Should You Hire A Marketing Agency Or An Internal Team?

As small to mid-sized outdoor companies grow, it becomes tougher to be the CEO wearing all the hats. You feel trapped between your need to grow and the realities of hiring an employee. In the beginning, it was possible to bring in a steady stream of leads and convert them while marketing the company and integrating a strategic direction for the organization. But now, as your outdoor business continues to grow, so does your to-do list.

I went through some of these struggles as I built my marketing agency. As my client list grew, I was stretching myself too thin trying to keep up with their needs while still trying to bring on more clients. I finally hit a point where I had to hire employees to help. While at first it stung seeing my overhead go up, in the long-run, I’ve been able to maintain consistent leads, maintain current client satisfaction, and be able to enjoy dinner with my wife and children every night.

A common question for many outdoor businesses is, “Do I hire an internal marketing team or a marketing agency to attract, convert, close, and delight my growing customer base?” And while we would love for you to hire us, sometimes it makes more sense to build an internal marketing team. Today I want to review the pros and cons of hiring an internal marketing team vs. hire a marketing agency. Every outdoor company is different so take a moment to think about your company’s needs and vision to make the best decision.

Hiring an Internal Marketing Team

Pros:

  • Expertise: An internal marketing team will live and breathe your industry. Or at least that’s the hope. As you search for the perfect hire, you’ll gravitate toward a marketing director who has experience in your industry.
  • Speed: Because of their expertise, your internal marketing team can get things done quicker. They also don’t have a list of clients pulling them in different directions so they can buckle down and focus on your projects.
  • Accountability: Since the in-house marketing team shares a wall with your office, it’s easy to supervise projects. I’m not saying you’re a micromanager but there’s something to say about walking down the hall and getting an immediate status update on projects.
  • Company Insight: Working in the same office as the CEO keeps the marketing team abreast of company goals and culture. They are always “in the know” of what’s happening so they can adjust their strategy to fit the needs of the business.

Cons:

  • Hiring Process: Hiring an internal marketing team can take a lot of time. A lot. Not only will you need a marketing director who has the knowledge and experience to lead a team, you must find a coordinator and/or social media guru and/or graphic designer. The list goes on depending on how deep you want your marketing bench. Once you decide how many people you want to hire, you’ll spend time recruiting, interviewing, and making offers. Once you’ve found the right people, you need to train them and finally, they can start developing a strategy. This could take up to 2 months…and that’s being gracious.
  • Employee Issues: Now you’ve found the perfect hire, it’s time to start the hard part. Managing them. Employees call in sick, take vacation time, quit, and sometimes they aren’t the right fit so you have to fire them.
  • Cost: According to Glassdoor, the national average salary of a marketing director is $116,000. A marketing coordinator? $47,000. Graphic designer’s national average salary is $48,000. Depending on your market, these salaries could be more or less. Not only do you have salaries to pay but to be competitive, you’ll want to include benefits. On top of all of this, your employees need a workspace, computer(s), software, etc. Hiring an in-house marketing team can add up making it costly.
  • Limited Skill Set: Let’s say you hire a marketing director and coordinator to keep costs down. There’s a good chance they won’t be as skilled in graphic or web design meaning you must find an independent contractor or agency to help. Unless your company is able to afford a full-blown internal marketing team, you’ll most likely outsource a lot of work.

Hire a Marketing Agency

Pros:

  • Manage Expectations: A well organized, marketing agency knows how to manage their workloads. Because they are working with several clients, they are able to churn and burn projects and adapt to changes in a marketing plan. It is not in their best interest to stretch themselves too thin if they want repeat clients so they will be very transparent on what they can deliver.
  • Wide Skill Set: Marketing agencies need a large talent pool to give clients what they want. Instead of having to work with several independent contractors, an agency can support your business from strategy planning to content creation to web design and more. Depending on your company’s needs and the agency you work with, you can also just “a la carte” services.
  • Easy to Cancel Agreement: Unlike an employee, if you’re not happy with the marketing agency it’s easy to end the contract. Sure the ease of canceling a contract depends on the agency but there’s a lot less paperwork to fire an agency. Also, you’re not committed to renewing the agreement each year.
  • Creative Ideas: Because an agency is working with a variety of clients and projects, their creative brain is constantly working. They are not immersed in one company’s culture so they can bring fresh ideas and insight to your marketing projects.
  • Less Oversight: Once you’ve discussed goals and approved a strategy (which usually happens in the first 30 days), the marketing agency is off to work. The agency is able to work independently and only needs your kiss of approval on certain things, leaving you free to manage your company.

