Last year, we showed you a great way to save time and money by letting your web team produce a website for your annual report. Online presentations are easy to deliver and easy to track, making them the perfect approach for conscientious...Read more.
Now in its eighth year, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season each November by encouraging global giving via social media. It’s a collaborative effort between nonprofits and civic organizations, small businesses and large corporations—not...Read more.
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2018 brandUP , a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund . Last year's Awardee Root & Rebound has now had some time to reflect on the...Read more.
November 28th will mark #GivingTuesday’s sixth annual day of giving. The holiday—which follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US—kicks off the charitable season. Brands, influencers, and everyday folks come together with a single purpose in...Read more.
We're back with our 2017 favorite examples (in alphabetical order) of what a great non-profit website looks like and what makes it stand out. Our hope is that by emulating these exemplary non-profits, you'll soon be able to provide an even greater...Read more.
Donor retention is a critical part of growing your nonprofit’s mission. Using a drip email welcome series is a great way to start a relationship with new constituents that hopefully lead to a long-term relationship. According to research, donor...Read more.
Generating a marketing plan for a nonprofit is a daunting task, to say the least. Content strategy is an easy process that will help you figure out who you are marketing to, and how to talk with them in a way that motivates them to take action. Our...Read more.
Let's face it—writing content for nonprofit websites can be difficult. We all know the feeling of staring at a blank page and trying to develop compelling content. Unfortunately, research shows that great content for your online marketing efforts is...Read more.
Your website visitor's data is at risk. If you haven't heard about the legislation altering Internet privacy protections that recently passed through Congress, and is likely going to be signed by President Trump, now is the time to get up to speed...Read more.
Mood boards are a an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights and clarify communication. They will help you visually explain a feeling and in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand. What makes a successful mood board process? Here...Read more.
Rootid is very excited to announce the 2016 brandUP winner - Root & Rebound. We're thrilled to be working with this amazing organization to help them build out their marketing strategy and broaden their reach.Read more.
Information architecture and page hierarchy can make or break you. Your interface should be designed with your end goals in mind. Website visitors arrive with many levels of literacy, attention spans and 'will' to figure out how to use your website...Read more.
If you are like most nonprofit marketing professionals, you’re overworked and under-resourced. Email automation is the solution you’ve been waiting for! Setting up marketing automation systems that trigger emails and autoresponders, drastically...Read more.
It’s hard to make your organization stand out in the crowded nonprofit space. That’s one of the reasons that Rootid started the brandUP awards . Our team saw over and over that there are a lot of great nonprofits that are facing resolvable obstacles...Read more.
A style guide should have a few main components, but often times it gets bogged down in a lot of “descriptive jargon” that is just not that useful for your typical non-profit organization or association. A style guide is needed so that anyone who is...Read more.
Hiring a web development firm to design and build a website can be daunting—time consuming and resource intensive. Finding a development company to work with can feel a like finding a mechanic you can trust to work on your car. Here are six...Read more.
The California Family Health Council is a statewide nonprofit that champions & promotes quality sexual + reproductive health care for all. They are leaders in passing recent legislation that as of 2015, gives those covered under another person's...Read more.
Educating...I mean Engaging Your Community We throw around this idea of using stories to engage your community, audience, and site users a lot. I would say, most people take for granted that this is true and that it works to keep people interested...Read more.
Outrospective Marketing in the 21 st Century Conversion levels, effective mixed-media strategies, integrity of core brand promise, optimization…and synergy, what does all this jargon actually give you? As a company, we talk a lot about starting...Read more.
Oversimplified and Out of Touch, Current Advertising Lacks the ‘Nutritional Value’ Consumers Are Desperate For When I think of “going on a binge” it usually involves mass consumption of something that is not healthy over a short period of time, like...Read more.
Your website visitor's data is at risk. If you haven't heard about the legislation altering Internet privacy protections that recently passed through Congress, and is likely going to be signed by President Trump, now is the time to get up to speed.
Website encryption has been slowly increasing in importance with search engines, and has popped into the news from time to time due to data breeches at major international companies. Now, there is new reason to be concerned about website users' data being protected.
About the Congressional Vote on Internet Privacy
News outlets have been reporting that any data not encrypted that comes across the wire is going to be fair game for internet providers to collect and sell to anyone that wants it and there is nothing that individuals will be able to do to opt-out or prevent this from happening. While the time to switch to exclusively serving your site with https has long come and gone, this is one more good reason to do so.
