An effective way to market your agency’s website
By Rose Reinert
For those of you who are new to the DonorDreams blog, I’m going chapter by chapter through Lon Safko’s book, The Social Media Bible, on Mondays and applying his thoughts to the non-profit sector. We continue this lovely Monday with Chapter 19, “Marketing Yourself (Search Engine Marketing)”. Last week we began exploring SEO, and this week we dig a little deeper into marketing yourself through SEM — Search Engine Marketing.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the most effective strategies to market and advertise your website; however, there is a cost. In this chapter, Safko unpacks the idea of the idea of CPC (aka Cost Per Click) or PPC (aka Pay Per Click).
At first glance, this entire chapter seemed difficult to apply to our non-profit world. Many budgets are tight and marketing generally does not have a lot of wiggle room. However, after some additional research, I found an awesome manual that will help us explore how to apply SEM to our non-profit world.
The Non-profit’s Guide to Search Engine Marketing is a free online manual to help your non-profit organization spread its message, cheaply and effectively, with the help of SEM. It gives great examples from real non-profits that effectively apply SEM to increase visibility, attract supporters and donations, and create awareness for their cause.
One great suggestion I found in this resource was to think about ways to turn your charity projects into brands (e.g. the Tap Project). It helps if the brand is descriptive, as opposed to abstract, because people tend to search for generic terms. For example, “CureBlindnessNow” could be both a brand and a search term i.e. “cure for blindness”, “how to cure blindness”, etc.
This online manual doesn’t just explore SEM, but it also provides the reader with even more topics addressing overall online presence, social media, etc.
It is a great read (as is Safko’s Social Media Bible) and worth the click!
Using best practices to improve your agency’s website
By Rose Reinert
It has almost been a year since I took on my new role as Marketing & Outreach Coordinator for a local federally qualified health center. One of the first things I set my sights on changing was our agency’s website.
Our website was made with love by my President/CEO . . . with lots of love . . . but . . . umm . . . lots of words.
You can imagine this was a very delicate project to propose, but I was determined. I am proud to say that nine months after starting, we launched the new website, and it has been our pride and joy ever since. I will insert a shameless plug for you to check out our new website and see what you think!
In chapter four of “The Social Media Bible,” Lon Safkow presents the subject of “The World of Web Pages.” I loved this chapter! I was intrigued by the history of websites. I also loved reading about the “Eye Tracking Study” that discussed people’s reading patterns and confirmed that we look first, and refer back to the upper left corner the most often.
With all of what Safkow talks about in this chapter, I hit the web and learned more about the role that Web Pages play in philanthropy, engagement and donor relations.
Of course, by now, we know that a website can do wonders for:
- engaging people
- sharing your story
- providing a platform for donations
However, we need to ask: “Is simply ensuring your non-profit has a web site enough?”
We learned in last week’s blog that when sending an e-mail or e-blast to an audience, we only have their attention for a few seconds. A website is much the same.
Once someone plops on your home page what do they see? Is it mobile friendly? Can they easily navigate it?
Each click and movement to another page is another transaction with our audience. It is also another commitment on their part to give time to learn more. If they grow frustrated, confused or turned off, they can quickly disengage.
In marketing, I often look to those on the cutting edge of technology for trends (in other words . . . those younger than me of course! LOL). There is no doubt that non-profits must figure out how to engage the younger generations to ensure that philanthropy and engagement continued.
So, when we take a look at websites, what do we see and what do our donors want to see?
The Millennial Project is an initiative that assists companies and organizations in learning about and engaging the Millennial generation. (Note: The Millennial generation is made up of those sometimes referred to as Generation Y, with birth years from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s.)
The 2013 Millennial Impact Report was completed by Achieve which is an agency working with causes to provide research, awareness and support campaigns. This report provides research on what interests this generation, including how to capture their support via your website, social media and other factors. I highly recommend you take a look as it provides insight on so many different topics.
The report highlights the importance of ensuring your website is mobile friendly. (Note: ‘mobile friendly’ does not just mean your site can be pulled up on your phone) If you are pulling up a site and have to zoom in and out in order to see the site, it is more than likely not categorized as “mobile friendly”.
Does mobile friendly really matter?
According to a recent article, “What Users Want Most from Mobile Sites Today,” on Google’s Think Insights, it is clear being mobile friendly indeed does matter:
- When they visited a mobile-friendly site, 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future
- 48% of users say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly
- 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites
Not only is accessibility important, but obviously content is just as critical. Here is more great info from the Achieve research:
- 75% of young donors are turned off by out-to-date web sites.
- Six in 10 said they wanted non-profits to share stories about successful projects and programs and appreciated information about an organization’s cause and the people it serves.
- The donors also prefer to give online, with 84 percent saying they want to give through a Web site.
As we look at continuing to engage the current and next generations through our website, taking a fresh look can be helpful.
