Helping Nonprofits Raise More Money & Do More Good

Content Marketing Tips for Nonprofits: Bottom of the Funnel

Posted: June 20, 2017 |

Did you know, according to eMarketer, that 60% of marketers produce at least one piece of content per day? For the average nonprofit marketer we’re lucky if we have a chance to produce one piece of content a month let alone per day!

Content marketing today has become a huge priority, but for many it’s hard to find the time. That’s why, when the time does come, we have to work effectively and efficiently. Imagine a world where your content fits the needs of everyone who comes to your site. Where your content addresses the questions and interests of your audience. A world where your content is in sync with what your audience needs most before they take action with your nonprofit.

That’s where bottom-of-funnel content marketing comes into play. In this article we’ll discuss what the bottom-of-funnel is and strategic ways that content marketing can address your audience at a pivotal time in the sales cycle.

Funnel What? Understanding The Sales Cycle & Funnels

In every business there is a sales cycle, a common path that potential buyers take before they decide to “purchase” or take action. Although potential clients/volunteers/funders aren’t necessarily “buying” from your nonprofit, they still go through similar stages as consumers who purchase.

From awareness to evaluation and from evaluation to conversion (action), during each stage potential “buyers” have concerns and questions. Often, they look for this type of information online and use search engines to do so. Until someone has a chance to go through each stage they will be less likely to take the action you want them to take.

It’s like dating, you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date would you? Going through the sales cycle is like going from dating, to living together, to getting engaged and then getting married. Even in nonprofit there is a “courting” phase of sorts before someone becomes a client/volunteer/funder. Can you start to imagine what those stages would be for your own audience?

One of the great things as marketers we can do is to encourage buyers to move through the funnel easier and faster. How? With content marketing of course! But first, we must understand our audience a bit better.

Understanding Your Audience: Bottom-of-Funnel

If you understand what your clients/volunteers/funders might be thinking in each of the sales cycle stages you can get a sense of the type of content to put in front of them.

Here are just a few ideas of what your audience might be thinking in each stage:

  • Awareness: become aware of a need, maybe they have a specific problem or are looking for a new opportunity, they are discovering and making themselves aware. They are researching and looking for additional resources. At this stage they may not know you exist, but are open to discovering who is qualified to assist with their problem or opportunity.
  • Consideration: evaluating potential solutions or options, looking at a variety of choices and getting ready to take action. They might be reading reviews about your nonprofit, comparing different nonprofits, talking to peers, and perhaps visiting your physical location.
  • Conversion: after clients/volunteers/funders are done evaluating they are ready to make a decision. They are ready to review one or two more pieces of content and make a final decision. The goal at this stage is to get them to take action: sign up for a volunteer shift, donate money or ask for your nonprofits services.

As you can see, distinct thought processes happen at each stage. What are their pain points, their triggers and frustrations in each step? What fears do they have?

We find that as a person moves from one stage to another they turn to online sources for answers. As they search they alternate the keywords they use online based on their funnel stage. Certain modifier words are very common within each stage. We’ve adapted a list to include terms most applicable to nonprofits. See how you can adapt this list for your own nonprofit by trying this exercise out.

Example Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords for Nonprofits

When someone is ready to make the final decision they are going to look up terms such as donate, compare and call. Additionally, they get more hyper focused with local keyword phrases indicating state or city. They’re looking for cost information as well as help they can get right away. Here are a few of the possible keyword combinations we brainstormed:

Modifiers Nonprofit Keywords
Donate + Donate money before the end of the year, donate clothing, donate to charity
Compare + Compare charity X to charity Y
Call + Call charity X, call support services for X
Find + Find a local charity to volunteer with, find a local charity to donate to
Donate to + Donate to the homeless, donate to a women’s shelter
Give + Give away to charity, give back in your community
+ Neighborhood/City/State Charities in Phoenix, volunteering in Phoenix
Register for + Register for charity walk, register for charity run
Request + Request donation information, request volunteer information
Contact + Contact local charity X
+ Cost Charity X cost breakdown
Ask for help + Ask for help with domestic violence, ask for help with X
Nonprofit help + Nonprofit help for medical bills, nonprofit help to pay electricity bill, nonprofit help to X

As you can see, this list is aimed to help inspire you to think of your own bottom-of-funnel keywords, but barely scratches the surface. These terms might apply to your particular nonprofit or can be easily adapted to fit your needs. Ask your fellow colleagues, clients and volunteers for even more ideas and inspiration to add to this list.

