Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Need to quickly make your site mobile friendly on a tight budget?

Smartphones like Droid and the iPhone have come a long way and have made screens bigger and more vivid than they were just a few years ago. However, despite this size increase, it's still small when compared to a laptop or even a tablet like the iPad, or Kindle.

A website not optimized for the smaller screens will look awkward and be very difficult to navigate and read. As a result you could lose a lot of potential supporters to your cause.

The best thing to do in this case is to create a mobile friendly site either in-house or by an outside party. Of course the price tag, or time investment may not be worth it. The good news is that you can create a template mobile site that looks good for about $20 a month.

The con of using a service like this is that you don't own the site - once you stop paying you lose the mobile website. Two, you lose customization, want to add social elements or plugins? Can't do it, they just take your current site and put in a mobile template. Three, if you continue to pay long enough, the cost will soon exceed the price of an outside vendor - so think in advance about going mobile, and the steps involved so that you can wrap your arms around the cost.

But for the short term, especially if you are entering a busy period, a service like bMobilized makes sense. If you go to their site you can preview what your site would look like if you used their service.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are you using the Google Grant?

Organizations like the NAACP, American Red Cross and Direct Relief International use the Grant to advertise their mission on Google for free. If they use it, so should you.

The grant allows you to advertise for free on Google.com for up to $10,000 per month. Use it to get the message out, fill your donor pipeline and find more advocates for your cause.

Of course its not that simple. Google gives you a wonderful gift, but its up to you to understand the technical details to create the account, execute it, and manage it to get the most out of it. Don't let that turn you off though, once you get it, you'll be fine.

You can read all about the requirements and tips here: http://tinyurl.com/3qke7ls (this is a Google PDF doc)

You can submit your application here: https://google-for-nonprofits.appspot.com/

As for getting the most out of it beyond the technical tips in creating the account, check out the rest of my blog below to find tips on best practices to get your new visitors to convert to your desired action once they arrive at your site.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Language and Images

Quick, go to your website homepage – can you tell me what’s in it? Does it contain your organizational mission and does it also contain language such as “development” and “capacity building”?

If it does, your website content needs lots of work, unless of course your content is geared towards people just like you: nonprofit professionals in your field. Further, if your images are generic, i.e. images of random people/things who are not actually part of your organization, you are in real trouble.

I know you’ve heard it from me before – people don’t care about who your organization IS, they care about what your organization DOES, in language and images that make sense to them.

So the first thing you should do is clean up the industry jargon words from your site and replace it with common sense words. Moreover, categorize your services so that it’s easy to know exactly what you affect in the big picture. Perhaps your services, such as after school programs, make the “community safer”, or services such as job training “grow the economy” – whatever it is, it becomes your category or theme that all your words and ideas flow from.

So, for example, it’s not “community development”, it’s “creating a safer community by [insert what your organization does in plain language]” or “growing the local economy by [organization does]”.

Once that is done it’s time to reinforce the words with the images (and vice versa) by using pictures that align with the new content. You say you are growing the local economy? Prove it by showing a picture of those you helped get jobs (or trained) with a caption that discusses it. By doing this you are also showing “proof” of your work as well as personalizing your work to something tangible.

Summing up, when we write in the language of our market we make complex ideas easier to understand; images makes it tangible; and the personalization makes it empathetic – which leads to a greater chance of a person doing the action you desire.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Direct Mail is still King

A fact that I was reminded of at the very good DMA Nonprofit Federation conference in NY this week.

However, I also sensed the respect for the Online channel is growing, especially in the realm of integration - there were several sessions that discussed it. So with that in mind, lets talk about one tactic you can utilize to integrate your offline and online channels from a marketing and communication perspective - using online to enlarge and refine your House File.

There are two unique things about online in my opinion - its trackable and the user has control. Our job as marketers is to make our users feel comfortable and empowered enough to sign up for an event, donate or do whatever your objective is.

It ain't easy and as you've seen in my prior posts, there is a lot we need to do to get them in that frame of mind to convert. However, once we do, we will have valuable information that we can marry to our house file and market to them effectively offline. The trackable portion of online not only gives us their email, age and mailing address, but it allows us the visibility to see what interests the user and what causes she feels most passionately about, allowing for better segmentation opportunities.