Switching your website to load on HTTPS will encrypt the content of all communications between your website and the user accessing the site.
Safeguarding your customer's privacy is vital, since not just advertisers will be able to buy this data. Companies that are concerned about whistleblowers may purchase the internet traffic history of their employees, see what sites they visit, and any actions they took online.
Even when it's not as dramatic as that, this personal information being up for sale to anyone means that all of your users internet traffic is essentially public, and not everyone will want the organizations they donate to be public information.
How Does HTTPS Protect Your Users' Data
The good news is, there's never been more options for getting HTTPS/SSL set up for your website.
Rootid recommends our clients host their sites on Pantheon, and if that's where your site is then using the free SSL from CloudFlare is a quick and inexpensive option for getting your site traffic encrypted.
CloudFlare can be installed on your website server no matter where you host your site, in fact.
Best part: it's FREE!
If you run your own server you can use the certbot provided by Let's Encrypt, which is also a free option.
If you're on a shared server your options there a lots of options to purchase and install an affordable certificate. Generally, you can get one for $20-$30 per year.
Get Started Installing an SSL Certificate on Your Website
So when should you start?
The process to get a certificate setup is usually quick easy to complete.
Are You Losing Donations Due to HTTPS?
Statistics show that HTTPS drastically increases the amount of money that your website can raise.
Donors have more trust in sites loaded over HTTPS, and feel more secure in trusting your brand.
There are a lot of other ways to increase your donations. When Rootid has implemented these simple strategies for our clients, we've seen increases in online donations by over 100%.
Mood boards are a an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights and clarify communication. They will help you visually explain a feeling and in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand.
What makes a successful mood board process? Here is a simple 5 step process that will help you succeed.
1. Mood boards help us understand.
We use mood boards as a conversation starter—a way to describe things that sometimes can not be explained as clearly with words. It is also a way to build common vocabulary so that when a stakeholder says they want something ‘modern,’ ‘clean,’ ‘friendly’ or ‘leadership’ looking, we understand the nuances related to what they are describing.
2. Successful mood boards are built collaboratively.
Rather than presenting what Iwe think the ‘look and feel’ should be, your team shouldwe all work together to refine photography, fonts, icons and color palette options. The discussion that surrounds what project stakeholders like and especially, don’t like, not only creates a strong foundation for the new visual language, but lays the groundwork for more effective project communication.
3. Mood boarding is about following your gut.
Since clients sometimes have a hard time conceptualizing mood boards, breaking thethis exercise down into more bite size pieces helps them engage more deeply in the process.experience the process more effectively. Mood boarding has been called They often rename it ‘art therapy’ because it becomes less about what thetheir brand, identity, print, website or social media campaign will ‘look’ like, and more about how it will ‘feel’.
4. Mood boards help us visualize an idea.
During theIn our first round, Rootid’s teamwe always strikes out in a lot of different visual directions that feel unique from one another. Then we hone in 2 more rounds to get to a mood board that feels like a combination of the strongest attributes that will ultimately define the visual language.
The process is so much more than building a collage of inspiration, it is taking that idea one step further and saying, “These images, colors, fonts, and icons combined give us a strong and cohesive visual language.”
5. Mood boards are a single page style guide.
In many ways, you can think of it like a small, succinct style guide. Rather than multiple pages of information about look, feel and messaging, it gives you a quick overview on a single page that still contains all of the needed elements.
At Rootid, our team uses mood boarding as a collaborative and effective way to generate a brand’s look and feel. It is the best way we know to communicate the nuances that go into building a cohesive and authentic visual language for any brand.
Review Your Mood Boards with Stakeholders
Don't forget to test your moodboards with your audiences. Remember that you're trying to visually communicate with a lot of different people: customers, donors, constituents or whoever else.
We have had many clients share their mood boards with those they are serving as well as board memebers or any other stakeholders. The more feedback they got, the more effectively they were able to visually communicate with their supporters.
Conduct stakeholder interviews will help you get feedback and refine your work. Check out our stakeholder interview guide to make sure you get the information your need.
Rootid is excited to announce the 2016 brandUP winner - Root & Rebound!
Founded in 2013, Root & Rebound works to increase access to justice and opportunity for people in reentry from prison and jail, and to educate and empower those who support them. Their goal is to strengthen the reentry infrastructure across the state of California, and to expand their work into other states, so that all people living with a criminal record in the United States have opportunities to thrive.
