Version with Notes: Grow Your Member Base with a Compelling Content Marketing Strategy


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This presentation is intended to provide a high level overview of content marketing for new comers or those trying to translate their content marketing over to the web.

As Presented at the Assistance League Texas Networking Conference 2013, hosted by the Montgomery County Chapter.

Every attempt was made to credit my sources, however if you believe I missed one - please let me know.

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Version with Notes: Grow Your Member Base with a Compelling Content Marketing Strategy

  1. 1. Grow Your Member Basewith a Compelling ContentMarketing StrategyPresented at the 2013Texas Networking Conference .comConnect with Sarah on LinkedIn: Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmworthyEmail Sarah at Presentation Topic: Grow Your Member Base with a Compelling Content Marketing StrategySarah will outline the major pieces needed for a successful content strategy for membership organizations. Shell answer your questions about what is web content marketing and how toget started, as well as how to keep your content fresh and engaging for your members and volunteers.Sarah will also bring examples from numerous nonprofit organizations that shes worked with to develop and implement web content strategies to give you real world case studies.Takeaways:1) Sarah will give you specific tips to help your Assistance League chapter increase memberships and increase traffic to your thrift stores.2) Youll learn what works best, what stats you should be measuring and the (free and low-tech) tools she recommends for nonprofit organizations.3) Youll learn what other nonprofit organizations are doing successfully with their content marketing and how to apply it to your web marketing.1
  2. 2. .comSarah M. Worthy | @sarahmworthy | CXO,1. Content Marketing Overview2. Content Tailored to Your Members3. Tips and Tools to Keep It FreshOur Agenda.comThanks forComing OutThis Morning!--> Briefly discuss the definition of content marketing, and why it works so well to attract and retain an audience (your members, yourcommunity, your own staff and volunteers)--> Outline the major pieces of a Content Strategy:a) audience personas --> who are you trying to reach and engage with?b) setting goals --> ie: retain members, attract new members, increase thrift store traffic/salesc) editorial calendar --> consistency is key and this helps you plan ahead / know what’s neededd) measure and adjust --> develop a baseline, measure your results regularly, identify where you are doing it well and do more of thatand do less of what’s not workingtip: don’t be afraid to test new things, and test old things that worked | stopped working after a while because what’s old can also beretro/interesting--> Avoiding stale content syndrome | write compelling content that grows your member base2
  3. 3. How can we keep it interestingwhen our message is the samefrom year to year?How can we increasememberships and memberengagement?How can we increasetraffic to our thriftstores?How can we increasememberships and memberengagement?How can we appeal tofuture members?Sound Familiar?Some questions I got from Vicki and Colleen about your top questions about content marketing.3
  4. 4. Great Content Marketing is InclusiveNonprofits have a distinct advantage with content marketing, and thats because you have a unique story thats not the "status-quo" of the corporaterevenue/money first motto. Much like the U.S. military - theyre selling hero-making, and freedom. And they want you to join along.This message is much more inclusive than the typical ones you see - however this trend is shifting as even the big corporate brands are seeing the realvalue of converting a customer into a member and raving fan within their organization and not just converting new sales of their products.The main thing to keep in mind is that the content should grab the attention of the target audience by giving them value for their time. The audienceshould be in a position to answer the question, ‘What can I take away from this message? What have I gained from the time I invested in viewing/reading this content?’Defined:“Content marketing is a marketing technique ofdeveloping and publishing:--> relevant, valuable content (to your audience)--> that attracts and engages with--> your clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving action that aligns with your Organizations primary Goals.”4
  5. 5. AttitudeCounts!"Great content meets two criteria:It’s useful and it’s interesting."- Sonia Simone,Chief Marketing Officer at Copyblogger Media, LLCSEO + Your Audience’s InterestAlso - these 2 lolcats are about attitude, which attitude do you have when you’re writing contentfor your members?This isn’t to judge anyone or say you’re doing it wrong. This is to help change your perspective astechnology is changing our ability to drive conversations within our community.Are you looking to steal your members’ hearts? Or are you here for your own amusement, insteadof theirs? is a great place for copywriting and writing for the web resources/helpguides.5
