Now more than ever, it’s important to understand how people interact with your organization from a digital perspective — even more so with nonprofit organizations. Looking at digital marketing through a funnel lens will help you find out where you are experiencing real problems and which areas are deserving of some attention and resources.
Before we jump into what the digital marketing funnel is and why it’s important, I’d like to present a series of questions you should be asking yourself when someone interacts with your organization digitally:
- How did they find us/where did they come from?
- Where did they end up on our website?
- How did they move through our website before getting to their final page?
- What was the intended action we would have wanted them to take?
- Did they take action? If not, when did they bounce and why?
These questions will help you analyze which portions of your website need work and which are working well. With the above we start to understand that your website is a large factor to whether people get through the funnel or not.
These questions fundamentally set you up for success when looking at how people move through your website or social media platforms.
In short, funnel methodology is a way to strategically think about the journey of someone who finds out about your organization all the way to them becoming a supporter, advocate, volunteer, or donor. This is incredibly important for two reasons:
1. Thinking this way will allow you to increase the amount of people in the funnel and
2. It will help you find the right actions and tools to move people through the funnel.
While there are many different versions of the digital marketing funne,l we will focus on a simple 3-stage process for these examples. Here are a few stages within the funnel we can focus on:
- Awareness (Upper Funnel)
In order for people to interact with your organization in the first place, they have to be aware of what it is that you’re doing and how you are helping the community. This is generally the first time that someone interacts with your organization.
- Engagement (Mid Funnel)
After someone has become aware of your organization, there are likely many ways that they can interact with you. They can sign up to an email list or newsletter, sign a petition, volunteer with the organization, and/or spread word about your great work on social media.
Some things that target this portion of the funnel are: landing page optimization, paid digital advertising, and email acquisition and nurturing.
- Action (Bottom Funnel)
Finally, after becoming aware and interacting with your organization, an individual is much more likely to take a significant action such as volunteering, donating, or purchasing goods.
Some things that target this stage are: Remarketing, drip email campaigns, and paid digital advertising.
Nonprofit Digital Marketing Funnel: An Example
Let’s take a real world example of how this would look in the nonprofit world in the form of end-of-year giving. You as an individual are looking to donate to some organizations come holiday time and likely throughout the year you have interacted with various organizations digitally — so how do you make the choice of who to donate to? Throughout the year (and, importantly, well before the end of the year) you may have seen various forms of advertising on YouTube, Facebook, or Google that made you aware of the organization. You might have interacted with that organization through reading blog posts, subscribing to newsletters, and attending webinars. You might have even volunteered, posted on social media about the organization as a brand ambassador, or purchased goods or services. As you have gone through this process the organization has been working hard to get you into the funnel and then move you through the funnel at various stages throughout the year. Eventually, when the end of year comes around and you will be making a decision about where to donate, you will be significantly more likely to choose the organization that had gotten you aware and engaged rather than an organization that you had seen once or twice at various points in the funnel.
The important takeaway from this article is for each organization to ties back to the original purpose of funnel methodology: how do we get more people into the funnel, and how do we keep people moving through it? These questions require organizations to take a look at some analytics data (Likely from Google Analytics) to figure out where there are truly opportunities. Let’s say for example you see that you are doing a great job of getting new traffic to your website, but you see that after 15 seconds, 90% of your website visitors leave. You know you don’t have an issue with increasing the funnel, but you definitely have problems retaining and moving them further down the funnel. This will let you know that you likely need to work on creating more relevant content, have better navigation, work on landing pages, or work on a web redesign. On the other hand, if you are seeing that you are getting great conversion rates of people who make it to your website but are having a hard time reaching new people, that should indicate more resources should be allocated to top and mid-funnel activities such as the Google Ad Grant, paid ads, and better email acquisition.
From our experience we’ve seen organizations that implement this form of thinking into digital marketing strategy have significantly more success than those who do not. The first step after reading this would be to go answer the 5 questions from the beginning of this article and start looking for opportunities to improve!