It’s been 106 degrees here in Austin for weeks, but at S+G headquarters, we’re dreaming of a snowy winter wonderland. Yes, that’s right, we’re all about Christmas in July.
And sure, part of that is to counter the truly excessive heat (did you know that Mel Tormé wrote “The Christmas Song”—you know the one…”Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”—to cool himself off during a sweltering July?), but another part is that now is when we start prepping for Q4 fundraising. Yes, really.
As we work with clients to set them up for a successful year-end, we’re sharing a few of our best “Christmas in July” tips with all of you!
- Get your lists in order. Want to talk to more people in Q4? Better start finding them now! (For inspiration, check out this great acquisition experiment from Next After and Save the Children!)
- Communication calendars are your best friend. If you’re anything like us (or many of our clients), September through December is a crazy season. Events, reports, holidays, thankathons, vacations, and, oh yeah, probably a big campaign (with direct mail and everything)! How do you fit in all those competing priorities (and their many associated messages)? One word: smart calendaring. We’d love to help you build your strategy and create a comms calendar that works for you!
- Do your content audit now. What stories and stats do you have in your arsenal? And, just as importantly, what are you missing? How will you fill in the gaps—and how can you squeeze the most life out of what you already have?
- Remember the attitude of gratitude. As you prepare to make big asks at the end of the year, think about how you can celebrate and thank donors now. Deepening your relationship with some good, old-fashioned cultivation will help your campaign shine when it’s time to launch.
- Turn up those holiday tunes—and dream of cooler weather. Listen, we know it’s July. December seems miles away. But thinking ahead will set you up for success—and lessen the pressures of an inevitably stressful season. So join us as we crank some Mannheim Steamroller, pull out our calendars, and make plans to absolutely rock our Q4 fundraising.
Want help with your own Q4 planning, strategy, or implementation (yes, we’ll happily write all of your communications for you!)? Get in touch! Or if you know a nonprofit that could use support in the back half of the year, let us know! We’d love to connect and help you bring your vision to life!
One of the first projects our Chief Strategist, Ian, completed as a young marketer was a how-to guide for MySpace. It was a PowerPoint. And he printed it to show his team. (I think this is where the kids say something like, “Ok, boomer.”)
The simple reality is that we’ve been at this digital marketing game for a long time.
And over the last 15 years, we’ve created a LOT of content.
Blogs, infographics, social media, web pages, articles, thought leadership…if you’re anything like us, you’re sitting on a treasure trove of great material that you have already created.
Yet our impulse is still to create something new. To come up with the next great idea. To start over. And start over. And start over again.
Why do more work when you can, instead, do more efficient work? And why reinvent the wheel when you have a perfect circle within arm’s reach?
The reality is that most of your audience doesn’t remember your content.
Sad, but true.
And if your audience is growing (we’d love to help you do this, btw), then the new people on your email list weren’t around to receive that awesome message three years ago. They didn’t see it at all.
At every conference we’ve ever been to, the “experts” tell us one thing, over and over: Create engaging content. We always laugh at that because, duh, but also, they’re right. Good content is marketing magic—it’s why we built a storytelling agency. But we’d like to add to their advice: Create engaging content. And keep using the content you’ve created.
If you’re looking for easy, accessible content to share, chances are you already have it.
So how do you make use of the amazingness at your fingertips?
You need to do a content audit.
Spend time evaluating the material you already have, and start answering these questions:
- What is still working for you? These are the pages that are still getting lots of traffic and the pieces that are still getting used, so make sure the data and stories presented are accurate! Also, make sure these pages and pieces have logical next steps—where does a donor or prospect go after reading it?
- What ISN’T working? In the wise words of Marie Kondo, if a piece of content isn’t bringing you joy anymore, it might be time to let it go. Or rewrite it. Or start over.
- What could be working better? This is our favorite question! What are the stories in your arsenal that are interesting but unread? What blogs still work, especially if you were to spend five minutes updating them? What long-form articles could be parsed into a full month of social content? What can you re-share, re-post, or re-work?
As you approach that last question, here are a few easy ways to get started:
- Throwback Thursday. Post an old story in its entirety—no extra work required!
- Repost your long-form. With well-researched long-form content, take the time to edit and update the information presented. Then repost the blog or article with an “updated” date—voila: new content. The SEO crawlers will love you.
- Parse a blog into social. A full blog might not be super relevant anymore, but chances are high that you could find one or two sound bites that might be great social posts! As we always tell young writers, plagiarize yourself! If you’ve done the work, you can reuse it across channels!
- Milk a piece for all its worth. Did you write a great impact report? Awesome. Now post it online. Pull five social posts out of the content. Turn it into a listicle. Independently share the infographics. Work smarter, not harder. You have so much existing content available to you!
You can breathe life into old content—and Swell+Good is here to help. We conduct content audits for many of our clients, helping them identify what’s working, what’s not, and what could be. Then we help them turn the materials they have into a robust content calendar that is bursting with powerful stories.
Want to learn more? Shoot us an email, we would love to talk to you!
1. The important difference between personal content 👍 and personalized content.
Spoiler: one is more effective than the other. Personalized content is content unique to the user. Personal content is content that uses info about their user to address a need and create an experience. Your name on an email is personalized. A restaurant preparing your favorite cake for your birthday meal is personal. Can you guess which content keeps your donors coming back for more?
