigating through your entire site. Don’t underline text that is not an actual link. And, do not include redundant links to the same content on the same page.
Ensure your page titles clearly and accurately describe what is found on that page. Also, your pages will be read better by screen reading software if you give different weight to your titles and move in ascending order as you go down the page. For example, the title of the page should be designated as H1. Your major subheadings should be H2, and secondary headers should be H3.
Forms must be clearly labeled and readable by screen reader software. Make form submission buttons specific; rather than “Submit” try, “Place an Order” “Contact Us” “Sign Me Up” etc. This ensures clarity as to what process that form is completing.
Developing a website that is easy to navigate for all visitors creates a win-win situation. When potential customers have a pleasant experience visiting your website, they’re likely to stay on your site for longer periods of time and come back to you when they’re searching for something new. More traffic means more business, and more happy customers.
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It’s hard to believe the holiday season has arrived once again, and before we know it we’ll be ringing in 2018. After a busy holiday season, a new year is an opportunity to refresh your marketing priorities. Marketing objectives and strategies are constantly evolving, and certain approaches that worked last year may no longer be best practice today. Here are 4 things you should know about marketing for 2018.
1) Amazon is King:
When you have a question about something, what do you do? Usually without thinking, I turn to Google.
So, would it surprise you to learn that Google is surpassed by another search engine? Currently, Amazon holds the crown as the most used product search engine, with 59% of product searches happening on their site. And they’re not only a resource for products—Amazon also offers a wide range of services, including AmazonFresh grocery delivery, web cloud storage, and TV, movie, and music streaming. It’s even possible that Amazon will be offering prescription medications in the near future.
But as a business owner, you should know about Amazon Services. It essentially works as an Amazon search engine for professional services. Whether you’re an electrician, computer repair person, or pool cleaner, your customers can search for, purchase, and review your services, all through Amazon. This is already taking off in larger cities across the U.S., and will likely be popular in our region in just a year or two. If you want to get ahead of the game, it could pay off to claim your spot on Amazon today.
2) Website Accessibility:
Have you heard about the Web Content Accessibility Guideline? If you plan to have a website in 2018, listen up. While there are no standardized rules for what a website must have to be considered “accessible,” the web has been labeled as a “place of public accommodation.” Essentially, you could run into legal trouble if your site isn’t accessible or functional for people who use assistive technologies, like browser reading software, when on the web. You’ll probably want to refer to your website provider for specifics on how to adjust your page for accessibility, but some things to start with include:
Including subtitles for your videos and/or a link to the video’s transcript
Creating obvious links to your home and site map pages for easy navigation
Give every page a primary title (H1) and as you move down the page present headlines in ascending order (H2, H3, etc.) without skipping any (i.e., don’t go from H1 to H3)
Make link text descriptive (Learn about SEO on our Web Tips page rather thanClick here for SEO tips)
3) SEO Factors:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the fastest changing aspects of marketing. It is always evolving, and your website must evolve with it or be left behind. Focus on these factors:
Improve Site Speed
A load time between 2 and 3 seconds is considered excellent. The average webpage loads in between 5 and 7 seconds. Nearly 1/3 of web users will leave a site if it takes 7 seconds or more to load, and that number increases for every second longer it takes to open your page. There are number of free web tools you can use to determine the speed/loading issues of your page.
Relevance > Key Words
Search engines have gotten smarter at being able to determine the intent of your page. This means that the heavy use of keywords isn’t as critical as it used to be. In fact, 35% of top search results don’t include any keywords in the title of the page or article. You can focus more on being readable to your human audience rather than including keyword-heavy titles and anchor text.
Keep Using Meta Data
Title tags and meta tags are still effective SEO tools. A title tag should be no longer than 70 characters, while meta tags shouldn’t go over 175 characters. Alt tags are essential too, not just for accessibility, but also for improving search rankings.
Social Doesn’t Improve SEO
Social media is an effective marketing tool, but having a strong social strategy won’t improve your search rankings. However, don’t neglect it all together; it’s a great tool for building trust with prospects and current customers.
