Sustainable Marketing Case Study
Environmental Health News (EHN) is an award-winning nonprofit news and science service dedicated to driving science into public discussion and policy.
Unsure if their marketing efforts are working
Audience growth and donations plateaued
No way to measure reach, engagement, or most popular articles
Marketing tasks are spread among multiple staff, without a centralized, coordinated plan
Marketing Audit: a 40,000 foot view of all of EHN’s marketing efforts in relation to their long-term goals
90 Day Map: a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy with tactical next steps
PR launch plan: a strategy to increase the reach and impact of important news articles
Ongoing consulting to help projects stay on track
More engaged readers, advocates, and donors
Marketing infrastructure that: is manageable by a small team, reaches and resonates with EHN’s audience, and offers insight and feedback for ongoing activities.
How Wild Path Consulting helped Environmental Health News improve its reach, engagement, and effectiveness
Environmental Health News (EHN) is a nonprofit organization that publishes good, science-backed journalism on topics like climate change, plastic pollution, and fracking. Their work has the power to change public policy and opinion on these important issues – but only if they can reach and impact enough people.
EHN was at a crossroads in 2020. They needed to raise more funds for investigative journalism and other projects, but their audience and donor base had plateaued. They were putting substantial effort into social media marketing, but they didn’t know if it was working and they lacked a way to measure engagement.
“We were pushing stuff out there and never had any idea: does it resonate with people? Is it relevant to their lives? We had nothing. No feedback mechanism.”
Douglas Fischer, executive director Environmental Health Sciences
To get a fresh perspective on these challenges, EHN hired Katie Smith, a fractional CMO and marketing strategist at Follow the Wild Path. She helps social impact businesses and nonprofits make their greatest impact by aligning their marketing with their business goals.
Katie’s first objective was to get a clear understanding of all of EHN’s marketing efforts in relation to their bigger goals. After an in-depth audit, she created a 90 Day Marketing Strategy that broke down the steps they could take right away to start growing their audience and increase engagement.
Katie was concerned that the majority of EHN’s website traffic was coming from social media – especially during an election year, when it was harder to reach people with non-sponsored posts. She worked with EHN’s Google ads manager to identify popular topics and created keyword-rich articles for the website. As a result, organic search traffic increased from 25.5% to 43.1% between April 2020-April 2021.
This was a big mindset shift for a team of journalists without a marketing background. They hadn’t considered what it takes to guide their readers from first impression to loyal fans.
“It really changed the way we think about marketing –from a one way interaction where we were pumping out information and hoping people will read it, to a much more targeted funnel to actually form a relationship with our readers and potential readers. It opened our eyes to new possibilities.”
NPR and other major news outlets picked up the four-part series, thanks to great reporting, a strong health angle, and Katie’s strategic plan. These news stories accounted for 10 percent of the nationwide conversation on fracking on mainstream and social media in the following months. As a result, EHN’s website saw a 50 percent bump in visitors over the next 90 days.
Perhaps more importantly, Fractured inspired readers to take action. They led community forums about the harms of fracking and wrote letters to their elected officials. A few weeks after the series was published, a group of 34 lawmakers from the Pennsylvania House and Senate issued a public letter in response.
“It helped to have that structure for marketing and outreach. We’re not just focused on the bottom line and getting our reporting out. Now we’re looking at: How do we promote a story? Who is our audience? How do we get them to read our work and be engaged? We want them to really incorporate it into their lives. That’s been the main focus of Katie’s work with us.”
In the meantime, Katie will continue walking alongside them as their fractional CMO, offering the strategies, tactics, and support they need to build an engaged audience who deeply believes in their mission.
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