Personal content experiences matter more than personalized content. [via Content Marketing Institute]
2. Choose the best pillar page content. 📈
Pillar pages are huge drivers of web traffic. Full of long-form content that uses links to guide users to more info about a topic, pillar pages help you up your impact by grouping topics to attract Google searches. Want to create pillar pages that bring the clicks? Become the master of your web topic and drive users to your page with this easy guide on pillar page strategy.
How to choose pillar page topics. [via MOZ]
3. Get noticed on Google Discover—the tool other sites are overlooking. 👀
Try Google searching something on your phone—do you see a list labeled “Interesting Finds” at the bottom? Those personalized articles you didn’t search for? Those are your Google Discover results, tailored to your online habits and search trends. Think of it like Google’s version of Facebook’s feed. Not a bad place for your website to be featured—and now you can learn how to get there.
Find out how to make your mark in Google Discover. [via MOZ]
4. The 11 principles of design 🎨 everyone can learn.
It doesn’t take a designer to look at a digital product and notice something’s a bit off. When the text is too large, the colors are too loud, or the page is too crowded, your user will notice—even if they’re not designers either. The good news is that you can use easy principles of design to guide you as you create something new. (Yes, even if you aren’t a designer.)
Get the 11 principles of design (and learn how to use them). [via dribble]
5. Instagram is retiring the 📱 swipe up.
Listen up, nonprofits: Your Insta stories are about to get a makeover! Instagram announced recently that it will be launching a new feature to replace the swipe-up method of navigating to external sites. Get ready for link stickers—and keep using social media to drive traffic back to your website.
Instagram is retiring the swipe up. [via The Verge]
1. Don’t miss out on this library of free content 📚 marketing resources.
The Content Marketing Hub 2.0 is jam-packed with everything you need to know about content marketing, including instructive articles and professionally designed charts, visuals, and templates. Brush up on your content marketing fundamentals, including content production, promotion and distribution, and so much more!
Dive into the Content Marketing Hub 2.0. [via Backlinko]
2. What is lead generation? 🧐
Well, to get started, what’s a lead? If donors are the people who are actively giving you money, leads are the people who might give you money one day. Think: your newsletter list, your prospect list, or your social media followers. Want to learn how to boost your list of leads? It’s time to get great at lead generation.
How to be a pro at lead generation. [via Neil Patel]
3. Make your project 💅 icon-ic.
Digital icons make everything better. They make your website more user-friendly, your text more visualize-able, and your avatars more fun. But you no longer have to pay to get the top-tier icons — lots of sites now share their collections for free!
Get free open-source icons. [via Smashing Magazine]
4. Secrets 🔎 to a great capital campaign.
Have a major initiative, new building, or enormous expansion in your future? It just might be time for a capital campaign. But how do you begin? And how do you get your donors on board? Capital campaigns operate differently than traditional month-to-month fundraising, but luckily there a few simple secrets that will help you succeed.
Become a capital campaign pro. [via Gail Perry Group]
5. Do what is right 💪 for your team.
It’s easy to feel trapped by budget restrictions or your donors’ preferences. But here’s the deal: You are leading an organization, and you need to do what is right for your team. That means that you get to define your priorities — and use the resources at hand accordingly. Stop waiting for permission. You already have it.
Break the scarcity thinking habit. [via Social Velocity]
1. The metaverse and the not-so-distant future of the internet. 💻
First things first, what is a metaverse? It’s an old sci-fi term for a seamless virtual world experienced by first-person users with augmented reality technology. And according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s transition from social media into “a metaverse company”, is not as far away as you might think. So what does this mean for you? And how long do we have to wait before this is our reality?
Dive into the metaverse. [via Digiday]
2. Maximize the ROI from your newsletter! 💪
If you underestimate your email marketing returns, you might be shutting your eyes to some huge potential. Businesses get an average of $42 out of every dollar put into a well-planned email marketing strategy—and we’d love for you to be part of that statistic! Learn about unique strategy building, success metrics to pay attention to, and how to help your emails meet their targets by checking out the link below! (And, as always, we’d love to help you get your email marketing rocking and rolling!)
15 ways to get even more ROI from your emails. [via Databox]
3. Don’t 🛑 make the most common monthly giving mistake.
Is it sending your donors too many messages? Putting the wrong titles in your newsletters? The answer is actually much more simple, and it’s something you can work on right now! Read below about the single easiest tactic to start boosting your monthly donations.
What’s the most common monthly giving mistake? [via A Direct Solution]
4. Start using episodic content. 🍿🍿
We’re all guilty of binge-watching our favorite shows, but what if you could bottle that anticipation and use it to keep your donors hooked? You don’t have to run a TV show, you just have to keep your audience engaged with content that makes the most of your organization’s stories!
Learn how to leverage episodic content from the experts. [via Content Marketing Institute]
5. How to test for barriers in your email 📝 flow.
If your emails are not producing your desired results, there are three likely culprits: barriers to deliverability, display issues, or lack of engagement. But how can you diagnose the problem? We’ve collected an email testing toolkit to help you 1) find what’s blocking your flow and 2) avoid easy email testing mistakes.
Start sending better emails. [via Smashing Magazine]