Retargeted advertisements: A quick nonprofit guide

Nonprofit marketing is an essential component of your organization’s overall strategy because it enables you to get the word out about your various initiatives and to make the world more aware of your cause. Many organizations focus the majority of their efforts on promoting their cause to brand new prospective supporters

Supporter acquisition is essential for your organization to grow. Imagine you reach out to a new prospect and prompt them to click through and visit your website. Even though they do visit, they never give once they reach your donation page. Should you just give them up as a lost cause and move on to capture different supporters? 

In short, no. The person who visits your website has found some type of connection to your cause and will likely choose to get more involved if you have a way to reach them after their initial show of interest. That’s what brings us to retargeted ads. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the ins and outs of retargeted ads and how nonprofits can take advantage of this important resource. We’ll cover the following key points: 

  • What are retargeted ads? 
  • Why does retargeting work? 
  • Types of retargeting ads.
  • Audiences to capture with retargeted ads.

Ready to learn more about how your organization can take its marketing strategy to the next level? Let’s get started. 

What are retargeted ads?

Retargeting ads allow your nonprofit to follow those who engage with your organization digitally, showing them ads and reminding them about your cause. You can retarget users who visit specific pages on your website and show them ads that draw their attention back, encouraging them to return and perform an action. 

Feathr’s nonprofit advertising guide lists the following steps explaining how retargeted ads work: 

  1. A prospective supporter lands on your nonprofit’s website. They may click through to your homepage, donation page, event registration page, or other relevant location to get involved with your cause. 
  2. This supporter leaves your site without submitting a donation or otherwise engaging with your site. They may have simply been distracted by something or even accidentally clicked out. 
  3. When that supporter visits another site — whether they’re checking Facebook or reading the news — they’ll see a digital ad in the feed, sidebar, or center of the article. This digital ad promotes your cause and encourages them to click through, picking up where they left off on your site. 
  4. That supporter clicks back through to complete their donation, submit their email, sign up to volunteer, or register for an event. 

Your retargeted ad is an invitation to bring prospective supporters back into the fold of your organization. Many organizations use this strategy to address donation form abandonment, but it can also be used as a part of brand recognition campaigns and to drive higher attendance for events or volunteer opportunities. 

Why does retargeting work?

You may be thinking to yourself, “Everyone is bombarded with ads every day, why should these be more effective?” That’s a fair question! Americans see an estimate of 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day, and your nonprofit will want to make sure it’s a good investment before allocating more of your hard-earned money to your acquisition strategy

Because we see so many ads, people have adopted an internal screening process, only processing certain ads and simply skipping over others. Retargeting passes through this screening process for several reasons: 

  • The people you’re targeting are already familiar with your brand. They’ll be more likely to take a second look at your ad because they recognize it. It’s easier to skim over the brands that are entirely unfamiliar to organizations, but we’re more likely to stop for those we’ve seen before.
  • They were engaged enough by your mission to find your website. Think about the ways that people get to your website. They may find it through social media, a keyword search on Google, or because a friend told them about it. The simple fact that they’ve followed one of these sources shows that these individuals find something about your mission engaging and interesting. 
  • They made it all the way to your nonprofit’s conversion page. Generally, retargeting ads are used to recapture supporters who abandon a conversion page such as a donation form. And if prospective supporters got all the way to these pages, it shows that they have an intention to get involved. 

Essentially, you’re targeting people who you know are interested in your cause. In general acquisition, this is one of the largest hurdles! To recapture these supporters, you simply need to give them another little nudge to remind them of their interest in your cause. 

Because you need to draw supporters to your website and make your brand as recognizable as possible before supporters encounter your retargeted ad, this strategy is best executed in conjunction with other marketing ideas for your nonprofit. 

For example, a prospective supporter may hear from a friend about your nonprofit, visit your website, and sign up for your newsletter. They visit your donation page but get distracted and forget to complete their donation. Now, your nonprofit reaches out through email as well as retargeted ads. Repeated brand encounters like this are more likely to result in that supporter clicking through your ad and completing their donation. 

