Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that began in 2006 and uses high-quality content to bring "interested" prospects to your company door. That means instead of chasing prospects, they actually come looking for you.
Soak that in for a minute. Doesn't that sound nice?
Imagine opening your morning emails and finding several inquiries from happy, interested prospects ready to join your email list or online community. This is what inbound marketing brings to the table and it's a proven methodology in our era of everything technical. Nonprofits have been late adopters of the inbound strategy, and this is unfortunate because nonprofits have some of the most ideal content. The inside peek at a nonprofit's use of Inbound Marketing shows why this is such an effective strategy.
A success story...
The team at myMarketing Cafe is privileged to work with several clients spanning many different industries. One arm of our team specializes on the nonprofit sector. We love working with organizations that help make a meaningful difference in the world. Recently, we helped build a marketing strategy for a nonprofit client who serves battered women. One of our primary objectives was to help them grow an email list of ideal prospects. We used an inbound marketing strategy in our efforts. Take a look at one of our ideas...
Step 1. Identify the ideal target audience.
We identified our target audience as professional women who lived within the county. The women are between ages 25 and 55, may have children, and have an annual household income of $75,000 or more.
The information above is a rather generic target audience description, so to add context, we described more about them. Below are a few examples of the details we defined.
- Professional women who belong to one or more local civic associations. We want them to have a large network of contacts, who have similar professional goals and personal beliefs.
- Professional women who belong to a local church, and are active in community projects.
- Professional women who support mentoring programs and peer-to-peer professional development programs.
Step 2. Build connections with the audience.
Once we created a detailed audience description, we set out to connect with our audience. For those who did not already have one, we designed professional profiles for our nonprofit management team, volunteers and board members. We focused on LinkedIn and Google Plus as a start. These platforms are ideal because they are host to the types of groups our target audience members belong.
We asked the team to join groups on each of these platforms and begin connecting with group members.
We spent several weeks reviewing the discussion boards, commenting on interesting discussions, and sharing helpful information. We did not promote the nonprofit or its cause.
Tip: Research the groups to find those with strong membership numbers, active discussions about important topics, and members who actively engage in discussions. When you join a group, do not begin with promoting your business. Get to know the group members and their interests. The right time will come to share your story.
Step 3. Identify what is important to the audience.
Once our team established a few connections in the groups. They began to target members and ask them to connect outside of the group, such as inviting them to join their personal LinkedIn network. We also launched several discussions within groups asking members what was most important to them.
We used questions designed to spark discussion.
"If you could improve in any area professionally what would it be?"
"What do you want more of in your life?"
"What are the current biggest challenges for professional career-minded women?"
"Which is more important, having more time, or being better organized?"
To build engagement, our team members responded to the discussions with their own responses.
Step 4. Schedule a list-building event.
From our discussions and outreach, we identified Time Management Tips as something most professional women would appreciate. These women are busy juggling career and family and would appreciate knowing about resources, tips and products that would make their lives easier.
Webinars are a powerful marketing tool, so we developed a webinar series where every quarter we brought together a panel of experts who shared their expertise.
The first quarter focused on Time Management and included a Time Management coach, an Office Organization Specialist, and a Professional Life Coach. The panelists were invited guests and in exchange for their participation, were offered a few minutes to share about their business. We offered the webinar to the audience at no charge. We promoted the webinar through all of the groups, the existing nonprofit email list and professional contacts.
In addition to our free webinar series, we created an eBook to complement the webinar, and offered it as a free download for attending. The eBook offered helpful Time Management tips and resources, some of which were contributed by our panel of experts. On every page of the eBook, we included our nonprofit's logo and a message or quote of encouragement. This helped to keep our nonprofit top-of-mind.
Step 5. Continue building a relationship with the audience.
The webinar produced an email list of 250 ideal contacts. We continued building our relationship with the women by sending them monthly emails that included articles and other helpful information. We included a few volunteer opportunities, and we shared our blog posts that featured professional women who were already involved with the nonprofit and what they have accomplished for our clients. Our contacts were invited to the future webinars and were asked to "bring a guest" and help us spread the word.
Within nine months, we built a strong database of over 1500 local contacts. We invited these contacts to the nonprofit's annual fundraising event. Would you have guessed the event was a sell out and had to be moved to a larger venue?
inbound marketing / shutterstock