Content Marketing Can be King For Donors

January 14, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

More than nine out of 10 nonprofit marketers, or 92 percent, use content marketing, but only 26 percent consider themselves effective at it. One-quarter has a documented content strategy. Those are some of the results of a survey released by the Content Marketing Institute of Cleveland, Ohio, and Charleston, S.C. tech firm Blackbaud.

The survey garnered responses from 1,714 North American nonprofit professionals during July and August 2013. They rated their effectiveness on a scale of one through five (five being most effective), as well as detailed tactics used, social media platforms, challenges faced, goals and other metrics.

Just over half, or 52 percent, of the respondents rated themselves middle-of-the-road in terms of effectiveness with a 3. Another 52 percent of those with a documented strategy rated themselves as a 4 or 5, compared with just 14 percent of those without a strategy. Some 86 percent of the most effective marketers had a strategy, compared with 46 percent of the least effective.

The most effective marketers use 13 content marketing tactics, regularly leverage five social media platforms and spend 30 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing. Contrast that to the least effective marketers: nine tactics, three social media platforms and 12 percent of the marketing budget devoted to content marketers.

The most popular tactic is in-person events, with 88 percent of respondents utilizing events. Social media (other than blogs) came next, at 86 percent, followed by articles on their own websites at 85 percent. E-newsletters were 84 percent, followed by video at 71 percent.

The most effective marketers use video much more frequently than the least effective, at 80 percent versus 60 percent, as well as articles on others’ websites (59 percent versus 38 percent), blogs (58 percent versus 38 percent), infographics (43 percent versus 18 percent) and online presentations (43 percent versus 19 percent).

In terms of social media, Facebook is by far the most popular platform, with 91 percent using. Twitter is second at 69 percent, followed by YouTube at 65 percent and LinkedIn at 53 percent. Google+ rounds out the top five, though at a big drop-off from the fourth spot at 27 percent.

However, marketers are uncertain as to the social media platforms’ effectiveness. Users are on the fence about Facebook, with 58 percent believing it effective and 42 percent saying it’s less effective. Facebook was the only platform weighted toward effective; Twitter’s split was 43 percent effective to 57 percent less effective, with a 41 percent to 59 percent split for YouTube.

Nonprofit professionals most often cite lack of time (69 percent) and lack of budget (67 percent) as their biggest challenge. Some 37 percent of the most effective professionals struggle with producing engaging content, and 22 percent feel they have inadequate knowledge and training. Those numbers rise to 62 percent and 71 percent, respectively, for the least effective marketers.

On average, 65 percent of the respondents report producing more or significantly more content in the 12 months prior to being survey. One-quarter said they produced the same amount, with 4 percent saying they produced less and 6 percent unsure.

Likewise, 38 percent of respondents will either increase or significantly increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, with 44 percent saying their budgets will stay the same and 15 percent unsure. Only 6 percent will slash their budgets in the next 12 months. On average, content marketing makes up one-fifth of respondents’ marketing budgets.

Half of the respondents keep all of their content marketing in-house. A mere 1 percent outsource all of their content marketing, and 49 percent outsource some. Design is the most cited element to be outsourced, at 70 percent, followed by writing (27 percent) and content distribution and syndication (26 percent).

Fundraising is the top content marketing goal, cited by 79 percent of respondents. Correspondingly, 66 percent said increased fundraising was the most important metric to measure content marketing success. Other goals include brand awareness at 73 percent and engagement at 65 percent. Increased web traffic and social media sharing rounded out the top three metrics at 53 percent and 49 percent.