Search engine optimization, blogs and RSS are all the rage these days for marketers. But how can they best be used? This was the topic addressed in the session “Blogs, Podcasts and RSS: New Tools for Customer Acquisition and CRM” at the Direct Marketing Association’s 2006 Annual Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco last week.
Stephan Spencer, president and founder of New Zealand-based Web design and consulting company Netconcepts and a co-presenter of the session, says that these technologies can be used by for-profits and nonprofits alike.
Blogs — which are basically Web sites made up of journal-like entries — can be powerful tools for nonprofits in that they allow them to convey a message in an authentic, personal way that may not be possible to achieve on their main Web sites. Organizations can create individual or group blogs that give an insider’s view on the organization’s activities, mission, passion, etc. Blogs are also a strong search engine optimization strategy because you can focus on keywords that are picked up by search engines. For example, if you are a healthcare organization focused on a particular disease and you want more visibility, you can write blog posts about that disease and the programs that your organization offers related to it. As a result, your organization’s rankings on the search engines can improve.
Spencer says when former President Jimmy Carter took a trip to West Africa in 2004, he wanted to keep a trip diary and post it on the Web site of his humanitarian organization, The Carter Center. Spencer convinced The Carter Center to have Carter do a blog rather than create a standard online diary. The result was a number of inbound links to the blog from outside Web sites as well as press mentions. A key to a successful blog, as evidenced by Carter’s experience, is to have it done by someone who has interesting things to say or is newsworthy.