Cons:

  • Disconnect: An agency isn’t immersed in your company culture like an in-house marketing team. It can take a little time for a marketing agency to fully understand the day-to-day needs of your business.
  • Response Time: Because you’re not an agency’s only client, it’s harder for them to drop everything for you. First-class agencies thrive in a fast-paced environment with tight deadlines but they still have other clients to take care of.
  • Location: If you’ve opted to hire an agency outside of a 60-mile radius, it is difficult to get that behind-the-scenes video to post on Facebook. Or a candid photo for Instagram. It can take more planning to get these moments captured.

Making The Decision

Hiring an internal marketing team or a marketing agency has its pros and cons. Before deciding, it’s important to think about your company’s goal. We would love to work with your outdoor business but our main goal is for your company to thrive. If your business will thrive with an internal marketing department, then start hiring. We’re here to help in any capacity now or in the future.

If you’re not sure what to do, contact us today! We are not in the business of selling you something you don’t need so if it makes little sense, we’ll be transparent.


The 4 Reasons To Keep Your Nonprofit Blog Going In 2018

Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about the importance of blogging. *Mine is raised.* Content marketing is dominating marketing trends and if everyone was blogging and doing it well, I’d leave you alone. Due to shrinking budgets and overworked staff, blogging has taken a backseat for many nonprofits. Producing quality blogs and posting consistently can be taxing on nonprofits. But what if I told you:

These are powerful stats. As much as we want to fight this trend because of lack of time and resources, blogging can have an impressive impact on a nonprofit. Blogging gives nonprofits the chance to share their story, motivate donors, and keep people abreast of important issues.

Consistency Is Key
According to HubSpot, companies that prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI. When companies produce 16+ blog posts per month, they get 3.5x more traffic and 4.5x more leads than companies publishing 0-4 a month. For nonprofits, this translates to higher awareness and a growing donor list. Now posting 16 blogs a month for any size nonprofit is asking a lot. But the point is, if you’re not blogging regularly, you won’t see positive results.

Quality Over Quantity
More blog posts can lead to higher web traffic but it is important to produce quality posts. If you’re pumping out blog posts just to hit a certain number, readers will sense that and quit reading. Not only will they quit visiting your website, they’ll tell others. Telling an effective nonprofit story that resonates with potential donors and volunteers is more important than posting three blogs a week.

Blog Content Ideas
I am aware of the time and budget constraints nonprofits have. And since I’m feeling generous, below are ideas you can incorporate into your content marketing strategy.

1. Numbered Lists

People love to read lists. They are easy to skim which encourages readership and shares when posted on social media. Here are examples nonprofits can use:

  • 5 Ways To Get Involved In Your Community
  • 8 Ways The Outdoors Can Improve Your Happiness
  • 4 Reasons Kids Should Be Outside More
  • 10 Startling Facts About Wildlife Conservation

2. Guest Blogging

When you’re short on time, asking someone else to write a post can help you stay consistent and give a fresh perspective. Ask a corporate sponsor to write a post. This can help them with brand awareness. Maybe a volunteer has been dying to share their experience and wants to write a blog. Guest blogging is a great way to mix up your blog.

3. Photo Essays

Blogs with images get 94% more views so why not create a post full of them! You’ll still want to include some copy to introduce and close the photo essay but this is a creative way to share your story. Some photo essay ideas are:
A successful fundraising event
A before and after of a project you completed
Faces of the people who have benefitted from your nonprofit

4. Interviews
Interview volunteers, donors, staff, or the people you’re helping. If you’ve written some lengthy blog posts earlier in the month, post the interview as a video instead. While you know the value of your nonprofit, hearing it from a donor or volunteer can help inspire others. People want to hear real stories and interviews can do just that.

Start Blogging Now!
Blogging is vital for nonprofits to share their story and create change. As much as we want to fight this trend, it isn’t going away anytime soon. Need help getting started? Contact us today for a free, non-salesy consultation!



2018 Inbound Marketing Trends

It’s a new year which means new marketing trends to help grow your business. While some trends in 2017 are still relevant like blogging and social media, we did some research to see what new marketing tactics will help your company thrive in 2018.


7 Last Minute Checks Before A Trade Show

Trade shows can have a huge impact on any size business. Over 80% of attendees have some sort of buying power so if planned correctly, companies can network with potential customers and even close deals on the spot. This is a chance for salespeople to take a break from the cold calling and emails and make a lasting impression in person.

 

Since trade shows can be costly, it’s important your business has planned well in advance with goal setting, booth design, premarketing, etc. To maximize your ROI, take a look at these last minute checks to ensure a successful show!