There are some easy ways to get outside input on how your website can be improved including:
- Work with an area college to set up focus groups
- use on-line surveys
- gather feedback during donor visits
Take a look at your web site. What do you see? What are some ways you could offer a fresh look? Do you have the infrastructure to support updates to you your site? Share some of your experiences from your favorite websites in the comment box below.
Last week, my friends at Network for Good sent me their weekly eNewsletter with links to all sorts of good things. One of the links took me to an article by Caryn Stein titled “10 Amazing Nonprofit Websites“. With a few free minutes on my hands, the headline was like a fishing lure, and I was hooked. I wanted to know:
- Who are those agencies?
- What made their websites “amazing”?
- What do those sites look like?
The following images are the front pages from three of the ten non-profit webpages highlighted by Caryn. As you scroll down, I encourage you to take a good look because I think there is a common thread running through all these home pages.
What did you see? As you scrolled through these three website homepages, what went running through your head?
For me, it was the pictures that captured my attention. I found myself thinking:
- Who are those people?
- What is their story?
- How did the agency help them?
- Is there a happy ending?
It has been said millions of times that a picture is worth a thousand words. Since a webpage packed with lots of verbiage has been proven by SEO experts to chase people away, then why wouldn’t you use as many pictures as possible to pull people into your agency’s story?
Last week, I introduced you to Christopher Davenport’s storytelling resources and his book “Nonprofit Storytelling for Board Members“. Starting on page 10, Christopher introduces the concept of “The 4 C’s of Storytelling,” which are:
I won’t expound on these ideas because you’re really supposed to go buy his book. (Disclaimer — I am not affiliated with Christopher Davenport and do not profit from your purchase of his products.)
However, I bring up the 4 C’s because the three websites from the Network for Good eNewsletter article remind me of how much one picture on your website can do when it comes to the four elements of storytelling. After all, doesn’t the picture essentially introduce the character? Doesn’t the image also initially create a connection and get you wondering about the conflict and potential resolution?
Of course, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology. So, the moral to today’s story isn’t as simple as “go add some pictures to your agency’s website“.
Lenka Istvanova wrote a great post titled “How to Increase Traffic To Your Website With The Help Of Images” at Koozai blog. She goes into great detail about:
- Alt Tag
- File Name
- Image Size
- XML and Image Sitemap
As I said, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology, online marketing and ePhilanthropy. My best advice to non-techie people is to: 1) fight through the urge to give up and 2) hire employees and recruit volunteers who are techies to help you.
One final note . . . a few months ago a non-profit executive director friend of mine was contacted by a company claiming that her agency used a picture on their website that didn’t belong to them. Not only did it not belong to them, but there was no photo credit. This honest mistake by an employee cost the agency thousands of dollars in fines.
Does your non-profit organization make effective use of images on your website? Are you pulling people into your agency’s story? After capturing their attention, where are you taking them and how are you telling your story (e.g. YouTube video, article with more pictures, etc)? How are you using images on your website to enhance SEO? Where are you finding your images and ensuring you aren’t violating copyright laws?
Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
These days, it seems like every few months we are hearing of another password breach at a website. Just a few weeks ago one of the world’s largest online gaming companies, Blizzard, suffered a digital security breach and thousands of passwords were compromised. A month before that, the popular social networking site, LinkedIn was also hacked.
While there is not much that can be done when those things happen, you can take action to ensure your online identity and the identity of your agency remain secure. The first line of defense is coming up with a secure password.
Every site you sign onto will ask for a password. Furthermore, some people might need a password to sign into your computer. That can be a lot of passwords to try to remember. Here are a few tips on how to create memorable and secure passwords:
- The longer the password, the better. While creating short but extremely random passwords might be a great strategy if you only have a few passwords to remember, chances are you have quite a few sites that require a password. This is why creating a long password is best. One idea is to think of a story you will never forget and put together a phrase with a few numbers based on that story. That phrase with a few numbers provides you with much better security.
- Complex over simple. While you do not want a random collection of numbers and letters, you do want your password to have some complexity. This can be accomplished through the use of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. A general rule is to have at least one of each in your password.
- No personal information. Do not include things such as your address, phone number, birthdate, social security number, etc in your passwords. If for some reason a site that you are subscribed to is hacked, the hacker can use this information to link together other information on the web and find out who you are. In no time, your identity theft has your credit card numbers and other personal information.
It is best to have a different password for each site to which you are subscribed. If you are concerned about remembering a bunch of passwords, then there are password managers available to help you. Google Chrome and other browsers offer a password managers that save an encrypted version of your password for you, which will auto-complete the next visit that site. There are also independent password managers such as KeePass that also will save your passwords for you.
Your non-profit organization might already have a policy on creating passwords. So, before following any of the advice in this post, make sure you check with your IT Department and make sure your passwords are compliant. Also, remember to change your passwords often. A good rule of thumb is to change them every three months to keep accounts secure.
These best practices aren’t just necessary for your online activity. They also applies to internal software such as password protected donor databases.
Anyone else have some great password creation tips? What password manager do you use? Does your agency have a password creation policy? If so, would you be willing to share it with other readers? Let’s talk about all of this in the comment section!