Way too much to quote at length here, so you need to go read the whole thing at least several times, but in a nutshell, here's what she says. First of all, for those who are unexposed to this stuff, analytics:
Consistently quantify site performance and usage. Remember though, that comparison of findings among sites doesn’t mean a thing, since each site has unique goals and audiences. Focus on tracking metrics on your site over time, from the baseline of right now.
Build your understanding of how or if your site or blog is meeting stated objectives critical to achieving communications goals.
Suggest approaches for course correction if necessary.
That's not even scratching the proverbial surface. She says the first step in undertaking such a strategic need is the following:
Define site goals.
Pinpoint measurable objectives that will demonstrate your moving towards reaching your goals.
Identify, as specifically as possible, the target audiences you need to engage to meet your objectives.
Then she gets right down to the nittty-gritty of things. Take this next 'graph to the bank:
When you’re thinking about measuring the impact of your website, start with your desired outcomes, not with analytic reports. Your goals for your site will pinpoint the metrics that matter. So rather than opening your analytics tool and getting overwhelmed by all the bells and whistles, focus on factors that will help you understand the whys and whats around your desired outcomes.
And then she proceeds to get into the seven fixed metrics that are really worth tracking on. In just a word, here they are... but you'll want to read the whole thing for every bit of insight she offers on this mind-numbing [for me] subject.
Keywords — What top 20 words and phrases (keywords) your users enter into Google or other search engines that drive them to your site?
Top referring web addresses
Top 10 pages visited (a.k.a. content popularity)
Percentage of site visitors who visit the home page
Site bounce rate
Conversion Rate (goals and funnel)
Most Frequently Searched for Keywords (assuming your site has a site search tool)
Go read the entire piece. And sign up for her excellent newsletter. I've been reading her for several years now and she's my numero uno go-to for everything non-profit.
eMarketer has a great discussion of what actually motivates individuals to “like” a brand in social nets like Facebook.
#1 for consumer brands, not surprisingly, is an interest in getting information about “deals.”
But the #2 driver is simply self-expression … people simply want to express their support of a company or brand (or nonprofit) to other people. A form of sharing “feel good” news — a fundamental human impulse.
Nonprofits tapping into social nets need to realize that your “friends” do not necessarily crave “interaction” with your organization — check out the list and note that “interact” is firmly entrenched at the bottom.
They do, however, want to identify publicly with you … and that’s plenty to be grateful for.
Indeed, their greater value to your organization might be as missionaries rather than as donors. So be sure you gently offer your “friends” easy ways to take additional supportive steps. As they take those additional steps, they’re probably moving closer to donating (or donating more/again).
In the time I've been checking out websites for various ministries, I've come to the conclusion that the vast majority of them suck air. Majorly. I have to wonder if somehow we just can't do better than that, no matter how small our ministry or nonprofit may be. I'm inclined to think we can.
Kivi Leroux Miller says you can if you focus on the most important elements first. Here’s a 10-point
checklist the all-star North Carolina consultant uses to give any nonprofit website home page a quick
1. Does the Domain Name Make Sense? I prefer whole words if they are relatively short,
but acronyms are OK too. For example, the Environmental Defense Fund can be
found at edf.org, and environmentaldefense.org redirects
to edf.org. (Unfortunately, environmentaldefensefund.org
produced a page not found error, even through EDF does own that domain.) Note
that their domain name is not some difficult-to-recall abbreviation like
envdef.org. Those are the worst. It should be as easy to guess and remember as
2. Do I
Know Where I Am? Can I tell after the briefest glance who’s website I’m on? Are
your logo and name right at the top? If your organization works only locally or
regionally, it’s also important that we quickly see exactly where you are.
Include your city and state in a prominent location. This will help site
visitors who may easily mistake you for a similar organization in a different
area. For example, I live in Davidson County, NC but there is also a Davidson
County, TN which includes Nashville. Nonprofits with “Davidson County” in their names should be very
clear and upfront on their home pages about which state they are in.