 

  1. Charge Everything

Laptops, phones, iPads, tablets, anything that needs to be charged, charge it. The last thing you want is to be showing a demo on your computer and it dies. Or capturing a lead on your iPad and “low battery” pops up and there’s still five hours left in the show. Since 24-hour battery life on most electronics isn’t a thing, it’d be wise to pack extra batteries and power cords as well. And if you’re not located next to an outlet or you’re not sure, bring extension cords.

 

  1.  Have A Backup Plan

Having a backup plan for everything that could go wrong will give you peace of mind and will also continue to maximize your ROI at the show. Here are a couple scenarios that can happen to anyone and how to plan ahead:

  • The booth was shipped well in advance but with holidays, extreme weather, or just incompetence, there’s no guarantee everything will arrive on time. Pack a company branded tablecloth and marketing materials in your suitcase just in case you arrive at an empty table.
  • The marketing team put together an amazing slideshow for a meeting you planned with some prospects but the trade show doesn’t have the proper cords to hook it up. Pack extra cords and also print out copies of the slideshow on some nice paper in case there are tech issues.

Even if you plan for the trade show a year in advance, things happen. So always plan for the worst and just pack extra of everything.

 

  1. Update Your Credit Card App

A lot of trade shows give exhibitors the ability to sell their merchandise to attendees. Whether it’s a B2B or B2C show, make sure you have the software to close the sale on the spot. There are several credit card apps you can download on a phone or tablet but you’ll want to check that it’s up to date. If it’s been a while since you’ve used the app, double-check it’s the most updated version. You don’t want a bunch of frustrated first-time customers who waited in line to buy a thermos, rod, or energy drink because the app needed a new update.

 

  1. Pack Snacks & Water

Rule number 1 in trade show etiquette is to always have someone at the booth. Most companies send at least two representatives to manage the booth but if you’re a small company, your partner planned a lunch meeting, or someone is sick, you might get stuck at the booth by yourself.  Instead of leaving your booth for an hour to grab something to eat, pack some granola bars, a sandwich, or some nuts to munch on. Bring a water bottle as well because networking will leave anyone parched. And lastly, pack mints. No one wants to smell onion breath. No one.

 

  1. Double-Check Your Lead Capture

The cost to convert a lead from a trade show is 38% less than a sales call so it’s vital to have some sort of lead capture. Collecting business cards is always a nice backup plan but fewer people carry them around these days. It also can be tedious manually inputting them into your CRM. Talk with your marketing team in advance about setting up a form on your website people can fill at your booth that automatically puts them in your CRM. Apps like Leadature, is another solution for capturing potential customers at the show. No matter what method you use to capture leads, double-check the day before and on the day of the show. If something goes wrong, see step 2.  

 

  1. Email Current Customers

The main goal of a trade show is to get new customers but this is also an opportunity to strengthen current relationships. A few days ahead of the show, email your current customer base and let them know you’ll be at the trade show. Delighting your existing customers with free passes, drink tickets, or some cool marketing swag can help with retention and future sales.

 

  1. Post On Social

Not only do you want current customers to know you’re at a trade show but fans on your social media want to as well. Within your fan base are tons of potential customers who might be attending the same show. Leading up to the event let them know your booth number with a tweet or Facebook post. You can even post your schedule on Facebook and ask fans to message you to set-up more meetings. While at the show, post a Facebook Live video of you giving a demo of a new product.

 

Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with future and current customers. It’s important to take full advantage of this opportunity and using these last-minute checks will help you leave a lasting impression. If your trade show is in the Denver area, check out our post on making the most of your trip!

 

Good luck out there, exhibitors!


Why Outdoor Wilderness Programs Should Use Inbound Marketing

In the past, most outdoor wilderness programs focused their marketing efforts on traditional outbound strategies, including trade shows, telemarketing, print ads, and radio or television ads. But with the availability of technology, the focus has quickly shifted to inbound marketing strategies such as blogging, podcasts, webinars, search engine optimization, infographics, YouTube videos, and eBooks. The focus of inbound marketing is being discovered by customers, rather than going out to find them.

Inbound marketing can, therefore, be a powerful way of drawing prospects to your wilderness site, and gradually converting them into customers. Here are a few ways you can use inbound marketing for success.

1. Create Brand Awareness For Your Outdoor Wilderness Programs

Outdoor wilderness sites can dramatically improve their brand awareness especially around the different programs you offer. You can tell success stories and highlight unique aspects of your trips that sets you apart from your competition. Potential clients are spending a lot of time researching options and comparing data points. Use videos, social media, and blog posts to start attracting those clients to your website.

Once you turn the money off for a pay per click campaign those leads stop filtering in.

