Effective Lead Generation Strategies for Charities
Lead generation is a technique that’s been used in the wider for-profit sector for some time. As soon as businesses realised that customers wanted brand interactions that went above and beyond the final point of sale, marketers started using lead generation strategies to not only acquire new customers but to keep those customers warm and engaged.
Today’s brand interactions aren’t just about getting customers to buy. Sure the purchase is the ultimate end goal, and repeat purchases are the holy grail, but today’s brand interactions are an attempt to cultivate a customer through an experience that deepens over time until that brand becomes an extension of the customer’s own brand - who they are, what they believe in and how they want others to see them. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
In the charity sector, lead generation is just as effective. Simply replace ‘lead’ for ‘supporter’ and you can already see how charities can use this approach to engage with more supporters than ever before.
Lead generation is the ultimate ‘top of mind’ marketing strategy that enables any brand (commercial or charity) to consciously drive positive customer engagement opportunities. However, for a lead generation strategy to be effective, there are a few hints and tips to follow.
In this week’s blog, we’ll take a look at the ways a lead generation strategy can help your charity to build its community of supporters - ultimately leading to a more engaged and loyal audience of volunteers, ambassadors and donors.
Get to know the lead generation funnel
Step back and take a look at the bigger picture. What is the end goal that your charity is trying to achieve in terms of its ideal supporter audience? The easiest way to get to grips with considering the bigger picture is to think about the journey in the form of a funnel, as illustrated in the image below.
This is the journey your charity wants all potential supporters to take, working their way through each stage until they eventually end up in the ideal position at the bottom of the funnel. Potential supporters must travel through each stage so that their experience is maximised as much as possible.
Then, once a supporter reaches the pinnacle stage of their engagement, make sure that your charity’s strategy extends beyond the funnel. For example, once a lead becomes a donor, what will their journey look like? Which team will be responsible for their engagement? And how will your charity retain these supporters so that they not only make their first donation but that they become a long-term member of your charity’s extended community?
Know your desired audience
Who is your charity’s ideal supporter? It’s crucially important to know who your ideal audience is so that you can target them with the right kind of content, through the right channels, as well as receiving the most from your efforts (and budget).
Here are some questions to ask to get to know your ideal audience.
What are their demographics - age, gender, location, etc?
What channels do they use most - email, social media, post, etc?
What motivates them to engage with your charity?
What intrinsic benefits do supporters receive from engaging with your charity?
What kind of content are they looking for to deepen their engagement?
It might be that your charity is looking to engage with multiple audiences so make sure to answer these questions for each.
Start creating content and pick your channels for distribution
Once you know what kind of funnel you’re creating and who your desired audience is, the next step is to start generating content. Using the diagram from before, we’ve provided a few examples of the types of content that your charity can produce to engage supporters at each stage of their journey. Note that while each piece of content plays its own role in the original journey, the content will also play an important role in the continual engagement of your committed supporters. This is called a dual engagement content strategy.
But what is content without a platform for distribution? This is where getting to know your audiences starts to pay off. Have a younger audience who engage with mostly visual content? Start posting and engaging with your community on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Have an older audience who engage with content that’s written rather than purely visual? Use channels such as Facebook, email and postal mail to reach them in the most effective ways.
While social media isn’t the only channel charities can use to generate leads, understanding which channels are best for your organisation will be important to your strategy. This report from market research specialists GlobalWebIndex provides a great overview of current social media trends. Including, audience behaviours, channel preferences and how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted social media behaviours.
Finally, and most importantly, make sure that 100% of the content that your charity distributes is available on its website. Content may be promoted through other channels, such as social media, postal mail and email, however, your goal is to get as many people to your website as possible. Your charity’s website should also be supported by a decent SEO and retargeting strategy that helps your charity to engage with more supporters through both an organic and paid-for advertising strategy.
Create a lead scoring system
With your lead generation strategy working effectively, your charity will be well on its way towards building a community of engaged and loyal supporters. The downside to this is that sometimes it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees with so many potential supporters in your midst.
To clear the way, and to focus on those who are the best potential leads, a lead scoring system can be really helpful. Firstly, lead scoring can help your charity to focus its efforts and resources on those most likely to make a gift, volunteer or those who might just be your biggest champions. Secondly, it can help you to create a funnel that’s based on the quality of leads, rather than the number of leads.
This blog from Hubspot can help you to learn more about creating a lead scoring system.
Evaluate your strategy
Finally, as with any strategy, it’s important to take time to evaluate how effective your charity’s lead generation strategy is and how it’s performing against desired goals and objectives. It can take a bit of time for a lead generation strategy to pick up the pace and for results to be seen, so make sure that you give the strategy the time it needs. We recommend that your charity evaluates its strategy at quarterly intervals, with key check-ins taking place every six and 12 months.
Here are some questions to ask during these evaluation moments.
How is the strategy performing against key metrics, objectives and goals?
What is the ROI at each stage of the funnel?
Once a potential supporter enters the top of your funnel, how long until they become a committed supporter?
Once a lead becomes a committed supporter, what is their average lifetime value - in both time and value?
What challenges are you facing and where can improvements/investments be made?
What are the strategy’s current strengths?
With a well thought out and properly executed lead generation strategy your charity will be well on its way to connecting and engaging with even more supporters - building a community that’s continually inspired by the cause your charity represents.
Take the time now to think about how a strategy like this can strengthen your charity’s potential reach and how it may affect future relationships with your community of supporters. Collaborate with colleagues across your charity to find out the best ways to integrate a lead generation strategy that works for every part of your organisation - then get started.
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