A New Way for Nonprofits to Connect: AskJelly.com & Thoughts from Our Digital Marketing Strategist

What is AskJelly you ask? And why should your nonprofit care?

Our digital marketing strategist, Jenna, was recently on the beta version of this new search engine. It was developed by the founder of Medium and Twitter, which leads us to believe it could be hugely successful. With her review, I got to thinking, how could AskJelly.com be useful for nonprofits?

How AskJelly works:

The platform is set up so any user can post a question and an informed person will then post an answer in return – similar to Quora. How it differs from Quora is it combines attributes of Google; it performs as a search engine, using an algorithm to find the most suitable answer for you.

Keep in mind, you can sign up as an individual user, but not as an organization. Also keep in mind, it’s not to get your nonprofit on another social media network of sorts, but rather is to be used as a tool to gather information.

On the beta version, Jenna actually got an answer from the founder himself. This may help clarify what AskJelly is, but also show how effectively it works:

askjelly-for-nonprofits
Jenna’s AskJelly question answered by founder, Biz Stone.

How your nonprofit could connect through AskJelly:

Since the product was recently launched, it’s still gaining regular users and may take a little time to be hugely useful for nonprofits. However, we recommend trying it out now to help build up this community. It can serve as a resource for when you want the opinion or answer of a real person and will become more and more effective the more the nonprofit community uses it.

For example, I recently posed the question, “should a nonprofit DIY or hire an agency for their web design?” Here’s what I got in return:

askjelly-for-nonprofits

Not bad, but if a few more nonprofits got looped in, I’m sure they’d have their own stories to tell and the answers would be helpful for us all.

Share your knowledge or ask your question – go to AskJelly.com and try it out now.

How to Set Up a Nonprofit Google AdWords Campaign – with Best Practices in Mind

nonprofit-google-adwords-campaign

You just won $10,000 a month.

That’ll get any nonprofit marketers attention, right?

If you haven’t received your $10,000 a month from Google Ad Grants for nonprofits, read this NOW to learn more about why AdWords is so helpful to nonprofits and to see if you qualify.

If you know you qualify for you $10,000 grant, but you’re struggling to set up a successful first Google AdWords campaign, the time is now. Follow our lead to increase your website traffic and conversions through quality Google Ads.

1. Strategize:

a) Determine your goal

Your ad should be created with a specific goal in mind. Rather than simply trying to drive traffic to your site, choose a landing page, donation page, or event to promote. Seeing as Google is flooded with traffic daily, you have to really hone in on your audience and how you will draw them in. AdWords works best with specifics: drawing in the right people at the right time. This will also help you with your keyword selection in the next step.

Example: Say your nonprofit helps to provide medical services in Nigeria. You want people to find your website and inquire about how this works. Your goal is for volunteers to fill out the Contact Us form on your volunteer landing page.

b) Decide on your target audience

Once you’ve established your goal, take time to really flush out who you’re targeting. In most cases, the more specific you can get the better. Read through our audience persona guide if you want help determining your audience.

nonprofit-audience-personas-for-google-adwords

Some qualities to pay attention to as you study may include:

– age                       – job                         – geographic region

– digital habits (where they go online & when)

– their story or incentive for seeking your nonprofit’s services

– a description of what might compel them to click on your ad (their call to action)

Example: Luke is a recent college grad (22 years old) from the University of MN and doesn’t quite know what to do before med school. He’d like to volunteer and feel like he’s really contributing to something. He’s heard of several services that set you up with a volunteer program in Africa, but he can’t tell which one will work for him. Most days, he goes online later in the evening, after dinner. He uses Google and LinkedIn when looking for career-oriented opportunities. 

c) Hone in on your keywords

The success of your ad depends largely on this piece of the puzzle. Luckily, now that you know who you’re targeting and for what, you’ve already narrowed down your options. Once you have this, there are several tools to help you determine your key phrase:

Keyword Planner: The Google AdWords tool can help you find phrases people search, as well as how much it costs your AdWords account to use each keyword phrase