The Root & Rebound team brings amazing energy and expertise to justice reform, and we’re thrilled to be working with them!
This year, over 650,000 people will leave prison. The statistics of their challenges are staggering:
50% of recently released individuals will become homeless after reentry
66% will face long-term unemployment
67% will be re-arrested within 3 years of their release
These are startling figures. Sadly, they are not surprising given the labyrinth of complex barriers that have been erected in the criminal justice system for people upon reentry from incarceration.
When Root & Rebound first started, they served 100 people in a direct service model in their first year, but quickly ran into a maze of barriers across many facets of reentry. Their team figured if they, as attorneys, could not navigate this complex legal system, how could they expect social workers, case managers, individuals or families to do so.
In response, their staff of four, supported by ten interns spent 14 months researching and writing “Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide”— a comprehensive guide to navigating the reentry legal system.
Over the past year and a half since its launch, the Roadmap to Reentry has served as a powerful tool that has catalyzed the impact of Root & Rebound's work— empowering people to navigate complexities of the justice system.
Root & Rebound has moved this resource and associated training materials online with their Reentry Training Hub. Rootid will be working with Root & Rebound to continue to build out this hub, refine their marketing efforts around their mission work, and further expand their impact within California and across the country.
A Story of Reentry
Al's story of reentry is amazing. He is just one of many people that has been affected by the work at Root & Rebound.
Information architecture and page hierarchy can make or break you. Your interface should be designed with your end goals in mind.
Website visitors arrive with many levels of literacy, attention spans and 'will' to figure out how to use your website. If they are not able to find what they are looking for quickly, you've lost them. Start by defining the goals of your page, and what journey you want users to take:
Identify the "who" (stakeholders and target audience). Who is reading the content you are presenting? What do they need to know in 1 sentence.
Identify the "why" (your goals). Why do they need to know this information, giving them a line of context is helpful.
Identify the "how" (functional website requirements). How are they going to accomplish what they came to your site to do. (eg. 'Welcome to site 'X' you are hear to learn about 'Y.' You should learn about 'Y' so that you can accomplish 'Z.' Here are the steps you need to take to accomplish 'Z.')
By setting clear expectations for your users from the start, they will not get lost or confused in their process through your website.
The following is a short list of page elements and a few best practices too make your website's pages easier to read and digest.
1. Effective Headings & Sub-headings
Pages are typically divided into sections and sub-sections.
Each section is usually started with a heading.
Use headings in a hierarchical way.
The hierarchy of headings is limited to five starting with H2 - the most important - and finishing with H6 - the least important.
You should use them in the following way:
The page heading - the title of the page - is always formatted as an H2. It is the only heading on the page that should use this setting.
Use H3 for sub-headings
Use H4 for sub-headings within a subsection that is started with an H3
Use H5 and H6 for subheadings within sections
Align all headings and subheadings to the left as a general rule, unless the design of your website is mobile first and all your headings are centered....either way...
Use sentence case for all heading and sub-headings. Sentence case is the standard approach to using upper and lower case letters, mainly in titles and headings. It is the most legible for all levels of readers and gives them a visual queue that something is a heading (since each word has a capital letter).
2. Succinct Paragraphs
Paragraphs are single blocks of text which flow from left to right, often running to more than one line, and have a single blank line above and below.
Lower literacy readers need chunking, so if it going to take you more than 2 normal length sentences to make your point, consider editing.
All paragraphs should be aligned to the left (the default alignment). Avoid aligning paragraphs to the center or right unless you have designed a site that has intro sections of text that are centered. If you do, only have 1 sentence centered, as a rule it is more difficult to read since English readers are used to reading left to right.
Keep your text short and to the point.
Use bulleted lists with plenty of space between items—this helps slower readers absorb your information more effectively.
3. Text formatting
Within text, there are a number of options available to emphasize text:
Use italics sparingly. It is ok to use for publication titles of course, but large amounts of italicized text is very hard to read online.
Use bold sparingly. For clear emphasis of an idea or sub-heading, it is great, but large amounts again are very hard to read. Plus, you can't emphasis everything!
Use color very sparingly. Excessive use of a different color, for example red, makes it very quickly lose effect and again is just hard to read. If you must highlight an important point in a different color, limit it to as few words as possible and do not make it a habit.
Use all capitals sparingly. Excessive use of capitals can get very annoying very quickly and should be reserved for special cases. Words in all capitals are very difficult to read online and often feels as though you are shouting at someone.