  6. 6. Outline YourStory ArcMeasure &ImproveGet to KnowYour MembersWrite OutYour PlanCreateYour GoalsStrategic Components--> Outline the major pieces of a Content Strategy:a) setting goals --> ie: retain members, attract new members, increase thrift store traffic/salesb) audience personas --> who are you trying to reach and engage with?c) editorial calendar --> consistency is key and this helps you plan ahead / know what’s neededd) your story arc is where you identify what it is that you are doing, what’s valuable and interesting to your members that also fits your goals.e) measure and adjust --> develop a baseline, measure your results regularly, identify where you are doing it well and do more of that and do less of what’s not workingstart with a strategy and also holistically, tie it into your current campaigns and have a good foundation in place to build uponIf you think about it, you may realize that nonprofits (probably yours) have been at this type of marketing for years.Content marketing products take the form of annual reports, custom magazines, print or online newsletters, blog post, articles, success stories, white papers, webcasts/webinars, podcasts, video, in personevents, ebooks, research report and email.Where the process can go awry is the lack of a strategy.James Keady, digital marketing manager for McLaren Automotive, a British automotive manufacturer, said this:"Content is the voice of your brand, and it is therefore important to allocate the respect, investment, and focus it requires. Creating great content is difficult, and delivering great content consistently throughestablished processes is complex. However, this is what is required if you want to take your brand from good to great in todays communication environment."6
  7. 7. CreateYour GoalsWhat Do You Want?I cannot stress enough the importance of this step -setting goals, and I’ll talk a little about how to do that next, is crucialto accomplishing your organization’s mission.7
  8. 8. CreateYour GoalsDevelop SMART GoalsSMART Goals - Let’s talk a moment about what these terms means:specific measurable achievable time and realistic...Your goals help you ensure that your content aligns with your your organization’s big picture goals, and provide the framework for measuring andadjusting your strategy over time.Goals should be SMARTS = what needs to be achieved for successM can you measure it?A is it possible?R is it possible for YOU/Your .Org (resources, time, money)?T is it timebound?8
  9. 9. Exercise: How Would You MakeThese Goals “SMART”?CreateYour GoalsI’m using this example because I thought now would be a perfectopportunity to push your brains a little this morning, now that you’vehad some coffee. Let’s apply the SMART goals practice to these lastgoals from the AL Montgomery chapter.Anyone want to volunteer to suggest some better ways to outline thesegoals?9
  10. 10. WriteYour PlanIdentifying Your Prioritiesyour editorial calendar is where you start writing down your plan, and keep track of content that you’ll create along with deadlines, contentownership (who’s making each item?), and metrics as you collect them on content marketing campaign results.-> help you see the content you need to create over the next several days, weeks, and months,-> helps you list out content themes and distribute them by channel (e.g., a calendar for your newsletter and another for Facebook), by audience(e.g., how youll communicate with parents this month, versus communicating with teachers), or by program (e.g., so you see how differentprograms are included throughout your communications channels).-> help you prioritize. You probably can‘t do everything that‘s being asked of you. You can‘t even do everything that you want to do. By mappingout in a grid or on a calendar your opportunities to communicate, you start to see the limitations that are really on you see what’s working and what’s not over timethe simple solution is a shared Google Docs spreadsheet. Ours uses a new tab for each month primary type, a list of channels, andI also use a tool called Asana10
  11. 11. WriteYour PlanCopy my Template - Calendaryou can use my template or try something like asana.comdon’t over think your editorial calendar. you want to have a roadmap that has flexibility built in in case you need to make unexpected pit stops oryou hit a detour in your path. By doing this work now, you’ll find it easier to stay on target towards achieving your goals.This roadmap gives you a place to refer back to, months from now and years from now, and see how far off you are from your plan. Then youcan evaluate why you’re off track, if you are, and quickly find your way back to the guided path you’ve put together earlier.11