Buzzsumo: This site will show you what is trending around your key phrase. If you type in your subject matter, it will show you other online content that is receiving attention. You can take this and study what language they use to help you understand what works.

google-adwords-keyword-planning

Semrush: This tool is insightful for understanding the volume of searches surrounding a key phrase. It will help you know how often your phrase might be searched or how you can reword your phrase in order to match it with what searchers are actually typing.

semrush-keyword-planning-for-adwords

Google Search: Type in various searches to Google, first studying auto-fill to determine common searches. Then study the actual search results to see how your competitors are coming up. You can see in the example below the first couple search results are ranking through AdWords.

studying-keywords-adwords-for-nonprofits

Example: With Luke in mind, we will try to think like he would. What would he type into Google Search and how would he phrase it? Think through this while you perform a competitive analysis of keywords.

2. Know your limitations

a) There is a monthly budget of $10,000 or $329 per day.

Knowing this, you’ll really want to study how your campaign is performing as you go. For example, you’ll want to set your ad to show up at the right time of day so you don’t run out of budget too early, before your audience is even online, but you won’t be able to tell this until you see how it performs.

 b) The maximum cost-per-click (CPC) limit is $2.00.

This means that for more competitive keywords, you probably won’t show up since you can’t bid more than other organizations. Find more specific keywords for which others aren’t competing as much. If you have a key phrase you want to be sure to rank for, but it will cost you more than $2.00 CPC, consider investing some of your nonprofit budget for that campaign.

c) Ads run only on keyword-targeted campaigns

This means you cannot specify based on location, language, device or audience targeting within your account settings. Use the strategizing you did to inform your keyword selection.

d) Ads will only appear on the Google Search results pages and only text ads are eligible

This means display, video & remarketing campaigns are not part of the program at this time. Use this to your benefit by really focusing on how text ads work specifically. If you think display, video and remarketing is essential to your nonprofit, consider investing to run those campaigns as paid ads.

3. Set up your Ad

a) Create your headline

You’ll want an Ad that calls users to action. Incorporate the key phrase you came up with earlier and be specific regarding what you’re asking them to do. Note the tight character limit.

writing-headline-google-adwords-for-nonprofits

b) Write your Ad text

Get as specific as you can within the character limit. Use action-oriented verbiage.

google-adwords-for-nonprofits-best-practices

c) Review!!

Check in as often as you can manage. You’ll want to a/b test your ads, specify negative keywords and target more audiences. Contact ArcStone for a free AdWords audit or help setting up your account.

Nonprofit Marketing Free Tools to Promote Event – Success Story by Spina Bifida Association

As a nonprofit blog and digital web agency, we want your nonprofit to get proper attention. We also want you to know you can stand out, without a huge marketing budget. To prove I’m not making this stuff up, I’m pulling in the work of a friend working for the Spina Bifida Association and showing how she used Raw Short, Canva and other free tools for nonprofits to promote her organization’s upcoming event, the Spina Bifida Conference. All these tools together helped SBA establish consistent and clever branding.

nonprofit-marketing-inspiration

1. Canva

Seeing as they don’t have a full-time designer, my friend LOVES Canva. If you’re unfamiliar with the tool, it basically is a go-to hub for designing blog images, social media posts, and infographics for non-designers. It has designer templates you can choose for your layout, text with various fonts, images and other graphic elements. Many of these aspects are free and the paid features are quite cheap.

You can see below SBA tied in their nonprofit’s colors and created fun posts to share on their social media networks and in their newsletters. Keep in mind this is very doable – the elements below were dragged and dropped into a template and then personalized through color, the logo and the text.

nonprofit-marketing-using-canva

2. MailChimp

Another great nonprofit-friendly tool is MailChimp for email marketing. As seen in the email below, SBA pulled in images designed in Canva and encouraged their email database to get signed up for the early-bird deadline. Gain more insight into choosing the right email marketing software for you in “Our Picks of Email Marketing Software.”

nonprofit-email-marketing-mailchimp3. RawShorts

This one seemed like an especially fun promotion strategy to me – using RawShorts, my friend made up a story surrounding her audience persona Suzy. I watched the video twice since it was fun visually and the information was easy to digest. You don’t need a video producer for something quick like this.