Note: ALL CAPS are a great use case for buttons, main navigation items, and other situations where a single word is used.
Do not underline. As a rule, you should NEVER underline because most browsers make links appear underlined. If you underline text that is not a link, it will only confuse your site visitors.
If you are not a designer, or have not had a designer create a styleguide for you, as a rule, the settings for any table should be as follows: Cell padding = 5; Cell spacing = 0.
Text within cells should be vertically aligned to the top of the cell. This makes it the easiest for people to read the contents of your table by keeping the text from running into itself or floating at random heights within your table (depending on the length of your text).
Email Automation: 3 Ways to Get Your Nonprofit Started
If you are like most nonprofit marketing professionals, you’re overworked and under-resourced.
Email automation is the solution you’ve been waiting for!
Setting up marketing automation systems that trigger emails and autoresponders, drastically reduces the time you and your team spend manually sending emails to court donors, members and volunteers.
A report by DemandGen, a research firm, shows on average a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. Of course this is a statistic on for-profit work, but it doesn’t take much of a leap to assume that nurturing sales is very similar to nurturing donors.
What is Email Marketing Automation?
The concept of email automation is pretty simple: if a prospect or constituent perform an action, an email (or series of emails) is triggered in sequence.
The sequences can include decision trees based on the user’s interaction with any of the emails in the series.
Email automation workflows can be triggered based on a lot of things:
Time: Send an email X days after user does Y
Behavior: If user does X send an email, if they do Y send them a different email
Demographic/Characteristic: Say a user RSVP’s to a volunteer event at a particular volunteer site and you ask them their age. If you store that data in a CRM, you could send an email based on that demographic information.
There are endless pieces of information that could trigger automation workflows, but I’ll try to stay out of that rabbit hole for this blog post.
Now for the good part:
Here are 3 ideas how your organization can get started with email automation.
1. Automated Email Welcome Series
A welcome series is a great way to begin the cultivation of a new constituent to your organization, and ultimately will make them feel more engaged with your mission.
The goal of the welcome series should be to:
Educate the user about your organization
Demonstrate the impact of your organization
Ask the new constituent to take one more step in their engagement with you - usually a small step forward. Don’t go asking them to marry you on the first date!
Here’s a hypothetical scenario we’ve probably all experienced: email newsletter sign-up.
How can we use email marketing to nurture this new relationship?
Below is a quick series of emails that you could send.
Immediately after sign-up: Send a thank you email that demonstrates your appreciation for their interest. In this email, it’s a great time to link them to an overview of the work that you do.
Perhaps you have a blog post about a recent milestone your organization has reached, or you have an online Annual Report for them to look at.
The most important thing: provide context to your organization.
What is your business case?
What are your values?
Where have you come from?
Where are you going?
2 Days after sign-up: Send a testimonial about your work. This should be a powerful story that drives user interest.
Even better, if you have a video testimonial of some kind, send it. Video is a powerful medium that shows real people that have participated or been affected by your mission.
The best stories are personal ones—find a person, animal, place, etc. that you can tell a story around.
The bottom line: it’s important to showcase how your work impacts everyday lives.
5 Days After Sign-up: Note to Self: Establishing trust before you ask someone to do something is extremely important.
Consumers want to trust a company before they buy their product; donors want to trust that an organization is going to steward their donation well.
We all know where this email automation workflow is going, right?
Yes. We’re going to ask the new constituent to do something: make a donation, volunteer, become a member.
It actually doesn’t matter what the ask is, the point is that we’re going to ask. Just this alone means your organization better be trusted if they expect the ask to go well.
There are a few different ways that you might establish trust:
Annual report: Send the new constituent to a page about your organizational fiscal responsibility. Perhaps an annual report.
Showcase a known supporter: If your organization is endorsed by a famous person, ask them to write an endorsement. Or better yet, do a quick video endorsement.
Show a rating: though I’m loathe to fall into the charity rating charade (don’t get me started…), you can link to your Charity Navigator rating, or online reviews, or some other kind of rating way to bring proof of your organization’s virtues.
Bottom line is: There are a lot of ways to establish trust. This is a critical time to do it.
7 Days After Sign-up: Send an email that makes the “ask.”
Now, don’t be scared. We hear all the time that staff are scared to ask a new constituent to do something immediately. My response normally is, they’ve already shown they like you by signing up for something, don’t be scared.
Some people will even be flattered. And, there’s no better time to make an ask while their first commitment (in this case e-newsletter sign-up), is fresh in the user’s mind.