There a Clear Path to Answers or Actions Visitors are Most Likely Seeking? Why
would someone be coming to your website? What questions do they have or what would
they want to do there? Again, within just a few seconds, can see where I need
to click to get those answers and take those actions?
the Home Page Include Images? The web is a visual place and even if you use
stock photography, images are a must for your homepage.
5. Can I
Donate Online Easily from the Home Page? Don’t hide that Donate Now button away
where we have to look for it. Make it very easy to find and keep the amount of information you request to a minimum
as supporters fill out that online form.
You Capturing Email Addresses? The best way to turn a first-time website
visitor into a long-term supporter is to start a conservation. To do that, you
have to know who they are. Make signing up for your email newsletter incredibly
easy and obvious. Or offer a free download that requires registration.
People Featured? Every nonprofit, even those focused on saving whales, needs to
have people pictures and stories on its website. Donors write checks to support
the work of people trying to save the whales, not to the whales themselves.
Whale pictures are fine, but also feature your donors, volunteers, staff,
partners, clients, and other people on your website doing the work they love on
behalf of your cause.
There Stories on the Need or Successes? Mission statements are usually tough to
understand. Stories draw people in and really explain what it is you do. Tell
short little stories on your home page to demonstrate the need for your
organization and to highlight your accomplishments. Link from the home page to
9. Is It
Easy to Contact Staff? Before a donor writes a big check, they’ll probably want
to talk to you. If someone is interested in partnering with your organization,
they’ll want to know which staff person they should call to discuss a project.
Don’t make it hard to identify who’s doing what. If you don’t want to include
staff email addresses on your web page because of spam concerns, do include a
contact form and the phone numbers of key staff. A full staff directory is
Your Google Keywords on Target? What do you think your site is about? You want
your website to come up in Google when searchers type in which words? Compare
this list to what Google actually thinks your site is about using the free keyword
tool. Select the “website content” button and then enter your home page
How 'bout it, sports fans? How does your website measure up against Kivi's checklist? Do you need to revisit a few things?
The national ministry of which I'm a member just sent out an e-mail to its member ministries announcing the layoffs of two of its staff due to budget cutbacks. This was indeed sad news as one of the staff seemed pretty important to me. And that got me to thinking. Given the
financial scrapheap many nonprofits are currently headed toward, it seems this
might be a good time to consider dropping the traditional print newsletter
entirely and shifting to an online publication.
If you happen
to fit into this crowd, and are considering transitioning from print to email, a
good starting point is with your traditional regular editorial features, simply
because much of what was once considered appropriate for a print newsletter just
won’t work in email. Here are a few examples worth considering:
Letter from the Director. Honestly, these are ghastly enough in print because they are typically full of jargon and behind-the-scenes
minutiae, all of which is exactly opposite of what works in email. If the director really loves writing that letter, then it’s time to give him or her a blog (we’re moving that direction, anyway). OTOH, your email newsletter should be focused primarily on the readers and what they care about and how they can connect to you and your cause. Very brief letters can work, but they must laser-focused on the reader — the letter is simply a format for content you want to share, not an open invitation
for the director to ramble.
Calendar of Events. If you have a full page calendar
with all the boxes for each day of the week, you can put that online (I’m
partial to Google Calendar), but you shouldn’t try to email the whole
calendar. Instead, highlight a few upcoming events and include a link to the
Boring Photos. Group photos of your board, “big
check” photos, and the like often make it into print newsletters, but waste
precious space in email. Photos in email newsletters should be
Masthead. In a print newsletter, this is
where you’ll often find complete contact information for the group, the list of
the board of directors, the staff who work on the newsletter, and the mission
statement. While you should include your contact information in your e-newsletter
(CAN-SPAM rules require you to include your mailing address), leave the board
and staff lists and the rest on your website. You can link to it if desired.
Long Articles. Articles in email are much
shorter than those in print. A reasonable goal is no more than 400 words. If
you need to go longer, include an excerpt in the email and have readers click
over to your website to read the full article.