2. Get More Leads With Less Money

Just like outbound marketing methods, inbound marketing requires some upfront investment. However, as your marketing resources grow, leads are pulled to the site over time compounding your growth. Unlike a paid-for-click (PPC) campaign where the leads go away once the money stops flowing, an inbound marketing plan will continue to organically attract users to the site over time.

3. Establish Credibility

Before people sign up to go on one of your trips, they want to be sure they are reserving a spot with a credible outfit. Inbound marketing offers outdoor wilderness programs a great opportunity to establish credibility with their customers.

For instance, if you are booking a month-long trip, you could create a series of blogs or videos that offer an overview of experiences that happen on a typical trip. In the process, you could answer common questions asked by families and prospects in the research phase. The more prospects see you as an authority in your industry, the higher your chance are of obtaining that business.

4. Target Qualified Customers

Inbound marketing is all about pulling in already interested customers. Unlike outbound marketing, you’re not throwing money at advertising that  is marketed to everyone. Instead, you are using specific keywords, blogs, and social media posts to attract the perfect customer. When you create content that your customers are searching for, it makes it easier for them to find you. They’ll sign up for your newsletters since you’ve established yourself as a thought leader. You’ll also save money since these leads are more qualified than leads coming from TV ads or other traditional marketing strategies.

5. Enhance Organic Search

Getting people to your website organically is all about SEO. And how do you increase your SEO? Blogs, keywords, social media, videos. When people are searching for wilderness therapy companies, they might start by Googling, “What is Wilderness Therapy?” “How can Wilderness Therapy Help My Teenager?” When you create blogs addressing these questions, you’re able to get these prospects on your website…organically.

Inbound marketing is a new way to approach prospects. While leaving the comfort of traditional marketing is scary, inbound marketing will help you gain more qualified leads, increase brand awareness, and so much more. Are you ready to dip your toes into inbound marketing? Check out our blog on how inbound marketing can help you attract the right clients. We provide a 4-step approach to inbound marketing. If you’re ready to dive in, head first, then give us a call! We offer a free, 30-minute, non-salesy, consultative call. Let’s get started!


How Inbound Marketing Can Help You Get More Outdoor Therapy Clients

Quit handing out 10 cent trinkets at your trade show booth and start having meaningful conversations with future referrers. And please save your money on purchased email lists and grow your list organically.

These are just a few of the differences between traditional marketing and inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a proven way to help grow your wilderness therapy business and attract the right clients. By attracting ideal clients through relevant content creation, opening the door for meaningful conversations, converting leads, and leaving a lasting impression on every customer, you can grow your wilderness therapy business.

Let’s take a look at how you can attract the perfect clients for your outdoor therapy business with inbound marketing.

Traditional vs. Inbound Marketing

Traditional or outbound marketing is the old school way of finding clients. It usually consists of plastering your message on every medium and hoping your customers will find you. Outbound marketing tactics tend to be interruptive to potential clients leaving a bad taste in their mouth. 

Today the customer has all the power. They can research you and 50 of your competitors over a cup of coffee.

According to Hubspot, “Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content….and does not need to fight for potential customers attention” like outbound marketing. Wilderness therapy companies can use inbound marketing to attract qualified prospects with valuable content on blogs and social media.

Inbound Marketing isn’t some sleazy, sales trick where the customer leaves wondering why they even bought your product.  It’s attracting the right customers who are already interested in what you’re selling but might need help understanding your product.

Let’s take a look at the 4 steps to start attracting not only more but the right outdoor therapy clients to your business with inbound marketing…and it all starts with your website.

 

Attract strangers to your website

Websites are essential for wilderness therapy businesses to have. It is a way for potential customers to contact you with questions, see your services, and learn more about the company. It’s also an opportunity for you to pull in already interested clients to your website. Valuable content creation and a strong social media presence are two ways inbound marketers can attract ideal clients to their websites. Let’s take a look at blogs and social media.

Blogs

While it seems like everyone and their dog has a blog these days, the amount of companies that post blogs regularly and write content that their future customers want to read is quite small. It’s a missed opportunity for several outdoor therapy businesses but a chance for you to take advantage of! In 2013, Hubspot found that 92% of companies who blogged regularly acquired a customer through their blog.

Making blog posts a weekly or monthly habit is important but also making that content interesting to your future customers is the difference in attracting ideal customers. Remember how I said earlier that inbound marketing is attracting people already interested in outdoor therapy? It’s a lot easier converting those website visitors into customers when the content you write are topics they’re already searching for. Blogs shouldn’t be just about self-promotion. Wilderness therapy companies can write posts about:

  • Five Mental Health Benefits Of Being Outside
  • Four Tips For Dealing With Difficult Teenagers
  • How Does Social Media Impact My Teen?