You simply choose a template based on your objective, upload your media, and then decide on text, transitions, effects and audio. From there you export it to place on your landing page, Facebook, YouTube or whatever else works for you. Notice the consistent branding SBA managed.

If you want a more in-depth or advanced video produced, check out these 8 examples by ArcStone.

4. Facebook

This cute post was a way to draw in the attention of their Facebook friends. It’s friendly, yet direct. They also kept their hashtag from earlier posts to augment branding.

Facebook loves to help your nonprofit promote its events or fundraisers. Learn more here.

nonprofit-marketing-image-on-facebook

Vital Nonprofit Blog SEO Tips You Can Implement Today

nonprofit-blog-seo-fixes

I’m always searching for the best kept SEO secrets to try out for rocking our clients’ and our own blogs’ SEO. Our digital marketing strategist pointed me to a golden ticket for SEO strategy, found on SumoMe: “17 Essential SEO Tips Your Blog Must Follow.” Some of these are especially wonderful for your nonprofit blog SEO improvement.

I’ve highlighted five areas you can fix now (without a developer) which nonprofits often neglect in their blog SEO strategy…

1. Key in on your Key Word/Phrase

It’s common for nonprofits to have idea for their next blogpost based on a reason event or case study – which is great for a blog. However, then that idea gets posted just for the sake of getting it out there, and in this haste, the blog isn’t optimized.

The first step to writing an SEO-friendly blog is to hone in on what phrase will help you show up on Google’s first page. For example, if your nonprofit supports solving the global water shortage, you may want to write a blog piece on the Flint Water Crisis and optimize around, “how to help with the Flint Water Crisis.” That way people with good intentions of helping, will search this phrase and hopefully click on your nonprofit.

Sometimes this is pure luck or completely unpredictable. But at least the SumoMe points to some easy hacks you can think of from the get-go.

2. Hype up Readers with Your Blog Headline

It blew me away how much time SumoMe spends on their headlines – way more than I would have thought to. But if they see this time as a worthy investment, maybe we should too.

Consider polling your nonprofit coworkers, reviewing social media posts that have received the most clicks, or reading this part of the SumoMe blog to improve your ability to captivate potential readers.

3. Speed up Page Load Time

Did you know Google actually lowers your rank if your blog loads slowly? Yes they know their audience well; web users will click of a page if it’s taking too long and find something better. Chances are your potential donors / volunteers / users are looking for quick answers. If they see your nonprofit page isn’t loading, they’ll look elsewhere. They may also assume your nonprofit is behind the times if your technology isn’t working.

Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Use the tips from SumoMe.

4. Keep up with Content

This may go without saying, but it’s not enough to write 5 blogs when you launch your nonprofit site, and then just have them sitting there. Publish a post a week to start, even if it’s just a small news blurb reacting to something going on in the field, a case study with some quotes from a user of your services, or a recap on your latest event.

This isn’t just good for your readers, but as SumoMe points out, it’s good for web-crawlers. They basically see your blog as unhealthy if it hasn’t been updated regularly – similar to a check up at the doc, check in to your blog weekly.

For more on nonprofit blogging tips read,

And of course – call us up at ArcStone or ask us a question at info(at)arcstone.com

Doing More with Google Analytics for Nonprofits

As our marketing manager, Joli, phrased it, “I’ve come across many a Google Analytics account that’s just been created, installed then let go.”

The reason this is problematic for nonprofit marketing analytics comes down to this: it’s a free resource, with so many insights, but it just goes to waste. If you waste the knowledge within Google Analytics, you spend time producing content and making website decisions without reason. You make guesses about your audience without actually knowing what they want and how they use your site.

