4 Rules for Integrating Marketing Channels in 2023
Heading into 2023, large and small nonprofits have more marketing channels available to them than ever before. There are more than 128 social media sites available, drawing in billions of consumers. It’s too much for any one marketer to know or understand — and that’s just social media, which is one part of a larger digital marketing strategy, and that is one part of an overall marketing strategy.
So now, in 2023, it’s not a question about which marketing channels are available for a nonprofit, but instead, it is about which marketing channels are best for your nonprofit and why?
An emerging requirement for a marketing team is to discern and understand marketing channels’ strengths and weaknesses, and how the channels connect to support the overall goals of the nonprofit. Smaller, local nonprofits have a different set of channels that are appropriate for their causes and scale compared to a broader, fully-integrated multichannel approach suited for national organizations.
For any-sized marketing team, the choice of how to knit together the right blend of marketing channels has to be driven by a plan and understanding some fundamental rules of integrating channels. Of course, once you know the rules, then you can break them, but understanding these rules first gives your team the best chance of success in stitching together the messaging, calls to action and inter-linking tactics.
1. Know the Job
Knowing the job of each channel is a simple and extremely effective way to place that channel in the overall marketing plan. The job refers to the very specific thing that you want the recipient to do when receiving the message.
Like people, marketing channels have different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what a channel does well or poorly is the key to positioning that channel to be effective. For example, digital and offline display advertising — online ads, billboards, bus wraps, etc. — do a great job of conveying a quick, emotionally powerful image and headline, usually with an easy-to-read button, website or QR code.
But please don’t ask it to create direct donations. Getting a direct donation is not the job of display advertising. The only metrics you should ask from display advertising are click-throughs and activations from the call-to-action on the ad — not the donation.
The dual-purpose job of display advertising is to:
- Create a brand impression.
- Move the user to another channel that will deepen and expand the message.
Those other channels — landing page, website — have their own dual job of:
- Communicating persuasively to intrigue and interest the donor
- Moving the potential donor closer or directly to an action (donation, volunteer form, etc.)
Different channels have different strengths. Direct mail is excellent at engaging recipients and driving response, whereas social media is wonderful for sharing stories, and garnering likes and interest.
One easy tip is to physically write down — in a grid — the job you’re asking of each channel you’re considering. It could be to fill a form, go to the website, subscribe to a newsletter, become more aware, etc. It will help you connect the channels together and tie them into rule No. 2.
2. Draw The Journey
I’ve mentioned donor journeys before, so let’s go deeper into this rule.
The donor journey is like any customer journey that’s always existed in any marketplace in any time of history. So whether you’re buying chewing gum or a new car, we all go through:
- Advocacy (for the best brands)
Depending on your nonprofit, your journey might have a different emphasis or starting point. For example, larger nonprofits have less to worry about with awareness — except when the organization wants to make folks better aware of what it does or how it has sharpened its focus. The larger nonprofit probably begins its donor journey with interest, whereas a smaller nonprofit might need to begin with awareness and clearly tell the audience what it does.
Thinking about the jobs and journeys together will help you make a table or whiteboard sketch to align the different jobs of each channel with each specific stage of the donor journey.
For example, a display ad billboard has a QR code or easy website (awareness), taking donors to a landing page that has more copy about the impact and social good the nonprofit is providing (interest and consideration), along with a “Donate” call-to-action button for a monthly recurring donation, one-time or a round up option (decision-making and action).
It doesn’t have to be just a donation. A newsletter subscription is a good secondary action that creates more opportunity for consideration — where the links to action are embedded in the emails.
Aligning jobs with the journey allows your marketing team to be more intentional as to which channels will collectively serve the nonprofit best. Like a team itself, the channels work together to create the full opportunity to attract and retain new and existing donors.
And to manage and implement the channels most effectively, of course, your team has to master rule No. 3.
3. Acknowledge the Skills
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the marketing channels run side by side with understanding the skills of your marketing team. Content, blogs and long-form letters need good storytelling. Those channels’ jobs are to pull readers into your mission and worldview. Contrarily, short-form Instagram posts need to capture a moment, create an impression and have a link in the bio that gets someone somewhere. Implementing those tactics successfully requires different skills. It could be that your small team can execute on all of the channels successfully — or it could be that you need to outsource to channel experts.
With the sub-specialization of marketing, there are going to be experts and agencies that focus on one aspect of marketing. Take advantage of that new reality, especially with social media and digital marketing. The fine-tuning needed to optimize those channels is rarely an in-house skill.
By lining up the jobs and applying them to customer journeys, it could be that you’ll need specific agency or other out-of-house experts to line up strengths that you might not have. Outside of agencies, Upwork and Fiverr are excellent resources to find and vet specific talent, and you can work with a single freelancer again and again for project consistency.
For example, finding a talent that specifically focuses on online digital ads is a great use of time and budget if you don’t have that expertise in-house. Then your team can plan the journey, messaging and job of a retargeting ad, and outsource the actual design to an expert.
4. Be a Fan of the Plan
As mentioned, set up a table that has the job, journey and if you have the skills to implement in house.
Not only does this plan-making create authentic and helpful discussions about the marketing activity, but it also engenders more confidence in the team so members can honestly say “We know what we’re doing.” It’s amazing how many teams are uncertain about what and why they’re doing what they’re doing, so this simple process eliminates that uncomfortable situation.
The process of aligning the jobs to the journey to the skills will reveal how any-sized marketing team can successfully integrate marketing channels without scrambling to do too much, or launch programs without a clear rationale. Plus, it creates some predictive goals for specific metrics of success from each channel’s job.
Because marketing is a never-ending journey of constant renewal and upkeep, having this simple, one-page plan keeps your team focused, and also creates more patience and understanding from leadership.
By doing this grid with the three rules, you’ll give confidence to the leadership and the board that you have a deliberate method to drive new and existing donors to engage and act.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: Digital Marketing Tactics to Combat a Looming Recession and Declining Donations
Chris Foster is the vice president of business development at Modern Postcard.