These are just a few things your potential customers might be searching about. By being found in topics your audience cares about you become a trusted source of information and potential customers begin to value your services. 

Social Media

Just like a website, social media can positively impact your business if done correctly. And just like blogging, posting valuable content regularly can attract the ideal wilderness therapy clients. The blogs you start creating are perfect to include on your social media calendar. Here are some other ideas to include that will attract people to your social media and get them to your website:

  • Put a human face on your brand. Social media is a chance for you to leave the sales pitch at the door and start acting like a real person. Post videos of your staff having fun. Have a Q&A with your CEO or therapists. Share images of the outdoors.
  • Connect. Ask open-ended questions and get your audience to engage with you. When they do start interacting with your brand, respond! Don’t leave them hanging. Have a two-way conversation with your fans.

 

Convert Website Visitors Into Leads

Now that your website activity is going up, it’s time to turn those visitors into leads. To do so, you need to create a method that captures your visitor’s information. Call-to-actions (CTAs) on blog posts and landing pages is a simple way for you to guide visitors on your website. You can encourage them to sign up for your newsletters, download success stories, or sign up for a webinar. Whatever it is, you want to be able to get to know your website visitors so you can start addressing their needs and building trust and credibility.

Closing Time

You’re pumping out content and tracking website visitors….now it’s time to close. This is the hard part and possibly most time-consuming. It can take up to 13 interactions with your lead before he or she pulls the trigger so it’s important to stay hopeful and be patient. Managing those “touches” with your lead through a CRM system can help you stay on top of it. Hubspot found that CRM tools can increase revenue by 41% per salesperson.

Email marketing continues to be the most effective marketing channel to close leads as it can be less intrusive than phone calls but more personal than your standard monthly newsletter. In those emails, you want your content to be more sales focused. Include FAQs and admission steps, as well as why your outdoor therapy company is the best for their needs.

Delight

While “delight” is the last step in the inbound marketing strategy, it really should be included in each step. Making sure that your potential and current clients feel heard and happy throughout the whole experience is what gets you more referrals. Whether it’s responding to a question on Facebook in a timely manner or resolving ax payment issue, it’s important to provide excellent customer service at every turn. Help improve your customer experience with survey and feedback tools. Nobody is perfect so make sure you’re learning your weaknesses and growing.

Are You Sold On Inbound Marketing?

Have you heard the quote, “I’d rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies?” The quote is about friendship but I think it applies to inbound marketing as well. Would you rather have 100 people calling you that don’t fit your ideal customer? Or four people who will truly benefit from wilderness therapy and can refer similar clientele?

Inbound marketing is a shift from traditional marketing but when done correctly, clients will start calling you instead of the other way around.

Have more questions about inbound marketing or need more tips? Contact us today for a free, 30 minute, non-salesy, call! We’ll review your current marketing strategy and provide at least 3 actionable takeaways to help you improve for free!


UGH, You Weren’t Expecting To Cold Call- Inbound Sales To The Rescue

I started Sage Lion Media because I was passionate about the outdoors and pretty good at design. Having to sell my services was nowhere in the picture. I thought my work and a small link back to my website from the footer of our projects was all I needed to climb the ladder of success. That was enough, for awhile but the business slowly plateaued, I just couldn’t grow without making changes.

Luckily 2017 was a year of changes here at Sage Lion. We stopped being a design agency and transformed into a GROWTH Agency. Our number one mission is to help our clients grow. I owe a huge amount of this transformation to my Hubspot Coaches Katie Carlin and Dan Tyre. I was recently nominated by Katie and chosen to participate in Dan’s Pipeline Generation Bootcamp. Dan is a Director at Hubspot and was charged with helping me learn how to pick up the phone and call prospects. Good luck.

But over the course of eight weeks with 8 other “lions”, individual homework assignments, intense roleplaying, and one on one coaching I slowly came to realize the phone can be a powerful tool for developing leads and mastering the inbound sales process.

Here are my takeaways.

What motivates you?

I can show you the most amazing technique for improving your sales process but if you aren’t motivated to do them, every single day, you’ll quickly find excuses not to do them anymore. I’m too busy, let me just check this one thing, then I’ll call. Being able to re-center yourself around what’s truly motivating you will keep you grinding through the bad days. I’ve got a picture of my motivations pasted right next to my computer. It really helps.

Having a little fun can set you apart from the junk that ends up in your prospect’s inbox.

It’s ok to have fun.

This one is pretty easy for me. I’m naturally a likable kind of guy and I enjoy chatting with people most of the time. The problem is your targets don’t want to talk to you. So how do you get around that? Try to have some fun. Send quirky email subjects.

