There has been a growing buzz about content marketing in the last couple of years, and more and more businesses and non-profit organisations are turning towards this method of spreading their message. But is it really as effective as people are saying, and if it is, how can you use it to your charity’s best advantage? First, it helps to understand exactly what we mean when we’re talking about content marketing.
What is content marketing?
This type of marketing relies on providing people with interesting, useful and engaging information, that talks about a variety of subjects These subjects could include stories about what your organisation does, projects you’ve been involved in, results you’ve had during the last period and so on. Online content can include blog posts, videos, infographics and social media, while offline content can include magazine articles and print newsletters, among others
Content marketing, at its core, is about getting people interested and involved, to get them actively interacting with you, rather than simply sitting back and passively noticing that you have a fundraising campaign happening. In this way, it differs quite a bit from traditional advertising and marketing.
For example, in the past, if you had a campaign, you would get radio and television advertisements made, posters and flyers printed, advertisements placed in the local and national news and magazines. People would see or hear these advertisements and choose whether or not to donate - not much active involvement besides opening up their wallets.
Today, however, people want to feel more actively involved in the world around them, which means they want to know more and see moe about the companies and organisations they give money to, whether it’s a charitable donation or buying products or services. They follow them on social media, and ask questions about posts and projects. They read the blogs and articles online and share them on Facebook, or comment on them.
Thanks to content marketing, people are considerably more aware of charities’ activities, and they are more emotionally invested in what’s happening, long before they make their donations. And, because of that ongoing interaction, they are more likely to make repeat donations or get involved on other levels, such as volunteering.
How charities are using content
Over the last few years, charities have started using content marketing to great effect, and in the last year, content marketing among non-profit organisations has seen a significant boost. The biggest climber has been infographics, which leapt from 53% of non-profit marketers using them, to 71% this year.
But what are marketers hoping to achieve with content marketing?
Eighty-two percent of them say engagement is the most important goal, with brand awareness coming a close second for 79% of marketers, and client retention and loyalty not far behind at 74% importance.
Interestingly, fewer non-profit marketers feel that organisations are effective at content marketing than before, with the percentage dropping from 35% last year to 26% this year. But could this be because people are becoming more aware of how content marketing works, and judging effectiveness more accurately? After all, they do rate each particular type of tactic as more effective than before, with case studies’ effectiveness climbing from 42% to an impressive 63%.
The biggest challenge, however - and unsurprisingly - is budget. The good news, though, is that this is becoming less of a problem, as charities become more adept at content marketing, with only 45% of marketers citing it as a challenge, compared to last year’s 56%.
Choosing the right tactics
Using a good mix of content marketing techniques seems to be the way to go, by including a balance of written, picture-based and video content, and by using a wide variety of channels, including social media, websites, and print media.
Video, especially in combination with social media, is fast becoming the rising star of non-profit content marketing. Several charities, including Cancer Research UK, the London Zoo, Bread for the World, and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, have all had considerable success with video-based marketing in the last twelve months
Following the runaway success of its 2015 YouTube fundraiser, which saw vloggers Joe Suggs and Caspar Lee raise a whopping £10 544 in just one day, the charity has started experimenting with personalised videos via Twitter, and has seen a staggering 300% growth in engagement as a result.
Video of the new-born Sumatran Tigers at the London Zoo has reached over a half-million views, far surpassing any of the Zoo’s previous video content, and a follow-up video of the cubs’ first trip outside was views over 12 000 times in just one hour. By including text on their videos to cater to the 85% of Facebook viewers who watch video with the sound off, they doubled their views of videos of the Hanuman langur primate compared to similar, un-texted, video of the Komodo Dragon.
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is lending his voice to video produced by the Huffington Post in its upcoming video series on men’s mental health. This November initiative, named “Building Modern Men,” will feature video blogs, original video series and written articles.
In terms of effectiveness, non-profit marketers are saying that video is even more effective that social media on its own, with an effectiveness rating of 65% and growing. If your organisation hasn’t started using video in its content marketing efforts yet, it could be time to give it some serious thought.