When nonprofits are looking for new ways to engage donors, increase newsletter subscriptions and the like, one of the first places we look is their blog. We are huge advocates of nonprofit content marketing and provide as much guidance as we can on how to get started and how to measure success. However, it’s sometimes hard to tell if your nonprofit blog is beneficial or not. Is it truly engaging your donors, volunteers and community, or does it actually bore them? Let’s take a look.
To help us get started with this tricky self-assessment, we’ll follow the advice of expert marketer, Andrew Warner of ContentRanked. His full post is worth a reading if you have the time—”3 Tell-Tale Signs Your Content Is Boring The Life Out Of People“—but to cut to the chase and apply it to nonprofits, here’s our summary.
Where to look to better assess the quality of your nonprofit blog
For starters: Comments
Take a look at the comment section of your blog. Are there any? If there are, are they facilitating community or are they pretty sporadic and lackluster? A comment-less blog isn’t a tell-tale sign you’re failing, but if you can boost this section, you can better foster a sense of engagement through your website alone. What’s more, you can learn about what type of content your audience likes and answer their needs through your ongoing efforts.
To boost the comment section of your blog you can…
1. Tell more stories.
Storytelling is one of the best tools in the hands of a nonprofit blogger. You have far more interesting content than most industries considering you’re working with real people and solving their struggles each day.
“Stories transform dull tips into sparkling information and sticky advice. They turn lackluster lessons into engaging adventures. And what’s more… stories help you stand out from the drab blogging crowd. Your content becomes unique because nobody tells the same stories as you.” – Henneke Duistermaat, Enchanting Marketing
2. Be sure to answer questions
There are several ways people can find your blog—a referral from someone else, social media, email newsletters—but one of the best, cheapest ways is through organic search. This means they came to Google (or whatever search tool they use) and typed out a search query. For a nonprofit audience persona, this might include questions like “best nonprofits for volunteering in Minneapolis” or “donate to Hurricane Harvey.” If your nonprofit is speaking to those needs, your audience should be able to find you. It’s hard to answer these questions and compete with just your website “about us” content. Create a series of engaging blog posts and answer the questions of your audience, to increase your odds of being found.
What’s great about this Q/A type of content is it feels like you’re speaking directly to the reader. This makes them more likely to talk back, leaving comments and perhaps even asking more questions.
3. Ask for more!
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in nonprofit marketing strategy we forget the obvious. If people aren’t leaving comments, maybe it’s because they haven’t been asked to or they don’t even realize they can. In your blog post, include a message asking for feedback or pose a question.
Next up: Social media shares
Social sharing holds a lot of marketing ROI potential. You don’t have to invest any time or money if people are doing the promotion for you. If they aren’t sharing your blog content, you’ll want to try a few tactics.
1. Write content that is share-worthy
Write content about things that will make your reader appear engaged and/or educated if they share it. It may sound shallow, but as, “Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share on Social Media” points out, people often share content based on what their friends will think of them. For your nonprofit, this could be pretty simple. If there’s an update in your field—such as the latest on the happenings with the AIDs epidemic—write a summary of it that speaks directly to your audience, like “things every millennial should know about” ___ new law.
2. Ask for shares!
Just like we mentioned above, sometimes all you need to do is ask for more engagement. In your blog content, ask that people share with their network so that more people know they can help your cause. If you’re struggling to find ways to do so tastefully, here are some email templates for infuencer content marketing from The Entrepreneur to help.
Also, if you don’t have a social sharing tool such as Custom Share Buttons or AddThis on your site, it’s harder for your audience to share. Make it easy and enable a WordPress plugin or have your developer build it into your site.
Finally: Bounce rate
Go to your Google Analytics and take a look at your bounce rate. If it’s high, that doesn’t necessarily mean your content is boring. In fact, it can mean a couple things, so be sure to read about commonly misinterpreted Google Analytics metrics first. However, if it is high across all your blog posts, we might be onto something.
1. Link up
This could easily be fixed by linking up your blog posts. Rather than writing one blog post, disconnected from the subject matter of all your other ones, create a three-part series or include links to other valuable content.
2. Ensure your site is designed optimally
If you know your content is great and you’ve done work on link building, you may just need to revisit your user experience. At ArcStone we start with a site audit to assess how your site is designed and if it is done so with UX best practices in mind. Contact us for help or use this worksheet we created to walk you through your own website audit.
It’s awesome what a few little tweaks to your nonprofit content marketing strategy can do to increase engagement across your nonprofit. Try these tips and if you’re needing some help, reach out to our nonprofit marketing experts at ArcStone.