In this fifth of five blog posts, I'm providing you with 10 Internet Marketing Ideas that will help you be successful online.  Some are practical, some are philosophical, but they are all intended to help you be more successful with your small business marketing strategies. Here are numbers nine and ten, plus a bonus eleventh key to effective internet marketing:

9.    TIMING CAN BE EVERYTHING - To effectively Market certain products we need to have a real grasp of our Target Market.  You will, for example, be able to sell Christmas Program Packages to Pastors - but not in January!!  Typically, they begin their search for Christmas materials shortly after the Fourth of July.  Proper “timing” may also help determine what gives you the greatest sales success at any given time may be.  If you are not familiar with the seasonality factors in your products or business, then determine them.  Proper timing for your offers can bring in substantial results!

10.    TALK WITH YOUR AD VENDOR - Your vendor may not know your line of business as well as you do, but they are seeing advertising results across many clients and industries that you do not have access to, and they will be able to identify trends that are working and universal strategies or tactics that are being effective for other clients of theirs.  Talk with them. Pick their brains. Get the input and feedback on your campaign.  Ask questions.  They may be able to give you those extra tidbits of helpful advice that gets your campaign over the top.

11.    DON'T BE A JOHNNY COME LATELY - Avoid last minute stuff. Many mistakes get made because you are rushing to meet a deadline and everything is coming together at the very last possible moment.  Avoid that pattern.  It leads to errors and oversights.  You need to get your strategies ironed out in advance, and then develop your designs, then budget time for reflection.  Give yourself a day or two in the schedule to reflect on what you've done and how it could be improved. Sometimes we're so caught up in the details we can't keep a perspective on the big picture. You prevent this tunnel vision by ensuring you have that one extra day or two to reflect on your work and make sure it really hits the mark, and has all the components it needs to be a successful online advertising campaign for your company.

For further internet marketing ideas, or tips for fundraising professionals, visit Pathmaker Marketing, or call Randall Mains direct at 623-322-3334.


In this fourth of five blog posts, I'm providing you with 10 Internet Marketing Ideas that will help you be successful online.  Some are practical, some are philosophical, but they are all intended to help you be more successful with your small business marketing strategies. Here are numbers seven and eight:

7.    TEST - TEST - TEST  - The only way to determine what is going to work for you over time is to throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks.  The odds of first time success are low, but the lack of immediate success should not be discouraging to you.  Consider this - - of all the thousands and thousands of men who have played Major League Baseball, only 102 hit a homerun during their first plate appearance.  Of those 102, only three hit a grand slam!  Some of the men who didn’t hit a homerun in their first plate appearance include Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, and Barry Bonds!!  Willie Mays went 0 for 12 at the beginning of his career, but did hit a homerun his 13th time at bat!  Thomas Edison tried hundreds and hundreds of times to perfect the light bulb.  When asked if he was discouraged by all of his failures, Edison reportedly replied, “Young man I have not failed at all.  I have successfully concluded that none of the elements I have tried so far will work!”  An important point to remember here is that not everything that works for one business will work for another.  As a result, you will need to do your own testing, and not rely just on the results of what others may discover about their product/service/business. Try numerous approaches to see which angle or channel may work for you.

8.    STICK WITH WHAT STICKS! - The goal of “testing” is to throw mud against the wall to see what sticks, and then to stay with what sticks.  We often have such a propensity to be on the “cutting edge” of Marketing that we neglect to step back and decipher exactly what is working versus what is “cutting edge” testing.  While Twitter and Facebook are growing trends for marketers, and often get enormous press, “tweeting” may not be making any money yet for many advertisers.  As you hear about “what’s new,” don’t forget about “what’s old.”  E-mail, with its proven track record, has become a bankable commodity, and that, after all, is what marketing is all about - putting money in the bank!  Find out what works for your business. Stay with what works. Try out the other things using recommendation #7: test, test, test.

For further internet marketing ideas, or tips for fundraising professionals, visit Pathmaker Marketing, or call Randall Mains direct at 623-322-3334.