We can do better. Here’s how.

doing-more-with-google-analytics-for-nonprofits

*If you haven’t yet set up your account, start with “A Setup Guide” and get a general overview in “Get Tracking with the Right Metrics.”

Step 1. Ask questions:

Think about who is coming to your site. Ask yourself, “Why are they coming here in the first place?” You want to know where they’re coming from and what helped them decide to click through to your site.

Then consider what your nonprofit sees as successful goals and metrics. “How many visitors should we have?” “What do we hope the site visitor will do?”

Step 2. Go old school, write it out:

Write out your top 3 to 4 audiences and include why each of them may be coming to your site. If they’ve never been on your site and are looking for volunteer opportunities, maybe they want to learn more about your organization. If they’ve donated before, maybe they want to log into an account or review an in-depth blog about your latest project. If they’re in need of your services, maybe all they need is to know you care and they want the easiest way to get in touch.

Step 3. Set up goals within Google Analytics:

From the example above we could form goals such as…

  • Visit 4 pages+ OR spend 3 minutes+ on the site
  • Click the donate now call to action button
  • Submit the volunteer “request more info” form
  • Contact your organization for more info
  • Watch your latest event video

Once you have these goals planned out, set them up within Analytics. Learn how here. Pay close attention to numbers like Conversion Rate, as they’re your most tangible evidence that your site is leading to action.

Step 4. Track your site’s searches:

If your nonprofit site has a search bar, which most do, wouldn’t it be mighty insightful if you knew what users were looking for?

It takes a moment to set up, but we’ll walk you through it…

  • Enter a search term in your site’s search bar.
  • Look at the URL bar. You should see something similar to: http://www.yourwebsite.com/?s=termyousearched or http://www.yourwebsite.com/search.php?search_query=termyousearched
  • All sites are different, but there should at least be the equals sign (“=”) which indicates your query parameter is right before that. In the first example your query parameter signified as “s” and in the second it is “search_query”
  • Once you’ve found this, go into the Admin tab in Analytics, click “View Settings” in the right-side column, switch “site search tracking” to ON, and enter the query parameter into this box.
  • When you want to review search term data, go into your Google Analytics under the Behavior section and click on Site Search.

Step 5. Set up Filters:

To see the most accurate data in your Google Analytics account, you’ll want to remove the traffic coming from your own office.

To set this up…

  • Click on Filters in the right-side column
  • Click the Add Filter button
  • Set the dropdown option to > “Exclude” > “traffic from the IP address” > “that are equal to” and then your IP address
  • Find your IP address by searching in Google, “What is my IP address” – Google will know what IP address you use based on where you are
  • Copy & paste this into the IP address box and click save

If you need more help with your nonprofit’s Analytics account, call us up and talk to our marketing manager Joli or download the ebook she helped to publish, “Google Analytics Guide.”

Google-analytics-set-up-guide

 

Ways to Increase Nonprofit Blog Production

increase-nonprofit-blog-production

You know the importance of a having a nonprofit blog – and if you don’t, read this post. However, like most anyone in the nonprofit realm, you don’t have time to constantly be updating your posts. Here we will give you 3 ways to increase nonprofit blog production.

1. Keep everything documented and communicated through a Trello board (or something like it)

One of the most time-consuming pieces of the writing process is choosing what to write about, however it can be made one of the quickest. It’s likely your nonprofit team gets asked the same questions over and over. It’s also likely you have many events and fundraisers in the works. All of these subjects are potential blog topics, but you lose track of them when you finally have a chance to sit down and write.

Use a tool like Trello. What’s nifty about this software is you can have a column of ideas, then drag each idea into the next column of “in progress/writing,” then to “in review,” and finally to “completion/promotion” as you can see we do at ArcStone below:

using-trello-board-nonprofit-blogging-tools

You can also label each blog. If you have multiple blog categories on your site, label each idea with a color and try to fill your content calendar with one of each color each week. We use the calendar tool within Trello to hold ourselves accountable to filling each of our main categories. Likewise, if you use our favorite strategy, audience personas, you can tag each blog with a specific audience persona you want to target so you can better keep track of who you’re reaching.