Using a combination of your website to gather donation information, as well as social media tools such as Facebook to get people to sign up for special events is a good start. And while donors are obviously more "valuable" now, don't disregard the passion of people who sacrificed their time to be part of your event. You can build a good "warm mailing" list that can beat many "cold mailing" lists that are bought via brokers by dozens of the same organizations.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are you better than your Competition?

With the down economy - and uncertainty on the horizon - it's important for non-profits to understand their competition, find points of differentiation and effectively communicate it to prospects to maximize their success.

The donor pie to fund nonprofit programs is stagnating, or in some cases decreasing, but donors expectations are higher than ever. Because of this, the competition for those limited dollars are heating up.

So if I ask you what separates you from other organizations can you answer?

Maybe it's efficiency, or the amount of people you service, or personal care, or any of a number of reasons. That’s a good start, but knowing what separates you from the rest is only half the battle, next you need to effectively communicate it in a language that appeals to your market.

For instance if you are efficient use language such as "your investment goes to those in need like [insert a person who it will help] to get x, y and z" (as long as it’s true). What that does is personalize the contribution so that the donor knows exactly what will happen with her hard earned money.

You can then underscore this with an image from an official source (like charity navigator) that shows your high efficiency compared to other organizations - which gives a sense of trust and authority that your competition cannot easily match.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Facebook App Spotlight - Causes App

The Causes application is a free Facebook add-on that allows you to raise funds directly from your page.

See the screenshot below from Amnesty International. What I like about this page is that people who view it are shown other Facebook users who already donated. This gives a strong incentive to donate too. It's called social proof, if others are doing it then it must be good.

You can get the causes app here: http://tinyurl.com/4426kqn

Once you get to the page click on the "add to my page" link on the lower left hand corner. From there the set up is pretty easy.

One thing to keep in mind:

Since the ability to collect donations through this app is done via "Network for Good", they take a 4.75% transaction fee from the donation amount.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An example of how to advertise online - from the ASPCA

I was on the NY Post website when I was served up the ad below - I put a blue box around it. I clicked on it and I was sent to a donation "splash page".

I will explain splash page in a moment, first I would like you to focus on the ad itself - notice the picture of the Dog, a cute one to boot. If you love animals, this ad jumps at you in a heartbeat. Next, notice the headline, it says "Guardian for $18 a month", you know exactly how much it costs and it also symbolizes the way it will make you feel - like a Guardian.

Last two things - under the picture of the dog is a caption that says it was a rescue, personalizes the story. And lastly, there is a call to action in the form of a button that says "make a monthly gift".

Now the site, its a splash page, meaning that it is a page that is not normally part of the ASPCA website. It was made specifically to convert people who saw the ad. See the page here http://tinyurl.com/3sqnaay

Notice it is just one page - good - a process too long will cause people to abandon. Notice also that it has stories of other animals that has been helped by other Guardians - also good, driving home the point.

One Caveat - ASPCA is obviously a big brand. You know who they are when you see the name. For the rest of us, our splash page will need more benefit and offer driven info in there as well so that the person understands who we are and how we benefit them and the cause.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Re-targeting: a second chance to make a first impression

Was on YouTube today listening to some Jimmy Cliff - who is awesome -when I noticed this ad for "Women for Women" - see screenshot below, the ad is to the right of the video. It looks like I was re-targeted.

I visited womenforwomen.org the other day and it seems they tagged me with a "re-targeting" (or re-marketing) pixel when I landed on their homepage - below the ad is a picture of the source code from their page that shows the code they used from Google to tag me.

What the code does is allow an organization to serve up an ad to a person who already visited their site but did not commit to the desired action, such as donate. The tag is a "cookie" assigned to my computer. When I go on to other Google sites like YouTube, those sites recognize and "read" my cookie - they "see" the site I visited and that I did not donate - and serve me the ad.

Is this a good tactic?

Depends on the rational behind it. Women for Women choose to tag their homepage which means that anyone who landed there will get an ad later - perhaps they want to expose their ad to a large audience and hope the mass equals large conversions.

An alternative might be to tag the "donate" page instead because it will tag people who have demonstrated interest by getting to that page - the mass of people will be lower but the conversion rate of those who see the ad later will be higher.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Non-Profit Spotlight: Children International

What they are doing well on the page:

Take a look at the screenshot of the homepage - notice to the right a photo of a child with her profile (age, family relations etc) and a short bio. That personalizes the plight children face around the world, better than statistics can convey.