In this third of five blog posts, I'm providing you with 10 Internet Marketing Ideas that will help you be successful online.  Some are practical, some are philosophical, but they are all intended to help you be more successful with your small business marketing strategies. Here are numbers five and six:

5.    CALCULATE YOUR LIFETIME VALUE STATS - In this sales instance above, you need to factor in “Lifetime Value” of each customer that you make.  “Lifetime Value” alludes to the fact that your first time customer may conduct more than just one business transaction with you over time.  The “real money” may not be in the initial sale from them, but rather in upgrades, upsells or repeat business for other products or services that you have to offer.  With Lifetime Value being considered, a 100% return in sales on your ad prospecting dollar might be considered an excellent investment given the long term rate of return.  That being said, you need to calculate your lifetime value metrics to know how many “sales” or leads you need to make to allow you to make your advertising work. For some businesses, it's 85% of your ad prospecting dollar, for others it's 100%, for some others 150%.

6.    GRASP THE LANDING PAGE CONCEPT- The objective of e-mails and banners is to get qualified potential customers to visit your Landing Page.  Once that happens, the burden of responsibility shifts to your website. It's at the Landing Page that visitors are converted to leads or sales.  The key here is very simple - if your Landing Page is “broken” don’t blame the Advertiser!  Your goal, is to create a Landing Page that works hard to convert qualified traffic into company assets...it needs to motivate the visitor to follow through on what got them there in the first place. Think of your advertising as making the sale, and your landing page as closing the sale. The #1 most important thing you can do for your advertising plan is make sure your landing page(s) work.

For further internet marketing ideas, or tips for fundraising professionals, visit Pathmaker Marketing, or call Randall Mains direct at 623-322-3334.


In this second of five blog posts, I'm providing you with 10 Internet Marketing Ideas that will help you be successful online.  Some are practical, some are philosophical, but they are all intended to help you be more successful with your small business marketing strategies. Here are numbers three and four:

3.    SCRATCH THE BIGGEST ITCH - This necessitates you knowing your Target Market thoroughly if not intimately.  In the case of Pastors, for example, the “biggest itch” is pretty apt to be the challenge of preparing to preach a sermon each and every week.  Anything offered that will assist with this on-going task is not only going to receive thoughtful consideration, but will also be most appreciated. Know your audience. Figure out what makes them itch, and learn to offer products or services that really address their primary needs.

4.    GET THE METRICS -- An understanding of this aspect of Internet Marketing is what will allow you to accurately determine whether your Marketing program is having a positive or negative effect on your “bottom line.”  To help you with at least a minor grasp of this concept we have included the following example.  However, if you feel you need more information to fully appreciate the Metrics of Internet Marketing in regard to your product or service, contact us for further assistance, or contact an expert in the field and make arrangements to be instructed by them.

Example:
When utilizing e-mails for your Marketing Program you need to know that there are three basic metrics to keep an eye on: Open Rate - Click Through Rate - Conversion Rate.  Open rates can vary by client and industry and offer but respectable ones run from 10-20% (Divide the # of unique emails opened by the number Net Delivered). Reasonable Click Through Rates vary too, but can run anywhere from 5-20% (Divide the number of unique Clicks by the number of unique Opens).  Good conversion rates can run anywhere from 2-5% (Divide the number of sales or leads by the unique Clicks).

Once you get the metrics, do the math. If 100,000 e-mails are sent, and you get a 15% Open Rate , you have 15,000 opens. If you get a 10% Click through Rate, you have 1,500 clicks to your website. If you get a 2% Conversion Rate, you got 30 sales or leads.  If the Program cost $1,500.00 to implement, then each lead cost you $50...or each sale cost you $50. Now that you know the metrics you can determine if 30 leads or sales was a good investment for your advertising spend.  If you are an Architect, and you can convert 10% of your 30 leads into $10,000.00 contracts, you will, undoubtedly, be ecstatic with $30,000 of sales on a $1,500 investment.  If, however, you are selling a $79.95 power point presentation for Pastors, the numbers get tighter, but you may still be happy with 30 sales for $2,398 total on a $1,500 investment.

For further internet marketing ideas, or tips for fundraising professionals, visit Pathmaker Marketing, or call Randall Mains direct at 623-322-3334.


Search Engine Optimization is a specialized field that helps your website get higher rankings in search engines. Your goal in search engine optimization is to capture as much of the page 1 real estate in searches relevant to your business. Whether you’re developing a new website or updating an existing site, you should keep the following guidelines in mind as new content is developed and coded.

