Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits 101

As a nonprofit organization, you have some advantages and a lot of challenges that you have to conquer when developing an effective marketing strategy.  Fortunately, Inbound Marketing is a great method to implement.  Because of the nature of how it works, it helps you reduce your marketing budget while still growing your reach and building awareness for your organization.  So let's take a look at what it is and how it helps you with this quick presentation!

The Challenge:

With a nonprofit, the challenge is to grow your organization while reducing your spend.  Inbound is a great way to do that.


 HubSpot has lots of case studies that showcase the results, so check those out here:

My favorite... The National Fatherhood Initiative.

They saw a 40% increase in organic traffic, a 5.3% growth in contacts, and all while achieving an 11% reduction in annual marketing spend!

But What is Inbound Marketing?

It is the BEST way to turn strangers into customers, donors, and promoters of your organization!

Instead of throwing money at buying ads and mailing lists, or paying for leads, you market smarter.   You create content that your prospects want, and you distribute that content where they are.  You attract them, and then build that trust relationship from the first touch, and then motivate them to spread the word about you.

Learn How Marketing Has Changed

As of March 27, 2016: 2.3 million searches were done on Google in a single second!

As of March 2016: 1.09 billion people log into Facebook EVERY DAY

According to HubSpot: Companies using email to nurture leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads (or leads that are ready to buy) and at 33% lower cost.

It's undeniable, people get their information line now.

Inbound provides the framework to help you get found by prospects when they are you looking for you vs interruptive marketing tactics that give a terrible first impression, cost more, and don't work.

Understanding that shift in the purpose of your marketing is crucial to being successful with Inbound.

Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits 101

The 5 Dimensions of Inbound

Create & Distribute Content

Focus on creating content that answers questions or provides information your target audience will resonate with.

Nonprofits have an advantage here since you are more emotionally evocative vs for-profits.

Focused on the Full Lifecycle

Promoters don't "just happen."  Inbound focuses on converting:

  • strangers into visitors
  • visitors into leads
  • leads into customers
  • customers into promoters

Personalized to Your Audience

Your audience is more than just their demographics, and to reach them, you have to learn to think of them as actual people.  We have some tools to help with this that we'll get to soon!

Combines Many Channels Into a Single Funnel

Inbound is about building trust.  Offline, you'd build that trust through a series of interactions with a person.

Online is the same way, just faster.  You build trust through many interactions on many channels.  Each time you nurture them a little more through your funnel until they become a lead, customer, and then promoter.

Integrated Tools & Data

Multiple Channels = Multiple Data Points

You need data so you can make educated decisions about what's working and what isn't.  The challenge with Inbound is collecting data as people move through channels and grouping that data so you get the full picture.

Our favorite tools:

  • HubSpot (not free - but amazing!)
  • WordPress (for website and blog)
  • Inbound Now (for landing pages, leads, and calls-to-action)
  • MailPoet (for email marketing)
  • SparkPost (for email sending)
  • MailChimp (for email marketing)
  • Spark Social (our own tool for Email Marketing, similar to HootSuite, but waaay more awesome!)

Connecting the Dots

Inbound Marketing is all about moving strangers through a funnel into becoming a member/donor/customer and then delighting them into telling others about you.

inbound methodology

AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), a professional community that provides educational resources to help guide companies to adapt to the ever-changing technology landscape, saw an 87% increase in memberships and a 4.8X increase in leads within 12 months of integrating its previously disconnected systems.

Methodology Step: Attract

GOAL: You don't want traffic, you want the right traffic.

Blogging: Be education, Be helpful, Use Calls-to-Action, Don't do sales pitches

SEO: Optimize your pages, Use keywords, Humans come first, Avoid black-hat tactics

Social: Be human, Don't be spammy, Interact with people and don't just post, Be active and don't disappear

Methodology Step: Convert

GOAL: You are offering a value exchange. Your mission, values, and work will help you convert audiences that care about your work into an engaged audience for your organization.

Some examples of clear conversion goals include:

  • Sign up for a membership
  • Sign up for an email list
  • Make a donation
  • Make your forms simple, smooth, and with a clear process that someone would go through to submit them.  Create calls-to-action that encourages the next action.  Make sure your landing pages have a clear value proposition and are designed to simplify conversion.  Then centralize your contacts into a single database using a CRM so you can track your progress.

    Methodology Step: Close

    GOAL: Build on the conversion stage by closing the leads you generated into members and donors.

    Use your CRM to track leads and close the loop when they close into customers. Build email workflows to nurture & close with less manpower involved. Keep your communications informative, but don't be afraid to ask for the close.

    Methodology Step: Delight

    GOAL:  Now that you've closed them, you want them to stay happy and tell more people about you. Stay connected & top-of-mind.

    Email, Surveys, Social Monitoring & Posting, and Calls-to-Action designed for closed leads can all be great ways to do this.

    It's a LOT to learn, but it's worth it!

    Inbound builds on itself over time so you see greater results without increasing your dollar or time investment. This works because you are increasing your library of content posted online over time. And that content keeps on working for you over time as well.

    For example: Month 1 = 5 new articles... then

    Month 1 = 5 new articles... then

    Month 2 = 5 new articles + 5 you already had for a total of 10 blog articles working to drive traffic to your site.

    Develop Buyer Personas

    Personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal clients.  They represent the needs, goals, and observed patterns your actual members and donors represent.

    Primary purpose:

    A visualization tool for you so that you can speak to your customers easier.

    Learn More About Personas



    Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits 101

    A smarter way to approach web development pioneered by Luke Summerfield at HubSpot.

    Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits 101

    We believe Growth-Driven Design goes beyond Web Development

    It's a smarter way to approach marketing in general!

    You constantly reasses your goals, review the data, and make improvements based on the information you can see versus letting guesswork drive your strategies.

    This philosophy applies to everything you do... email marketing, social marketing, web development, and even offline advertising like print media, radio, TV, etc.

    Do you work with nonprofits?

    If you think some of these tips will help you please leave me a comment and let me know.

    Ashley Burnett

    Web Ninja

    One of my first jobs was running a cash register in my grandmothers diner. My job was to talk to customers and and to keep everything in my area neat and organized. Now years later those lessons I learned help me in managing client files and projects. Making sure our team is working to help our clients reach their business goals is what drives me everyday.

    I am a strong believer that to succeed in life you have to work hard and never let roadblocks stand in your way. You have to read and study but you also have to experience life and all that it can teach you.

    My mission is to help clients and our team have the materials and knowledge they need to make every project a success, while making sure to spread some of the information I learn around for others to enjoy.