From a potential donor/sponsor perspective, she can see exactly who she can help - appealing to the sense of empathy - as well as what the gift of $22 will do - a sense of empowerment. There is also a clear, and big, "sponsor" button for her to commit to action - no confusion as to where to go next.

What I would advise they should test to increase the number of sponsorships:

To the left of the page you see a video of a celebrity sponsor. I would advise that they instead use a video to show success stories so that potential sponsors can be confident that their hard earned money is being used properly.

I would also test reducing the size of the "send me a free information kit" button so that it doesn't distract from the sponsor button. I want to make sure that people who are ready to take the next step, do so immediately. The info kit button can still be there for those that are scanning the whole page wanting to learn more.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Here is a good example of a persuasive ad from the ASPCA:

Notice how, before they go into any statistics, they first show you an image of a Dog that looks "hurt" or "sad". Of course I am not an animal psychologist, for all I know the dog could just be tired. But that is not the point - what is important is the emotion it triggers when we look at the dog - sadness. This is the start of the story.

Now the music - the "context" - slow, somber, sad, serious. Make's you understand very quickly how dire the situation is.

Next, the numbers - thousands harmed.

Now the moral of the story - the ASPCA is saving these animals

Now the pitch - help us save these animals. Cue more pictures of animals in distress, with almost human type emotions.

Powerful commercial

As powerful as it is, it only works for certain people. What we call the target market - in this case animal lovers and pet owners. This ad would probably not work as well for those who are more interested in issues of world hunger or world peace. Neither would it play as well for those who never owned a pet and don't really like dogs or cats.

The point here is that we need to MATCH the ad with the target market. This means we need to understand who the target market is, what appeals to them, where they are (what shows they watch, what they do online) and ensure that our message gets to them. If we don't properly match the ad with the market, we will lose out even if the ad is good.

This is where creating a profile can help you gain a better perspective on what appeals to your audience and what you have to do, and where you have to be, to communicate it effectively.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A quick addition to the last post:

- Persuasion, that is, triggering the right emotion (remember - association, context and a specific event), is just one part of the total sales cycle

- Before you can persuade, you have to get the person in the mood to be receptive. An example - say your organization throws a dinner and raffle prizes to raise funds for a cause. You will do better if you do the raffle during or right after the dinner, eating food you provided will get guests in the receptive mood to spend more

- After you persuade them, you must make sure it is as easy as possible for them to commit to the action. This means that if they go onto your site, you better make it very simple for them to donate or do whatever you wanted them to do. If it is complicated or confusing, they will leave and you wasted your ad dollars.

- The last part, and the long term, is branding. You want people to have an emotional response when they think of your brand. Think of Coca-Cola - the smell, the cool taste - or even the Red Cross - caring etc.

I'll go into more details with examples for each in the next few weeks. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

If you are in the business of changing worlds, then you're in the business of persuasion

There are many areas of persuasion that can be discussed: sales, delivering a speech etc, but the area I want to focus on is marketing - driving more awareness, advocacy or donations.

Think of marketing as a tactic that triggers an emotional response. Everything we do in life triggers an emotion from people, whether it's that habit our spouse doesn't like, or staying late at work which impresses the boss - everything has an emotional response.

What happens after the emotion (the response) depends on what emotions are triggered. From a marketing perspective, we want to trigger the correct emotion to our target market in order for them to commit to an action.

The emotions we want to trigger depends on the goal. In politics, for example, the candidate may want votes, so she may want to associate her competitor with a specific event - with scary sounding music - that makes people angry or sad, and then say that her rival is "soft on crime" or "soft on defense".

The keys here are association, context and a specific event. In your marketing pieces - whether your website, mail or TV - focus on an event (such a story) in the context of the bigger issue and associate that with your organization as the issue solver (perhaps through statistics or a happy ending to the story).

I believe the Red Cross, Amnesty International and Politicians excel at this, check out their sites and their marketing materials - you will learn much!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cooperative Databases - a Smart Way to Grow Your Prospect List or an Unethical Use of Donor Data?

What is a Cooperative Database? It is a shared list where multiple organizations share customer/donor information.

Pros and Cons....