1. Structure your site appropriately to be found by search engines.
Google webmaster guidelines say that your site should have a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

2. Make navigation easy and clear.
Google recommends a site map with links that point to the important parts of your site.

3. Remember that “content is king.”
It’s easy to get bogged down in attempt to make the site look great and forget that search engines are looking for content, not looks. Google recommends that you create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.

4. Think Through and Liberally Use Appropriate Keywords.
Google recommends that you think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it. Pathmaker Marketing can help you carefully research keywords; we regularly uncover keywords for our clients that they may not have thought of and that have a higher likelihood of being found in search engines. Call us at 623-322-3334 to see if we can help you do a more thorough job of researching appropriate keywords for your business.

Designers love to create headlines in fonts that aren’t available in HTML. They do it by making your headlines images, and this is one sure way to harm yourself when it comes to search engine rankings. Google recommends that you use text instead or at least use the <ALT> tag to include a few descriptive words of the image.

5. Make sure <TITLE> and <META> tags are used appropriately.
These are HTML codes that search engines look for when ranking sites. The <TITLE> tag should not be the same for every page of your site (for example, merely the name of your company). It should contain keywords that have been carefully researched. <META> tags contain specific information that search engines look for when deciding what each page of your site is all about. There is a <META> tag for description, and you should supply your coder with a short paragraph to describe why someone would want to visit this page of your site – it may not be used in ranking, but it could be displayed under the title of the page to help potential visitors decide if they want to click on your listing. These should contain words that actually describe the page content to avoid being penalized by search engines.

6. Check for broken links and correct HTML.
Your will severely hurt your rankings in search engines if you have broken links in your site or if your HTML cannot be read by search engines. Your coders need to be sure to check all code and clean up any extraneous codes left by edits or inserted by HTML generators. Several people should click on every single link in the site to make sure there are no broken links, and it should be re-done every time the site is edited. Also, Google recommends keeping down the number of links on any given page to fewer than 100.

7. Keep parameters short on dynamically-generated pages.
These are pages that are automatically generated from a database. The URL of this type of page will have a “?” in it. Google warns that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages and recommends that the parameters be short and few.

8. Be straightforward in your site structure.
Some sites create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content thinking they’ll trick search engines into believing there is more content on the site than there is. You’ll get found out of you do this – so the best advice is to avoid it. Google recommends that you avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content. If you site participates in an affiliate program, you need to develop your own content that adds value and gives potential users a reason to visit your site rather than the hundreds of others who also participate in the same affiliate program.

9. Make your photo captions text rather than embedding inside an image.
Search engines can’t read text that is part of an image. There rarely is a case when you need to make a photo caption part of the photo, and you’ll benefit in search engine rankings if you keep the captions to HTML text.

10. Use <ALT> tags and descriptive names for all photos and images.
This was briefly discussed with the tip about headlines. All images should have an <ALT> description so search engines will consider the images when ranking your site. These tags need to contain useful information about the subject matter of the image. You also need to use photo names that describe the content. Google states, “my-new-black-kitten.jpg is a lot more informative than IMG00023.JPG.”

Pathmaker Marketing offers a full range of website design, search engine optimization services, fundraising services, Internet business marketing promotion, Christian marketing, non profit fundraising and more. We would be happy to discuss with you how we might be able to help you get the highest rankings in search engines or any other topic about your fundraising needs. Give us a call at 623-322-3334.


A virtual tour can be an interesting and valuable addition to your website, and if you do it properly, it can be a valuable part of your internet marketing ideas.

But if you’re thinking of adding a virtual tour to your non profit website design, you’ll need to take a number of issues into account before getting started.

1. What is the goal for your tour?
If your Internet marketing idea is to showcase your business, then you’ll want a lot of photos of your campus – this is a more informational type of tour. But if your Internet marketing idea is to tell the inspiring story of how your ministry, church or business started, you’ll want to have more drama in your tour – and this could add to the bandwidth as you include more sound effects and perhaps video.

As you begin to compile information for this particular Internet marketing idea, you’ll want to always keep your specific goal in mind and organize that information in the tour so that it will be easy to present and experience. And you’re going to want to focus on what makes your campus, business, product, etc., unique.