But, it’s also important not to be pushy in how you ask.
My opinion: for someone that just signed up for an e-newsletter, I think it’s better to ask something simple like RSVP to an organization orientation, or perhaps you do tours of a work site that your organization has.
These in-person engagements can take that initial relationship to the next level—put a face to the cause.
Other ideas for simple asks are:
Ask them to volunteer at your organization.
Ask them to an upcoming event.
Ask them to follow you on social media
The key is, make them take one step closer to your organization and help them feel a personal connection.
2. Leading Up to an Event
When a supporter has RSVP’d to an event, it is a great time to engage them even further into your organization.
Let’s say for example you’re throwing your annual fundraiser.
Here’s an email marketing automation series that will get your guest pumped to attend and hopefully motivate them to be extra generous with their support this year.
Directly After RSVP: Send a thank you and confirmation that they signed-up for the event. In this same email, it’s a great time to put a quick teaser in about the event theme.
Usually these types of events have themes like an anniversary, support for a strategic organizational goal, or maybe it’s the celebration of a milestone—take on a campaign type feel.
Regardless, this event needs context. How is it contributing to your organization’s success. Perhaps the constituent already knows the context, but it never hurts to reinforce.
The theme or campaign message can be really powerful if delivered by video (starting to see a theme here?).
5 Days after RSVP: It’s time to talk impact!
Again, this is a fundraising event, so establishing your organization’s impact is going to be important before you ask this person to donate.
Good impact pieces can be:
Story of a person, place or thing that benefits from your organization’s work - videos can be very compelling content here.
Testimonial from a person impacted by your work
Historical overview of your organization’s impact
Even better: if individual’s testimonial and speech will be the centerpiece during the event, you can provide a preview of who they are, the challenges they faced and how your organization helped.
Basically, let the person know that your work makes a positive impact in the world.
1 Day Before the Event: This is a great time to remind guests about the event details.
Directions to the location, parking, time table for the event.
Maybe you’re having a silent auction, you can preview the top items to get people excited.
This not only orients the guest, but probably will reduce no-shows as well.
1 Day After the Event: Thanking guests for attending quickly after the event is crucial.
If you have details about the fundraising totals and the results that were achieved, share them...and your gratitude in the attendee’s participation in that success.
Maybe include a video thank you message from your Executive Director, or a personal thank you from one of the speakers at the event.
If you have volunteers at your organization, then you know that it is impressive how much these supporters give of their time and talent.
However, many organizations are shy to ask volunteer to donate. I can respect that, but I also know first hand from my days as a fundraiser, that volunteers can be very generous with their treasures as well, you just need to ask the right way.
Email automation can help you cultivate them into donors at a much higher success rate than simply asking out of the blue.
It’s all about education and cultivation.
Directly after volunteer sign-up:
Obviously, you want to thank them for signing up. It’s important to establish how important volunteers are to your organization and their impact.
If you have a lot of repeat volunteers, this may be a good time to provide an update about an ongoing strategic goal, large campaign, or upcoming event.
Providing fresh content can be a nice touch to an email series like this. Most email automation tools have an easy editing interface that make updates to the email a snap.
4 days before volunteer date: This is a great time to provide context of what the volunteer will be doing.
Let’s say they are doing a river cleanup on the Colorado River. It might be a good time to talk about the importance of the watershed for the health of the ecosystems and cities.
It’s also a good time to talk about the impact that volunteers have already had with your organization for the Colorado.
If the volunteer’s work will effect a human, tell their story. Use a testimonial to drive emotional connections.
The goal: establish your organization’s impact, let the volunteer know the importance of the task that they’re about to do. And always, always thank them!
1 Day before volunteer date: This is a good time to provide logistical support.
Directions to location, meeting instructions, clothing/food/water recommendations or requirements.
Get the volunteer physically ready to perform their task.
1 Day after the volunteer date: Thank the volunteer for their time.
Let them know how much you appreciate their commitment to the organization.
Make an ask while the experience is fresh in the mind.
I see two ways to go about this:
Remember that impact story that you told before the volunteered? Remind them of it: “Your support as a volunteer is vital to this success. Your financial support helps us recruit more volunteers and buy more supplies that help our campaign succeed.”
Appeal to their more practical side: “Supporting our volunteer crews that are doing awesome work requires resources: we need to purchase tools and materials; and we need to pay our employees healthcare and salaries. Can you help us defer those costs by donating $10 to purchase our next shovel?”
