There’s no doubt that we all know a website is important, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand why, or easier to perhaps look at other marketing tactics before this. The truth is, by focusing on our websites and developing effective digital platforms, what we get is a digital home that we own and control. By delivering on that we go from organisations that are hopping on whatever the next social network trend is, to organisations that have a core digital presence through their website. Our website then becomes the foundation to the digital journey that funders, beneficiaries and professionals take with our charity.
Anyway, we know you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t know the importance of it, so let’s cut to the chase and give you our 4 reasons why your charity should be having its website as its main marketing tactic.
We’ve already referenced this one, but ultimately your website should be a focus as it’s within your control! There’s no doubt that social media platforms will come and go, and while there may be longevity in the short term, we don’t know how these platforms will develop going forward (especially with potential legislation looming to stop their monopolising power).
The danger is if your audience is solely on Facebook for example, if Facebook use drops off a cliff then your audience on there then becomes far less engaged and you can’t reach the people you previously could.
Social media platforms can be great for your charity (and we’re not disputing that), but solely putting your eggs in one basket to chase an audience on there is a mistake. With your website, you own it and control what goes on it, you can track all analytics for free, you can host it wherever you like and your audience from your website and mailing list can be hosted without a social media company mining the data or having access to it as well.
Not only that, but those that are on your mailing list are there because they want to be, so they’re very likely going to be more engaged with what you’re providing on there. That’s more difficult to track on social media because of the nature of people “playing the game” and using faceless accounts.
Another factor is that social networks are businesses. Meaning that those who are using paid ads, and developing partnerships with companies will be seen by more people. The circle for them gets bigger because they’re paying for that to happen. This means you’re shouting into a digital ocean. Every now and again people will hear you with organic content, but your job does become a little bit more challenging.
There is absolutely a place for social advertising for charities, but it’s not always something that can be justified, particularly if the rest of your marketing mix isn’t in a good place! There are other factors you can focus on.
We’re huge believers in controlling what you can control within the charity sector, and focusing on doing those things really well. Your charity website is a big part of that!
Another key aspect of a website being yours, is the fact that you have the freedom to be creative with it. Social media accounts give some areas of creativity, but you still operate within the account setup they give you.
With your website, you can literally build whatever you want and tailor your site to your audience. If done well, this will improve the chances of someone donating and lead people to want to join the journey of your organisation.
With the snapshot aspect of social media, and information and attention being the keys for the social media companies to focus on, it’s difficult to make an impact and have the undivided attention of your audience.If you can keep people interested on your website so they properly get to know what you’re about, then your chances of donation or taking a next step from that person greatly improve.
According to the 2020 state of philanthropy report, 70% of visits to donation pages lasted between 0-59 seconds; of those visits, just 11% converted to donors. As that time on site increased, there was a dramatic correlation in conversion rate: if a donation page retained a visitor for between 2 and 3 minutes, the conversion rate quadrupled, to 44%. The lower you can get that bounce rate, the better.
This one’s a pretty obvious one, but funders will go to your website for the very reason that this should be the place where they can get to know what you’re about without having to speak to you first.
Your charity website should tell the story of your organisation, give details on impact, explain stories of beneficiaries, and give guidance of your model and how you operate. Of course, there’s still need to fill in the forms and jump through the hoops for a funding bid, but it’s important that the next steps are there for the funders without first needing to get in touch.
When they head onto your website, it should be helping to give them a positive gut feeling about your brand (more about why that’s important here), and lead you to take the next step.
If you’re website hasn’t had some love, or if it’s not reflecting your charity well enough, it makes that next step for funders a more difficult experience. A small investment on a website can give you a serious return on investment.
As we referenced earlier, it’s not about solely focusing on your website and ignoring the other tactics. That approach won’t work very well either. The benefits of creating your website as the centre piece means everything can work with your other tactics.
Your regular blog posts can become the centre piece of your marketing strategy, and then your social media posts can follow along with those themes. This not only will improve your ranking on search engines (in time),but will mean that there’s always a focus to your marketing, that really helps your communications person as they’re planning month to month content, but it also means you don’t have to be scratching your head with what to post!
Over time, you can then judge what content is working, and what isn’t using the data you get. In the early stages of developing your charity marketing though, educated guesses are needed! Once they’ve been made, you can use that data to see where your content efforts should be focused.
If you get people on your website, you can then feed people into your mailing list, donations or wherever you want them to go! You can shape the journey to and from your website, however the user journey looks for your organisation.
As you’ll know from our content, the whole marketing mix is important. If we can develop effective, user friendly and creative charity websites – we’re building a foundation which all our marketing tactics can build from.
Control what you can control.
How do you feel about your charity website?
If you need help, get in touch.