NonProfit Strategies from the AMA MarketingTech Smart Conference

By Monica Moore

Marketing technology (aka MarTech) selection can be overwhelming and this was certainly confirmed at the 2017 AMA Chicago MarketingTech Smart Conference as each presenter repeatedly pulled up the same graphic of 5,281 current MarTech solutions. This can be all the more challenging for nonprofits, which may have limited budgets, minimal staff, and which are often selling memberships and soliciting donations rather than tangible, high-demand products.

When David Dowgiello from Twitter shared his experience of helping Adidas provide a good customer experience when selling a small inventory of limited edition sneakers to an eager audience of millions, I know I wasn’t the only one in the room wondering, “but what if no one knows about or wants your sneakers? What then?”

Luckily, even if your organization is unable to do everything Adidas does—or else not as robustly—there are several scalable areas you can focus on to help stretch your marketing efforts.

Leverage Your Content or Focus on Content Creation

Though many of the MarketingTech Smart Conference presentations focused on the challenges of selecting the correct tools (and sometimes people) to ease the process of serving up content, disseminating messaging, measuring results, and optimizing for conversions, the underlying message was clear: having lots of (hopefully good) content is critical. And it is on the assumption that this content exists, is available, or can be solicited, that organizations would then make technology decisions.

During her keynote, Robin Kamen of NewsCred reminded the group that each day we’re competing for the attention of an audience that may want to watch funny cat videos rather than hear what is important to our organizations, so we must serve our message in the way that the audience wants it.

This is the crux of content marketing—drawing audiences in not with “sell” messages but by providing them with the valuable information they are already seeking, which in turn will build their trust in your brand and expertise, and ease the conversion process. If you don’t have good content, this is where your efforts should focus. Write blog posts, solicit articles, leverage existing content, engage volunteer writers, or employ content marketing services—do whatever is possible to generate content.

Automate Tasks and Processes Where Possible

Marketing automation can feel like a huge investment both in determining the processes and certainly in purchasing technology. But if you are already spending countless hours manually executing e-mail campaigns, toggling between social media accounts, and tracking user engagement across your website, you could use marketing automation to complete these tasks more efficiently. Adam Bianco of Tide Spin recommended MailChimp or AppBoy as a good place to start.

This does not mean, however, that any given tool or set of tools would significantly decrease your work. Though automation should decrease your manual efforts, it does take time and effort to both implement and maintain, and is only effective if you’re also generating a stream of good leads to respond to.

Analytics, Metrics, and Return on Investment (ROI)

Every marketing initiative should have a goal and a measure of success, and the blessing of digital marketing is that we’re almost always able to test, measure, and revise. Organizations should no longer be sending out various pieces and be unsure which had an effect. Instead, everything should be tied to measurements with the ultimate goal of conversions: click through rates, opens, impressions, engagement, etc. When you can not only hone in on your target audiences but also optimize for their engagement, it can be easier to focus efforts and draw back from areas with lower ROI.

If you are having trouble executing on certain initiatives, let alone testing and tweaking, the following are some of the tools Adam Bianco mentioned that may help:

The key, however, is to keep testing and tweaking. Building a landing page or setting up an ad campaign isn’t enough—with marketing, there is always room for improvement and many changing factors to account for!

Looking for additional support and ideas? Attend the November 7 AMA Chicago Nonprofit SIG meeting on the topic of social media – getting noticed (without breaking the bank).

Monica Moore is Senior Manager, Web and Digital Marketing at Association Management Center

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