  12. 12. Your Plan ProvidesConsistency & FocusWeeklyMonthlyDailyWriteYour Planone thing that I’ve learned from experience as a digital marketer is that consistency matters mostif your supporters are used to a certain date for released content, try and have something fairly regularly.think about how music and videos are released on the same day every weekEstablishing a Communication ScheduleThis is an example of how to think about it, and you don’t need to feel obligated to match this specific schedule. Balance your content generation with your .Org’s resources plus the needs and wants of your members.Daily - twitter updates, user generated content, alerts related to your causeWeekly - new blog post, photo gallery, short video, offline media buys, participation in an event related content, website updatesmonthly - this is where you want to produce something significant, maybe it’s a monthly impact report, newsletter, whitepaper/research paper, offline gathering like a twetup,Quarterly - research-based whitepaper, e-book series, produce a video series, create an animated infographic, contest or sweepstakes winners, talk about your cause (case study)bi-annual experiential event/content, print brochure/PDF to downloadAnnually - host a roundtable and record the event, produce an annual industry whiepaper or ebook, speak or present at an annual conference, announce and launch a contest or sweepstakes, update web presence with newstory, new tool set, create and launch an iPhone app/Facebook app12
  13. 13. Who Do You Want to Act? Get to KnowYour MembersFirst, Identify your audience - develop personas to truly understand the people who are interested in giving to your cause.Identify Your Ideal Donor, Volunteer, and Board Member- mapping your audiences’ journey to figure out how someone grows/becomes familiar with your organization- “walk in their shoes” so to speak, for AL, your best members are probably much like you ladies. Think about what you’dwant13
  14. 14. Your Target AudienceCapacity to GiveDesire to GiveDesire to Give toYour CauseGet to KnowYour Members14
  15. 15. Discover YourMembers’ Interests Content Mapping Process is Part of a Free Persona Template:Get to KnowYour MembersHere’s a free template you can download to help you map your donor’s journey.Get a template to help with your content mapping process: Identify who your target audience is2) what are the questions typically asked - tip* go to your sales / fundraising team and ask them what questions people askmost, have them write down FAQ’s and send to you3) what are the answers to the questions asked, how does your solution fit into the answer?4) prioritize the content5) find out what content you have that answers those, get that out to your audience6) identify holes, what questions haven’t you answered?7) create those answers15
  16. 16. "We believe that Life is Too Shortto Work at a Boring Company..."Get to KnowYour Membersin my capacity as the Houston curator at Startup Digest, I can attest tothe value of having a clearly defined, niche market to focus on.our target at the digest is purely those who are involved in their localtechnology startup scene. This doesn’t mean the restaurant founder oremployee at a local energy company can’t subscribe and read thedigest, it just means we are listening to the entrepreneurs anddevelopers, the investors ... when we decide what content we’ll share.16
  17. 17. Get to KnowYour here’s a real life example of how that translates, tactically, to include your team.keep in mind, I’m a volunteer - and I joined because I agree with what the digest is doing, so they trained me and I’ll talkabout that a little bit later on too, however part of that training was who our audience is and what kind of content is ideal,what’s good, and what’s definitely not ok.knowing my audience is technology/entrepreneur focused helps me select content and events to share with my subscriberseven if I don’t really know all of my subscribers.This way, when I look at the vast, seemingly overwhelming number of events that happen in Houston - I’m able to easilyidentify and filter the events for my organization’s audience: people in Houston’s tech startup community.Focusing your conversations down to just your ideal audience members helps you prioritize your activities and which channelsyou use.17
  18. 18. Outline YourStory Arcone of the questions posed earlier was about how to keep your messages “fresh” year after year...Here’s my tip: remember the Bible, and going to church. Who here’s bored with Christmas? Easter?Sure, some Sunday sermons could be a little boring. But that’s not because the core message inside the Bible wasn’t valuable to me - it wasjust delivered at a time when I didn’t really want to listen to it.Churches have a 52 week content marketing story guide that they pretty much stick to year end and year out. Some of the discussion aboutchurches losing relevancy with the younger generation has nothing to do with this “theme” schedule, in my opinion, but more in the lack ofadapting to changing wants and needs from their community.18
  19. 19. YourStory ArcResolutionConflictSuspenseThe Problem19
  20. 20. @SpaceUpHouStory ArcResolutionConflictSuspenseThe ProblemStory Arc over time to ramp up for our annual conference each yearWe focus on the key things our audience loves: space, robots,astronauts, and Star Wars. (We have lots of Trekkie fans too!)20
  21. 21. Outline YourStory ArcGet to KnowYour MembersWrite OutYour PlanCreateYour GoalsYou Are Here:Measure &ImproveI went through the last four components relatively briefly, and that’sbecause I want to focus on the measurement of engagement using yourwebsite and other web tools, like Google Analytics.This is a huge topic, web analytics, and so I’ve included links toresources for you all when you download a copy of the presentationfrom slideshare.21