You get the idea, right?
Don’t be patronizing, or combative. Just state the honest truth.
I’d also recommend asking for a small sum of money if they haven’t donated before. Get them in the door as a donor.
Once, they’re a donor, you can start a new automated workflow to cultivate and retain their support.
Wait, you can chain email automations together also!?
Yep. See how cool this stuff is!
But that’s a great post for next time….
Email marketing automation is changing everything.
If you’re already a pro, I hope these 3 ideas helped spark some new ways that automation tools can help you.
If you’re a newby to email marketing automation, I recommend you get started!
Over and over again we see that marketing automation has brought success for our clients, and we know that it will for you as well.
5 Ideas for the Rootid brandUP Award for Your Nonprofit
Our team saw over and over that there are a lot of great nonprofits that are facing resolvable obstacles, but just didn’t have the resources or expertise to break through.
Here are few ideas on how we think organizations could use the brandUP award to better their organization.
This doesn't mean that you can't use the award for something else. Remember you know what will take your mission to the next level! But, we thought these were cool ideas as project, or even part of projects.
1. Brand Strategy and Development
Many in the nonprofit world believe that branding something that the for-profit sector should deal with, and has no use in the nonprofit world.
This is dead wrong.
In fact, branding is just as important for nonprofits as it is for profit-seeking companies, and perhaps more so.
In the world of nonprofit work, isn’t shared values one of the biggest things you hang your hat on to generate loyal supporters? Of course it is!
Rootid works with clients to generate brands that speak to their supporters.
Most people think about brand and they think about logos. This is certainly part of a brand, but a logo isn’t generated out of thin air!
Our brand development process starts way before the production of artwork. We start by interviewing internal and external stakeholders extensively.
From these interviews we have a clear understanding of a brand's core values, who your target audiences are, what motivates those audiences, and the channels through which we can speak to them best.
Do you know what your brand stands for? The brandUP awards could be a great time to do some deep soul searching about how your brand is positioned and if it is effectively reaching your audience, and expressing shared values.
2. Content Marketing Strategy
It’s hard to get your marketing message out to your supporters in the age of cell phone alerts, social media, and streaming TV.
Having a rock solid content marketing strategy will help you engage more constituents and keep them engaged.
According to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 79% of nonprofit professionals said that fundraising is the number-one goal of their content marketing, with brand awareness coming in second and engagement third. Yet, only 25% of respondents have a content marketing strategy in place.
Relying on content marketing as a primary driver for fundraising, but having no plan is not going to be successful.
Rootid works with clients to build content marketing strategies built around a better understanding of your audience and the end goals.
The bottom line: who are the people that come to your site, and what do you want them to do?
We will generate user personas through focus groups and user interviews.
Then, we build an actionable content marketing strategy that identifies communication channels that will reach the most users, messaging that motivates them, and website design that will drive them to take action.
Content marketing is a vital piece to build brand awareness, boost donations, and widen your inner circle of supporters.
3. User Generated Content Campaign
Website users no longer expect their online experience to be a one-way street. They want to hold a conversation with a brand.
User Generated Content (UGC) is quickly becoming a vital piece of a brand’s story. Content like, images, Tweets and video that are posted about your brand by your supporters an have become more valuable than anything that your marketing team can themselves.
In fact, according to comScore, and online research firm, 70% of consumers report that they are more likely to trust a peer recommendation over content professionally written one.
What does this mean?
Basically, it means content that your supporters create and share about your nonprofit speaks volumes more than anything you produce in-house.
So, let's capture the power of UGC!
UGC campaigns or features on your website can be power ways to tell a story.
There are several ways to do this type of work:
Hashtag campaigns - use a tool like Juicer.io to curate content posted on social media to build a campaign story.
User-submitted stories on your website - allow users to submit videos, images and text to your website. After an approval process the story is posted.
Gamification of a pledge - challenge one group of supporters to “out pledge” another group of supporters. The pledge can be fundraiser driven, or volunteer hours driven, or something else. Ask the groups to post about the experience through social media.
There are still more ways, but for the sake of space, we left it at three.
Ever stared at a bunch of text with stats in it?
Yeah, it’s really boring and usually you miss the story that someone is trying to tell.
Interactive data is a powerful way to tell a story, or compare information.
There are a lot different ways that you can accomplish this.
If you organization does a lot of research, interactive data can be a really powerful way to display your work.
Interactive data not only tells a richer story, but it positions your organization as a leader in the field and boosts online engagement.
