With the ever-increasing importance of online fundraising and the significance of your online presence, it is equally important to set yourself up for success now and into the future. Here are three tips for to help you and your organization succeed.
Tip 1: Implement Google eCommerce Tracking
Nonprofits are increasingly relying on data to make informed decisions about marketing, fundraising and operations. Measuring your website traffic and effectiveness is easily achieved by implementing Google Analytics tracking on your website. The beauty as well as the difficulty of Google Analytics, however, is that it often offers too large and too complex datasets. So let’s focus on an easy one: eCommerce Tracking.
The beauty of tracking eCommerce, along with all of your other website statistics, in Google Analytics is that now you can see a direct report of how your conversion pathways are performing. Have you ever wondered how many pages it takes for site visitors to hit before they make a successful donation? Are you curious as to how many of your donors came from a social media site (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest) before making a gift? You can even take this a step further and use Google’s URL Builder to apply Campaign Source and Medium tags to know how your specific email campaigns performed. Now you know that your “Give Now!” email campaign only produced $500, whereas your “Please Support” campaign brought in $6,000 on the same donation form.
Quantitative data is pertinent to making sound, intelligent qualitative decisions for your website and online marketing. If increasing online donations and efficiency is a goal of 2013, eCommerce tracking can help.
Tip 2: Simplify your Online Donation Form
There are many studies that show the less a person has to fill out on a form, the higher the conversion rate. There are also studies that show a visual design and layout will incite confidence and positive emotional responses.
For example, the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund increased its giving by optimizing its online donation form. The original online donation form captured about $51.30 in donations per page view. So, the organization adjusted the form. First, the layout was adjusted, and then an image was added above the form. This resulted in an 8 percent per page view increase. Then the giving button text was changed from “Submit” to “Support Haiti,” which increased dollars per page view to $59.38. And finally, when the title and phone number fields were hidden (making the form shorter and requiring less information), donations rose nearly 11 percent per page view. However, when the organization removed the “verified” icon on the page, giving dropped around 5 percent per page view.
The easier and more visually appealing your online donation form is, the more money you will make. It is the fight between the “nice to have” versus the “need to have”. What is the absolute minimum information you need to have in order to collect an online donation and count that donor as a constituent? Sure, it would be nice to collect the phone number for every donor. But do you need that information to collect an online donation? Knowing that a few fields can be the difference between receiving a gift should make the choice easy for most organizations.
Tip 3: Optimize your Donation Form(s) for Mobile
In December 2008, mobile browsing was 0.6 percent of all Internet browsing. December 2012 saw this number increase to 14.5 percent. What’s more interesting is that growth looks more exponential than constant; meaning as smartphones and tablets continue their meteoric penetration of their respective markets this number will grow higher and quicker.
This means as your emails are being sent out, constituents are clicking on links and seeing your website on their mobile devices. How many? Well, you can assume around 15 percent but you can also check your Google Analytics to get your specific percentage (under Audience > Mobile > Overview). A recent review of some organizations I work with showed one with 17.5 percent of their monthly visits from mobile devices (including tablets), and another client with 14.62 percent. As your constituents are hitting your site on a mobile device, there can be a large disparity between the user experience on a desktop browser and on a mobile browser. A donation form that looks good and makes sense on a desktop browser is most likely very difficult to complete on a mobile device. Think small text-entry fields, wide form layouts, and small “click here” buttons.
As we drive our constituents from an email to an online conversion form, we want to make this process as easy and intuitive for them to complete. If this experience is anything but, you will lose more conversions than you will gain.
Optimizing for mobile can reduce the number of form fields, which decreases the time it takes to complete. It can reformat the layout so that it looks good on a smartphone and/or tablet. It can increase submission and drop-down button sizes so that touchscreen devices are easy to use. In fact, one client example saw an increase in unique visits of 67 percent, a decrease of average time to make a mobile donation by 2:30 minutes, a decrease of 15 percent in bounce rate, and a 150 percent increase in mobile donations.
2013 should see more online traffic than ever before, so prepare your organization for higher conversion rates now while collecting data for later. It’s the way to make smart, sound and strategic decisions about your website and online presence while helping fulfill your organization’s mission.
Michael Gastaldo is senior Internet strategy consultant for Blackbaud in Charleston, S.C.