Be Clear and Concise
Just as web users expect your page to load fast, they expect to find what they need on the page quickly, too. Make your page navigation simple and straightforward. And, if your web page will be answering a question, make sure you answer that question in the first three sentences of text, or you risk losing the reader’s attention.
4) Marketing with Facebook Ads:
If you haven’t started advertising on Facebook, get ready to jump right in. There are over 200 million active Facebook users in the U.S., active for an average of 50 minutes per day. That represents a significant number of opportunities for you to connect with your audience.
Facebook ad targeting strategies have become more specific than ever. You can air different advertisements based on your goals, whether it’s to increase brand awareness, traffic, lead generation, or conversion rates. You can segment your ads to only be seen on mobile devices, and even to reach an audience based on life events. If an individual puts their location information on Facebook, its algorithm can tell that he or she moved from Florida to Vermont, and ads will appear to them for things they’re likely to need, such as snow removal services, winter tires, or cold weather gear.
What marketing trends are you noticing or trying, and how do these trends relate? If you’re looking to enhance your marketing strategy for 2018, contact Paw Print & Mail to start the conversation.
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For many fundraisers, it means a struggle to find ways to connect with a diverse generation that has different expectations than those established by their parents and grandparents.
But millennials don’t have to mean a struggle, and they can mean the future of your organization. Millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population, and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020. It’s essential that you’re able to reach this generation with your fundraising efforts. It represents a significant number of potential donors that may be interested in giving now, and for many years to come.
More so than previous generations, millennials are very receptive to cause marketing and fundraising. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in.
Millennials’ desire to do good makes them qualified potential donors for your organization. But to reach them effectively, you may have to adopt some new practices.
1) Invest in Digital Marketing
Millennials grew up using computers, and they’re quick to adopt new forms of technology. If you want to make millennials aware of your nonprofit, you have to be tech savvy, too. You can:
Be active on social media by sharing, posting, commenting, and responding to any actions on your page.
Ensure your website is updated regularly, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile devices.
Set up search engine optimization (SEO) for your nonprofit’s website.
Try using or creating a mobile app so that it’s easy for potential donors to give at any time (millennials tend to be impulse donors).
Develop consistency across marketing channels so that potential donors will have a seamless experience.
2) Millennials Like Direct Mail
Though millennials are digitally focused, they place value and trust in direct mail. 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email. Part of the reason is that direct mail can be extremely personalized for the recipient. Personal touches give your nonprofit a human, friendly side that millennials will connect with.
3) Be Approachable
Present your organization as approachable and encourage potential donors to engage in frequent conversations with you, whether on a blog page, social media site, in an email, or in person.
By connecting with millennial donors now, you are beginning a long-term relationship with them, that will hopefully transition to a regular gift. Many younger people may not be in a position to make a financial gift, but are still passionate about helping. Encouraging them to volunteer with you keeps them involved while creating a deeper bond between them and your organization.
4) Think Global, Act Local
Millennials have a global consciousness, and they want to feel they’re contributing to a larger cause. If you can, connect your mission to a larger issue, and show how an action in your community can relate and support a global need.
5) Enhance Trust
42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago. A good practice for reaching donors of any generation is to be transparent. Millennials want clear and specific information on the impact their individual contribution will have.
Building trust also means staying in touch with donors on a regular basis. Since millennials value the relationships they build with organizations, it’s essential for you to communicate with them for more than just an ask. Reiterate the good you’re doing with regular updates on the impact you’re having.
6) Step Up Storytelling
Millennials tend to feel connected to causes rather than individual organizations. But you can use stories to show the impact, importance, and personal side of your nonprofit, helping millennials to build a stronger connection to you. It gives your organization a human side, and potential donors can see and hear from specific individuals they’ll be helping. Use a lot of images and videos in your fundraising materials to help your stories make an impact.
205 billion. That’s the number of emails sent every day around the world.
Some days it seems like I receive a billion or so myself. If you’re actively using email for work and to receive information from companies that interest you, your inbox is probably pretty full, too.