Would you like to increase donations, volunteers and memberships at your organization?
Of course you would. Who wouldn’t?
Marketing automation nurtures your supporters, or new supporters, by bringing them closer to your organization without the need of staff time to do it.
According to HubSpot, a marketing automation company, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
I realize that your nonprofit isn’t selling anything, but it doesn’t take much to make the leap that nurtured leads, or nurtured supporters make larger donations, volunteer more and remain members longer.
Additionally, marketing automation frees up one of the best resources that nonprofits have: their employees. By not making your team do all the mundane day to day of sending emails over and over with the same information.
Marketing automation is behavior driven, which means if a user opens email A and takes action B, your automation platform will "automate" the next step in the process. Maybe it's sending another email, or inviting them to an event, or asking for a donation.
It bases nurturing on action, not guessing.
The applications of marketing automation are wide and varied, but Rootid has worked with clients (and we use marketing automation internally at our firm), to widen the reach of their mission, and deepen the relationships with their current supporters.
The California Family Health Council is a statewide nonprofit that champions & promotes quality sexual + reproductive health care for all. They are leaders in passing recent legislation that as of 2015, gives those covered under another person's health plan—like a parent or spouse—the ability to keep their health information private. Shocked this was not already the case? So were we... and we are so proud to have helped them develop a comprehensive marketing campaign to support this landmark legislation.
When building a campaign there are a lot of things to consider. Who the audience is, what information they need to know and how many different kinds of assets you need to create to inform them. The types of assets span print, web and social media platforms, so when beginning the visual identity process, you need to keep in mind how your design elements are going to be used.
Who are the audiences? To market this landmark legislation there are a few important groups to consider.
Providers: Since it is their job to alert and to educate their patients about these new confidentiality rights, the visual language for this campaign needed to be clean, clear and welcoming.
Patients: There is a large range of age groups to appeal to, so the basic artwork and themes needed to feel universal. Then you can focus more specifically on distinct groups through social media as needed.
Partners: A lot of different people and organizations participated in getting this important legislation passed so the artwork created needed to also appeal to their organizational stakeholders.
What information do they need to know? Especially with new legislation, there is often A LOT of information that needs to be shared. Leaning that down to items that are easily digestible is an undertaking unto itself. Working together, we determined that a combination of "take action" language and the bare minimum of descriptive text would be the most effective way to communicate this information.
How many different kinds of assets need to be created? Next, we determined how many different types of assets we needed across print, web and social media. With print design in particular, it is important to create only what you need. We want to always be conscious of what will actually be useful to people versus what will just end up in the recycling bin. We decided to create Posters and Info Sheets for health care providers, Postcards and Wallet Cards for patients so they could take a small reminders with them, a micro-website for people to access via web or mobile, and of course custom Facebook and Twitter headers. [view all resources]
This was a really fun project to work on with everyone over at CFHC—we are thrilled to have been a part of it!
We throw around this idea of using stories to engage your community, audience, and site users a lot. I would say, most people take for granted that this is true and that it works to keep people interested in what you are talking about, but do you know why?
Go back to grammar or high school for a minute and think about your favorite teacher...or even just a teacher that you remember. What do you remember about them? For me, one of my favorite history teachers was known for 2 things, his clothes (he looked like he had stepped out of Hemingway novel) and his stories. I am not sure his stories were actually about history, but I gander that he was teaching us more about life in that class anyways. And it worked, we felt safe in his classroom to talk about "real" issues and we could discuss history and current events more openly—reflecting, discussing and considering different viewpoints than what we found in our textbooks. He engaged us and therefore taught us...A LOT.
Ok, so why did his stories engage us, since that is really the point here. It is because we could relate to them. We could consider how his experiences compared to our own and that kept us interested. I can not help comparing a lot of communications best practices with what I learned in my grad. school educational psychology classes.
John Dewey (one of my personal favorites) called for education to be grounded in real experience. He wrote, "If you have doubts about how learning happens, engage in sustained inquiry: study, ponder, consider alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence."
Jean Piaget proposed that learning is a dynamic process comprising successive stages of adaption to reality during which learners actively construct knowledge by creating and testing their own theories of the world.
So think about it, all marketing & communications strategy is is educating your "people." They are your students, think about the stories you tell and what you are trying to teach them about your organization. Stories are very powerful tools, but you also need to give people something to reflect and ponder— something to take away—something that will bring them back for more.
