Raising money online is somewhat more difficult than falling off a log. Actually, it’s incredibly more difficult than falling off a log, which — I’m ashamed to note — I happen to know is pretty easy.
It’s just as demanding as raising money in any other medium, plus a few tricks of its own.
Here’s some help from the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog: 11 Donate Now Best Practices for Nonprofits.
Some of those best practices I can strongly vouch for:
- Monitor Your Charity Ratings and Reviews
- Make Your Donate Now Button Stand Out from Your Website’s Color Scheme
- Keep Text and Graphics to a Bare Minimum on Your Donate Now Landing Page
- Create Additional Pages for Other Ways to Give
- Include Your Mailing Address on Your Donate Now Landing Page for Check Donations
- Launch a Sustainer Program
So much online fundraising collapses on the landing page.
Generic, disorganized landing pages that seem engineered to turn away donors who have clicked through intending to give.
Here’s some landing page advice from the commercial world from Michael Hyatt’s blog: 7 Characteristics of Landing Pages That Get Results. Landing pages should have well-executed versions of these things:
- Sales Copy.
- Product Photos.
- An Offer.
This is a product sales landing page. But the elements you need are a lot like those on a fundraising landing page.
A “Lead Capture Page” is a comparatively general website standard. No matter which trade you’re in these pages always serve the same role. They entice entice your visitors to give you “leads” by giving away their contact information. All you actually need is an Email info, but it also helps considerably if you can get a name. No sale: merely get contact information. Not many people close deals on services over accountant websites. In fact, not many people will even be interested in hiring a new accountant the first time they visit. By gathering this valuable data in you can use it to keep in touch by creating email marketing campaigns targeted at specific people; individuals already primed to receive information about your company and the products it offers. I cannot overstate the long term value of leads like this.
1. Don’t just put lead capture, or “opt-in”, forms on the newsletter and contact pages. Put them on your service pages and your free report pages also. These pages are designed to sell, and if your prospect decides to initiate a contact you don’t want to make them hunt around for a form. Put opt-in forms on all these pages.
2. Don’t hide your opt-in forms. Make them simple to use. The key is to capture just the right amount of information from your visitors. Too little and you won’t have anything to work with; too much and you will potentially scare off potential customers. Fields in your form can be made mandatory – others can be left optional. You need at least a an Email address and, except for your newsletter, a first name. The rest of your fields should be optional. Your Email follow up should begin immediately. Use an auto-responder to let your visitors know you received their information. If you have more sophisticated email marketing software you can set the website up to manage your lead automatically. These systems can also replace your auto-responder with a more personalized message.
3. Make sure your form identifies exactly which page prompted the response. Forms on the service pages should get immediate personalized follow ups while newsletter sign-ups should be treated as long term leads and treated with more patience. In some cases this will also tell you what the needs of the prospect are. It’s a pretty safe bet that a lead for an accountant from the “Compilations and Reviews” page is a business owner who’s worried about cash flow. All of your Service and Free Reports pages will give you similar clues.
4. Headlines matter. Craft a headline that will compel your visitor to read the rest of the text on your page. Keep your message moving. Your headline should be concise and exiting. Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and people will read on.
5. Keep your lead capture page easy to read. Use lists and bullets. More people will read your copy if you deliver your message in small, digestible pieces. As a rule people prefer shorter paragraphs, and it’s best to break up the monotony with a few pictures. When dealing with a complex subject like accounting websites can easily turn into long, unreadable blocks of text. Pages like this won’t bring in leads.
6. What do you want to get out of your readers? What do you want them to do? Does your copy really make it clear how your service is going to benefit them? Make sure your copy makes a clear “call to action”. This is tried and true marketing lingo and refers to not only making it clear exactly what you want the client to do, but imparting a sense of urgency to the reader.
7. Make it irresistible. If you present your visitor with an offer they can’t refuse, usually a free initial consultation for business owners, you will bring in a bunch of new subscribers. I’ve had a number of clients balk at the free consultation but the more valuable the offer, the better chance you have of making a good impression from the get-go and obtaining new customers.
You’d be crazy to create a direct mail package that got everything right — but with a reply coupon that was bland, irrelevant, and hard to use.
Yet that’s exactly what happens all the time with fundraising landing pages: The email is full of energy and great reasons for people to click through … but when they do, they end up on a landing page that virtually chases them away with its ineptitude.
MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog, talking to commercial marketers, offers 7 Ways to Improve Your Landing Pages. These apply very well to fundraising landing pages:
- Have a Clear Call to Action
- Use Benefit-Driven Copy, not Product-Focused Copy
- Match the Message of Your Ad With the Message of Your Landing Page
- Use Trust Elements (for us that would be seals of approval from watchdogs or other third parties)
- Keep It Simple
- Remove Navigation (no need to distract people; if they’re on the page it’s because they’re intending to give)
These are great suggestions, and most of them are not being practiced on fundraising landing pages. That last one — Test — might be the most important of all. Don’t let your instinct be your only guide. Just as what you like in direct mail is most often flat-out wrong, your opinion can lead you badly astray online. Test to find out the truth.