Last night I attended an event with 40 or so other marketers put on by the American Marketing Association of Baltimore.
Matt Doud, founder of Baltimore-based ad agency Planit Advertising, led a discussion about lessons learned in the ad agency world over the past decade.
Three key points stuck with me:
- Advertising (or marketing) is storytelling.
- Specifically, it’s about telling the right story to the right person at the right time.
- As a storyteller, you must focus on the needs of your audience. This will determine the appropriate channels (TV, direct mail, social media, etc.) for any particular story.
These eternal truths also help to explain why inbound marketing is so powerful. Inbound marketing, when done correctly, tells your audience the stories that matter to them at the time and place of their choosing, about the products and services they need, want, or choose to support.
But is inbound marketing just as formidable for nonprofits? Absolutely. And here’s why:
1) Inbound Marketing Jump-starts Awareness
Most nonprofits want their organization or cause to become widely known. With greater reach comes a greater ability to do good in the world. People can’t become participants, donors, members, or evangelists if they don’t know your organization exists.
Traditional awareness campaigns can be expensive. Really expensive. In fact, they’re out of reach for most nonprofits — especially if you want to cast a wide net.
But inbound marketing typically isn’t as expensive. In a 2010 study, inbound marketing software provider Hubspot determined that the average cost per “lead” is 60% lower with inbound marketing as opposed to traditional “outbound” marketing.
The same study also showed that organizations that blog (an important component of inbound marketing) get 55% more visitors to their websites. Regular blogging leads to better search engine placement, more sharing on social networks, and a greater number of links from other websites.
2) Inbound Marketing Builds Your Constituent Database
Getting all that new traffic is great, but if you know nothing about your website visitors, you can’t be nearly as proactive in growing your organization. Provide people with a reason to be willing (and even happy) to give you their name and email address, at the very least.
Then, create well-designed landing pages on your website with compelling offers and strong calls-to-action. By obtaining ever more information about your audience, your outreach efforts will be much more powerful and effective.
3) Inbound Marketing Inspires Higher Levels of Engagement
It takes a lot more commitment for someone to become a large campaign donor than to simply re-share your content on Facebook. But a lasting and growing commitment can be fostered over time — and inbound marketing channels can help.
Once people have voluntarily added themselves to your database, you can begin to tailor programs, events, and content to them, which will prompt and inspire those individuals to become increasingly active members of your community.
Tell the stories that showcase your organization, but make sure you’re telling the right story to the right person at the right time and place. That’s exactly what inbound marketing does so well, helping you to achieve your goals in a more cost-effective way.
(Wait… I’m feeling a little confused about what “Inbound Marketing” is. Can you please explain?)