Does a Nonprofit Need a Martech Stack?

nonprofit staff strategizing

As part of our #MarTechMadness campaign, we’ve been pitting different marketing technology platforms against each other in a fun, head-to-head contest to see who rules the business MarTech world.

This got me thinking: how can we make this relevant to nonprofit and social impact organizations? I’ve never once heard a nonprofit leader refer to their “MarTech stack.”

What’s a Martech Stack?

A quick definition

A marketing technology stack (or MarTech stack for short) is the group of integrated tech tools an organization uses for communicating with their external (as well as internal) audiences. While most nonprofits have a set of tools they use, like Mailchimp or Google or WordPress, they don’t often describe them as an integrated system. But they should.

When I talk to nonprofit leaders, they are singularly focused on the work of their organization. They want to provide maximum impact with minimal resources. In addition, the most effective nonprofits are targeting not just one problem but aiming for a variety of solutions. They don’t necessarily think of having a product they need to market. But they should.

By taking a page from the business marketing world and thinking in terms of the value that they return to their supporters and advocates, nonprofit leaders should be striving to make sure every email, newsletter, and social media post provides that value. They should be looking at their communications strategy not as a “nice-to-have” way to tell their story and “friendraise” but as a mission-critical business tool.

What’s your stack?

If you are a nonprofit leader and want an integrated strategy that maximizes impact and efficiency, here are the basics you need in your “stack.”

Content Management System (CMS)

Essentially, your website. It’s often the first thing people encounter and one of the last things nonprofits really invest in. The importance of having a strong, compelling website cannot be overstated. Opt for really good design, even if you have to scale back in the size or complexity of your site. Take the time to get very clear on your core messaging and be sure your website represents the organization’s brand. Build your website on an easy to maintain and modify platform like WordPress or Drupal. Stay away from custom code where possible. And lastly, don’t neglect the content. Spend the time to get it right and keep it fresh.

Customer Relationship Management(CRM)

When visitors fill out a form on your website, or volunteer with your organization, or donate to your cause, or attend an event, you have the start of a relationship. You know a little about them (usually a name and email address) and can build your knowledge of them as they get to know you. Too many organizations keep lists and bunches of names scattered across various spreadsheets, platforms, and databases. Senior staff members spend countless hours tracking down names or comparing lists. Nonprofit organizations waste hundreds of thousands of dollars by sending multiple emails to the same person or to addresses that are no longer valid.

Your list of people willing to receive an email from you is one of your organization’s greatest assets. Treat it as such by investing in a good CRM like HubSpot or Pardot and taking the time to learn how to manage it. If you spend the time getting to know the people interested in your organization, they will be more likely to spend their time supporting you.

Email

Your email platform is your most powerful tool for building relationships. If you have someone’s email address, that means they have trusted you with information. How you use that information says a lot about you as an organization. After someone donates online, a simple thank-you is nice. But a short email a month later describing how that donation moved the needle is even nicer. We’ve found that even just a monthly newsletter, if integrated with a CRM and CMS, is a powerful tool in gaining supporters.

Use a platform that allows you to create templates for your most common emails and integrates with your CRM. That way, you can easily see which content is appealing to your audience and give them more of that. Consistent (but not overwhelming) content that is interesting and useful will keep your organization in your supporters’ minds as they consider how to spend their time and money.

Social Media Monitoring and Publishing

The harsh reality for nonprofits is that very few people are Googling their “product.” Most potential volunteers or donors are not looking for more ways to spend their time and money. They get involved through word-of-mouth. So, it is important for nonprofits to be part of conversations where they are happening. If your target audience is sharing posts on Facebook, that’s where you want to be. If they are sharing pictures on Pinterest, you’d better be sharing too and commenting on their pictures.

As everyone who has tried this knows, being active and responsive on social media takes a tremendous amount of time. A good social media monitoring and publishing platform can take hours’ worth of repetitive tasks and make them easy to do in minutes’ time. The best tools allow you to easily share articles, images, and videos directly from your browser. You also need to be able to schedule posts, review drafts, and monitor many streams. The premium options are connected to your CRM, so when one of your targeted contacts interacts with your content on social, you are notified and a record is kept.

What to do first?

Some Follow Up Questions

As you consider the set of tools to put in your “stack,” you may want to consider a few questions:

  1. What is currently in your current martech stack, and how much time do you spend switching back and forth between the various platforms?
  2. What do you know about what drives inquiries to your organization? Is there a pathway that most inquiries take through your website and content? Do you know which keywords drive the most registrations?
  3. What are you currently unable to do with your marketing that you wish you could do?
  4. Have you been considering a new website?

If you are stuck and just want some help on where to start, reach out to us through our stack: here on the website, you can fill out a form or hit us up via chat. If you’d rather connect on social media, that’s part of our stack too. We’d love to know more about the challenges you’re facing.

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