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Mastering Your End-of-Year Outreach Strategy

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Kassandra Swenson

Marketing Operations Specialist, Forum One

In a recent webinar, we outlined some of the biggest end-of-year challenges that organizations face in the last quarter of the year. For many mission-driven organizations, this last quarter marks a big one for audience outreach and support. How are you feeling about your end-of-year outreach strategy?

While you may be confident in how you are recalibrating your end-of-year content strategy, knowing how to best get this stellar content out to key audiences is essential. How are you proactively reaching out to your target audiences to get them to take action in this last (and busiest!) engagement quarter? 

Addressing the biggest outreach challenges

The biggest outreach challenges for organizations are generally:

  1. The right channel balance. You’re not confident that you’ve identified the right mix or focus across your social, email and web properties.
  2. An effective paid advertising strategy. You’re not confident that your paid advertising strategy is the right one. 
  3. Content that breaks through the noise. The market is saturated at this time of year, and you are struggling to get your audience’s attention. 

You most likely connect to some degree with all of these challenges and the main thing is to do as best a job as you can to focus and break through. Key starting points to address when tackling these challenges require a major focus on data and goal setting. Look at what’s working for you, what the market is saying, and how you can align any outreach you do with your specific goals.

Striking the right frequency 

A common question for people struggling with frequency is, “what is best practice for the major channels I am using?” While each organization’s mission, type, and goals will vary, it does help to have a general sense of when and where audiences are most engaged. Here are some general guidelines that you can reference as you build out your outreach calendar.

Email: mornings are generally best

In terms of the optimal times to send content, your email tool may be able to tell you, or you can look at previous open and click rates. Some general best practices: Monday is really hard, mid-week is best, and Friday afternoons have their sweet spots depending on the CTA. Weekends are less effective, but they can work depending on your audience. As for the time of day, mornings are generally the best. Depending on your time zone flexibility, 9am tends to bring in more clicks, while 11am brings in more opens. 

If you have a global audience, time zones are going to be a factor. With email, you may have the opportunity to segment lists based on geographic location, so sending messages at different times to different audience groups can be an effective way to optimize your email outreach.

The most important thing is to establish a consistent cadence because it builds trust with your audience, so don’t just send content as soon it’s available; send it when your audience expects it and/or is most likely to engage with it. 

Web: focus on quality over quantity

A general rule of thumb: if you’re in a big content push, publish content three times a week. You want to publish content enough that you are staying new, but not overwhelming your users and pushing great content down the page too quickly. Focus on quality over quantity. If you have a great narrative content piece that is performing well on your homepage, leave that up for a while; however, be conscious of the framing. For example, don’t show “latest news” being something from even last week. 

Your website data is also very telling. Look at how often you are getting repeat visitors to different sections of your site or content focus areas, and adjust your publication calendar accordingly.

Social: focus on where your audience is

When it comes to social media, the best practice is to post as often as you can post quality content and consistently. With the wide range of social channels available today and the ever-evolving algorithms it’s challenging to stay updated on the best practices for what to publish, when, and on what channel. Let’s breakdown some of the major channels:

  • Facebook: Publish content once a day and a minimum of three times per week. The early afternoon is best. Studies show that pages with under 10K fans experience a 50% drop in engagement per post if they posted more than once a day. If you are too active, you run the rest of diluting your engagement.
  • Instagram: Publish once a day. It is best to post during either evening (around 8pm) or first thing in the morning (as early as 6am). People tend to scroll Instagram on their phones at home.
  • LinkedIn: Publish at least twice a week, and no more than once a business day as content on LinkedIn has a longer shelf life. 
  • Twitter: Publish 3 to 30 times a day. Unlike LinkedIn, tweets have an incredibly short shelf life, so it’s important to spread your tweets throughout the day. Use social tools to do this automatically, or look at your data to establish the best cadence for your organization.

Across email, web and social, always be looking at your analytics to see where you’ve had the most success and prioritize those areas first. If you don’t have the content to be posting that frequently on Twitter, then maybe that isn’t the channel for you. It’s better to focus on the channels you can do well and that align with your mission than to try to be on all channels and not get the return that you need.

Taking creative risks

While data will guide your outreach strategy, you also want to make room for a little creativity. So how can do this in a smart way? Ultimately, good content wins. So when it comes to your outreach activities, what can you do to be more creative in how you frame it and showcase it? 

Explore imagery and motion. Get creative with the types of imagery and movement you use in your promotion, from social features and web content imagery. Just a little bit of motion can increase engagement rates drastically because it draws people’s eyes in. You may have heard that emojis get more click through rates, so that might be a step you want to try; however, does that make sense for your audience? Brainstorm ways you can do something similar to catch their eye that keeps within your brand and that audience.

Focus on storytelling. All of the social media platforms have become storytelling platforms in their own right, i.e., it’s not just about driving people to your website. Think about the people you are serving or the volunteers you work with or your staff that have dedicated their lives to the cause you are working on and share their stories. That is what is going to get people’s attention and make connections to really build relationships.

Be willing to give something a try. Social media in particular is a place where you can course-correct quickly. So give things a try. It may not work, but it might! See what resonates and build on what is working.  

Using people’s voices (versus organizational voices) 

You’ve got your organizational channels for outreach, but generally speaking, personal networks are far larger than corporate ones. Involve your stakeholders in outreach to their networks. People generally trust the voice of a person over a nameless entity. Think broadly about the people who can share your messages.

  • Staff: Your staff is full of people that can connect with your audience on a personal level. And this goes beyond senior leadership. 
  • Volunteers and larger network: People on the ground can speak first-hand, in their own words, to the value your work brings.
  • Board members and major supporters: Their involvement can make a difference.
  • Influencers: This is not just young millennial youtube stars and celebrities. Think about your community and people who are interested in your cause and are active on social media. It could be a journalist, a community leader, or someone who isn’t yet a part of your network but has influence with the people you are trying to reach.

It’s important to make things easy for people to support your outreach. Provide a social media kit with the graphics they need, the messages and links you would like them to share, and CTAs. 

Next week we’ll be diving into you reporting strategy. You can also revisit our webinar (see below) to get tips and resources on how you can be more efficient and effective this fall.

Get started already: watch the webinar!

Pull up your second screen and follow along with our webinar “Finish 2019 Strong, and Set Yourself Up for Success in 2020.” Complete the below form to get your free recording today.

Written By

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Kassandra Swenson

Marketing Operations Specialist, Forum One