Is it possible to market your non-profit without a website? In 2019, 97% of UK businesses had one. That figure has since only risen – suggesting marketing without a website is (a) extremely rare and (b) probably a bad idea.
Did deeper into the data and it’s apparent this figure relates to companies and organisations with 1,000 employees or greater.
This means the stats ignore:
- Smaller non-profits
- Sole traders
Reality check: half of the workforce in the voluntary sector supports charitable organisations. This equates to 405,000 people.
Of these people:
- 27% work for non-profits with a workforce of ten or less
- Only 7% work for charities with more than 500 staff
So, do non-profits need a website or should they concentrate their marketing efforts elsewhere?
Marketing without a website
Plenty of businesses and organisations generate healthy year-on-year profit without investing a single penny of their hard-earned money into website development.
Strange as this might sound in an era where technology is moving at breakneck speed (ChatGPT being a prime example) marketing without a website has its advantages.
Here are just a few…
#1 Fewer overheads
Websites, unlike social media, aren’t free. You have to pay for the domain name and hosting. Even if you can afford these costs, who’s going to write your blogs or fix technical issues?
The only options are:
- Hiring freelancers on retainer contracts
- Employing a full-time member of staff
- Doing the work yourself (still not free)
Not having a website means fewer costs to worry about. That’s money you could invest elsewhere – into running more events or hiring more volunteers for door knocking campaigns.
#2 Less to worry about
Websites aren’t just expensive, they require constant maintenance in order to work effectively. That’s all well and good if – as we mentioned earlier – you can afford to hire a freelancer or full time employee to do the work.
Do you have the skillsets needed to:
- Resolve technical issues like slow site speeds?
- Use analytics platforms to understand user behaviour?
- Create monthly content plans incorporating a mix of:
- Landing pages?
If the answers to these questions are a resounding ‘no,’ having a website will cause you undue stress and eat into your productivity.
#3 Targeting is difficult
If only digital marketing was as simple as writing an insightful blog that automatically attracted volunteers and donors to your website. Unfortunately the process is far more complex.
Are you ready to do all of this?
- Conduct extensive research – using a range of sites and tools to determine their wants and needs
- Armed with your insights you’ll need to create compelling messaging and A/B test it to see what works
- Using Google Analytics to monitor the performance of your content will become part of your daily routine
Even then there’s no guarantee your messaging will resonate with volunteers and donors. If your formula works it will do so only for a short period of time.
In the world of SEO you’re only king for a day and must constantly innovate to beat your rivals. That’s why marketing without a website is so appealing to time-poor non-profits.
Marketing with a website
Now let’s take the ‘marketing without a website’ narrative and invert it. Because the pros of owning a website outweigh the negatives associated with having one.
Let’s break down the objections one-by-one and identify solutions for each.
True, not spending money on a website reduces marketing expenditure. But that’s missing the point entirely. Websites, when well-designed, and properly maintained, generate profit.
You could reduce overheads by:
- Reducing volunteer numbers
- Cancelling print runs
- Not running ads
But doing so would have catastrophic effects on your organisation in the form of reduced brand awareness – ultimately resulting in fewer donations.
The thought of running a website is intimidating. But enlisting the services of a marketing agency, ad hoc freelancers, or a full-time employee isn’t as expensive as you might think.
Returning to our earlier point, a good website will increase visibility of your non-profit – attracting committed volunteers and interested donors via targeted SEO content that’s engaging and persuasive.
Even if the retainer you’re quoted seems expensive it needs to be offset against the eventual profit your new website will generate.
Ultimately it comes down to hiring experts with:
- Proven experience of success in the digital marketing arena
- Knowledge of your sector and case studies to back up claims
- The resources needed to support your cause in the long-term
This issue affects all companies and organisations of all sizes. Targeting is hard. Even for digital marketing experts like us. But it’s a lot easier if you hand the work to specialists who do it for a living and can devote their attention to it 24/7.
If outsourcing isn’t an option then you absolutely must make the time to understand your audience. Because marketing without a website isn’t an option.
- Regularly check your rivals’ social media feeds – who are their customers and what’s their messaging like?
- Scan your social posts too to determine which work best and single out those that frequently bomb
- Use surveys built into posts and emails to customers what content they’re keen to see, rather than guessing