Whether you include a virtual tour in your website as an informational or inspirational Internet marketing idea, you’re going to need to provide a real guided tour – not just drop people off and make them find their own way around on their own. This brings up another point, some people will want to be dropped off and explore, meaning you're going to need a visible map so anyone can find their way around ... and include the words "Begin Here" in the map.

2. Who are you trying to reach?
If your non profit is a university primarily for people directly out of high school, this Internet marketing idea should showcase the sorts of things that appeal to younger people. But if you have a combination of younger students plus people coming back for some mid-career training to stay relevant, you may be talking about two different tours. You need to think this through so filming day takes the approach for the generation you’re attempting to reach, and you’ll want your script, and the narrator, to have the voice of the generation you’re trying to reach. Any information you provide is going to need to be relevant and interesting to your specific audience – from their point of view, not yours.

3. What kind of interactivity will your audience most appreciate?
Some people, especially younger people, want to be in control of their browsing experience. They’ll appreciate choices – where can they click to find out more information? Some older people may want the tour to completely load and allow them to sit back and watch with few needs on their part for making choices. Your tour should be more than QuickTime videos with some text. It should be a special production that integrates many different kinds of media – videos, text, maps, photos, etc.; but these should be done in a seamless way so the viewing experience is appropriate for the audience and flow well. And provide choices for people who want to sit back and watch your tour as well as those you want to get dropped off and do a more self-guided tour.

4. What kind of bandwidth will you be working with?
Your IT department will be very unhappy if a virtual tour suddenly goes online that you have not discussed with them because they have a specific amount of bandwidth to work with, and you need to make sure your project is going to be well served without taking from other functions of the server.

Pathmaker Marketing is a professional fundraising company that serves ministries, non profit organizations and a for profit businesses. We offer search engine optimization services, fundraising services, blogging services, business marketing promotion online, and many Internet marketing ideas. Give us a call at 623-322-3334 to see how we can assist you, whether with a virtual tour or any other kind of website design or online fundraising services.



Promoting your website is similar to promoting any product, but there are several aspects of an Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan that you’ll want to take into account as you create a plan for non profit fundraising.

1. Define WHAT (the message) I want to say to WHOM (the audience), WHY (ROI) I want to say it to them, and WHEN I want to say it to them.
This is an important first step in developing Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan because it provides the framework around which to build the rest of the plan. Once you’ve analyzed who your audience is based on solid research, it typically takes about an hour or less to develop this framework for your promotional plan. It should result in about one page or less of text, and you’ll want to keep coming back to this information as you work through the next steps of creating your plan.

2. Identify internal channels to pursue.
Many people forget to include ALL of their internal channels when developing their Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan. These include staff who give to or buy from your business or non profit in addition to people who give to or buy from your business or non profit.

3.  Identify the media outlets that will accomplish #1 through paid advertising.
When I have skipped Step #1 and moved directly to Step #2-4 while developing an Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan, I have found myself wandering around in a sea of details and struggling to sort through them. It isn’t until I get my head out of the details and go back to Step #1 that I get a handle on how specific media outlets will help me accomplish my big picture goals.

Once you’ve identified the best media outlets based on who they reach, what it costs, and availability (back to knowing the WHEN identified in Step #1), then you can quickly sort through them to whittle down your recommendations to fit your Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan budget. Part of the research needs to be whether or not you can meet the outlet’s deadlines – if you want to advertise in a magazine with a 3-month lead time, and you’re 3 weeks away from launching your advertising, move on. If the deadlines is within your timeframe but your ability to deliver isn’t, move on. There are plenty of outside places to advertise, so long as you get moving and don’t get so bogged down in the details of planning that you never move on to implementation.

4. Identify other channels that will accomplish #1 through publicity.
In addition to writing news releases and articles for other websites to publish, you’ll want to carefully include social and professional networking channels in your Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan, as well as the blogging community in your promotional plan. You can advertise on Facebook and Twitter, the most popular social networking sites, but don’t forget the professional networking sites like Linkedin and Naymz. Also, find the bloggers who are talking about your subject matter and ask them to write about your product or non profit. If you have a product, give them a sample so they know what they’re writing about. You could also include a “blogger tour” in this plan, which is similar to a media tour but with popular online bloggers.