  22. 22. How Do You MeasureEngagement? Measure &Improveimage source:’re going to first focus on the basic areas of engagement -- who’sinvolved with your organization in some way?And this can become very complex, depending on how much datayou’re collecting about each individual member and how large yourorganization’s member base is.22
  23. 23. WebsiteTrafficWhat doYou Measure?NewMembersStoreTrafficRenewals ProgramParticipationLifelongMembersRenewalsFamilyStatsRecurringDonationsVolunteerTimeMajorDonorsEverything??!!how do you pick from all the ways you can measure someoneinteracting with you... I didn’t even include social media channels23
  24. 24. Measure &ImprovePICK 1 THINGSo let’s figure out how to narrow this down. Each of you has your own, personal experience with being introduced andeventually coming to a leadership position with Assistance League.How did you get there? Why did you start on the path you’re on now, and what kept you on it? Asking questions like this willhelp you identify what you should be measuring.Why are you engaging? Why do you volunteer your time, and donate your money... Show of hands - who spent more than $20 to be here?$100?Ask yourself what could have made it better at each step? And write that down!Dont forget, think how can you use your experience and now inside knowledge of AL and your chapter, and your community.How can you change that experience for the better.What did you like? What didnt you like?What have you experienced elsewhere that you really liked and didnt much care for?Do this - pick one thing to tweak more to how you wished it had been and measure to see what happens. It sounds simple, it is simple - thebest strategies are simple.24
  25. 25. Measure toidentify-> Preferences-> Wants-> NeedsCMHouston.orgMeasure &ImproveA/B testing doesn’t need to be hard or complicated. Here’s an example fromthe Children’s Museum of Houston, who I’ve worked with in the past. They’realways testing.Here, they tested placement of the girl, where the tickets and hours buttonsare, and the right side email newsletter.This is a great example for you to try. What’s one thing you want more actionfrom your members? Try putting a big call to action button for that item inthe upper right side of your website. See if you increase conversions.25
  26. 26. Join: Tutorials: &ImproveWhat kinds of things do you measure?26
  27. 27. Report on Data and Engagement:Measure &Improvehere’s a great report that just came out and it was a study on the data that membershiporganizations are collecting, how they’re using it, and what’s working.Nonprofits have learned harder lessons as well. NTENs Hedstrom, for instance, found "measuring participation/engagement is much morecomplicated than we first imagined, and instead of being able to find a single scale for this, its likely well end up with several segments ofcommunity members that are engaged in very different ways."One group was surprised to see just how riddled with duplicates and inconsistencies its data were. Another organization realized "late in the game"that key fields and, therefore, related reports about two of its most critical areas are not visible in its current Salesforce implementation.At a fourth nonprofit, "its become clear we need to operate in a truly member-centric way, but that we [currently] dont. By constantly bringingforward data about what our members want, need and are actually [using], we can no longer rely on anecdotes to make decisions."27
  28. 28. "We have always imagined a learningjourney for our members -- becomingmore and more engaged over time andeventually becoming donors or supportersin other ways."- Rebecca Vierhaus with the League ofAmerican Orchestras (The League)Let’s talk about this learning journey and creating it -align what they want with what you want (your goals) and then develop a contentmarketing strategy that prioritizes conversations around those common areas/issues/topics.The League of American Orchestras (The League) Rebecca Vierhaus told us her organization is "trying to find trends to tie participation torevenue, as well as participation to likelihood of renewing membership or donating....We have always imagined a learning journey for ourmembers -- becoming more and more engaged over time and eventually becoming donors or supporters in other ways. Is this how ourmembers actually engage with us and, if not, what should our strategy be to try and keep them on a conveyor belt towards loyalty andengagement?"28
  29. 29. New VisitorThe Content Marketing “Funnel”JoinsRenewsVolunteersLifelong FanThe Journey to Create for GrowthHere’s the new “sales funnel” - note how the funnel gets wider -that is symbolic of thequantity of people that are engaged with your organization so wider = more people.This is an upside down model of the traditional funnel ....EducationBuilding Relationships by showing you understand their needs, concerns and goalsYou’re already spending the time to publish content - why not develop/improve yourstrategy so you know what will result in greater success?29
  30. 30. AdoptionEngagementRetentionTask SuccessHappinessHEART Metrics Metrics help you with identifying what to measure around youraudience’s engagement with your organization.30
