Would you like to grow the number of potential customers and stakeholders visiting your website, signing up to your enews, and ultimately supporting your organisation? Who wouldn’t. And in today’s era of ‘Google it’, publishing useful content – often called ‘content marketing’ – can make a big difference to the success of your charity or public sector communications.
Looking online for answers to our questions is such an integral part of most of our lives nowadays, we hardly know we’re doing it. And your stakeholders are no exception. That’s why publishing content – eg blogs, downloads, videos, infographics – is such a powerful communications activity.
What is content marketing?
There’s a useful definition in a blog post on the Content Marketing Institute website:
“ ‘content’ is typically produced because someone in the organisation asked for it, while ‘content’ paired with “marketing” is what the audience wants … Content is information that provides a benefit to the person who consumes it.”
It’s an approach that’s changed the way that many organisations communicate with their customers and stakeholders. You may already be doing it if you’ve ever:
- Published something online that’s practically useful to potential customers/stakeholders
- Responded to a query/problem by putting something online
- Listened to what your customers/stakeholders are telling you about the information/support they may need, and signposted them to something on your website that could help
Rather than spending money on direct mail, advertising, etc (outbound marketing) – many organisations have been investing more in content which draws people to them (inbound marketing).
That content is any information that stakeholders will genuinely want and find useful. Often it isn’t about your core service or product.
It could be in the form of a download, a blog, video or signposting to other resources; and might be a ‘guide to’, ‘top tips’, or ‘how to’.
If your content is genuinely useful to a stakeholder, if it solves a problem for them, you will begin to earn their attention. If you continue to share this sort of content you’re likely to earn their liking and their trust. They’ll get a sense that you understand them, and want to be helpful. It won’t feel like you’re just selling them services or asking them to support you. They may also share your content on social media or tell people about it.
Content marketing also helps to optimise websites for search engines. (See more about that here How to get more traffic to your website and improve your Google ranking).
That’s important. But even if your stakeholders weren’t searching online for this material, it just makes sense to be helpful online, just as you would if someone came to you with a question offline.
How effective is content marketing?
Statistics about the effectiveness of content marketing in the non-profit sector aren’t easy to find – probably because it’s not yet been exploited as fully as it has in the commercial sector. So here are some recent statistics from business:
[INFOGRAPHIC] How marketers are using content: content marketing statistics 2019
A recent study showed that content marketing gets three times as many leads per dollar spent as ‘outbound’ marketing
Another study showed that conversion rates (converting ‘leads or prospects’ to ‘customers’) are six times higher for companies and brands using content marketing than those that aren’t, at 2.9% vs. 0.5%, respectively
I don’t have the time …
You may be reading this and thinking, that’s all well and good but I work for a tiny organisation: we just don’t have the time. If that’s the case, think about what knowledge, information or resources you already have.
For example, it may not take long for one of your team to write a ‘Top tips to … ‘ or ‘Five ways to …’. Or you may have a lesson plan, template, or guidance note that you could edit and publish.
Once you’ve done that you can promote it to existing followers on social media, on your enews and through other channels. If you have the skills, you could optimise the webpage for search engines so that more people find it. This isn’t as difficult as you might think – see How to get more traffic to your website and improve your Google ranking.
How do I decide what content to publish?
Start by thinking about your customer/stakeholder’s problems and needs. It’s better to have one piece of content that’s useful to them, than lots of content that isn’t really that helpful.
The best content will solve a specific problem, and will feel like a ‘must have’ for one or more of your customer/stakeholder groups.
Start with one piece of content that you know potential customers/stakeholders will find useful. Promote it through all suitable channels – your own and if you can, other people’s so you also reach completely new people.
You’ll be able to assess if it’s effective in drawing people to you, by monitoring the response. You can do this through Google Analytics, social media analytics, or your enews reporting tool. This will give you the evidence you need to either continue, to adapt what you’re publishing, or to ask for views from your stakeholders.
If you don’t have Google Analytics connected to your website, see Getting to grips with Google Analytics (Part 1).
Encourage people to take action
It’s helpful if you have ways for these people to continue to engage with you. You could include a ‘sign up for our enews’ link, or social media links in the page. Even if you have these links elsewhere on your site, this will help you make sure they see it – which is particularly important for potential customers/stakeholders.
If you don’t have an enewsletter, find out How to write an effective enewsletter – and why it’s important to have one.
Becoming a trusted source of help and information on topics that matter to your stakeholders will help your organisation in many ways: from encouraging word-of-mouth to attracting email sign-ups, and ultimately securing their custom or support.
Why do we ignore digital impact? – CharityComms
How to infuse ‘know’ ‘like’ and ‘trust’ into your content – Content Marketing Institute
Developing a content marketing mindset – five skills to master – The Guardian newspaper