It’s been about a year since Informatics introduced its Starfish Initiative, a pilot project intended to provide intensive marketing support and training to a Corridor-area not-for-profit organization, as part of our Give Back value.
As part of our inaugural edition, we were grateful to work with Mirrorbox Theatre and help spread their mission of bringing diverse art to the Cedar Rapids community. Now, we’re ready to step back and reflect as we design our giving plans for 2023.
Here’s a look back at the work we’ve done for our first Starfish project, and how we were able to move the needle together.
Improving Mirrorbox's Presence Through Paid Ads
Before we go much further—did you know that not-for-profits can receive up to $10,000 in grants from Google for Google ads? Although the application can be hard, it's essentially free money that many organizations aren't aware of. These funds can be used for search ads specifically, which help businesses rank higher on the search engine’s results page.
Setting up Mirrorbox with an Ad Grants account was among the first things we did. Once Google approved the application, we conducted keyword research and developed a fresh set of ad campaigns to get the theater company found online.
When we first sat down with Mirrorbox’s founder and director, Cavan Hallman, he was excited to get back to the stage after a couple years of virtual performances. However, he was concerned that the transition back to the stage would lead to lower ticket sales as the organization lost its (much bigger) online audience.
Our Digital Marketing team suggested an aggressive paid ads strategy to spread the word. Working with Mirrorbox, we launched social media ads that encouraged either link clicks or responses for four performances and a fundraiser.
The results blew all of us away: 1,247 clicks and 71 event page responses. Two of the four show ads even saw a cost-per-click of under 90 cents!
Page Likes Campaigns
While Mirrorbox Theatre had a healthy presence in the Cedar Rapids community before we worked with them, they needed to expand awareness in surrounding areas. Since live theatre is a niche interest, we invested in building a loyal following on Facebook. To do so, we ran 4 different Page Likes campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, each optimized to target people interested in theatre arts. We attracted almost 400 new followers, bolstering engagement on both platforms.
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Transferring Knowledge Through Training Sessions
Know that old saying about giving a man a fish? Well, our Starfish Initiative isn’t just about giving not-for-profits a temporary marketing boost (or fish). We also want to set them up for future success by teaching them digital marketing skills (but not actually how to fish), so they can be more consistent moving forward.
With Mirrorbox, we focused on providing intensive training sessions on Meta and Google ads. We not only walked their team through basic setups, but showed them essential tools for detailed targeting and continuous optimization. Since Mirrorbox maintains its own website, we also hosted a training session on website health.
Boosting Site Health Through Back-End Improvements
While not as flashy as paid ads or training sessions, the back-end site improvements we made on the Mirrorbox website were foundational for all their marketing efforts.
After crawling their site for potential threats and issues, our marketing team identified some important fixes needed to boost their search engine optimization (SEO), including meta descriptions and link repairs. We also enhanced their tracking capabilities through a new Pixel deployment, giving them more visibility into their audiences and those seeking their productions.
Wrapping Up Our Give Back Pilot
When we announced the launch of our Starfish Initiative way back in February, the end of the year seemed so far away. We wrapped up our collaboration with a team outing to Mirrorbox's production of "Batman Returns Returns!", and marveled at the packed theater space, newly built in Cedar Rapids' recovering Time Check neighborhood.
We felt good knowing we helped fill those seats, and even better knowing the Mirrorbox team has a year of training and experience that will help them build on their momentum.
Read dispatches from this year's Starfish Initiative pilot, and reach out if we can be of assistance to your company or organization! To stay updated on all things Informatics, including the future of our Starfish Initiative, follow us on Facebook.
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