Conversion levels, effective mixed-media strategies, integrity of core brand promise, optimization…and synergy, what does all this jargon actually give you? As a company, we talk a lot about starting within and focusing on an organizations core values and then using that information to create integrated and authentic marketing solutions, but what does that really mean and how do you know we are “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk?” The answer can be somewhat nebulous and subjective, but it is empathy.
Our tagline is “Collaborative Communications” and we mean it, but what does it mean to make that kind of claim? Let’s start by defining empathy. In a recent video by researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown, she defines empathy as fueling connection. That it is the ability to recognize another’s perspective as truth, to stay out of judgment, relate to others’ emotions and then be able to communicate. This is different than being sympathetic (for a person or cause) because sympathy is more about having compassion, whereas empathy is more about identification. Empathy is more creative, it leads to effecting change in human relationships because there is an absorption that occurs—an empathetic experience teaches what it is like “to be” —it is transformative.
The digital era allows us to extend our empathy to larger communities. We can use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to read, watch and share our experiences with others in a way that used to be limited to your country, neighborhood or family. However, if unmanaged—as we see more often that not—this sharing and connecting turns into narcissism and messaging that is just more noise for us to “tune out.” So how does one build the groundwork for empathetic communications?
When we begin a project with a new client, we call it “Val’s Sponge Phase.” It is the time when I am listening and absorbing not just the values, vision and philosophy of an organization, but I am experiencing what it is like to be that organization and to do the work they are doing. I am bringing empathy into the conversation and extending my personal identity to now include this new organization as part of myself. Ok, yes, this might sound a little oogee woogee or granola, but how can we expect new people to want to join your community if we do not do it ourselves? Empathetic marketing is about nurturing curiosity in others, it is about helping new people want to join your family. It is human nature to want to connect so we need to give them the opportunity to think viscerally... to think as family— to experience of your “truth” we need to guide them to engage their empathy.
The Unending Binge: How “Nutritional” Advertising Can Drive Sustainability
Oversimplified and Out of Touch, Current Advertising Lacks the ‘Nutritional Value’ Consumers Are Desperate For
When I think of “going on a binge” it usually involves mass consumption of something that is not healthy over a short period of time, like “binging on junk food”…or in this case, inauthentic advertisements. They surround us everyday, saturating us in products that have negative impact on the world and advertisers expect consumers to continue their blind and uneducated purchasing. However, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of sustainability issues and they are looking for products they can ideologically support and, in turn, advertising that is not trying to “trick” them into buying something they don’t believe in. Consumers are hung-over from their binge and are looking for something truly nourishing to snack on.
As a society we are getting fed up with products and propaganda that I would classify as “junk food.” Trying to get a consumer to buy a product in today’s economic climate that quickly becomes waste is increasingly ineffective. Terms like ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ draw as much skepticism as they do support from consumers these days. A simple ‘eco’ label doesn’t fully answer questions such as, “What will happen after I dispose of this product? Is this really recyclable? How much better for the environment is ‘organic’? To what extent are my habits having an impact on the earth?
I think the future of advertising lies in products that create brand loyalty because they are thoughtful of their impact on the world. We need products we can believe in. Zipcar is a great example. Based on utilizing excess capacity, Zipcar is an incredible innovation that capitalizes on people’s diminishing need for a full-time car. Their advertising is intelligent, thoughtful, and teaches consumers that there are options to car ownership. They seamlessly encourage their customers to evangelize the environmental, health and cost benefits of car sharing and in return, 30% of their new members come through referrals. But the fact that they hit all 3 bottom lines (people, profit, planet) is what makes them truly “nutritional.” They are profitable, sustainable, and focused on their consumer’s needs. Even more impressive is their mere presence provides a space in consumers’ minds to think differently about how they choose to consume…ah hah…they educate!
I appreciate when advertising is thoughtful, informative, and selling me a product I can feel confident in. I want to know it was made by a company who is not only wanting to be sustainable, but is authentically “eco-efficient” as well. I appreciate when I am nourished rather than filled with junk food. Marketing and advertising (communications) are teaching methods, and ultimately, we (the consumer students) can tell when our food is unhealthy. If companies changed the kind of products they produced, then a trend of positive consumerism would ensue—people would WANT to buy more products because they would feel they were making the world a better place by doing so.
Advertising must authentically guide consumers toward the products that will help nourish and restore balance to our global society. We so desperately want to do “right” by the world—we just need advertising we can trust to show us how.