Two of the largest complaints consumers have about email are that they receive too many emails (44%) and the emails aren’t relevant to them (37%). Even when an email has relevance for a consumer, it’s easy for it to get lost in a crowded inbox.
To market your business effectively, your emails have to offer timely information that resonates with the recipient. They must be compelling enough to be opened over the dozens of other emails in an inbox. So, how can you make email marketing work for you, connecting with clients on a more personal level?
There’s a lot of talk about marketing automation these days, and for good reason…because it works. At its most basic, email marketing automation allows you to create and schedule emails to be sent out when they are relevant. This saves you time, makes your communication strategy more efficient, and generates more leads or sales for your business.
How Does Automation Work?
Effective automation requires tracking and analyzing data so that your communications reach customers at the right time with the right message. Marketing automation can track prospective customers from their initial visit to your website all the way to post-purchase and beyond. When you track the behavior of leads and customers, it makes it easier to see which of your marketing strategies is most effective, what the typical path from search to sale looks like, and what triggers customers to convert.
You can set up your automation to contact potential customers throughout the sales process. For example, if they’ve spent time searching for a product or service but haven’t yet purchased, automation software could trigger an email that will remind them of their interest and highlight the benefits of what you’re offering. Once they’ve made a purchase, you could send information about how to make the best use of the product. Down the road, your automation could suggest similar products that may interest your customer or upgrades to their current memberships or subscriptions. One name for this kind of triggered marketing campaign is a drip campaign. Personalized emails generate 6 times more revenue than non-personalized emails, and this can have real benefits for your business.
The core of the effectiveness lies in the trigger. You can craft emails that are specific to what the lead is doing and what you hope them to do in the future. It’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure” book. Each action a lead takes brings them further down their own path, and that path may be slightly different than everyone else’s.
Segment for Success
In addition to sending emails on a trigger system, you can segment your email lists based on demographic factors like location, age, or sales history. This will help to increase sales and generate leads, as your audience will be receiving more relevant content. You can also use automation to ask your contact list what their content preferences are, to further target them with the right content.
A key point to remember is that automation is aimed at engagement. With automation, you are contacting prospects and customers when it is most relevant to them, with the goal of them completing an action so they will further engage with your company.
Types of Automated Emails
If you want to send automated emails but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some examples:
A welcome email is one of the most basic forms of email automation. You may even have come to expect such an email once you’ve subscribed to an e-newsletter or opened an account. It’s a great first touch, and you can use it to express gratitude or include a special offer. Craft the email to encourage the recipient to take some further, immediate action. Include a “Shop Now” button, or a link to a compelling piece of content on your site.
Enhance the Purchase
While a simple “thanks for your purchase” on its own doesn’t hold much engagement value, you can make this type of email into something more. A key purpose of content marketing is to offer customers information and value. In a thank you email, you can include links to tutorials, guides, blog posts etc., which will help customers to get the most out of their purchase, drive traffic to your site, and position you as an authority in your field.
Another effective way to step up a thank you email is to ask customers for feedback. Encourage recipients to answer one simple question about purchase experience, satisfaction, or what they hope to get from the purchase. An email like this will get recipients to engage and provide you with valuable info.
Complete a Sale
The internet is a prolific resource for shopping, but there is also a lot to distract us. I can think of many times I’ve shopped around or filled a web cart, but not completed a purchase. You probably have, too. Whatever your business, there will be visitors who come to your website and consider a purchase, but don’t follow through. These are very qualified leads, who may need just a little push to commit to a sale. Automation software can easily track these visitors and abandoned carts, and send emails to the individuals to bring them back to your site and continue on.
Renewals & Expirations
Retaining current customers is much easier than searching for new ones, and automation will make this process easier. Automation software keeps track of when renewal payments are required and subscriptions are due to expire. It will then send your customers an automatic reminder to make a payment.
People love special attention on their birthdays, and you can use this occasion to offer something extra to your customers. The software will track birthdays and send communications accordingly, giving a fun and personal touch to your emails.
