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10 Marketing Automation Terms and What They Mean for Nonprofits

By December 12, 2016

By: Kirsten Kippen, cross-posted from Idealist Consulting

We’ve been excited about marketing automation for a while now (search our blog for marketing automation and check out our lifecycle marketing webinar for some background), and it’s starting to catch on in a big way in the nonprofit community. We were thrilled to launch our free marketing automation assessments for qualified nonprofits just in time for Dreamforce, and are excited to keep providing strategy and implementation for those businesses and nonprofits that are ready to take the next step with their marketing.

If you’re wondering what marketing automation is, or only have a vague idea of what’s involved, you’re not alone. It’s a brave new world of marketing, and there are lots of moving pieces that make up this complex method of inbound communication. Getting to know the following elements makes for a great first step. If you know and employ these tools, you’re probably a prime candidate for full marketing automation through a solution like Pardot or HubSpot.

1. CTAs

A call-to-action or CTA is a text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a website visitor to visit a landing page and become a lead. Some examples of CTAs could be “Donate now”, “Join today”, or “Subscribe”. Make your CTAs as direct and bold as possible.

2. Forms

Where you collect a contact’s information, and ideally sync this with your CRM fields. Typically nonprofit forms should at a minimum include first name, last name, email address, and state. Beyond that, you can collect whatever information is most helpful to you but (this is key) beware of too many form fields as this may scare your visitors away. People are more likely to give you more information if they perceive a high value in what you are giving them in return.

3. Landing Pages

A landing page is a website page containing a form that is used for gathering interested visitors into your fold. This page revolves around an offer, such as an event registration, ebook, or a webinar, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange for the valuable offer. Our latest whitepaper on creating a CRM budget lives behind the form on this landing page.

4. Social Media Publishing

A centralized place to publish social media posts in bulk across multiple platforms (most commonly Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram). Social media provides nonprofits with additional channels to spread reach, increase growth, and reach organizational goals.

5. SEO/Keyword tools

SEO is the practice of enhancing where a webpage appears in search results. Keywords are topics that web pages get indexed for in search results by engines like Google. Nonprofits can consider key aspects of their mission or programs as potential keywords, and use tools through Google AdWords (or just google “free keyword tool”) to find good terms to target. These should be woven throughout your website to drive more organic traffic.

6. Website Visitor Tracking

Keep tabs on how many (and which) people are visiting the different pages of your website, posts on your blog, and shares on your social media. Analyzing these numbers will key you into which types of communication are most successful, and which constituents are most engaged. When visitors look at multiple pages, fill out forms, or submit information on a landing page, it contributes to their overall lead score.

7. Lead Scoring

Lead scoring lets you assign a value to potential donors and constituents based on the actions they take. Once leads reach a previously determined threshold or tipping point, they are qualified to be handed over to the development team. Outreach and marketing teams can determine these qualifying factors by analyzing the attributes that reliable donors or good customers have in common, including (commercial or personal) demographics, email and social engagement, and online behavior. If leads are jumping through the hoops you’ve laid out for them (reading your blog posts, engaging with you socially, downloading your resources, and filling out forms that detail their needs), they’re engaged and much more likely to respond positively to a personal phone call

8. Drip Campaigns

Little by little, drip campaigns provide potential constituents, participants, or donors with information that keeps them informed and engaged. Drip campaigns develop a series of communication (generally email) that bring new constituents in, keep them involved, and motivate them to continue or enhance their participation. It brings relevant resources to leads wherever they are in that journey and helps you stay top-of-mind.

9. Persona Profiling

Fundraisers, volunteers, advocates, and donors all have different network sizes, skills, and motivating factors. Identifying profiles in your CRM will help you be smart about outreach when every moment counts.While grouping donors by giving level in your database is often the first step, this is rarely how donors think of themselves. Consider the last time you gave to a local organization: do you think of yourself as “one-time donor”? Likely not. You probably think of yourself more in terms of demographic data and interests: where you live, how many kids you have, what media you pay attention to, etc. You are much more than your giving level.

So consider what it would look like to start thinking of Donor Types in terms of Donor Personas. To do this, you will need to conduct some interviews and talk with your co-workers to tease out some common characteristics between donors of each level. If you need some help with this, look into our CRM Starter Kit, which includes a Fillable Data Sheet and How to Create Donor Profiles resources.

10. Blog

Blogging is a vital part of an advanced marketing plan as it reaches audiences at every different level within the constituent journey. Helpful articles introduce outsiders to your organization, establish you as a thought leader in your industry, and leads to increased website traffic and lead generation. Blogs allow you to establish your organization’s voice, adding a personal touch to your mass communication. Blogs are also a great platform for showing the effects of your work and sharing inspiring success stories. If you’re new to blogging, start small with a post once per week or even once per month, and get into an established rhythm and find a few contributors. This will help you tremendously once you start marketing automation because you’ll have a lot more content to pull from. For some inspiration, check out this list of the best nonprofit blogs on the web (they might surprise you!).

These practices take time, patience, and support to get up and running. If you’ve mastered these steps and are ready to launch into full-blown marketing automation or would like to implement some of these tools into your current practice step by step, we’re here to help. Download our marketing automation whitepaper if you’re not sure what move you should make next. Regardless of where you are, we can help visualize and attain the next levels of your communication and outreach goals.