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Nonprofit and Education: How Inbound Marketing Drives Success

Competition is heating up in the digital age, forcing organizations to be proactive in addressing their challenges. They can't afford to slow down their marketing efforts because it can really hurt their visibility. 

Companies in the education and nonprofit world especially hit plenty of obstacles when it comes to building a sustainable business growth plan. 

In terms of nonprofits, there are a whopping 1.56 million companies registered as nonprofits, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS). And thanks to the advent of education technology, there is a massive expansion of the education industry as a whole. As more companies are born, it becomes harder to stand out and make a real impact on their audience. 

Fortunately, the inbound marketing approach addresses the many challenges faced by nonprofits and education organizations. 

Nonprofit and Education Marketing Challenges (And the Inbound Impact)

Inbound marketing centers on three core tenets. It sets organizations up to be human, holistic, and helpful in everything they do. 

In a digital world where consumers are more educated, traditional marketing falls short. Resorting to tactics like running print ads, cold calling, or distributing mailers is costly and inefficient.

Think about how the modern day consumer engages with these marketing materials. They flip right past print ads in magazines. When they see an unknown number calling, they either ignore it or are quick to hang up and tell the caller to take them off the list. And those pesky mailers go right in the trash. 

For most organizations, especially those in competitive industries who don't have much brand awareness, this approach goes nowhere. Fortunately, inbound marketing is a completely different approach, aimed at attracting relevant audiences after you earn their trust and demonstrate authority. 

Let's look at a few common obstacles nonprofits and education companies face and see how inbound fits in as the perfect solution:

Making Every Dollar Count

Budget restraints are a real concern for every organization. Most teams have to set and stick to a tight marketing budget. In fact, 28% of companies say securing enough budget is their top marketing challenge. 


Budgets are even tighter in the nonprofit world. They typically can't afford to pay for boosting social ads and to take risky moves in their marketing strategies. 

Takeaway: One of the best inbound marketing channels is organic traffic. Not only is that traffic relevant (they searched for a solution to a problem and landed on your site); it's also a much lower cost than running PPC tactics

This is where creativity can really set companies apart from all the noise. When companies build a strong blogging process, they're ready to earn attention and start building meaningful relationships with their audience through valuable, informative content. 

Honing In On Messaging

The way companies position their brand is essential to the success of their marketing efforts. And messaging is the core component of positioning. 

Messaging is especially difficult for nonprofits because they're often addressing sensitive issues. It's tough to find the right tone that is engaging and human. As for education companies, they often target a wide range of prospective customers. Therefore, they need to deliver relevant messaging to each segment of their audience.  

Takeaway: The best way to properly hone in on messaging is building out buyer personas, which is a crucial element of inbound marketing. These semi-fictional representations of ideal customers help marketers get in the shoes of who they're marketing to. 

With enough research, marketers can create in-depth personas and find ways to develop nuanced messaging that aligns with their interests and personality. 

Enticing Visitors to Convert

Conversions take the several different forms, depending on your business. For nonprofits, they're typically striving to increase donations. So they need to highlight their cause in an impactful way to drive donors to convert on their website. 

This might be enticing potential donors to join a subscription list or download a case study showcasing a successful nonprofit initiative. 

For education companies, application processes are a common conversion path. But if that process is lengthy and time consuming, a lot of visitors might bail before they complete it. 

Takeaway: Inbound experts understand the value of creating conversion paths that are streamlined and accessible for their visitors. The best first step is auditing the entire conversion experience.

This audit will bring gaps to light, giving marketers a clear course of action to fully optimize the path. Plus, they can experiment with new lead generation strategies that deliver more qualified leads in different channels, creating new conversion paths. 

Inbound Success Stories In the Nonprofit and Education Industry

The inbound marketing approach yields results for all kinds of industries, including manufacturing, business services, and healthcare. Nonprofits and education are no exception. 

HubSpot, the pioneering software company that is known for introducing the inbound methodology to the world, shares some amazing success stories in both the nonprofit and education industry:

Driving Conversions

A private research university that specializes in science and engineering was struggling to fully understand exactly how their website was performing. Without crucial data analysis, they were held hostage to a guessing game. 

Did that last campaign generate leads? What blog formats are earning the most traffic? How many pages does a visitor see before they leave the site?

They didn't know these answers. 


Fortunately, when their interactive media manager came on board, she insisted the company sign up for HubSpot. And with the robust analytics tool, her team was able to measure website performance. 

They optimized many of their digital marketing efforts, which they accomplished using various HubSpot features, such as:

  • Landing pages, which they built to improve lead flow.
  • Lead management, which boosted conversion rates.

They also shortened their lengthy application forms to simplify conversions. The results were amazing, leading to a whopping 35% increase in college applicants and 140% boost in monthly leads. 

Growing Contact Database

A nonprofit specializing in fatherhood resources and programs was in desperate need of a solution that helped them reach their diverse audience. They were targeting community-based organizations, military, and corrections organizations.

But this is a tough feat to accomplish, especially when they didn't fully understand their target market. Plus, they were using several different systems and tools, which slowed down their sales and donations processes and communications.

When they adopted HubSpot, they made the most of several features. They used the content management system (CMS) to create educational, high impact content that is relevant to each of their target audiences. The smart calls to action (CTAs) were especially valuable because they allowed the company to deliver highly targeted offers relevant to every segment.

They were able to segment their contacts list by using HubSpot's lists feature. By creating and assigning various buyer personas to their list, they boosted engagement in a targeted way. 

Overall, thanks to their inbound marketing approach, they increased organic traffic by 40% and grew their database by 5.3X. Plus, thanks to the holistic nature of HubSpot, they saved 11% of their marketing budget. 


Reducing Length of Conversion Cycle

One of the most prominent management and leadership schools faced two major issues: They struggled to drive traffic and couldn't convert that traffic. 

When it came to driving traffic, they had no system in place. There was no SEO strategy or list of target keywords. Plus, they weren't even blogging. 

And one of the worst oversights was the fact that they weren't capitalizing on high traffic pages and failing to capture information from their leads. 

The solution? 

First of all, they used HubSpot's SEO tools to analyze keywords and create an SEO strategy These changes lead to an organic traffic increase of 252% in just one year. 

They also used HubSpot's blogging tools to start and maintain a blog that was fully optimized. This eventually earned them placements on the first page of search engine results. 

To address their lead generation issue, they created several landing pages specific to campaigns, lead sources, events, and other targeted elements. As a result of all these big adjustments to their strategy, they decreased their conversion cycle by over two months! What normally took five and a half months now takes just over two months to convert. 

Nonprofit and education marketers need access to tools that enable them to create awesome content and build full campaigns to earn attention and fully engage leads. When they embrace inbound marketing, they're well prepared to thrive against their competitors. 

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Jeff Previte

Jeff Previte

I am a Content Manager at Bluleadz. I enjoy spending time outdoors -- camping, hiking, hammocking, and everything in between. I also love reading, writing, and learning how to play guitar.