5. Flesh out the strategy with tactical details, cost, specific due dates and responsibilities.
Many people try to start here when developing an Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan, but it is the last step until you’ve done all your homework. You need to specifically spell out who is going to be doing what so there are no misunderstandings (and so you know those people have agreed to do what you’re asking them to do).


Pathmaker Marketing can help you sort through the best channels to promote your non profit. Give us a call at 623-322-3334.

In the next series of five blog posts, I want to provide with you 10 Internet Marketing Ideas that will help you be successful online.  Some are practical, some are philosophical, but they are all intended to help you be more successful with your small business marketing strategies. Here are the first two:

1.    DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES - As you craft your Banner Ad or Email campaign or other online ad initiative you need to know exactly what you are expecting it to accomplish for you.  There are basically two things that you can hope to achieve from your Internet Marketing endeavor other than exposure -- a lead or a sale.  Typically, your product or service will determine which you should expect.  For example, if you are pitching your services as an Architect for Church Building Expansions, you will undoubtedly be pursuing leads, not sales.  The complexity of the sale process and the probable high cost make online sales prohibitive. On the other hand, if you are selling a $79.95 downloadable resource entitled “6 Steps to a Perfect Sermon,” your end objective is most likely a sale.  Once you understand your objective (sale or lead) you can develop better copy and art to achieve your goal, and you can better measure the results of your campaign to get qualified leads or sales.

2.    ADD THE “FREE WATCH” - As much as we may want to purchase something, many of us often need that little extra motivation or incentive to push us over the top and make that decision to purchase that which we are considering.  One of the best ways to accomplish this with your Internet Marketing is to give a free bonus gift.  Mentioned at the end of your offer, this extra incentive often becomes that “little extra” that convinces consumers to act on the offer!  Be creative with your "free watch." This could be free shipping, 20% off, an extra goodie, bonus products, a discount coupon for a future purchase, etc.

For further internet marketing ideas, or tips for fundraising professionals, visit Pathmaker Marketing, or call Randall Mains direct at 623-322-3334.
 


Nothing can inspire donors to give like the power of a good story, told well, whether you are raising funds with a Saturday morning car wash or you are one of a handful of powerful fundraising companies helping clients raise millions. 

In last week’s blog post I talked about the importance of connecting the donor to the end recipient of their generosity using Internet--just like Heart For the City does on this page of their website.  You can see touching photos of families benefitting from the Thanksgiving “Adopt A Family” effort. 

We also encouraged you to create interactive areas on your site that allow donors to tell the success stories of the effort themselves, like this page from the National Prayer Campaign for the Jerusalem Prayer Team.  You can read last week’s entry on fundraising company Pathmaker Marketing’s blog page HERE. 

In this posting, I offer two more ideas, drawn from the experience of fundraising companies and the professionals who run them.   

3.  Don’t overlook traditional forms of storytelling like newsletters and snail mail appeals.  Stories collected on your website—or via letters and emails—can be used (anonymously, if needed) to keep the ministry’s efforts fresh in the minds of those who read them.  PathMaker Marketing can help you develop an eNewsletter that will build your email list—and keep the powerful stories of your ministry in the forefront of your efforts as a professional fundraiser. 

4.  Create an event.  Use awards, presentations, speeches or other “special moments” to connect givers to those they help and share them in your communication efforts.  RISE, International is a ministry that builds schools in Angola.  When an American couple raised and extraordinary amount of money to build one school in a rural village—$50,000—Lynn Cole, the ministry head (who is the professional fundraiser for the group--they do not use a fundraising company) took a photo of the family, enlarged and laminated it and hand carried it to the dedication of that school months later.  She told the boys and girls in the Angolan village, who were overjoyed about the opportunity to now receive an education, about the family as she showed them the enlarged photo.  She photographed the eager learners with the image of the Americans in a powerful ceremony that will remain unforgettable for both sides. 

Sharing the fruits of your ministry with those who donate to make it possible will bring your fundraising efforts “full circle” and will further strengthen your professional fundraising initiatives.  Pathmaker Marketing is a professional fundraising company that will listen to your needs and help you tell your story.  We'd like to give you a free website analysis--get in touch with us today.   

If you’re a non profit or church who raises funds, then you need to include online fundraising in your marketing tool kit. And when you start doing that, you’ll want to consider the advantages of working with various fundraising companies. Just because you work with someone who has been managing your direct mail for the last several years doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for your email fundraising or search engine marketing efforts. You’ll want to look for Internet savvy fundraising companies for that.