Types of retargeting ads

When you decide to launch a retargeted ad campaign, you’ll have some decisions to make about the type of campaign you want to launch. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is determining where you want your ads to appear for your supporters, which leads us to the types of campaigns you may decide to launch.

Website retargeting ads

You can display your ads on the websites your prospective supporters visit after they’ve viewed your organization’s website. For example, they may read the news, look up a recipe, or surf the internet in other ways. In the margins or the midst of the articles and pages they land on, these prospects will run into your ads. 

Study how supporters interact with your website and how they typically arrive there. Are they using mobile devices or their laptops? Are they coming from referrals on other sites or from your social media page? Answering these questions by using tools like Google Analytics will help you determine whether your organization should use website retargeting ads or another platform like social media. 

Social media retargeting ads

Oftentimes, in conjunction with retargeting ads to your prospective supporters on websites, your organization may choose to serve them on social media sites. This means that when your prospective supporters are scrolling through their social media feeds after visiting your website, they’ll see ads that direct them back to continue engaging with your cause. 

If you choose to display social media ads, make sure they are mobile-friendly. After all, many social media sites are designed to be viewed on a smaller screen. In addition to creating ads that look good on social media, you should ensure that your conversion page is also mobile-friendly. When supporters click through your ad, they will be able to get involved right away. 

Mobile optimizing your conversion pages (especially your donation page) will improve your general fundraising strategy as well as your organization’s advertising strategy. According to Double the Donation’s fundraising statistics, gifts made from mobile devices increased by 50% over the past year while desktop conversions are down by 10%. By optimizing your page for this platform, you’ll allow more people to get involved where they already spend their time — on their phones. 

Email mapping campaigns

Email mapping campaigns aren’t retargeting ads per se, but these campaigns get at the same idea. They allow your nonprofit to encourage continued engagement from those who visited your website or got involved in the past. 

Email mapping campaigns allow you to target someone with advertisements if you have access to their email address. This way, in addition to receiving emails from your organization as a part of your nonprofit’s email marketing strategy, supporters will also receive ads about your upcoming opportunities. 

Let’s say someone visits your website and submits their email address for access to your annual report. But they fail to donate, submit other information, or otherwise engage with your cause. You can send them an email with a survey to collect more information about their interests and target them with ads related to those interests. 

If you want to leverage email mapping campaigns to support your acquisition strategy, your nonprofit can append the emails from others who you may have other information about (name, phone number, etc.). Then your organization can use your email mapping campaigns to target these individuals with ads. 

Audiences to capture with retargeted ads

The other big decision you need to make when it comes to launching a retargeting ads campaign is what audience you wish to target. Depending on which page your audience visits on your site, you should make sure they encounter ads relevant to their interests. This consideration will also help you craft the ads themselves with an audience-appropriate message. 

Here are some of the groups you might decide to target with your ads:

  • Prospective donors. If your nonprofit is working to address donation form abandonment or is aiming to amplify your fundraising strategy, you might decide to target prospective donors with your campaign. Your ad might say something like, “You can still make a difference!” or “Finish your donation today” to capture this audience. 
  • Potential event attendees. If your nonprofit is hosting an upcoming event, you might have a specific event registration page on your website. If you retarget the potential supporters who visit this page, your ad will likely have a different message. Your ad might read, “Come see what the event has to offer.” 
  • Prospective volunteers. You may also have a volunteer signup page on your website from which you want to retarget visitors about various upcoming opportunities. In this case, your ad might read, “It’s not too late to sign up!” 

Be sure to track how many people click through your ad and return to your conversion page for each of these audiences, and track the conversion rate to measure the success of your campaign. 

After you’ve launched a few retargeted ad campaigns, you might decide to conduct A/B testing to determine which message is more effective for what audience. You can show half of them one message and half of them another message. Whichever has a higher conversion rate is a better message to continue with in the future. 

Supporter acquisition is challenging. Once you’ve attracted some visitors to your site, you won’t want to let them slip away! Retargeting ads can help your nonprofit make the most of your existing marketing strategies, bringing qualified prospects back into the fold and encouraging them to get involved!

This article was contributed by Feathr, an industry-leading tech company building marketing tools specifically tailored to the needs of associations and event organizers

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