Next, develop content topics and possible title ideas around the keywords themselves. What content would be great about a topic like “nonprofit help for medical bills”? How about, “Your Nonprofit Guide to Paying Off Medical Bills”. Or for keyword “donate money”, how about a topic like “77 Ways You Can Donate to XYZ Nonprofit Before the End of the Year in 2016”.

What Content Works Best Bottom-of-Funnel?

Once you’ve had a chance to pick out a topic that will resonate with your bottom-of-funnel audience, now comes the time to match with the type of content format best suited for their needs. There are common content types which seem to resonate best with those who are close to taking action. Depending on the action you want them to take, the type of content plays a huge role in getting them to take the leap. These may include:

  • Client/volunteer/funder stories/testimonials
  • Webinars or mini-classes
  • Live demonstrations
  • Q&A web conference
  • Case studies with clients/volunteers/funders
  • Blog posts
  • Compelling video

No matter the industry, these content types have been proven to entice someone into taking action. It’s not just about finding the right topics and matching them to the right content. Really think about the action you want someone to take and develop the best content to get them there. Fill out a contact us form? Donate online? Come to your office for a tour? Sign up for a volunteer day? Your content needs to have the right call to action, flawless execution and the attention to detail your audience requires.

Measuring Success

What does success look like for your nonprofit? It might be additional donations, volunteers or simply just more traffic to your site. Whatever success is, make sure you’re primed and ready to measure it before you hit the publish button.

Google Analytics is available for free and very easy to set up on your site. This program will track your visitors on your site and tell you valuable insights about them such as which pages they frequent, how long they stay on your site and where they navigate to most. By measuring your success you’ll be better suited to develop even more content in the future.

Bottom-of-funnel content is just one part of the entire funnel. And while it’s arguably the most lucrative, it’s also just one part of the whole. It’s highly recommended that you ensure your content can address an audience at every stage. Start thinking about modifiers and content types that will work for the other stages of the funnel too. See what amazing content you can develop in 2017 and start publishing today!

8 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Search Performance

  1. Start measuring, if you aren’t already. Use Google Analytics and Search Console to tell you more about your search performance. Read Moz’s beginners article about Google Search Console and their beginner’s guide to Google Analytics. You can implement the recommendations we discuss in this article, but without measuring your results you’ll have a hard time seeing improvement. Start with measurement first!
  2. Test your page speed with a tool like Pingdom Speed Test. Look into the items on your pages that take the longest to load, and review recommendations provided by this free tool. Give them to your website developer or see if a local web development company will do probono work on your site to improve speed issues.
  3. Test your site on mobile browsers. Cross browser testing tools exist to give us an idea of what our visitors see when they access our pages from different devices. It’s hard to create a site that is perfect for every single phone, but the most popular phones is certainly reasonable. Apps and plugins exist to help your site become mobile friendly, contact your web developer for more information.
  4. Optimize meta data and content on the pages you want to rank, which we outlined above. This is something you can start doing this week! Conduct research and use our advice herein to execute on optimizing specific pages.
  5. Set up Google Alerts for your nonprofit’s name. These alerts can be sent via email and help give you an idea of who is talking about your brand. Try reaching out to those who talk about you but don’t link to your website. Make sure their readers can find your website by asking them to update the page with a mention of your site. Seeking out unlinked brand mentions is a great way to build more links to your site.
  6. Clean up any duplicate or recycled content. Take the time to rewrite it and improve on it. Taking the easy way out and verbatim copy/pasting content is a no-no when it comes to SEO. You’ll have a hard time ranking pages that have duplicate content.
  7. Determine the pages on your site that visitors go to and don’t navigate to other pages. In Google Analytics this is called a bounced visit, they simply don’t navigate to other pages on the site. Examine the page and ask yourself how you can entice visitors to visit other places on your site. Is there a call to action on the page? Are there links to other pages, besides what’s in the navigation? Update this information and see if you can reduce your bounce rate.
  8. Start promoting quality content on your site through social media if you’re not already doing so. Remember to promote older content too, if the quality and content still benefits your audience make sure to include those in tweets, Facebook updates, on Pinterest and other platforms.

There are many things you can do today to help strengthen your local signals and promote your site to your audience. Soon you’ll start to see your site rank for more keywords and show up more often.

Heather heads up Demand Generation for Virtuous Software and writes and speaks on digital and demand marketing related topics across the web.

See more posts from Heather Cooan

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