Online marketing is usually less expensive and longer lasting than print marketing. Use these 25 tips to increase your land trust’s visibility online, with just a little bit of time and money.
Your Core Online Presence
1. Get your own domain name and website. There’s no excuse anymore for not having a website with an easy-to-remember domain name. You can register a domain, get it hosted, and drop your text into a basic template for under $100/year. We use GoDaddy.com to register domains.
2. Start a blog. Search engines love blogs because they are usually updated more frequently than websites. If you have a website, you can load a WordPress blog (WordPress.org) on to your site for free, keeping your blog under your own domain name (and thus pushing more traffic to your website). You can also blog for free at www.blogger.com, but that’s not as good as hosting it on your own domain.
3. Issue online press releases. Write a press release about your latest accomplishment or a connection your work has to a big story in the media now. You can issue national press releases for as little as $80 at prweb.com. This will create links to your site and with some luck, your press release will be reprinted on many other websites.
Being Where People Look
4. Get listed in online directories. Are you a member of the Land Trust Alliance and are you listed in the “Find a Local Land Trust” directory on lta.org? Are you listed on statewide or regional land trust association or council websites in your area? Check your listing and make sure it is up-to-date.
5. Join associations with good websites. Consider joining other groups in your area outside the land conservation community – especially those with good online resources like member directories, where you can add a listing for your land trust. Examples include chambers of commerce, statewide nonprofit associations, and service clubs.
6. Submit your sites to search engines. Make sure Google, Yahoo! and the others know about your site. You can submit to them individually, but it’s much easier to pay a small fee for a search engine submission service to do it for you.
7. Buy alternate domains. If someone had to guess your domain name, would they get it right? What are some common guesses? If the domains are available, register them and redirect them to your main site. For example, while we use NonprofitMarketingGuide.com as our main domain, NonprofitCommunicationsGuide.com and NonprofitPRGuide.com redirect to this site. You can also buy the .org, .com, .net, etc. versions of your domain name. We use GoDaddy.com to register domains.
Using Email Effectively
8. Change your email signature. Every email you send, especially those to e-discussion lists with archives online, should include an email signature with your contact information and a bit of information about the kind of work your land trust does. Update it every now and then to mention a new issue or project.
9. Distribute an email newsletter. Write a regular e-zine or email newsletter updating your mailing list on your work. Use an email list service provider so subscribes, unsubscribes, bounces, etc. are handled automatically. We recommend iContact and ConstantContact.
10. Create an online community. Build an online community of people who support you through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. These sites can be especially useful for advocacy campaigns.
11. Interact with visitors. Give your website or blog visitors ways to interact with you. People like to know and interact with the person behind the website. Let them answer a poll or survey, leave comments, or join your mailing list.
12. Keep family and friends in the loop. Word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to get more people involved in your work. When you communicate with friends and family via email or networking sites, be sure to give them a quick update on the work you are doing and any new projects you are launching. You never know where that next donor, volunteer, or partner may come from, so encourage those word-of-mouth referrals from the people who know and trust you.
13. Ask for testimonials. It’s more powerful for your supporters to talk about your great work than it is for you to do so. Ask for testimonials and scatter them throughout your website.
14. Tell people how to reach you offline. Online marketing and communication are great, but sometimes people want to hear your voice or meet you in person. Tell them how they can reach you live.
15. Put video on YouTube. Record some of your constituents or staff talking about land conservation issues and show some of the places you are trying to save and what’s threatening those places. Put the video on YouTube.com and on your website and blog, too. YouTube now has a special channel just for nonprofits.
16. Record some podcasts. You can deliver audio podcasts or video podcasts (vidcasts or vodcasts) to supporters. These are like mini radio or TV programs that can be enjoyed on a computer, mp3 player or iPod. See this Squiddo page to learn more about nonprofit podcasting, and TechSoup has how-to tips for nonprofits too.
Give a Little, Get a Lot
17. Comment on blogs. Most bloggers accept comments on their posts. Read blogs related to the issues you are working on and submit comments on the posts. In most cases, a link to your website or blog will be included with your comment. You can search for blogs at technorati.com or Google's Blog Search.
18. Be a guest blogger. Even if you don't have your own blog, you can still be a blogger. Volunteer to be a guest blogger (a contributor) to some of your favorite blogs and those that are influential on your topics.
19. Write free articles for others to use. Submit short articles about the issues your land trust works on to article directory sites like EzineArticles.com. Include links to your website or blog in your “Author” section.
20. Set up a Squidoo lens. Squidoo lets you set up a single page called a lens on a topic that you care about and direct visitors to all your favorite online resources on that topic, including blogs, favorite links, RSS feeds, Flickr photos, Google maps, eBay auctions, CafePress designs, Amazon books or music, and much more. If someone is looking for recommended information on your topic, your lens gets him started and sends him off in the right direction.
21. Offer freebies. Offer a free download (tips, how-to’s of interest to your target audience) when someone signs up for your mailing list or does something else you want them to do.
Little Techie Changes with Big Impact
22. Spend time on your website page titles. Page titles are used heavily by search engines to determine the relevance of your site. Spend some time making sure they are full of keywords.
23. Use search engine friendly URLs. Search engines also look at the actual names of your files in your website. Place keywords in your file names to improve their rankings. For example, how-to-protect-your-farm.htm is a better file name than protect.htm.
24. Seek out quality links. When other websites link to yours, try to get the words in those links to be substantive. The link text itself should be relevant. For example, in Google’s eyes, land trust is a much better link than click here for a land trust.
25. Keep track of your website statistics. Watch where your visitors are coming from to find out which online marketing tools are working and not working, and adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly.