Bridging the Digital Marketing Skills Gap: How to effectively market your charity helpline

Bridging the Digital Marketing Skills Gap: How to effectively market your charity helpline

31st July 2023

By Connect Assist

The much anticipated 2023 Charity Digital Skills report was released last week and highlights the prevailing digital marketing skills gap within the sector.  

Charities play a crucial role in supporting individuals in need, and their helplines serve as lifelines for those seeking assistance.  

However, many charities face challenges in effectively marketing their helpline services to reach and engage their target audience.  

This article explores the digital marketing skills gap within the charitable sector and offers actionable strategies so charities can continue to enhance their ability to effectively promote their helpline services and support those in need.

Creating accessible, engaging content:

According to the 2023 Charity Digital Skills report 58% of charities surveyed rate themselves as “fair” when it comes to creating accessible and engaging content. While this indicates a reasonable level of proficiency, there is room for improvement.  

Charities need to prioritise inclusive content creation techniques, ensuring that their messaging is accessible to a diverse range of individuals. 

So, where to begin?

Conduct audience research: Gain a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and communication styles to create tailored and engaging content.  

Prioritise accessibility: Ensure your content is accessible to a diverse audience by incorporating alternative text for images, providing closed captions for videos, and using clear and concise language. 

Utilise storytelling techniques: Tell real, impactful stories that resonate with your audience, highlighting the transformative power of your helpline services. 

Enhancing email marketing strategies

Half of the charities surveyed reported fair competence in email marketing. However, the report also indicates that 26% consider themselves poor in this area. A significant portion of charities may not be effectively utilising email as a marketing tool.  

Here are a few things to consider when embarking on your next email campaign: 

Personalise communications: Segment your email list and customise messages based on recipients’ interests and past interactions with your organisation. 

Automation: This plays a key role in personalisation through tactics like drip campaigns, which utilise a recipient’s actions to determine the subsequent content they receive. For instance, personalised fundraising emails showing the impact donations have can be sent after a website visitor signs up to donate, but then abandons their payment at the last minute.  

Test and analyse: Experiment with different email layouts, content formats, and calls to action. Try A/B testing and analyse the results to identify what resonates most with your audience. 

Maximising website potential:

Only 56% of charities rated themselves as fair in making the most of their website, highlighting the need for improvement in website optimisation.  

A well-designed and user-friendly website can act as a gateway to helpline services, supplying relevant information and encouraging individuals to seek support and self-serve. 

Charities should focus on enhancing their websites to maximise their impact by continuously improving the user journey. 

Customer (CX) journey mapping: To improve services, you must understand the true, lived experiences of your audience. You need to understand the moments that matter to service users. We’ve helped a number of charities improve their user journey through our CX journey mapping workshops.  

Streamline navigation: Ensure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate, allowing visitors to find relevant information about your helpline services quickly. Take a look at technology like Digital Assistant’s, a chatbot that answers routine queries automatically. Service users consult your digital assistant via your website, Facebook Messenger, or increasingly, by talking to it via smart speakers. 

Optimise for mobile devices: With the increasing use of smartphones, it is crucial to ensure that your website is mobile-responsive, providing a seamless browsing experience across different devices. 

Include compelling calls to action: Avoid cognitive overload but using clear and prominent calls to action on your website to encourage visitors to contact your helpline, donate or signpost them to relevant information. 

Improving Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and advertising:

Over half (52%) of the charities surveyed considered themselves poor at SEO and ads, representing a significant increase compared to the previous year’s results (42%).  

This suggests a growing need for charities to improve their digital marketing strategies to ensure their helpline services are discoverable through search engines and targeted ads.  

Conduct keyword research: Identify relevant keywords that align with your helpline services and integrate them strategically throughout your website and content. 

Invest in paid advertising: Allocate resources to targeted online advertising campaigns to increase the visibility of your helpline services to individuals actively seeking support.  

Collaborate with SEO experts or upskill in-house: Consider partnering with professionals or agencies specialising in SEO to improve your website’s search engine ranking and visibility. If you want to upskill in-house, free online courses like Yoast’s SEO training for beginners are a great place to start. 

Leveraging website analytics:

A shocking 57% of charities admitted to being poor at learning about users from their website and analytics data, reflecting a significant increase compared to the previous year.  

Understanding user behaviour, preferences, and trends through website analytics is crucial for charities to tailor their marketing efforts effectively.  

By using analytics insights, charities can refine their messaging, optimise user experience, and make data-driven decisions to enhance their helpline services’ impact. 

Here’s a good starter for ten when it comes to the world of analytics: 

Set up analytics tools and get to grips with them: GA4 is the new kid on the block, so you need to upskill quickly as it’s crucial for tracking user behaviour, engagement, and conversion metrics on your website.

Analyse data regularly: Review analytics reports to gain insights into user demographics, popular/high scoring content, and areas of improvement. Use these insights to refine your marketing strategies and tailor your helpline services accordingly.

Conduct user surveys: Supplement analytics data with direct feedback from website visitors through surveys or feedback forms to gain deeper insights into user preferences and needs.

Staying current with digital trends:

A notable 56% of charities considered themselves poor at keeping up with digital trends such as TikTok and ChatGPT. Staying abreast of emerging platforms and technologies is vital to ensure charities remain relevant and effectively engage their ever-growing target audience.  

By exploring new digital channels and adopting innovative marketing strategies, charities can expand their reach and connect with individuals in need through their helpline services:

Research emerging platforms: Regularly explore and evaluate new digital platforms, such as TikTok and ChatGPT, but don’t jump in headfirst without a well thought out strategy. Try to determine if they align with your target audience and objectives first. 

Engage in social listening: Monitor social media channels and online communities to identify trending topics and discussions relevant to your helpline services. Participate in conversations and provide valuable insights or support.

Encourage innovation and learning: Foster a culture of continuous learning within your organisation. Encourage team members to attend webinars, workshops, or conferences focused on digital marketing and fundraising trends. 

Strengthening digital fundraising and online retail:

More than half (55%) of the charities surveyed reported poor competence in digital fundraising, emphasising the need for improved strategies to raise funds effectively online. Additionally, 28% indicated a lack of ability in online retail.  

Charities must explore digital fundraising platforms, optimise their e-commerce capabilities, and begin to implement automation technology to enhance their revenue streams, ultimately supporting the sustainability of their helpline services. 

Explore fundraising platforms: Look at digital fundraising platforms that offer easy-to-use interfaces, secure payment gateways, and extensive reach to facilitate donations from supporters. 

Optimise e-commerce functionality: If your organisation sells merchandise or products to support its helpline, ensure your online retail platform is user-friendly, secure, and visually appealing. 

Utilise storytelling and impact metrics: Clearly communicate the impact of donations on your helpline services. Use compelling stories and tangible metrics to inspire and motivate supporters to contribute.  

Get in touch:

The Charity Digital Skills report underscores the pressing need for charities to enhance their digital marketing skills. By adopting the actionable tips outlined above, charities can bridge the skills gap and effectively promote their helpline services, ultimately helping those who need support the most. 

At Connect Assist, we’re passionate about how a digital-first approach can transform your charity’s services.  

We use Oracle Service Cloud to build customer service portals that perfectly match your website. It enables you to provide an omnichannel service that seamlessly integrates with your website, self-service portal, live and video chat and telephone service, offering your service users the very best UX.  

Get in touch to chat about working together. 


If you need our help in developing more effective, meaningful connections with customers, get in touch today.