Lastly, you can add team members to your board and communicate about your blogs within Trello. You may not have time to write 3 posts a week yourself, but you likely can rotate people to contribute content once or twice a month. Just be sure to have one team member go through each blog (which has been nicely placed in Trello) to keep the tone/style consistent.

2. Have a writing strategy mapped out that you can follow each time

a. Refer to your Trello board and notice what type of content is missing. Do you need more informative content or more stories from the field? Fill in the gaps.

b. Search what content is already out there beyond your site – go on a platform like Reddit or Buzzsumo and search an idea topic you have, then try to write something that hasn’t already been written. You can also use this as a way to see what types of posts get the most traction:

buzzsumo-tool-for-blogging

b. Use Semrush to find which key phrase you want your post to optimize around. Then incorporate this throughout the post, title, metadata, URL & the like. Read more on all the ways you can optimize a blog for better SEO.

searching-for-nonprofit-keywords

c. Cut back on distractions when you finally sit down to write. Close your email, plug in your headphones and resist the temptation to multi-task. You’ll be much more efficient. I love this post which explains how multi-tasking hinders productivity.

d. If you find yourself stuck, switch up your blog format. Did you write in a more narrative voice last time? Try a list-based or how-to blog this time. Find an infographic template on Canva to test out a visual representation of your content. Switching things up will boost your creativity.

nonprofit-infographic-tool

e. Review your blog through following a checklist – like this one I created for myself.

3. Use other people

That may sound like cheating, but it’s actually resourceful. Here are a couple ways to get help from others;

a. Reach out to people at your nonprofit, who have used your services, or people in the nonprofit realm in general. They may be flattered you want them to contribute to your blog. You can even offer to write a post for them, as long as they give you some direction.

b. Find articles you know your audience will like and share them via your blog. You can add your own two cents to the post or simply post a summary and link to the post. Share the post and tag the contributor on your social media posts.

c. Have a post from last year that performed well but is out of date? Recycle it. Follow what the post did, but make it more relevant for today. Don’t just copy and paste, as duplicate content isn’t good for much.

Try out our nonprofit blogging strategy but also feel free to reach out to our team at ArcStone for help generating content ideas.

“A Little Help From Our Friends,” Nonprofit Marketing Video – success story by Accessible Space

nonprofit-marketing-success

As a nonprofit blog and digital web agency, we seek to help your nonprofit be more easily found online and better able to attract potential users, donors and volunteers. From there we strive to help you get there. We do so by sharing ideas, but we want to add to this by showing evidence that these ideas work.

Here is one such example from Minnesota-based nonprofit, Accessible Space.

A little background on the nonprofit:

Accessible Space Inc.’s mission is to provide accessible, affordable, assisted, supportive and independent living opportunities to persons with physical disabilities and brain injuries as well as seniors. This mission is accomplished through the development and cost-effective management of accessible, affordable housing, assisted/supportive/independent living and rehabilitation services. What started as five accessible group homes in Minnesota, has grown to a nationwide organization providing this service to over 3,000 individuals in 31 states.

Their Nonprofit Marketing Inspiration? Video.

Rather than simply relying on their mission statement, photos and an about us page, Accessible Space invested in a video for their website and fundraising purposes.

The video highlights three consumers who live in ASI housing or receive ASI services.  The six minutes of footage shows how their organization serves those in need. Watch the video below:

Why is video marketing such a success?

1. These clips are real and raw – they don’t just show the apartments or volunteers at an event, but Accessible Space sits down with people and asks them to open up about their experience.

