Building an Effective Marketing Funnel That Won’t Scare Donors
Fundraising has changed drastically in the face of social media and mobile applications. Now donors are constantly overwhelmed by messaging. This could be from their friends and family, sponsored posts, or even organically delivered messaging from your own organization. An effective marketing funnel is an essential aspect of getting donations. The big question is how you do this without scaring off donors.
As such, the digital era has brought many more opportunities to reach potential donors and new ways to collect their gifts, but it’s also brought on new challenges and a lot of competition. Like every industry, fundraising is now globalized, with donors being able to reach more causes than ever from around-the-world, and vice-versa. For all of these reasons, nonprofits are finding it more and more pressing to begin viewing donation collection from a business perspective that is managed and measured.
With this perspective comes a number of new strategies that you can implement to improve your collections, too, and a marketing funnel is only the beginning, but it’s a core piece of your strategy that can make-or-break your digital collection efforts. Here’s what goes into an effective funnel for a nonprofit.
Take a Donor-Centric Approach
When it comes to marketing as a nonprofit, taking a donor-centric approach is an absolute must. In other words, this means avoiding the act of interrupting your donors and instead inviting them. As an example, many organizations invite people to participate in fundraisers only after they have expressed interest in other ways, like by signing a petition. Alternatively, other organizations push petition signers to buy merchandise.
In order to achieve this approach, you need what’s known as a “marketing funnel,” which (as the name implies) naturally helps donors flow from any number of starting points, like a page on your website, down to one specific action you want people to complete, like making a donation. The framework of a marketing funnel helps to take someone from being vaguely aware of your cause to financially backing it and even spreading the word with people they know.
With landing pages, email campaigns, and other methods working together, your marketing funnel will:
- Capture the interest of potential donors (“leads”)
- Nurture the interest of captured leads
- Convert the interest of nurtured leads
- Engage converted donors for advocacy
To follow is a more in-depth breakdown of all of these stages.
After a person expresses interest in your cause, be it by visiting your website, looking you up online, or liking your content on social media, it’s time to drop them into the top of the funnel and try to capture that interest so that you can go on to nurturing it. A direct email is one of the most effective ways to capture interest, but how do you get a lead’s email?
Getting someone interested in your cause to sign a petition with their name and email is highly effective, but you may also entice them to sign up to a valuable email newsletter. In general, the exchange will require you to offer the person value in some form. This is called a “lead magnet” and it can come in the form of a discount on event registration or membership; a free resource, like an eBook or guide; the chance to attend a webinar; or a giveaway of some sort.
Whatever you offer on your landing page, once someone enters their email, you should see that as them practically raising their hand as if to say, “I want to be more involved with your organization.”
When nurturing captured leads, email will prove to be your most powerful means of reaching the right people at the right time, and with the right words. Those are the three pieces of the puzzle that you must put together to make sure your lead nurturing is effective, and the right software is a must to pull it off.
To make sure these things come together, you must also practice list segmentation, so you know how you got a person’s email to begin with. This should impact when and how you reach out to them. It will also allow you to tailor your messaging to their interests. You can garner this information from petitions they signed, resources they downloaded and more.
As far as timing goes, you should be as quick as possible to begin engaging a lead. When they have given you their email for whatever reason, your organization is on their mind at that point, but it won’t stay there forever. Keep on top of it. You should send an immediate follow-up email, and then more. The right email drip sequence will nurture their interest properly. Make sure to keep your emails short, interesting, and on-topic.
There are multiple considerations you must keep in mind when you finally get to the point of asking for a donation. Not everyone will convert, but you can up the chances by paying special attention to these factors.
- Relevance: Are you asking the right person and are you asking them in the right way?
- Timing: Are you asking at the right time?
- Feelings: Are you evoking emotion with your ask?
- Mobility: Can you take donations from any device?
With the right nurturing, many people will click through to your donation page when you finally get to that ask. Of course, there are still hurdles that stand in the way of them actually donating. That’s why you must structure your donation page in a way that supports and drives the conversion.
You can do this by framing the ask with an impactful story and photographs that help tell that story. You should evoke emotional connections and then help the potential donor feel how they can make an impact for the cause. Turn them into a “hero” for supporting your work and help them feel engaged in the narrative directly. Don’t say “donate,” but rather get specific about the difference they will make. Maybe it’s “Give clean water” or “Feed a hungry child.”
As another tip, when it comes to the design of your donation page, be sure that the sidebar and other distractions are out of the picture. Everything should flow from top to bottom with a strong call-to-action to donate at the end.
The further engagement that comes after the conversion is equally as important, if not more so, than all the work you put into converting the lead. The followed engagement is important for retaining donors and it also helps the relationship go beyond a simple monetary gift. For new donors, you should begin by inspiring them to spread the word about your organization, which will help attract new leads to the funnel.
Beyond that, you should also seek to encourage advocacy. It will take a good deal of time to turn a donor into an actual advocate for your organization, but through on-going interaction and showing passion for the cause you’ve convinced them to support, you can empower them to volunteer and interact in whole new ways, helping to further support your organization and convincing them to tell others to do the same.
When building and utilizing a marketing funnel, it may seem that a lead’s actions are linear. You may think everyone enters at the “awareness” phase and then moves sequentially through the other steps. In reality, leads can enter at any stage. This makes it less like a funnel and more like a vortex.