One of my recent favorites to a saltwater guide: I spooked you like a trout angler casting to a permit.

Include .gif’s in your emails.

Subject: Hello from the outside…

Are you in there?

 

 

The reason I’ve been reaching out is that I see opportunities on your site to attract more clients. I know that my company can make a huge difference in Sage Lion Media LLC’s outreach and I would really love the opportunity to talk.
Is there a good time to catch you at your desk in the next few days?

Having fun makes you memorable and the best part is they actually work…

You can’t assume every person is going to hang up on you.

Be there to help- seriously.

Don’t go into a sales call trying to sell. You’ll probably get slaughtered. I go into every call looking to help my prospects. Before I call I’ve spent around 20 mins looking at their site and trying to find opportunities to make the site work harder. The other side of the coin is the people you are calling may actually need help and they know it. You can’t assume every person is going to hang up on you. Every time I pick up the phone I remember to breathe, I glance at my motivation board and tell myself they need your help.

You need to practice.

If you’re like me and you’ve never done sales calls you need to start role-playing. It’s weird at first, but it goes a long way to give you confidence in your own skills. If you have a buddy who is in sales practice with him. He’s probably heard it all. How will you answer questions like:

How can I help you?

Why are you calling?

Who are you?

We don’t need any.

Try this one the next time an unsuspecting prospect picks up the phone. “Ugh, looks like you weren’t expecting my call.” You have to really sell the ugh, you might even get a few to laugh.

Personalized efficiency helps.

The Hubspot Sales tools go a long ways in helping you identify and connect with potential customers, quickly and easily. I’ve built out a series of prospecting sequences I send out to all my targets. But you need to take the time to personalize each email to the needs of your prospect. If you don’t, you’re no better than a spammer. Remember you are always helping.

You owe it to your employees.

This goes back to my first point finding your motivations. As a small business owner I need to be driving the sales of the company. I’ve made too many excuses in the past which was cheating our team. Knowing that the team is relying on me motivates me to get off my ass and start calling.

What will motivate you?

 


Three Simple Fixes To Improve Your Wilderness Therapy Website

Building a website can be surprisingly easy these days. Sites like Wix and Weebly provide free templates so you can create a site without hiring someone else. Building a user-friendly website is a different story. While free website templates are great tools for people just starting their wilderness therapy business, the bigger you grow, the more problems can arise. Here are three simple fixes to improve your wilderness therapy website you can tackle yourself. 

Why Does My Website Need To Be User-Friendly?

Have you ever walked into a grocery store and saw eggs in the candy aisle or cleaning supplies next to the meat department? If you had, you probably wouldn’t go back to that store. When you walk into the grocery store you want to be able to find everything you need as quickly as possible. This is advantageous for the grocery store because you’ll keep coming back.

This is exactly why websites need to be user-friendly. If wilderness therapy clients can’t find what kind of programs you offer, how to apply, or even what you’re trying to sell, they’ll Google a different site. Development, design, and content all play a role in a user-friendly website.

Your website might not need a full overhaul but it is worth checking to see if your site is working optimally. No need to pick up the phone and call us just yet though. These three simple fixes are something you can do on your own.

If potential wilderness therapy clients can’t find what kind of programs you offer, how to apply, or even what you’re promoting, they’ll Google a competitor.

1) Can Potential Clients Easily Find The Application?

So you’ve spent hours and thousands of dollars creating a beautiful website. The images and content chosen for each page have meaning and tell a story. However, once a user decides they want to apply, it takes them 15 minutes to find the application. This is assuming they took the time to find it. Making the application process simple begins with making it easy to find.

The Fix: Add a button on your menu bar that says, “Admissions.” Include a dropdown with options to, “Apply Now” and “Admission Details.” Another option is to include a button on your homepage, “Apply Now!” And don’t just place it anywhere on your homepage. Make sure it’s easily viewable to users so pin it on a header image or right below it.

2) Is The Content Easily Readable?

Before I started, Sage Lion Media, I dreaded the process of job hunting. I’d find a job posting for a company but when I went to their website, they used so many corporate buzzwords and marketing jargon I had no idea who they were or what they did. Creating fancy copy for websites, newsletters, and emails is great. But to quote Mark Twain, “Don’t use a $5 word when a 50 cent word will do.”

Outdoor therapy clients can get lost in embellished copy but also too much text. It is important for wilderness therapy companies to provide detailed information about their services, clinical experience, and philosophy but it needs to be scannable for users on your website.

The Fix: The content on your website should be understandable and scannable for all users. Send your website to friends and family and ask them if it makes sense. Do they understand your mission and purpose? Then, ask them if they needed to find out where your clinical therapists got their undergrad from, how quickly they can find it.

