It’s no secret that Canadian charities are struggling more than they ever have before.
The Giving Report 2022 indicates that it’s because of two main reasons. For starters, fewer younger Canadians are making financial donations. According to the report, if it were not for the increase in amounts given by those Canadians aged 55 years and older, charities would be experiencing even steeper declines in funding.
Secondly are the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This, according to the report, has put an “unprecedented strain on charities.”
As a charitable organization, there’s a pretty decent chance you’re doing all you can – including digital marketing – to increase the number of public donations you receive. But with 86,000 registered charities in Canada, “competition”, so to speak, is tough.
This is where conversion-focused marketing copy can help.
A type of persuasive writing that aims to get a person to take a specific action, conversion copywriting is powerful enough to get the reader to do something right then and there.
Often neglected or even forgotten altogether, it can do powerful things such as lead to more donations, increase volunteerism, and ensure more people are aware of your charity and how you service those in need.
Here, we look at a few ways to make the most of conversion-focused marketing copy so you can keep doing what you do best: helping people.
Understand Who You’re Writing For
Before you do anything, you need to understand who you’re writing for. Why? Well, with any type of writing you do – whether it’s for a business or a charity – you need to be able to motivate your audience to take action.
You might find it helpful to create a Prospect Avatar, which sounds intimidating, we know, but don’t let it scare you. At the heart of things, it’s quite simple!
We’ve included a copy of the worksheet we use with our clients as a resource for you to try. You can download it for free, so be sure to check it out.
Draft your avatar to look at the different people you help with their charity or cause. Consider not only who they are, but look at the problem they have, what their ideal outcome would be, etc.
Once you have completed this, it’s time to turn the tables and do the same exercise by creating personas for ideal donors or volunteers.
Once you’ve exposed all audiences, compare each of the avatars and pull out all common points/statements, etc. that are used by most. That helps to formulate your ideal audience.
Let’s create an example for you. Let’s say fictional charity Project Workforce helps those looking to get back on their feet by finding jobs in their community. It helps individual adults and teens. That would be two seperate avatars. Their ideal donors would be Persona A and B, meaning there would be two avatars there. Altogether, that’s four avatars to create. We know you’re up to the challenge!
Leverage the Power of Emotion
According to this article, one of the most powerful writing skills an author can have is the ability to tease emotions out of the reader.
It’s called “Emotional Marketing” and it refers to marketing and advertising efforts that use emotion to make your audience take notice, remember, share and donate. Typically, it taps into a singular emotion, like happiness, sadness, anger, or fear, to elicit a response.
Think back to ads you’ve seen in the past. Which ones stand out? Which ones do you talk about with others? Which ones do you go back to YouTube to watch again? More than likely, the ads that struck an emotional chord are the ones you remember the most. Check out this list of memorable advertisements from 2020. Chances are you remember seeing at least one – if not all of them.
While Emotional Marketing certainly has a place in all marketing no matter the sector, it’s especially critical when it comes to soliciting donations for a charitable cause. As this article cites, emotion captures attention. It’s that simple.
Still doubt its power? Well, the numbers speak for themselves. According to one study, campaigns with emotional content performed about twice as well as fact-based content. People are also more likely to make decisions based on emotions.
The best part? Even if you’re working with a small marketing budget – as most charities are – you can still use this technique in your marketing efforts. From social media posts and blogs to your website content and newsletters, think of all the ways you can use emotion.
So what’s all this mean and how can you use it in your marketing efforts? That brings us to our next point: storytelling.
Tell a Story
To leverage the power of emotions, you need to learn how to make the most of storytelling, which, believe it or not, has been around for around 30,000 years. Although it is likely impossible to prove, as this article points out, it has been suggested that storytelling developed not long after the development of language itself.
Through storytelling, you’re able to communicate everything from ideas and feelings to problems and experiences. They stimulate imagination and they paint a picture with words.
But it’s not something you’re going to master in one shot. You’ve likely heard it before, but it bears repeating: storytelling is an art. And it’s an art that needs time to be perfected.
This means you need to be open to experimenting a little to see what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t, whether it’s a social media post or a long-form blog.
So what makes a good story? Are we ever glad you asked!
Above all else, remember this first rule: it should be about people. People relate to people. But that’s just where it starts.
No matter whether it’s short-form or long-form content, think about how your story can be entertaining. You want to hook your readers from the very start, and inspire them to keep reading until they read that final Call-to-Action (more on this later, we promise.) It’s called a “hook” and it’s what gets readers interested from the start.
