Why Internet Marketing Gets a Bad Name (and How to Get Your Good Reputation Back)

  • by Shala Graham
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For far too many nonprofit organizations, “Internet marketing” means doing anything you can to get people to visit your website and donate. As you might suspect—and have probably seen again and again—this can lead to a lot of problems. When you throw good sense out the window just to attract traffic or conversions, it hurts your credibility and causes customers or donors to distrust you.

Word spreads too quickly on the Internet these days to engage in dishonest marketing. Besides, it’s easier and more effective to do things ethically. Here’s how:

Give information instead of marketing pitches.

No one goes online to feel like they’re being sold or persuaded. So, make your case with facts, figures, and personal stories. It will leave a stronger impression on the viewer’s mind, and won’t harm your credibility.

Define your target audience very carefully.

No cause or idea is for everyone. Decide what kinds of men and women are really in your target audience, and then compose your messages to them. Trying to appeal to everyone makes you seem distrustful, but focusing on your ideal reader gives your messaging an authentic feel.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

This is just good basic advice for any marketer or organization. If you don’t plan on doing something – or can’t guarantee that you will – don’t promise it. Focus on your true goals and capabilities, because that inspires confidence over the long term.

Follow up your marketing with good communication and customer service.

Whether you have donors, volunteers, investors, or another group you need to communicate with, make sure they hear from you consistently and not just when you need something.

There’s nothing wrong with marketing and communicating over the Internet, as long as you don’t try to do anything deceptive. Treat people the way you want them to treat you, online or off, and they’ll always appreciate it.