If it takes them a while to sift through their bios, break up the paragraphs. Include headers and subheaders. Bold or italicize keywords in the text. Apply this to other pages on the site so users can quickly find the information they need.

3) Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Building a website that can be viewed on a computer and phone is incredibly important. If potential clients can’t browse your website waiting in line at the bank or over their lunch break, they’ll find another wilderness therapy company. Not only do you want people to be able to look at your website while on the go, according to Similar Web, mobile devices drive 56% traffic to websites. This means that even when people aren’t waiting in line or running errands, they are using their phones to surf the web instead of their desktop.

The easiest way to check if your wilderness therapy site is mobile-friendly is to enter the website URL on your phone and see. If you have to pinch the screen to make the whole page viewable, the site is not mobile-friendly. You can also use Google’s free tool to check.

The Fix: Ok this one can be easy if you’re set up properly. WordPress offers several themes that are mobile-friendly/responsive. Just select one of the themes and voila! Your website is now mobile-friendly.  To add custom themes and tailor it to your company’s vision, takes a little more work. Our growth driven design philosophy has helped convert hundreds of websites to a mobile-friendly site.

Creating The Perfect Website

Using the resources to improve your wilderness therapy website is a worthwhile investment. It takes time. And it takes trial and error. Your inbound wilderness therapy marketing plan should constantly be evolving based on data as well as usual growing pains. The content on your website today should not be the same content on your website in five years. The calls to actions (CTA) on the site should be updated to your company’s needs. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a wilderness therapy website but reviewing these three simple fixes is a good start.  

Need some advice or help on your website? Contact us today for a free, 30 minute, non-salesy, call. We’ll review your current website and provide at least 3 actionable takeaways to help you improve immediately!


Why Segmenting Emails Is Important And How The Heck To Do It Before #GivingTuesday

In 2016, 40,000 nonprofits participated in #GivingTuesday with more planning to join the movement this year. Email marketing has the highest ROI for nonprofits so it’s important your nonprofit is heard over everyone else. Taking the time to segment your #givingtuesday email list can drastically improve the results of your campaign. Segmenting your audience will not only get people to open the email but also click on the link and donate! Don’t believe us? Check out these stats:

Now, do you believe us? Ok, great! Another thing we know is most nonprofits have little time, a small staff, and microscopic budgets. Even though the statistics show how beneficial segmenting your email list can be, it can seem like a daunting task. Before you get overwhelmed, take a look at our five easy steps for segmenting your email audience so you can increase your donations on #GivingTuesday.

1. What’s Working?

Even though your list isn’t segmented yet, you’re probably having some success with your email campaigns. Analyze your email marketing statistics and see where you’ve had success. Are there more opens on Tuesday’s at 7PM than Friday’s at 9AM? Was there a particular email that had amazing results because your team put a lot of effort into the message of the email? Are your emails falling into the dreaded spam filter? Whatever it is, make notes of where there have been successes.

2. Remove Inactive Participants

There is nothing more annoying than receiving a piece of junk mail in the mailbox. Unfortunately, marketers who send direct mailers can’t see who kept the piece of mail and who didn’t. Luckily, marketers using email have the ability to see who is opening their email and who is deleting it right away. Instead of continuously emailing these people in hopes that this email will be the one they open, remove them from the list. Receiving junk mail can leave a bad taste in donors mouths which can hurt their chances of donating in the future.

3. Define Your Purpose

Defining what will make a successful campaign and what data will help is important to figure out before segmentation. Do parents tend to donate more than people without kids? Are students in college volunteering more than they donate? Figuring out different metrics and understanding how they affect your overall goal can help with segmentation. At this point, you can use the data you have on hand but moving forward, start thinking about other metrics that will help and start asking for them when collecting information.

4. Segment Your List

Now that you’ve made note of successful email campaigns, cleaned up your list, and defined your metrics, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. No matter the size of the list, each recipient has a different reason for being included. Some are past donors who made a one-time donation a year ago. Others are active volunteers. A good majority could be people who have never donated but have shown interest in the cause. Whatever their reason for being on the list, breaking them into smaller groups and sending a more personalized email addressing their needs can increase your open rate by 14.32%! Some ideas for segmenting are:

  1. Donor vs. Non-Donor
  2. Donation Frequency
  3. Corporate Sponsor vs. Individual Donor
  4. Email Engagement History
  5. Organizational Interest
  6. Age
  7. Gender
  8. Location

5. Create Your Content

Constant Contact found that 56% of people unsubscribe when the content isn’t relevant so segmenting and creating highly targeted and personalized content will help avoid this problem. If one list includes people who have never donated before, does it make sense to send an email immediately asking for a donation? Probably not. Instead, ease them in by telling them about your nonprofit and how it’s benefiting their community. Share a story of a dog who was rescued from a tough situation and now they’re in a happy, fur-ever home. Take a look at our post on effective storytelling for nonprofits for more ideas on creating relevant and powerful content.