Big Display Ads. The majority of your email
should be text, not images. That means those big full-page ads (or even
half-page ads) that you include in your print newsletter, advertising
everything from your own events to your sponsor’s products and services, are
out. You can create smaller button ads, or even better, turn that advertising
into real content of interest to your readers — make what you are promoting relevant
to them and to your cause.
Complicated Charts and Graphics.Email newsletters look different depending on which email program you are using to view them, making including
charts and tables a crap shoot. Instead, save those items as a single graphic file
(e.g. gif) and insert them into your newsletter that way. Remember, they need
to be smaller because you are working with less space, so make your graphics as
simple as possible.
case that’s not enough, here are seven more tips from Kivi Leroux Miller to help you
do it right:
Don’t try the short-cuts. Sending a PDF of your print newsletter out as an attachment to an email list is NOT an email newsletter. Neither is sending a one-line email that says “Click here to read our newsletter on our website.” If you are going to use email to communicate regularly with your supporters, create a real e-newsletter, with real content in the email itself.
Dissect your old print newsletter.Not everything that you included in your print newsletter will be right for your email newsletter. For example, if you had a large calendar of events in print, it’s best to highlight only a few events in an email newsletter with links to a full calendar on your website. Think about what belongs where online — not everything will work in an email.
Consider a more personal tone. Email is a more personal form of communication than print. If you’ve been writing your newsletter articles in the third person (The Dog Lovers Association is seeking volunteers), now is the time to move to a more personal first person- second person style (If you’d like to volunteer to walk dogs, we want to hear from you).
Decide on full text, teasers, or a combo. An email newsletter should be relatively short compared to a print newsletter. That means you have to make some decisions about the quantity and length of articles. Some organizations will include one full article in an email newsletter with headlines only for other articles on a website. Others will include teaser text, or longer blurbs, for all of the articles, requiring readers to click over to the website for the full version of each article. Either way is acceptable, but I think it’s best to be consistent from issue to issue.
Working on the microtext like headings and captions is important in print, but it’s absolutely essential in email. Start working now on the kinds of subject lines, headlines, and subheads you’ll use in your email newsletter. A large portion of your mailing list will quickly skim and read only the microtext, so make it good.
Use an email newsletter service. Don’t try to distribute an email newsletter out of your desktop email program. The problems with this approach are too numerous to mention. Instead, use an email marketing service provider. The benefits far exceed the minimal monthly costs.
Add a sign-up box to your website. Ideally, this will appear in your site template so the sign-up box appears on every page of your website. At a minimum, put it on your homepage and about us or contact us pages. One of the benefits of using an email service provider is that your supporters can add themselves to your list automatically — but only if they can find the form on your website.
stuff from big kahuna John Haydon at CorporateDollar.org on blogging vs. the
traditional website gig. When I stepped in as ED of Hope & New Life
Ministries, one of the first things I did was move from a static web format to
a blog. Just in time for the Election. So the most obvious benefit to blogging
is that it provides a flexibility and a contemporary voice in issues that a
traditional web format simply won’t provide. But it also provides some key benefits that John goes into in this first-in-a-series video on blogging. Check it out and see if you don’t agree.
Check out these latest figures from the Pew Internet Project on internet activities.
At 49% , search is the fastest growing online app. . . and the second most common activity in a typical web user’s day. As you might expect, e-mail tops out Internet usage at 60%, and coming up at a not-even-close 39% in third place is checking the news.
For you anal retentive numbers freaks, search is most used by college-educated (66% in a typical day) and higher income net users (62% of $75K+ income users), those with broadband at home (58%), and those under 50 years old (55%).
Now. . . if you think this is not the profile of your ministry’s typical online donor, you might want to check the radiator in your steam-powered computer.
Location, location, location. Folks have to be able to find your ministry online. That means someone on your ministry team -- probably the person reading this -- needs to master search engine optimization. Start here.