The 5 Key Things the Best Marketing Websites Do

We see a lot of organizations invest considerable time and energy into their newsletters, social media, and fundraising campaigns only to miss the mark on getting the most value out of their website.
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Today, social enterprises, nonprofits, and foundations spend more and more time investing, tracking, and experimenting with digital marketing to further their mission. They engage in digital fundraising, online campaigns, and leverage social media to tell impact stories, connect with audiences, and spread the word.

Although we’ve seen our clients have success with a variety of different channels and strategies, we believe your website is the single most important arrow in your marketing quiver. But with a complex and ever-evolving digital footprint for your brand, exactly where and how does your website fit into the larger marketing picture?

Think of all your marketing efforts as a wheel. Your website is the hub, connecting everything in your digital and real-world channels into a unified machine.

We see a lot of organizations invest considerable time and energy into their newsletters, social media, and fundraising campaigns only to miss the mark on getting the most value out of their website.

In this article, we’ll explore the difference between a modern, conversion-focused website that drives results, and a “digital brochure” that falls flat and underdelivers.

Beyond a Digital Brochure

If you think of your website as nothing more than a “digital brochure” with a donate button, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Your website is most effective when it moves your visitors through a conversion funnel towards positive actions that you can track, measure, and influence.

But for this to work well, you must ensure that some core components of your website strategy, design, and implementation are in place.

#1. Your Website Should Educate

At a bare minimum, your website needs to inform new and repeat visitors. It must communicate your mission, outline the problems your organization addresses, identify the people it exists to serve, and tell your story.

A core reason your community visits your website is to learn more about your organization. Failing to meet this need quickly leads viewers to hit the back button.

Not all forms of education are equal. We all remember the difference between our favorite teachers or professors—as well as our least favorite. More importantly, you may remember that you were more engaged and tried harder for the teachers you liked. Think of your website’s educational component in the same way. How you educate on your site is equally as important as what you have to say. After identifying the core content of your site, think about how to tell your story and inform your audiences in an interesting, engaging way.

People love stories. We advise our clients to create emotional, story-driven content rather than bland, corporate, or boring content. Focus on solutions, progress, and wins rather than problems, roadblocks, and losses. Leverage the power of positive messaging. Find ways to incorporate compelling visuals, rich media, and interactive content to hook your visitors and compel them to dive deeper, stay engaged, and come back for more.

#2 Your Website Should Connect

As the central hub of your marketing flywheel, it’s vital that your website connects to your other marketing channels and platforms.

Visitors should easily find your social media channels, be able to sign up for your newsletter, and get in contact with your organization. But that’s just the beginning.

We see many organizations spend energy, time, and resources heavily investing in marketing channels only to miss the most crucial conversion: driving visitors to their website to dive deeper, engage with their brand, and to become donors, volunteers, or customers and champions of their cause.

If you have a central CRM or donor/customer engagement platform, be sure to explore ways to integrate the system into your website. Look for opportunities to track and measure engagement.

Connect your visitors with opportunities to dive deeper, engage with your brand, spread the word, and become a donor, customer, or supporter.

#3. Your Website Should Convert

Your website can be the most amazing, beautiful, interactive experience in the world, but if it doesn’t lead your visitors to take action, none of that matters. Your website must convert users from passive visitors to actively engaged stakeholders who help spread your message and promote your organization’s purpose.

Outline your engagement goals and develop strategies, designs, and user flows to entice visitors to take action. Identify your target audiences/user personas and assign a primary conversion goal for each audience. Ensure that each audience can quickly and easily find a clear path to action.

It’s common for donor-funded organizations to focus all of their conversion efforts on fundraising. But not every visitor on your site is ready or able to donate. Be sure to provide alternate ways to get involved and take action. Invite them to volunteer, advocate, or contribute to your cause in other ways.

Remember to reward these contributors just like you reward their donating counterparts. Their ability or willingness to donate may change in the future and having contributed to “boots on the ground” activities will build brand loyalty and create memories of direct impact.

If you’re a social enterprise funded by selling products and/or services, it’s tempting to focus all of your conversion efforts on sales. Don’t forget to offer your visitors opportunities to engage and support your cause beyond the sale.

Foundations or philanthropic organizations often focus solely on the success of their partners and programs, and forget to invite and inspire new partnership opportunities.

When you clearly define conversion opportunities and priorities, you’re a giant step closer to creating a website that works for your organization.

#4. Your Website Should Measure

Once you have your conversion goals established, your designs and user flows organized, and your conversion tools integrated, it’s time to start tracking performance and engagement metrics.

There are countless tools to track performance of your website from Google Analytics to Mixpanel, Heap Analytics, Kissmetrics, and others. Find the tool that works best for you and integrates with your CRM or donor engagement platform. Be sure it’s one that you will actually use and evaluate consistently.

Due to the breadth and depth of data points revealed through these modern measurement tools, it can feel daunting when you begin digging into your metrics. It’s critical at this stage to focus on a few key, high-level metrics associated with your conversion goals and organizational objectives.

Continue to take measurements regularly so that the insights you gain become top of mind and part of regular marketing discussions. Over time, this knowledge will generate questions that require you to dig a little deeper to get a more granular understanding of what is going on.

Take a top-down approach to data and analytics. An archeological dig does not start at the bones.

#5. Your Website Should Evolve

The days of the “set it and forget it” brochure website are over. As the home base of your marketing efforts and channels, your website should be consistently updated and react to your user’s needs, wants, and behaviors.

You should have a clear answer to the question: “Why would each target audience/persona come back to our website after an initial visit?”

Keep your audience up to speed with what you’ve done, what you’re working on now, and what’s coming in the future. A common approach to timely content is a blog or news section. This can work really well, but be sure to craft engaging content that connects your audience with other relevant content on your site, and encourages them to share it with their network.

Keep Things Spinning

Your website is part of an ongoing conversation with your community. It’s a back and forth, not something you shoot at them and hope that you hit the marks that get them to take the actions you’re aiming for.

Investing the time and energy into a modern, conversion-focused website will reward your organization with a unified marketing flywheel that drives engagement, incites action, and leads to measurable results.

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