If your business schedules recurring appointments on a regular basis, email automation can remind customers when they are due for their next appointment. You won’t have to call each patient or customer individually, and you’ll be encouraging your current customer base to return to your business.
Automation works great for event reminders. Once someone signs up to attend an event you’re hosting, you can periodically send them emails with date reminders, additional info they’ll want to know, and other events they may be interested in based on the one they’ve registered for.
Automated emails are specific to the customer, and you need to be specific in what you’re asking them to do. Have one clear goal for each automated email. And make sure it is obvious what response you are looking for from the recipient.
Write Compelling & Concise Copy
Connect with your readers using persuasive and engaging copy, and keep it short. Most readers will scan for relevant info, so make use of bullets and bold text to get your message across.
Measure, Measure, Measure
Like any marketing strategy, automation can and should be tested. You can split test your email message content to see what is more effective. And it’s essential to analyze your data (like open and response rates). Marketing automation is meant to operate on its own. But it still requires adjustments on your end to ensure that your content is performing the way you want it to and is aligned with the marketing goals you have for your business.
Let Subscribers Manage Preferences
The worst thing you can do is offend or annoy your audience. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to see from you and how often they want to see it. Having them engage less is better than an unsubscribe. But, make sure every email includes a visible opt-out link.
There are many different ways to implement marketing automation, and many opportunities you can make use of. But if you’re just starting out, don’t try to do it all at once; rather, focus on only one or two automation campaigns in a comprehensive fashion.
Don’t Forget Your Purpose
Always remember you are looking to engage and nurture relationships, and ensure your emails are consistently doing so.
If you’re regularly on the internet, you’re probably encountering blogs on a daily basis. Blogs are everywhere—some people even blog for a living. Content development has become an established piece of marketing and fundraising strategy. It’s important that both for profit and not for profit organizations can give their audience value and information, and blogs are a popular way to do that.
Blogging is an effective way to stay in touch with your donors in a format that is informative and engaging. Whether you have an established blog for your nonprofit or you’ve never written a blog post in your life, these ideas can help you create a top-notch nonprofit blog page so your organization will stand out from the crowd.
1) To Blog or Not to Blog?
It’s important to consider a few things before you get down to blogging:
What host will you use? WordPress is a popular website tool, but there are other options.
Do you have a goal or goals for your blog? Have key members of your organization sit together and come up with some concrete guidelines for what you hope to get out of blogging. Maybe you’re trying to attract volunteers. Over time, you can measure whether your blog is succeeding based on the numbers of new volunteers you’re seeing.
Who will be in charge of posting? Maybe one person is always in charge of blogging, or duties are shared throughout your nonprofit. Whatever you decide, ensure everyone knows their role and the publishing timeline.
Does your organization have the time and resources for a blog? You can read more about this below. But if you know upfront that regular blogging is not a feasible possibility for your nonprofit, it’s best to focus on other projects. Having no blog is better than having a lackluster one.
Who is your audience, and what questions will they have? Different causes appeal to different groups of people. You know your donors, and you’ll want to consider what language/tone you should use to speak to them in your blog, as well as what they want to know about your organization.
How will you promote your blog? You can share your blog on social media, include a link to it in an email newsletter, feature it on your website’s homepage…think about what channels you have a following on, and use them to your advantage.
2) Consistency is Key in Blogging
Blogging requires frequent updates of fresh content to keep followers engaged. If you’re going to start blogging for your nonprofit, make sure you have the time to regularly devote to it.
Part of being consistent is publishing content on a regular schedule. It could be once a week, twice a week, a few times per month—whatever timeline you feel you can keep up with. When you update on a regular basis, say, every Wednesday, your audience will come to expect your posts on Wednesdays and will be more likely to come back to your site looking for them. A blog that is only sporadically updated is not going to receive that kind of attention. Readers won’t view it as a reliable, regular source of content.
