Before diving into the basics of omnichannel marketing, let’s explore a fictional scenario: You are a nonprofit marketing professional, and your organization is setting ambitious goals for the upcoming year. You want to increase your sustainer program by 100 donors, upgrade at least 5% of donors to mid-level, and raise 15% more fundraising revenue. While these are great goals that will keep staff and volunteers motivated throughout the year, what can your nonprofit do to reach them?
While there are many strategies for upgrading donors or increasing gift giving to boost revenue, the way you communicate with donors is particularly important. A successful marketing campaign should connect with donors in personalized ways, showing that your nonprofit understands their values, preferences, and motivations for supporting your cause. One of the most important factors you’ll need to address in your marketing campaign is donors’ communication preferences.
Everyone has preferences about the communication platforms they use. To connect with your audience via the platforms they are present on, you’ll need to analyze data like demographic information, surveys about their preferences, and past engagement with your nonprofit.
Remember that it’s rare for a person to use or prefer just one media platform, so you’ll need to establish donor touchpoints across multiple channels. In this guide, we’ll explore the basics of this strategy known as omnichannel marketing:
By leveraging data and using an omnichannel approach, your organization can reach more current and prospective supporters, driving more brand awareness and revenue. You can also market other involvement opportunities like your monthly giving or volunteer program to engage supporters more deeply. For example, if you’re an animal shelter that’s in need of volunteers to care for an influx of kittens, launching a coordinated, omnichannel campaign can attract the helpers you need.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is a marketing strategy that integrates communications across various platforms to provide a unified experience for the marketer’s audience. It aims to align with donors’ existing preferences and provide positive, memorable interactions.
Let’s refer back to our fictional animal shelter. Your nonprofit is launching a new fundraiser, selecting the charity dog wash idea from Double the Donation’s list of nonprofit fundraising ideas. Using your data analytics tool, you find that supporters engage most with email, TikTok, and Instagram. So, you prepare marketing emails, fun videos, and creative posts promoting your dog wash, each centered around the same theme and friendly tone.
Because a large portion of your supporters sees these promotions on at least three of their top communication channels, you experience an impressive surge in event attendees—and your volunteers are very busy washing dogs.
What are some common nonprofit marketing channels?
There are so many ways to communicate with your supporters, ranging from traditional mass media like television and radio to highly-personalized, more intimate methods like text messaging. And for smaller organizations with a strong local community, word of mouth and printed flyers can be very effective.
Here are some media channels commonly used for nonprofit marketing:
- Email. Email provides a personal means of two-way communication between your nonprofit and its supporters. Request email addresses in donation forms or prompt supporters to sign up for your newsletter to add them to your email list. Millennials and other younger generations respond particularly well to email marketing, especially when the messages are valuable and relevant.
- Direct mail. As Pursuant’s guide to direct mail fundraising explains, this is “the process of mailing requests for support to existing and prospective donors.” Direct mail gives supporters a tangible object that connects them to your organization, and these messages can feel more genuine than digital communications. Additionally, direct mail can be effective among a wide range of demographics, including younger donors.
- Social media. The possibilities for social media marketing are nearly endless when you consider each platform’s unique characteristics. For example, short, funny videos garner a lot of engagement on apps like TikTok and Instagram while a thread about how to contribute toward advocacy efforts would perform best on Twitter. Make sure to post regularly on the platforms your audience members use most often.
- Print media. Print media includes any communications that do not live on a screen, including mail, flyers, posters, billboards, newspapers, and magazines. Your nonprofit might create its own posters and flyers to hang in local businesses, or, if budget allows, purchase larger outdoor signage or ad space in popular industry publications.
- Search engines. Search engine marketing (SEM) is the practice of increasing an organization’s online visibility by ranking highly for relevant search terms. This relies on search engine optimization (SEO) to be successful, meaning that your nonprofit will need a user-friendly website, helpful blog posts that demonstrate its authority on your cause, and knowledge of keyword optimization strategies. As a nonprofit, you’ll also be eligible for the Google Ad Grants program, which provides 501(c)(3) charities with $10,000 in Google Ads each month.
An omnichannel strategy makes use of many of these channels to establish several different touchpoints with donors. But when you’re using so many media channels to connect, it’s key to provide a smooth experience no matter the platform. Spend some extra time on graphic design to establish consistent branding for each message. This makes it easier for supporters to identify messages as coming from your organization, allowing you to limit confusion and boost long-term brand recognition.
How can nonprofits establish touchpoints with donors?
With this background on popular media channels and how to use them, you can start setting up points of connection with donors. To build your omnichannel strategy, consider the following steps:
- Step 1: Use data analysis. Analyze data gathered about your supporters, like communication history, engagement metrics (e.g., email open rates or social media interactions), and overall responses to your past campaigns.
- Step 2: Segment donors. Divide donors into groups based on shared characteristics. These groups could be contingent on donors’ demographic information, past giving behavior, communication preferences, or other factors related to your goals.
- Step 3: Create a media plan. Based on your data findings, list the exact channels your organization will use to reach donors. Create a detailed content calendar that specifies when and what you’ll post on each channel.
- Step 4: Design personalized content for each channel. Address your supporters’ motivations for giving and what connects them to your cause. While you should tailor your approach to the idiosyncrasies of each platform, keep the overall theme and tone consistent.
- Step 5: Launch your campaign. Follow your content calendar to keep posts and communications organized. Working with a nonprofit marketing agency can help take designing and managing the campaign off your plate, which can be beneficial for busy organizations.
Just as communications on each platform should be consistent, they should also be connected. This will prevent your communication channels from feeling separate or disjointed. For example, you might bridge your print and digital marketing channels by adding a QR code linking to an online blog post or donation page on a piece of direct mail. Similarly, you could add a form to your website where supporters can sign up to receive direct mail from your organization.
By establishing many different donor touchpoints that flow seamlessly from one to the other, you can smoothly guide new and existing supporters to donate, volunteer, or attend your next fundraising event. Remember that, like with any marketing strategy, tracking campaign data and using your findings to your advantage will lead to more positive outcomes that allow you to further your organization’s mission in the future.