Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's about the (online) journey, not just the (online) destination

I don't want to sound like a walking book of jargon, but it really is about the journey.

As much so when we talk about the online world. We as a sector spend far too much time worrying, finessing and getting distracted by the destination.

By the destination I mean your website.

Don't get me wrong, it's an important place. And making sure you keep people there, capture data, share stories, and ultimately generate donations is critical.

But getting people there, and finding ways to attract new sources is paramount.

As my colleague Sean Triner says, having a brilliant website (with no traffic) is like having the world's best department store in the middle of the desert. Useless.

When I talk to fundraisers about developing a digital road-map for raising more money online, I often hear people say "yes, well we're building a new website" or "our website is rubbish".

They're focused on the end result, the destination.

Yes it's important, but spending a tonne of effort and resources on building the world's most aesthetically pleasing website is going to be a complete waste of time without any traffic to drive there.

Consider these traffic driving questions:

- Are you looking at ways to re-engage and drive online prospects back to your site? By online prospects I mean previous activists, e-newsletter subscribers or enquirers.

- Are you investing time managing your search activity? See here for an earlier post on Google AdWords for charities. What about your organic listing? Are you spending time to make sure you are ranked as high as possible in search engines, such as Google?

- Are you re-targeting visitors to your site with a different offer? For example, of the 5,000 visitors to your site each month, the majority visit and then bounce away, meaning you haven't 'closed the deal'. Re-targeting allows you to present your offer again to these prospects in an effort to re-engage them. It's relatively inexpensive and is used regularly by those in the commercial world. Yet we seem to be slow on the take up on this. Easier to re-engage that introduce ourselves to those who don't know us.

- Have you investigated the new frontiers in online advertising? The power of behavioral and contextual advertising, where you can present your offer to people whose online behavior dictates they have some affinity/interest in you. Again the commercial world is leaps and bounds ahead of us here, but the technology exists, it's about tapping into whats out there to ensure we're locating real prospects who are showing characteristics that suggest they care. In real time.

Don't get me wrong, the destination requires time and effort. It requires thought around ways to engage and capture. But remember, that without the traffic it really is like the best department store in the desert.


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