Because we live and breathe marketing strategies, we get a lot of questions from pregnancy centers around the country about the best practices for most effectively reaching abortion minded women. And because we love partnering with you to impact women’s lives and save babies, we also love answering these questions for you!
In this week’s email, we provide answers to the top 10 questions we receive on a regular basis. We hope this information helps you develop a winning marketing strategy for your pregnancy center!
- Why does digital marketing matter?
The quick answer is, because we live in a digital age. You know your clients. They live on their phones. In the past, pregnancy centers relied heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family members sharing about their services with a friend or family member in need. And while people still rely on the reviews of other people before making decisions, they now look for those reviews online.
The hard truth is: If you don’t have an online presence in 2020, you don’t exist.
People, including your clients (especially your clients!) look for everything online. It is the first place women go for information on abortion. There is a lot of online marketing that promotes abortion as the best (or only) choice. Having a digital presence allows you to intercept those searches with information on the life-affirming resources you provide.
In short, digital marketing allows you to offer hope and help in the exact moment women need it.
- Do I really need SEO?
Yes! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what allows your website to be found online in an organic search. Without optimizing your website for the keywords and phrases women in your community are searching, it will be difficult to find your website and the life-saving services you offer.
There are many things you can do today to start optimizing your website.
A blog is an easy way to incorporate fresh, relevant, keyword-rich content on your site, and it’s easy to start right away. Not sure what to write about? Think about the top questions your clients ask and start there.
Utilizing Google My Business
Your Google My Business listing is the short profile that shows up in Google search results when people are looking for your pregnancy center or the services you provide. It shows a brief snapshot of your organization and includes helpful information like address, phone number, website, center hours, an image of your center, and more. To improve your SEO, you can add short posts to your profile with links back to your website. These should go up once a week and only need to be 1-2 sentences long with a photo.
- Why do I need two sites?
Your messaging is very different for your donors and your clients. For donors, you are highlighting personal success stories of lives saved, sharing ministry needs and event information, and asking for donations. With your clients, your messaging is focused on their needs and the crisis they are likely facing. The messages you share on your donor site could actually cause an abortion minded woman to seek help elsewhere if she misunderstands and feels you are asking her for funds, is concerned you share personal stories of the women you serve, and your focus is on diapers and babies – before you have the opportunity to reach her personally. Having two websites allows you to share the information each audience needs in a way that’s easy for them to find and act upon.
Having two websites allows for an excellent user experience (UX) for both your donors and your clients as both audiences can easily find the information relevant for them.
- What should my advertising budget be?
Whether you’re talking about advertising on social media, retargeting, or pay-per-click Google ads, our answer is the same: it depends.
We know that’s not extremely helpful, but because each center is so different, serves a different demographic audience, and faces different competition for bids, it’s impossible to give an across-the-board answer. Some centers set a goal of 3% of their budget, others 10% or 15%. Contact us for a more personalized answer and information about setting a budget that allows you to run an impactful marketing campaign for your area.
- What are the different social media platforms and which ones should we use?
When it comes to social media marketing, there are many platforms to choose from. Each platform should have its own strategy and budget (if you’re advertising on it) because each one speaks to a different audience and functions in a different way.
Instagram is owned by Facebook and these platforms appeal largely to Generation X and Millennials. Because Facebook is the largest and oldest social media platform, you’ll find people from all generations on it, and it’s still a helpful place to post information about your services and who you are. Typically we see more young Facebook users in rural areas or lower economic urban areas. However, even younger people in other demographics still scroll Facebook – they are just unlikely to interact much on the platform. They will notice ads relevant to them and they will look at your center’s Facebook profile to see if you’re authentic and understand their unique needs. Instagram appeals to millenials and Gen Z. It is a place where they can paint a picture of their life. Instagram uses hashtags to help organize posts and displays information on its users’ profiles through Insta stories and images. Both are good platforms to help raise awareness of what you do. If you advertise on those platforms, they are great for accelerating word of mouth for your center.
Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube are platforms where mostly Generation Z hangs out, but they definitely have appeal for some Millennials as well. While Snapchat is a more expensive route for advertising, we have seen a lot of success building awareness for centers and getting conversions. We are currently beta testing advertisements on TikTok. YouTube is owned by Google and people of all generations spend time watching videos and video ads on the platform.
- I know my keywords. How do I get my site to show up for them?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you really should have a blog. This will allow you to write content for as many keywords as you have, while also providing relevant, helpful, authoritative content for users (these are all things Google looks at as it ranks websites).
Google indexes pages on your site instead of your entire website. So, you should also have a separate page for each service you provide. Instead of listing all your services on only one page, list pregnancy testing on one, ultrasounds on another, STI testing & treatment on another, abortion reversal on another, etc. We also recommend having separate pages for abortion, adoption, and parenting as the three options women can choose between when facing an unplanned pregnancy.
- How do I pay for all of this?
If you don’t already have a line item in your budget for marketing and advertising, you should make one today. Marketing can feel like a dispensable budget item, but if you are serious about reaching abortion-determined women, marketing is what will make that possible. The simple reality is that without marketing, you will not be able to fully reach the clients who need you most.
We know that including a line item in your budget doesn’t mean funds will magically appear. Instead, highlight your need through your fundraising events and specific donor appeals. Donors want to know the innovative and creative ways you’re reaching women. You can impress upon them the crucial need for funding to market and advertise in order to best reach clients.
