Two key concepts rule online donor acquisition: traffic and conversion. Most of your efforts will revolve around tracking and trying to improve these two figures. “Traffic” means the number of visitors that you’re able to bring to your website, social media pages, blogs, or other online media properties. “Conversion” means convincing some of your visitors to take the action you desire. Your ‘conversion rate’ is the percentage of your total traffic that takes the desired action.
Obviously, if you have lots of traffic, but no conversions, you’re not going to make much progress. On the other hand, you might have a very high rate of conversions but little traffic and so it doesn’t make much of an impact.
So your two principal considerations are:
- How to I drive traffic to my online presence?
- Is my online presence clear and successful in encouraging visitor to take some specific action?
Mass Marketing – Organizations that have sufficient resources can invest in a mass marketing strategy to bring in new donors. Mass marketing techniques include purchasing billboards in a target area, buying television commercials, placing print ads in local or topical publications, and airing radio announcements. Your ads should share your story in a compelling way and encourage people to go to your website to donate. One caution about billboards… you can only put so much information on a billboard. An image and a web address may be all that people can see as they whiz past in their cars.
Online Marketing – Marketing online tends to be lower cost and more targeted than mass media techniques. Online marketing includes search engine marketing, placing ads on the right websites, and paying for social media messaging. For those of you who think that Facebook is still about connecting people to one another, don’t be fooled. Their goal is to connect you with paying advertisers.
List purchasing – If you have a good idea of who your target market is, there are list brokers that will sell you the right to e-mail to the people in their list. You can send a set number of messages based on what you’re willing to pay.
Content Marketing – Content marketing is putting free information or services online with the intention of providing value that people will hopefully decide to pay you for. If you’re a church, putting information online about how to be a better father, steward, husband, Catholic, might be interesting to some of the members of your parish. If you go this route, you have to commit to making regular contributions. You can’t just post one article and then leave it alone.
This is a little more difficult because it is more subjective. Look at your website and see if it points people in the direction that you want them to go. Are you looking for volunteers for your ministry? If so, volunteer sign-up should be prominent and easy to accomplish. Are you looking primarily to raise money? Then your website should make donations easy and present a compelling reason for making a gift right away. Do you want people to sign up to your mailing list? You need to make sure that this is obvious and easy.
The nice thing about online properties is that you have a lot of real-time feedback. You can track and see how changes to your website affect your conversion rates. If you make a mistake and your conversion rates fall through the bottom, it should be easy enough to go back to your old layout and design.
One thing that might help you is to do a focus group with your website, especially if you’re doing a big redesign. You will have brilliant ideas of how things are supposed to work and lead to a 200% increase in giving, but a group of volunteers will be able to tell you if that vision really came to fruition.
One easy way to do a focus group is to have ten people who have never seen your site redesign before. Order pizza. Then give them a list of tasks that you would like them to accomplish on the new site. Make a donation. Sign up as a volunteer. Sign up for the newsletter. Schedule a baptism. Ask them to time themselves doing these tasks, and then get feedback from them on how easy it was for them to figure it out. Lower numbers mean that it’s easy. You can also ask your focus group for feedback on the design of the site and what things they liked and hated.
This process could save you a lot of unnecessary heartache that might come from putting up a website that no one can use.