Pro: You gain a clearer picture of the type of person that donates to your cause. You also get a greater understanding of the type of campaigns that will increase the donation conversion rate. You also, of course, gain a large list of new potential donors.

Con: You will probably have to share your list to gain access. If you have a strict donor privacy policy this might make it a no-go. If you share your list, you are leaving yourself open to others to market to your donors. There are serious ethical and privacy issues that should be considered before deciding to share the data - of the people who entrusted you with their information - into a coop.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The most important online asset you have - your website

It's your storefront and as such it needs to be appealing. If your store front looks "dirty", unorganized or doesn't have what your visitors expect - they will leave and go to your competitors.

So first things first - define your target market. Next, make it easy for them to understand who you are, who you help and make it easy to navigate. Next test different content (such as stories, appeals etc) to increase success.

Once you are done with that - do it all over again. No amount of brilliant marketing can make up for a poor website.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A new study from donorCentrics:

1) That Direct Mail is still king

2) Online is growing rapidly in new acquisitions, retention and amounts giving

3) Online demos overwhelmingly skew young up to the 40s. Direct Mail dominates the older segments

4) Online Donors have higher household incomes and give more

5) Life time Value is higher for online donors

6) About 40% of those who gave online, ended up donating again offline. The reverse wasn't true for those that used Direct Mail (When you think about the demos this makes sense).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shout out to Amnesty International - check out their brilliant use of video, pictures, blogs and many other apps on their Facebook page.

Pay special attention to their wall posts - the use of stories to personalize the issues, the use of questions to encourage participation. These are good tactics to keep in mind when you creating your own social media campaign.

If you have achieved enough mass, you can test each story and each question in your social media campaign and use the most popular in your other campaigns to increase the chances for success. If you don't have the mass yet, learn from Amnesty and other successful social media organizations by visiting their sites.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Math 101 for Non-Profits: The Core Formulas

1) Cost Per Acquisition (use this to figure out the average cost of a conversion):

Cost/Number of Conversions

2) Simple ROI (use this to calculate the profit on an investment):

3) Median: Order your list of values (for example donation amounts) and find the middle value. This tells you that 50% of the distribution is below that number and 50% is above it.

For lists that are highly skewed (where a few very high/low values radically change the average), this will give you a better idea of the "true" expected value of an action - such as a donation.

Formulas should be used first as a benchmark - to find where you are now in your marketing program. From there, the you can find where there are opportunities to improve and continue to use the formulas to chart progress.

It can go beyond internal...this type of data can be shared with the board (if you have one) and large donors to communicate marketing successes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Good Use of Video to Promote Your Cause

Moving video from the Red Cross regarding the flooding that is devastating the midsection of our country. If you haven't already, please donate!

As a not-for-profit, video is a very powerful medium. Notice the personal story, it really brings home the issues people are facing more than any stats could ever do. If you click through to YouTube, you will see a donation link directly on the page via "Google Checkout".

Youtube Video

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Donor Survey from Cyngus Applied Research:

CYGNUS Donor Study

Many good insights here - my only (minor) caveat I would advise you to keep in mind; the survey was administered online which may bias the results towards online slightly.
- Direct Mail is still very important but effectiveness is skewing older

- Over message saturation is the 2nd biggest reason for donors to stop donating

- Online giving continues to rise and is a major slice of overall giving, especially for younger segments

- Donors expect to give more in 2011

- Media integration (offline + online) continues to be important

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Core Questions to ask before starting ANY marketing program

Who is your target market for the service?

Who is your target market for sustainability of your program?

What is your solution and benefit for those who you depend on for sustainability?

How do you communicate your solution to your target market such that it helps maximize your program goals?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Keep it Personal for Greater Program Success

Keep it personal - ensure that in your newsletters and on your site you have personal stories of people who benefited from your organization efforts, personal appeals for actions (be it advocacy, donations, volunteerism). This works better than simple statistics.
But whatever story you use, be sure it integrates well with your brand identity (like say civil rights, or homelessness) and that it has what every marketing program should include - benefits to the reader and a call to action.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't know where to start in your marketing program?

Start internal!
1) Start a newsletter and invite folks who visit your site (or who already donated) to sign up.

2) Check out your website statistics and find opportunities where site improvements can lead to greater conversions.

These are low cost ways to market to people who already interested in your organization.