“I hit a pretty dark place, was super depressed, didn’t think that I could do much and on top of that I had lost all of my jobs because they were all manual labor.” – Thabiso

“The fact that I’m alive is a miracle… ” – Susan

“The one thing that bothers me the most is that I have to have somebody help me for basically everything…” Mike

2. You learn about three very different situations in which Accessible Space’s services or housing could help. First there’s Thabiso, who was in an accident and suffered a complete spinal cord injury. Then there’s Susan who was physically abused to the point of “legally dead.” And finally there’s Mike who has had a disability since childhood.

This shows how multi-faceted the organization is much more effectively than several paragraphs could on a site page.

3. In the end this is an uplifting video. They don’t rely on inducing guilt to the viewer but rather they show how this organization changes lives for the better.

“A huge part of gaining back my independence was having Accessible Space come in and find me an all-accessible home where I can have a place for my son to hang out.” – Thabiso

“Things will work out in the end, especially if you have faith, but you can’t do it all on your own. When you get the help that can help you become who you are, that’s truly a blessing. – Thabiso

“If I weren’t living here.. I don’t know where I would be.” – Susan

I have learned and I live life to its fullest potential now.” – Mike

“As he got his apartment, it was a dream” – Mike’s mom

Take some notes from the success of Accessible Space. Remember to be authentic, share your story and inspire others to get involved. Please reach out to ArcStone if you’re interested in talking through video marketing for nonprofits.

The Nerdy Nonprofit Podcast – Why I Chose Nonprofit Over Corporate

Why-work-at-a-nonprofit

As explained in our “A Quick Recap” post, we attended the Nonprofit Tech and Communications Conference this spring and recorded a podcast with several attendees. The sum of their various roles and perspectives gave us an ample amount of content to digest. For the first of our series, we decided to focus in on excerpts regarding why these folks chose the nonprofit realm in the first place.

Here’s the podcast on our site, but you can also find it on Soundcloud,  iTunes, and Stitcher.

And a special thank you to our sponsor and conference host, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

You’ll hear from…

What’s most interesting to me is several of the interviewees had tried out the corporate world previously, but none of them expressed wanting to switch back. Some even claimed they would never again make the leap now that they’ve experienced nonprofit work.

Here’s a few of my favorite conclusions from Lisa’s interview on the main reasons people choose to go nonprofit:

1. They are motivated by a mission

  • They want to know they are making a difference – either they worked in the corporate world and felt frustrated with the focus on the bottom line, or they had a life change that shifted on what they wanted to focus
  • As Marcus put it, he wanted to know he was working for “some sort of greater good”
  • Robin expressed wanting to work for something rather than against it. She felt like at her previous job she was fighting against people rather than fighting for people
  • For Patrick, he said it was a more spiritual calling. As he phrased it, “I felt God knocking on my door… for once in my life I finally said yes”
  • Sara Gove explained she wanted to be able to answer the question, “why am I doing this, and what is the ultimate mission?” and feel good about the answer.

2. They appreciate transparency between “competitors”

  • Gail quoted a principle of Paul Wellstone: “we all do better when we all do better,” and added how she realized, “a healthy nonprofit community doesn’t start and end with your own organization.”
  • This being said, it’s refreshing to see nonprofits share their trade secrets because they want everyone to be doing well – a major difference from some companies

3. They are future-oriented

  • Gail pointed out she wanted to make a better community for her children. These people care deeply about what the world will look like tomorrow and want to commit their work to changing that today

4. They love to see others benefit from helping people

  • Amanda pointed to the stat that people who volunteer 5.2 times a month “self-identify as happier simply from the act of volunteering.” She said it was amazing to see people realizing the power of helping others.

5. It is so very rewarding

  • Amanda noted that working for a company that didn’t have a mission “wouldn’t fulfill a passion” in her. “I would never want to do anything that damages people and to work in an organization that’s whole entire goal is to help people at their most vulnerable time is important to me”
  • As Gail put it, “I’ve worked for nonprofits and I’ve worked for corporate, and I’ll pick nonprofits every time.”

Listen to the full podcast on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher.

Ready for more? Part 2: “Which social media networks should my nonprofit be on?”