You’ll also want to be consistent in the feel of your blog. You want your readers to come to see your blog as a friendly and trusted resource. Keep your tone of voice and the look of your blog similar from post to post. For instance, if many of your posts start with an image, make sure to include an image at the beginning of every post.
3) Blogs Give Your Nonprofit Authority and Build Trust
There are a lot of nonprofits out there—1.5 million in the U.S., in fact. And it’s likely there are other organizations with goals and missions that are similar to yours. Blogging is a way that you can showcase your unique story, while also establishing your knowledge of your field.
You can use a blog to inform your audience on topics centered around your nonprofit’s mission. By showing you have an extensive knowledge of the issue and topics surrounding it, you present yourself to donors as an authority in your field. This helps to give your organization credibility, and donors will feel that you have the experience to put funds to best use and truly solve problems.
By showing your knowledge, along with proof of the work you are doing, you build trust with your audience as well. It’s important to think of your donors as friends, individuals you’re building a long and sociable relationship with. Typically, we trust our friends. Blogging is a way to deepen that trusting relationship by showing that you’re listening to what your donors have to say and are actively working to achieve goals they’re looking to you to solve.
Consistency helps build trust as well. If you are consistent in your efforts and consistent in your blogging, your audience will rely on you to provide them with regular information that they want to know about your organization and its work.
4) Engage your Audience with Blogging
Enhancing donor loyalty requires you to think of your donors as friends and develop relationships with them. One of the best ways to do that is to create opportunities for donors to engage with you and share their thoughts.
Blogging is an effective way to enhance your engagement with a wide audience. People can comment on your blog, contact you based on a post they found interesting, attend an event or volunteer after reading a post, sign up for your email list, and share your content on social media. Sharing is huge for blogs. It allows people to see your blog and learn about your organization who might not come across you otherwise.
Engagement is truly one of the main goals of blogging, and while everything you post won’t lead directly to a donation, giving people exposure to your organization and getting people talking about it is going to have an impact.
5) Blogs Tell Your Story
Stories are a compelling way to give your nonprofit personality and heart. You may have stories that you regularly use in fundraising and marketing materials. But there are all kinds of stories you can tell about your employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of your nonprofit that make for great blog posts.
Event coverage is an effective blog topic. You can show who is involved, how you’re working to make an impact, and what you achieved. Your events may not get a lot of coverage from external media groups, so covering them yourself ensures people will see the good work you’re doing.
Talking about the stories and goings-on at your nonprofit shows your audience that you are actively working to achieve your mission and that your efforts are effective at doing so. Being able to communicate that you are active and making a difference is important to donors, because they can be sure their donations will be making an impact for good.
6) Blogs Convey Your Purpose
Your nonprofit is up against a lot of competition. Your blog is a place for you to separate yourself from the pack and convey not just the story of your organization, but also its purpose. Why does your specific nonprofit need to exist? How is it going to provide something different than organizations with similar goals? What is your blog’s purpose? How will it work to contribute to your mission and the betterment of your community?
7) What Types of Content?
You want to achieve consistency in the look and feel of your blog. At the same time, you’ll need a variety of content to keep your blog interesting. Sometimes you may want to share an interesting article you find, or you’ll be writing your own. Some posts will be more text-heavy, but visuals are helpful for readers to visualize what you’re writing about. Take lots of pictures and videos of different events and happenings you’re involved in. That way, you’ll have a lot of content to draw from.
You may also want to feature a guest blogger occasionally. A board member or a volunteer could write about their experience with your organization and why they’re so passionate about helping you to achieve your mission. Or an expert in the field related to your nonprofit can contribute a post to help further educate donors about the issues you’re working to solve.
Another great post idea is to address frequently asked questions about your organization. If it’s content that people are regularly looking for, a blog post can pull double duty. While contributing to your regular posting schedule, it will also provide evergreen content that can regularly be referred to.
And as we know a thank you is always welcome, your blog is another way to show gratitude and appreciation for your donors. Make a fun video with volunteers, employees, and beneficiaries saying thank you, and weave a tone of thankfulness throughout all your communications.