Our advice: try starting from a pivotal plot point. Although your first instinct may be to start at, well, the start, we promise that beginning somewhere in the middle instead will be much more engaging and stand a more likely chance of being read through to the end.
Now we get to the middle – the part of your story where you need some kind of conflict or hurdle. This is the heart of the story itself and helps communicate to donors why their contributions are so important.
There are six types of conflict in storytelling:
- Man versus self
- Man versus man
- Man versus society
- Man versus nature
- Man versus technology
- Man versus fate
Depending on the type of charity you’re writing for, you might find one type of conflict works more than others. It might take some experimenting before finding the one that works best.
Finally, your story needs a conclusion. In other words, an ending that leaves readers feeling satisfied. You don’t want to leave people hanging with questions in mind. Especially in charitable-focused writing, your readers will feel more inspired after a satisfying “happily ever after.” They want to know how your character/person was transformed by whatever experience they went through.
Throughout, ensure your story has an organized flow to it. You might find it helpful to map out your content in rough form before you start writing.
Flow is important because you want to ensure you keep the reader engaged and interested in whatever is coming next. It’s easy to get lost in the moment and write what comes first to mind (a great method for some!), but if you’re just starting, planning things out might help the process go a little smoother for you.
Be A Thief
Neil Patel, co-founder of NP Digital, once said, “The best copywriters in the world are thieves and frauds.”
Allow us to explain.
Sometimes, the best way to write effective, conversion-focused marketing copy is to steal the words right out of the mouths of those who’ve left reviews. According to Patel, it’s, “Pure copywriting gold.”
For those marketing a product or service, it’s about getting into the minds of those purchasing the products or services and seeing what they have to say. What led them to purchasing? What do they like or dislike about it after purchase? What advice would they give to others?
We’re sure you’re wondering what this all has to do with conversion copywriting for charities. Well, in this case, instead of focusing on customers, you’re going to be taking a look at the words of your donors. What inspired them to donate? Why did they choose your charity, foundation, etc. as the one they wanted to support? How were their own lives changed by making a donation? Why would they encourage others to donate?
It’s called “Review Mining” and it’s a valuable marketing tool that’s right at your fingertips.
The next time you’re struggling with effective marketing copy, don’t sit there staring at a blank screen. Simply head over to your reviews, and watch marketing copy fly onto your screen easier than you could have ever imagined.
Always Include a CTA
So you’ve done all this work to craft a compelling story with an intriguing beginning, a heart-grabbing middle, and a satisfying ending. Great! But you’re not done yet.
Finally, you’ll need a great CTA.
CTA stands for “Call-to-Action”, and it’s the part of a webpage, advertisement, or piece of content that encourages the audience to do something.
In traditional marketing, the CTA leads readers to make a purchase. But for the type of writing you’re doing, you want the CTA to inspire people to donate.
Need some examples? We’ve got you covered with a few examples to inspire you:
- Make a donation
- Impact the life of [fill in the blank] today
- Support [blank] now
- Show your support by giving to [blank] today
- Volunteer with us today
- Get involved!
There’s no end to CTAs; it all depends on what, exactly, your piece of content was created to do, and the goals you have for the audience you’re attracting.
An important piece of advice? Don’t think this step isn’t important! Oftentimes, the CTA can make or break your content. You must create a sense of urgency and encourage people to take action right away. It would be a shame if you went through all the work of creating the content only for people to click away to something else simply because you didn’t tell them to do something.
Here’s a marketing secret: people want to be told what to do when it comes to marketing. It’s our nature to want to know what’s expected of us and the next steps to take.
According to Hubspot, “A clear CTA makes it easy for the reader to do what you want them to do. No friction, no hunting around or googling for the right form or PDF.”
Don’t Forget to Test
No matter what type of content you’re producing, it’s important to ensure it’s resonating with your audience. You want to be effective, right?
This is why it’s important to A/B test, which essentially means experimenting with two versions of content for your audience.
It’s important to do because it helps you create better content in the future and can also reduce bounce rates and increase conversions.
While the types of content you can try A/B testing on are endless, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Landing pages
- Facebook ads
- Social media posts
- Blog titles
- Calls to action
Now, how often should you A/B test? We know time in your sector is already stretched thin, so A/B testing with all of your content just might not be realistic for you. That’s okay, go easy on yourself!
If you can’t do it with all your content, just make an effort to do it as much as you can. We promise that it will begin to lead to better engagement and results and ensure your marketing efforts are making the most of the time you have.
While non-profit copywriting can present some unique challenges, it’s important to remember one key thing: it all comes down to building relationships. As we discussed earlier, people relate to people. Don’t be afraid to have fun and experiment as you use the written word to help change lives for the better.