Third sector marketing: So you've worked through your digital strategy - what now?

Debbie Lawrenson
  • Debbie Lawrenson
  • Head of Digital

The third sector has made massive strides when it comes to digital marketing strategies. Charity websites are some of the most effective sites out there. Many charity sites are starting to lead the way and have goal-getting design that other businesses are emulating.

Of course, digital marketing goes a lot further than your website and you’ll have worked with your marketing and design agency to create a comprehensive digital strategy that includes a range of online marketing activity to help you reach your goals. Digital marketing strategies for charities will include things like:

  • Identification of target audiences
  • Business goals
  • Website updates
  • Social media activity
  • Specific campaigns
  • Paid media, such as adverts

A digital strategy will usually take the form of a six or twelve-month plan and by the time you get to the end of it you should have noticed a significant leap forward when it comes to goal achievement. But what then? Where do you go from here?

You don’t finish at the end

The chances are that your digital strategy was a substantial investment for your charity, especially if it included new website design and development. When you’ve come to the end of the six month period, you’ll probably be feeling pretty good at the way things are going and the progress you’ve made in building support, gathering donations and building awareness of your work.

But this is no time to take a break. The job isn’t completed and if you let go of the momentum now you’ll soon discover that those fabulous figures – increased traffic, increased income, greater audience engagement – can all drop a heck of a lot faster than the time it took to build them up.

Analyse and implement

Your first job now that you’ve worked through your digital strategy is to take a long hard look at your analytics and stats. You’ll have been doing this over the past months, but now the strategy has had time to embed and patterns are forming, you can get a much clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t.

Analytics aren’t just paperwork to be rushed through at team meetings. They’re an essential tool to building on everything that you’ve achieved, maintaining momentum and getting to the next level of goal achievement.

Digital analytics will give you hard data on things like your return on investment and give clear information on what parts of your digital strategy are working well and those which aren’t. Armed with that information, you will know what changes you need to implement.

Resource to recoup

Now that you know what changes you need to make, it’s essential that you make them. The chances are that most of them won’t be massive changes. It could be things like focussing on certain types of news stories, now you know what people are responding too. It might be a question of sending your Tweets at a particular time. You may have tried live streaming for a fund raising event and found that it brought in a record number of donations. There will be all kinds of opportunities for refinement and enhancement and it will be different for every organisation.

Whatever you do, don’t be complacent. Putting the resources – human and other – into implementing these changes will recoup your initial investment many times over and help you to achieve your goals.

That means keeping your website up to date, making sure news stories are fresh, being aware of market trends and what your competitors are up to and making sure you don’t fall behind.

A digital strategy may start out as a twelve-month plan, but it doesn’t end there. You should have designated members of staff who are responsible for building on what your plan has achieved to date. Digital marketing can be super-effective when it comes to the third sector, but it relies on being fresh and frequent. Maintain your momentum and reach higher by keeping your eye on the ball. That way you’ll keep striking those goals and will feel the effects of real achievement.