Modern nonprofits and associations understand the power of digital marketing. In contrast to traditional marketing methods, organizations using an online outreach strategy have the potential to reach a far wider audience at a much faster rate, often with a comparatively low investment cost. However, when launching a digital marketing strategy, it can be easy to overlook one of your core marketing tools: your website.
A strong website design and user interface can build on the foundation laid by your off-site marketing efforts on social media or through email. Supporters who reach your website are at a critical point in their engagement, and what they discover on your website can impact whether they become a member or make a donation. Additionally, your website should also provide content to keep your current supporters and members engaged, helping retain your audience.
To show how your website can be used as a digital marketing tool, this article will explore five best practices that organizations can use to leverage their websites in their online marketing efforts:
- Connect your social media accounts to your website
- Create a strong brand identity
- Follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices
- Practice regular maintenance
- Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
You should be able to implement many of these practices yourself with the support of your organization. However, organizations that need more help optimizing their website or even completing a full website rehaul can benefit from reaching out to a professional web design and digital marketing consultant or agency for help. Additionally, consultants can help point you towards the tools your website needs, such as integration with your nonprofit or association-specific constituent relationship management (CRM) system.
1. Connect Your Social Media Accounts to Your Website
Social media has the power to put your organization in contact with a wide range of potential supporters. Most social media sites also allow organizations to use both indirect and direct marketing strategies, allowing your team to make general appeals and hold one-on-one conversations with prospective and long-time supporters.
Given that few social media sites allow supporters to donate to your organization through their platform, you’ll need to direct your incoming traffic to your website. Think of your social media accounts as extensions of your website, providing similar content and core information about your cause. Then, when supporters visit your website, they’ll already have a strong sense of your brand identity.
Additionally, your website should also link to your social media accounts. While some may hesitate to direct visitors away from their website, adding these links gives your visitors another engagement opportunity. Supporters who follow your social media accounts and share your content with their friends and family can only help your digital fundraising efforts.
2. Create a Strong Brand Identity
Your organization’s brand is key to establishing a relationship with supporters. Most individuals need to interact with your content multiple times before converting to make a donation or sign up to volunteer. A strong brand identity will make this process easier as individuals will recognize that the messages they receive are all coming from the same organization.
All of your marketing materials should effectively convey your brand, and your website is no exception. In fact, your website should serve as the hub of your organization’s brand message. Getting Attention’s guide to nonprofit branding strategy offers a few visual aspects to focus on when improving your website’s branding:
- Logo. When your supporters see your logo, they should automatically think of your organization. Nearly all of your external materials should feature your logo in a prominently placed location. For your website, make sure your logo is on every page, often front and center or in the left-hand corner.
- Colors. Choosing colors that represent your organization is more of an art than a science, but there are basic design principles you can follow when using your brand colors on your website. Make sure backgrounds and fonts have sufficient color contrast to keep your website readable, especially if you have a very dark or very light brand color. Some websites strategically use their brand colors to draw attention to key elements of their website. For example, a nonprofit with a blue and orange color scheme may use blue and neutral colors for the bulk of their website and contrast it with bright orange for their donation button.
- Font. Typography might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to branding, but effective, consistent fonts can subtly showcase your organization’s image. Consider your font’s colors, size, and whether you use serif or sans serif. For example, while you may not notice it at first glance, a website that exclusively uses serif fonts may come across as more formal than one that uses sans serif or a mix of the two.
Your website is the core of your nonprofit’s online presence, so ensure all of your other digital marketing efforts follow the same branding principles. Create a branding guide to ensure you remain consistent when making social media posts, sending emails, or using other forms of online communication.
3. Follow SEO Best Practices
Organic traffic from online searches is key for increasing your organization’s online visibility. Implementing search engine optimization best practices is a lengthy process that requires patience to see results but is instrumental for creating a website your supporters can easily find.
SEO may seem complicated, and most search engines, especially Google, keep their exact formula for displaying search results as a well-guarded secret. Fortunately, there are some basic SEO practices that you can begin implementing on your website almost immediately, including:
- Creating a blog. Search engines favor websites that have a steady stream of new content as they are more likely to represent active organizations. Regularly making brand new content pages is impractical for most organizations, but you can show both search engines and your supporters that your website is active by maintaining a blog.
- Making your website accessible. Accessibility practices such as embedding an accessibility widget or adding alternative text to images and videos can help improve your website’s overall search engine ranking. These practices allow all visitors to use your website, increasing your overall potential audience, and provide more opportunities to showcase your content.
- Targeting viable keywords. Some keywords are far more competitive than others. For example, a nonprofit that protects rivers will likely end up competing with nearly unbeatable websites, such as Wikipedia, for generic keywords such as “rivers” and “pollution.” However, more specific keywords, such as the names of the specific rivers they are leading clean-up efforts on, will be less competitive and better fit the search intent of potential supporters.
To understand where your website is currently at for SEO, make use of your website builder’s SEO tools. If you’re in the process of making a new website or considering overhauling your old one, consider Morweb’s guide to membership website builders advice to look for a platform with SEO support. This can include a sitemap, SEO plugin integrations, and other analytics tools that track your website’s visibility.
4. Practice Regular Maintenance
Maintaining a website with a strong online presence requires continuous upkeep. Tech breakdowns, long loading times, and unoptimized content can all occur over time. While you can and should take preventive measures to avoid technical issues, often the best strategy for keeping your website running smoothly is to practice routine maintenance.
Fortunately, maintaining good data hygiene can often be quite simple. During your maintenance checks, review your website for the following common data errors:
- Duplicated images
- Oversized images
- Broken links
- Long redirect chains
- Non-standardized data
Additionally, be sure to check key aspects of your website, such as your registration forms. Practice filling out test forms to ensure data is flowing smoothly into your database and that users will have no issue completing these key actions.
5. Establish KPIs
You can only improve your website’s marketing potential if you know what is, and is not, working. After all, if you implement a change, you can only know if it made a difference (and if that difference was for the better) if you’re tracking related data. Establish KPIs related to your website’s growth goals, then use the necessary software and analytics tools to monitor them. For instance, you might make use of:
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics is one of the most popular web analytics tools. Google Analytics is free and allows you to monitor many important KPIs, including bounce rate, pages visited, and popular landing pages.
- Registration forms. Registration forms for key actions such as donating, signing up for events, and subscribing to your newsletter are essential for the overall success of your organization. Establish a metric related to form completion so you can monitor if website visitors drop off in significant numbers at any point in the registration process. Tools such as fundraising and nonprofit event software often come with reporting features that can help you monitor these metrics.
- Messaging tools. Email marketing helps you stay in touch with your supporters. However, how many of your email recipients actually open your messages and follow links? Use your messaging tools to monitor your open- and click-through rates to create better marketing emails.
Different KPIs will be more relevant to your website at different times. For instance, if you are experimenting with marketing strategies, you’ll likely be most interested in referral traffic and click-through rates. However, even as your focus shifts, it’s important to monitor multiple KPIs so you can make data-driven decisions as your online presence grows.
Digital marketing can help your organization expand its overall presence, attracting new supporters and creating a usable online resource for your current base. However, online marketing is also competitive, so your organization needs to stand out by crafting a strong brand identity and social media presence. Then, use your incoming data to assess your efforts and make constant improvements to get your website noticed by both supporters and search engines.