By Chelsea McClain with Matt Karst

An important step in developing a marketing plan for a nonprofit association is developing an effective content strategy. Your content strategy is entirely based on your audience, so ask yourself questions like: Who is my target audience? What are their pain points? Where is my audience? Why do they need the association? After answering the “who” you can move on to “how.” Your “how” should incorporate the content on your website, especially your blog posts, and promotions of both via your email and social media.

Your content strategy goals are threefold:

  1. Create better content than your competitors.
  2. Have a presence in your target markets (optimize one page per keyword/phrase and grow your list of keywords monthly).
  3. Become a subject matter expert (using a blog/podcast/video/etc.).

So, your content strategy process looks like this:

  1. Identify your target audience.
  2. Identify the markets you currently serve or want to serve.
  3. Create a list of pillar pages (your pages in your top-level navigation) and sub-topics generated from keyword research tools and Google’s “People Also Ask” related questions. Look at your competitors’ websites for new content ideas.
  4. Make a spreadsheet containing all the topics you want to target. Create the URL structure, meta tags, title tags, and header descriptions. Give consideration to how these pages will link.
  5. Leverage internal links to grow your website’s authority and popularity and to increase search rankings.
  6. Apply the Skyscraper Technique to make your pages more authoritative and attract more inbound links to increase traffic, rankings, leads, and members.

Creating better content – The Skyscraper Technique

Take a list of your keywords and individually search them via Google. Identify the pages at the top of the SERP (search engine results page). Study the highest-ranking pages and note how you can improve yours to reflect a better version of what you see (aka a newer, taller “skyscraper”). Now go back to the pages that you patterned yours after and find their backlinks. Contact those websites and try to convince them to link to your page, which is now the shinier, taller skyscraper.

Chelsea McClain

Having a presence in your target markets.

It’s important to make sure you’re optimizing the content of your website for the keywords or phrases that will serve your site to your member and potential members. Consider your core area of focus and create content keeping this, your target audience, and target markets in mind. You should begin by optimizing the page of your most profitable service. Optimize the pillar pages and then any supporting pages. However, only optimize one page per keyword or key phrase (also called a longtail keyword) or else your pages, if more than one are optimized for the same keyword, will cannibalize each other.  Repeat the steps with your other services in the order of profitability.

Becoming a subject matter expert.
After your website content has been optimized, you need to plan your strategy for becoming a subject matter expert, since the only ways to increase your SERP ranking is through your current content optimization and the creation of new content. 

Keep the importance of diverse content in mind. Any successful content strategy is creative! One strategy we like to utilize is creating content based off what is trending in the U.S./world at the time. “News jacking” is a reliable way to increase traffic to your blog, podcast, and videos. When people search trending keywords, your content will appear in the search results. This is a great tactic for increasing traffic to your website and potentially gaining new members. But try to “news jack” something as relevant as possible or your content will be served to a lot of people who bounce right off your site.


Blogs are currently the best way to increase traffic to your website. Blog titles, images, title tags, and metatags should include the keyword you are optimizing for. One piece of our strategic plan is writing book reviews. Tie in the review to what you do as an association and watch the magic happen! Choosing books strategically will attract the appropriate demographic. Another tip for blog writing is to create internal links that take the reader to other pages within your website. Include a comment section and encourage interaction. Link to other blogs, pages, podcasts, and videos from your blogs as well. Your content marketing goal should be to establish expertise. Be the answer, not the solution.


  1. No time to write a blog? You can use to do voice recording-to-text instead.
  2. No ideas for a blog? Do a Google search for your keywords in an incognito window. Turn the blurbs at the top of the SERP into blogs.
  3. Do whatever it takes to blog at least twice per month to start. The “tipping point” is 11 blogs per month to generate a recurring audience