  31. 31. New VisitorThe Content Marketing FunnelJoinsRenewsVolunteersLifelong FanThe Journey to Create for GrowthHappinessEngagementAdoptionTask SuccessRetentionIt’s not exactly like this - because really what you want is to have all 5 HEART elements at each stage. However,to simplify the path I wanted to show you how to look at why you want to move your members through thisguided journey.By building this type of engagement within your marketing strategy, you’ll find it easier to manage your contentmarketing day to day, and measure to show success.EducationBuilding Relationships by showing you understand their needs, concerns and goalsYou’re already spending the time to publish content - why not develop/improve your strategy so you know whatwill result in greater success?31
  32. 32. Keeping it FreshHow do you keep it interesting when your message is basically the same from year to year?One of the topics for all of our chapters is an appeal for more membership.Our websites are used for information sites for people who may be looking for a place to volunteer.We always tell prospective members about our website and that they can get more information from that site. So the question would be, How can we make our message appeal to future members? Most of thechapters also have Thrift Shops that are the basis for most of their financial support of their philanthropic efforts. So, that website should also appeal to the public for their thrift shop worthy donations of clothing,toys, books, etc.Ways to Engage members:1) Comment on their posts2) Retweet and Like them3) be helpful4) ask for help5) ask what they want6) encourage members to speak up7) and talk with each other8) tell them you miss them (notice when they are active and when they’re not as active)9) send personal emails/messages10) make promises, and keep them11) acknowledge great work12) appreciate your members13) ask open ended questions32
  33. 33. Boring or Perceived Boredom?Is it? is space really boring? because we’ve found out there’s a lot ofpeople interested in Space still...33
  34. 34. There’s a lot of people who aren’t bored with space...The goal is to target your message to what your audience wants. Usethe 52 week framework, as I mentioned earlier.34
  35. 35. Get Your Members On BoardI started talking about this earlier, with the story of how thestartupdigest succeeds best with a well defined target audience.Get your members, volunteers, staff and anyone else who could betalking about your organization trained and teach them what to say,who to say it to, and why.35
  36. 36. these are a couple of examples of Organizer’s guides, just todemonstrate how this content provides SEO value and gives yourmembers a roadmap.tell them how they can get more involved and help, and do more36
  37. 37. Show Them Their ImpactStartupWeekend.orgthen, show the impact of supporting your organization.37
  38. 38. "Thou Shalt Not Waste Their Time... "surveys - when your boss asks for a report last minute and you don’t know, do you send out a survey? your members didn’twant that.- Quality, Brevity, To the Point, Timely/Relevant38
  39. 39. Use Post-It’s to Stay Focused“3 ThingsToday”rulejust my own personal tip to keep from being overwhelmed.39
  40. 40. Download Free Book Online:www.nonprofitmarketingguide.comRead Beth Kanter on Curation:’s two really great resources. The NPO content marketingcookbook is 100% free, and I’ve never been disappointed by thenewsletter either.40
  41. 41. Register for theseUpcoming Seminars:Factors Every Nonprofit Website Needs forEffective Online FundraisingAugust 13, 2013 - Tuesday - Register On WebsiteNovember 19, 2013 - Tuesday - Register On WebsiteGetting a Handle on Your Nonprofits ContentMarketing Strategy!Register for one of the upcoming workshops at the Executive ServicesCorp of Houston.The workshops are in-person at’s offices onFountainview Dr., near the Galleria.41
  42. 42. Questions?42
  43. 43. Thank youDownload This Presentation: you’d like a copy of this presentation, you can download it online toshare and print.I want to thank the Assistants League of Montgomery County,, for inviting me to present at this year’sTexas Networking Conference.I also want to thank all of the ladies from the regional AssistantsLeague chapters for your time and attention today.43
  44. 44. http://spacepts.comhttp://spaceuphouston.orghttp://startupweekend.org M. Worthy | @sarahmworthy’s just some more info about me and some of the differentorganizations I’m involved with.Sarah M. Worthy is the CXO, (Chief Experience Officer), and Director of Product at AuthorizedCV, a health IT startup founded here inHouston by two NASA flight surgeons looking to change the way healthcare professionals maintain their credentials and licensurerequirements. Sarah has over 13 years of experience creating across a variety of platforms with a strong focus on teaching people howto use technology to do great things in both business and nonprofit industries.Sarah combines marketing strategy, user experience design, and product management to identify and create engaging onlineexperiences that build audiences for organizations. Sarahs passion for creating great user experiences in the technology industry ledto her work with several Houston nonprofit organizations, including,,, andthe American Marketing Association nonprofit special interest group.44