Segmenting emails will:

  • Increase open rates
  • Provide relevant content to subscribers
  • Decrease unsubscribe rates
  • Increase donor leads
  • Increase donations
  • Decrease mail going to spam

Taking the time to segment email lists can seem daunting at first but it is important for nonprofits to do to increase the overall success #GivingTuesday. Using these simple steps will get you started to a bigger, better, and more impactful#GivingTuesday.

Has your nonprofit seen success with email segmentation? Share your experience with us!

 



Four Common Reasons Your Emails Are Being Marked As Spam On #GivingTuesday

Nonprofits are rushed to create an email campaign which takes time and money that most of them don’t have. Once the email is created, a few test sends are fired off to a personal email and a few work email addresses and if all goes well, the email is then automated to send to donors. While you might look at this as a success, the reality is 1 out of 5 emails sent are marked as spam. This means 20% of the emails your nonprofit sends never reaches donors meaning less brand awareness and fewer donations. $15,000 is lost in donations every year due to spam filters so it’s important to take a look at reasons your emails are being marked as spam on #givingtuesday.

What Are Spam Filters?

Spam filters operate similarly to how Google pushes popular articles to the top and illegitimate articles to the bottom of searches. It’s based on algorithms only people with no lives will figure out and is ever-changing. As spammers become more creative, spam filters need to stay ahead and keep shutting them down. Spam filters are great as people do not like receiving junk mail but can hurt nonprofits who haven’t taken the time to make sure their emails aren’t marked as spam, especially when you’re rushing to execute a last-minute #givingtuesday campaign.

Below we’ll take a look at what you can do to avoid being marked as spam and free software available to help!

1. Sending Irrelevant Content

A lot of email is marked as spam for the simple reason that people are being sent emails that have no relevance to them. While nonprofits want to believe subscribers will just click, “unsubscribe,” instead, people will mark it as spam to make sure they never receive an email from this organization again. Spam filters can take it a step further and if emails are never being opened and sent straight to the trash, email providers like GMail and Outlook will start marking them as spam before the recipients even have a chance. Segmenting your email list can make sure relatable and useful content is being sent to the proper people. 

2. Sending Emails To People Without Permission

When creating an email list from scratch, nonprofits can instantly feel defeated with the lack of subscribers they have. Instead of building a list organically, they might purchase a list. Purchasing a list can put you in direct violation with the CAN-SPAM Act and instantly put you on the spam list for future email sends.

Instead of purchasing lists, take the time to build your list organically. Not only will you receive fewer spam complaints but it will also increase your open rates by 5X!

3. Not Including An Unsubscribe Link

Nobody wants to see people unsubscribe from their emails so marketers will not include a link thinking this will increase open rates. Wrong! This actually frustrates recipients and so they mark the email as spam. Email providers have caught on so they’ll mark these emails as spam before they even reach their inbox. Make sure to have an option on all emails to unsubscribe from the list. When they click this button, send them to a landing page asking for a reason they chose to unsubscribe and use this data to improve your email marketing.

4. Using Too Many Spam Words

Spam filters go a step further by reviewing the content in emails and if there are too many spam words like, “FREE MONEY!”, “Act Now!”, they’ll immediately mark it as spam. They’ll review both the body of the email and the subject so to make sure your email isn’t too “spammy”, avoid using common spam words. Comm100 has an extensive list of words to steer clear of. Sometimes these words are unavoidable but do your best to limit how many times you mention them.

Software Options

There is no guarantee that email providers won’t mark an email spam even when avoiding common mistakes. To help improve the chances of your email hitting the inbox of your recipients, try out these free services.

MailPoet: MailPoet is a free service that will test your spam score while editing your newsletter.

GlockApps: GlockApps will not only test your spam score before you send an email but it will provide tips on how to improve the email and increase deliverability and open rates all for free.

SendForensics: Compare your deliverability results to other nonprofits in your area with SendForensics. They provide free spam checks as well as email data from similar organizations to make sure you’re results are better than the rest.

SpamOwl: SpamOwl reviews your email to make sure it’s not full of “spam words.”  

Making sure your #GivingTuesday email lands in people’s inboxes is important for the success of your nonprofit. Reviewing these common mistakes email marketers make and applying them to your campaign can help increase open rates, click throughs, and donations.