Finally, did you know we are an approved marketing agency through Focus on the Family? Because they too see the critical need to advertise digitally to reach those seeking abortions, they developed a grant process under their Option Ultrasound program. Each fall, you can apply for their matching marketing grant to help cover the costs of a strategic marketing plan through us. If you have more questions, you can learn more about grant qualifications on their Option Ultrasound website. Or call us – we would love to talk with you about this!
- Is branding really worth it?
It can feel exhausting to have to re-examine your brand every few years, and there’s a temptation to believe that the really big companies don’t do this. But everyone does. Why? Because of the need to stay fresh and relevant. This doesn’t mean you need a complete overhaul every few years. Even subtle tweaks and updates can help you stay fresh. Here’s an example of how the Google logo has changed over the years:
Your brand is how you’re known and thought of in your community, so spending time on it to make sure it accurately represents who you are is so important.
- How do I reach donors?
Consistent communication is the key to an engaged donor base that stays with you a long time. You should be sending regular emails and social media updates to your donors to let them know what’s happening at your center. If all you ever do is ask for money, they will not stay with you for the long term. Tell them stories of impact, update them on current events and make them aware of needs.
Also remember communication should be two way. A personal touch counts for everything. Respond to emails that come in from your donors, hand write notes and make individual phone calls to thank your donors. Pick one time each year (maybe around Thanksgiving) to get your staff to call through to all of your donors to personally thank them for their investment in the lives of women and babies in your community. It makes a long-lasting difference.
Finally, cast a big, compelling vision in your communication and at events. If you repeat the same message and same ask every time you speak with your donors, they will lose steam and enthusiasm for your mission. Don’t only talk about the work you do, but talk about your vision for what your community will look like because of your work. Ask donors to invest in the community through you and the work you do to save lives.
- If I have to do one thing, what should it be?
We know there are a lot of choices when it comes to marketing tactics. It can be confusing to know where to start if you don’t have the resources to do much. Our recommendation is to start with a good, strong, impactful website. This is the foundation of all marketing efforts because your other marketing efforts will point people to your website. If it is not current and visually appealing, if the messaging is confusing and it is not search engine optimized, it is not effective.
BONUS Coronavirus Questions:
We are including three bonus questions we’ve gotten recently about COVID-19, because we know you’ve been deeply impacted by the health and economic changes to our country as a result of the coronavirus.
- What kind of marketing should I be doing right now if our office is closed/open?
We are already noticing searches using the the term “abortion pill” are increasing around the country. Therefore, now more than ever before, we highly recommend you keep your Google Ad campaigns running – if you are open. During the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll want your ads to have language that reassures women you’re still open and available to serve them.
This is our top-recommended strategy to reach women during this crisis, so if you aren’t sure how to get started or you have questions, please reach out to us for more information specific to your community.
Google My Business
If you have not set up or optimized your Google My Business profile, you should do that today! This tactic is what puts your center on the map. It captures those in your area seeking information on your services. Update your hours, and then start posting about the services you are currently offering so more women can find you.
This form of advertising is location based so you can speak to women who are either close to your center, or who live in areas that you know have been hit harder as a result of COVID-19 concerns. Geofencing is very effective for centers close to abortion clinics. It allows you to speak directly to the women you’re trying to reach – in a specific location – assuring them you’re open and available to meet their needs when so many other businesses are closed.
It is important to really focus on your social media during this time – whether your center is closed or open. Make the same updates here that you did for Google My Business – hours, phone number, website address, etc. You also need to keep regularly posting to your page so you don’t lose engagement and drop in Facebook’s algorithm rankings. Additionally, you should invest in Facebook ads to reach women who need you now more than ever.
- How can I compete with Planned Parenthood right now to reach women first?
Planned Parenthood does marketing really, really well. They understand the importance of it and allocate a significant portion of their budget to doing it well. If you want to compete, you should determine how to allocate funds in your budget to make marketing a priority and then follow the same tips and strategies we outlined above.
- How can I get the word out about our virtual event? Where do I begin?
Start by communicating directly with your donors. For a virtual banquet, your communication can be through both mailed invitations and through sending a series of emails letting them know about your change in plans and asking them to “attend” virtually so they can hear about the lives saved as a result of their investment in your ministry. Your emails can highlight different elements of your event, explaining how the event will work, sharing a few details about client stories and your speaker, laying the foundation for a successful fundraiser. Ask your board members to help you contact your donors and people in their personal contact lists. Ask your donors to invite friends to the event so they can learn more about the work you do. Remember to give people a reason to attend when their lives probably currently revolve around online meetings these days. You may end up having more people attend than would have attended your live event!
For a Virtual Walk for Life, reach out to your donor list through emails and phone calls. This is a great time to encourage fundraising walkers to do their fundraising online with you using a software like Ministry Sync’s user friendly FundEasy. Make personal calls to past fundraising walkers from the last couple of years and ask them to participate again this year, letting them know how much their participation makes a difference.
For both types of events, create social media campaigns. Design them to be informative and inspiring, encouraging your followers to get involved and letting them know how much their involvement means. This is an unprecedented time and abortion rates historically spike during times of economic recession and depression. Motivate them to be a part of changing that trajectory by partnering with you to offer hope and light to many women who are scared and feel more alone than ever.
Remember that two-way communication we talked about before? In any personal contact you make, acknowledge you are aware that many of your donors are probably struggling financially during this time due to job loss and the implications of our country coming to a complete standstill. Ask about how you can be praying for them and then be sure to pray for them.
We hope these answers are helpful as you not only think about your long term marketing goals but also adjust your marketing strategies for this historic time. We are praying for you and would love to add you to our list of pregnancy centers we are praying for by name daily. Please reach out if we can answer more marketing questions or be of help to you during this time.