Monetize Your Online Community Success

Non-Dues Revenue with Online Community Software

The goal of a non-profit community is not usually to make money.  For most, it is to bring your constituents together in a secure and private space where stakeholders and others can interact, share, answer questions, and stay connected on their shared mission.  Yet many non-profits struggle for revenue and are usually on the lookout for non-dues opportunities and other ways to generate income. Why?

In this article, let’s discuss some options for digital advertising and how an online community website could generate non-dues income while still maintaining its purpose and integrity.

Increasing Non-Dues Revenue Via Advertising 

The idea of monetizing the relationships with your affiliates and sponsors is not a novel idea. But, there are good ways to do it and there are bad ways to do it.

Having the strategic vision for execution of their community members and finding the right technology partner is usually the hardest part for many nonprofits. To be clear, I believe that with the best fitted software, most online communities can generate income.

The old ways include slathering the website with off-topic advertisements. Or, hosting so many ads that a website is slow to load and hard to navigate.  A fresh new way involves limited, targeted ads and unobtrusive methods to get in front of the right person at the right time.

Let’s dig into these one by one.

Limited, Targeted Ads

The easiest and quickest way to add advertisements to any public website is with Google Adsense. Google supplies simple snippets of code that you paste into many webpages exactly where you want ads to show and then pays you whenever a user clicks on one of the advertisements.

The ads come in all kinds of sizes, so you can make them as obvious or unobtrusive and you want.  You can place just one ad per page or per site or as many as you want, although Google recommends no more than three ads per page.

Advertisements are usually either targeted to the site’s content or to each visitor’s interests, so inappropriate ads are minimized.  If they do pop up, you can block them from showing again. Google gets the money!

Limited, Affiliate Links

Another alternative on public websites, is to use Affiliate links which are similar to Adsense ads. But instead of Google paying you per click, an advertiser pays you when a visitor to your online community clicks on one of the advertiser’s affiliate links and then completes an action on his website.

For example, let us say that your non-profit works with children and you place a link to an advertiser’s children’s clothing store website on your site.  If someone clicks on that link and then buys some of the advertiser’s children’s clothing items, then he pays you a portion of that sale. Affiliate links are often as simple as a short text link and can easily blend into a community website.

Again, someone else gets the money!

Keep Your Money, Don’t Burn It 

There is a better way. And, one which you don’t have to share the money with anyone either.

Let me show you the money!

Communities are inherently useful outlets to grow and increase revenue streams and can even use to effectively promote your own events too.

Think about this for a moment.

Your association is a finely segmented entity ripe for a keen marketing program. Your members share a cause, a profession, or interest in learning. They talk about what is and is not helpful within their communities at events and conferences. Bring that dialogue in house and open it up digitally 24 x 7 x 365 days a year.

Who wins? Sponsors and your association benefit.

  • Your affiliate members (Sponsors) know that the buyers journey has changed today. It’s more difficult to capture their attention.
  • Sponsors love the “always on” of their marketing message.
  • Association members know they have the right audience which can appreciate their message.
  • Savvy advertisers knows how difficult it is to find the right connection.
  • They have information your members want to hear about and they need to hear about it too.

Your website pages should and could be the most valuable real estate found on the internet. So, why not take advantage of that real estate and benefit your community of users while making some money too?

It’s a win for everyone.

Advertising Options for Communities 

One of the advantages of Inbound marketing is that it leverages search engine optimization for your site. An open forum (one that does not require a log in) can help bring valuable new members into your site for more page views too.

Since we know that content is king on a website, a natural content creator like a community of users is priceless! Below you will find some options for placement of advertising in an online branded community:

  • Sponsor blog posts with high comments and page views.
  • Place Ad space on frequent threaded discussions.
  • Offer Ad placement on most popular member communities.
  • Feature logos in calendar events.
  • Promote sponsored/hosted webinars based on hot topic content from community.
  • Sale space in a most popular eBook or training downloaded by members.

Options are what sponsors want, right!? They want more members from a thriving and target ready community not the same old people year to year.

Consider A Branded Private Community for Non-Dues Revenue

So, things to consider here:

  • Don’t assume you need to place ads with Google in order to be effective on your website.
  • Do not believe that you need to place ads everywhere to make money or justify the endeavor.
  • Do practice and utilize personalization in your ads.
  • Consider a private branded community in order to promote more personalized ads for your sponsors.
  • Start out small & see what placements work best.

Does your non-profit association desire additional revenue opportunities?

If so, let’s discuss the value of online community software options. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Get the non-dues revenue you deserve with the tools you need

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