Full-funnel marketing strategy | nonprofit vertical

Driving growth through full-funnel strategy

Summary

How a national environmental nonprofit broke its 36-month revenue goals in 15 months with a full-funnel paid media strategy.

Our client, a national environmental nonprofit focused on acquiring net new donations and increasing revenue, had ambitious goals for return on digital marketing investment.
 
Their paid media program had to deliver enough attributable donation revenue to break even in 36 months. They were beginning to experience a significant decline in organic traffic and a stagnation of paid media performance, which was hurting their bottom line and preventing them from meeting their 36-month break-even goal. A heavy emphasis on driving donations had led to neglecting the upper part of the funnel, causing misaligned success metrics and missed optimization opportunities.
 
We worked alongside our client to enhance the paid media plan with a full-funnel strategy while also realigning expectations around how to measure success. This helped them attract new donors and regain lost revenue.

Services

We could see the potential for success if we reimagined channel-level success metrics within the context of the big picture goal of acquiring new donors and driving new donor revenue to achieve a 36-month breakeven. That set the vision for what we wanted to achieve.

Regaining revenue through an expanded funnel

Dream

Increase net new donor volume and revenue for the least amount of paid media spend

We began our engagement by envisioning what might be possible. Our client was tasked with acquiring net new donors through their paid media strategy. As with many nonprofits, our client was hyper-conscious about their paid media spend and ensuring that it produced results. As such, the success of each paid media tactic was measured based on the donation volume and cost per acquisition (CPA) attributed to it. 

 

They’d historically only focused on targeting donors through low funnel tactics like retargeting and paid search. Although low-funnel tactics are most likely to show direct conversions because they target users further along in their donor journey, they fail to generate awareness among net new audiences that may not be familiar with the brand. 

 

But we could see the potential for success if we reimagined channel-level success metrics within the context of the big picture goal of acquiring new donors and driving new donor revenue to achieve a 36-month breakeven. That set the vision for what we wanted to achieve.

Discover

Uncovering the downstream impact of a choked funnel

Next we needed to clarify our vision with some data. After consistently investing in only low-funnel tactics for nearly a decade, this leading environmental nonprofit’s direct traffic and volume of branded search queries was steadily decreasing. 

 

This stood out in stark contrast with data indicating that interest in climate change is rising at an increasing clip. Layered on top of the stagnating conversions from paid media, these dwindling organic metrics signaled that online interest and overall brand awareness was waning among the target audience. 

Chart showing branded queries declining before.

This stood out in stark contrast with data indicating that interest in climate change is rising at an increasing clip. Layered on top of the stagnating conversions from paid media, these dwindling organic metrics signaled that online interest and overall brand awareness was waning among the target audience. 

Defining moment

Maximize conversions at the bottom of the funnel by feeding the top of the funnel

Not only were they failing to convert new donors, they were also struggling to even reach them. After years of focusing exclusively on low-funnel tactics, their new donor pipeline had become dangerously constrained. Without enough new donors being engaged at the top of the funnel, they’d reached the limit of what they could impact through their existing strategies and channels. Increased investment in conversion-oriented media and conversion rate optimization wasn’t going to fill the gap. The only way to get the opportunity flowing again was to bring new prospective donors in at the top of the funnel.

0 %
Increase in Conversion
1
MONTHS TO MEET 3-YEAR GOAL
1 %
Lift in Peak-season revenue

Do

Deploying a full-funnel strategy

Our team helped unlock this choked funnel by building a full-funnel paid media plan which included awareness tactics like CTV, digital video, streaming audio, and prospecting display; consideration tactics like native and non-brand search; and conversion tactics like retargeting and branded search. This well-rounded plan resulted in a larger pool of brand-aware potential donors whose consideration needs were addressed more effectively allowing them to convert more quickly and efficiently.

 

 

We also right-sized the unbalanced measurement approach by properly aligning tactics and KPIs with the strategic role each plays in the donor journey. This was a departure from the previous reliance on conversions and CPA to determine an individual tactic’s success, which was preventing tactics’ full value from being realized and undercutting success.

 

Launching this more holistic paid media strategy and applying a more appropriate measurement strategy established a healthy pipeline. This, in turn, expanded reach, drove brand awareness, improved donor flow through the funnel, and drove more donations with less spend.

 

 

For the first time in over a decade, our client’s branded search queries were on the rise. Our upper-funnel efforts in the paid media program were distinctly effective at increasing brand awareness and driving more traffic to the site outside of just paid media sources.

Do better

Driving continuous improvement

Building on our initial success, we doubled down on our efforts as we moved into the peak giving season, which runs from October-December. In days 91-120 of our full-funnel program (peak giving season), we were able to produce a 22% increase in donor revenue. By the end of the fiscal year, we had spent 9% more on paid media year over year, but had produced 61% more donations.

This chart shows branded search queries after the implementation of a full-funnel strategy.

Our full-funnel paid media and measurement strategies generated significant efficiencies with major downstream impact. This forward-looking, well-rounded approach helped our client break their 36-month break-even goal in just 15 months.

Reaping the benefits of full-funnel marketing

In partnership with our client, we helped build a more sustainable paid media program. By filling the funnel with net new prospective donors through paid awareness tactics and expanding the narrow definitions of tactical success, we were able to ensure downstream impact across both paid and organic channels. 

Implementing a full-funnel paid media strategy increased organic traffic, generated efficiencies in the paid campaigns, and drove more downstream donations for our client. By executing a program that casts a wide net and nurtures users through the donor journey, we helped set our client up for long-term donor growth so that they can continue their mission of funding projects to conserve nature and enrich lives.

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