When interviewing fundraising companies, here are some helpful questions you’ll want to ask.

What is your experience raising funds online? You’ll want to make sure they have several years of experience, but also be sure that they deliver good return on investment for their clients. Ask them for specific examples, and look for at least a 4:1 ROI for their current or past clients (not just a promise that they can do that for you).

What is your strategy for raising funds online? While strategies for individual tactics may vary, there is a general philosophy for fundraising that need to understand before choosing from your list of fundraising companies. How do they come up with each eAppeal strategy? How will you be involved? What is their eAppeal blasting schedule and strategy? How will they avoid colliding with direct mail strategies? How they make sure you’ll be able to see results from all online strategies? Make sure their strategies agree with your philosophies.

What is your experience in my industry? People surely can learn your industry, but it helps if they already offer experience specific to your industry. If you’re a Christian organization, it helps a lot for them to understand Christianity and the way Christians communicate.

What is your billing schedule and terms? Be sure you can afford their services and thoroughly understand the services you’ll get.

How do you resolve conflicts and disagreements? You don’t plan it, but disagreements occur. Go into it knowing how you’ll deal with them.

These basic questions may launch you into other discussions, but these will help you springboard into a thorough understanding of how various fundraising companies stack up against one another.

Pathmaker Marketing LLC is ready to help you raise funds online and would love to talk to you about how our strategies and experience fit with your organization. Visit our website or call us at 623-322-3334.


Fundraising professionals, no matter what their cause or kind, understand that they must, at some point in the fundraising stream, connect donors to the end-recipient of their giving.  Stories, testimonies and images all can work together to bring that powerful sense of gratification to donors who want their dollars to truly make a difference in the world. 

Whether you are raising funds for your local church, a street ministry or the building of hospitals overseas, those who give to you want to see how their gifts are helping.  If, as a fundraising professional, you’ve lost sight of this meaningful principle, here are some ideas to help get you back on track with the important discipline of “telling the stories.” 

1.  Use the Internet.  It’s relatively inexpensive, and you pay the same, no matter how many individuals read the testimonies you share.  Bring the faces and stories of those who are impacted right onto the pages of your website.  Make sure your storytelling is rich with images and effective words, using first person accounts whenever possible.  Let the fundraising professionals at Pathmaker Marketing help you build a website (or re-design your current one) to motivate and encourage your donors. 

2.  Provide interactive opportunities that will tell the story for you.  Are you giving your supporters interactive ways to be involved with the ministry other than giving?  Prayer is an energizing way to draw constituents in and create community.  And, it will truly strengthen your efforts!  Let us help you create a prayer area on your website using our interactive prayer walls, prayer requests function and more.  Just seeing the many heartfelt prayers that build up on the prayer wall will serve as a form of testimony that will go a long way for you, as a professional fundraiser, to encourage your stakeholders. 

We can also help you create an area on your website where both the friends of your ministry as well as those you serve can post their stories and testimonies, much like this one of Gregory Dickow Ministries and this one from Jewish Voice.  These accounts will help strengthen the link between donor and recipient as readers see the impact of their giving.

Check back for my next blog post to read two more great ways you can strengthen your efforts as a professional fundraiser by telling the powerful stories of your ministry or group. 
 


The professionals at Pathmaker Marketing live to assist our clients with their email fundraising.   We understand the delicate relationship between ministries and their donors, and we've learned the importance of selecting just the right words in every part of an email fundraising strategy.  We recommend that your words align not only with the brand identity of your organization, they must also communicate clearly to your constituents that you understand them.  Words and messaging can go a long way to show donors that you and they are on the same page. 

In his newest book, Axiom, Bill Hybels’ opening parry focuses on the importance of words.  He describes the angst he experiences as he seeks just the right word, phrase or tagline for a point in a sermon, conversation or campaign.  He goes into great detail to explain that when it comes to words, you have to get it right! 

The truth is, leaders rise and fall by the language they use.  Sometimes whole visions live or die on the basis of the words the leader chooses for articulating that vision.
--Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church in Axiom:  Powerful Leadership Proverbs

Good email fundraising will show understanding and sensitivity to the values, priorities and lifestyle of donors--and you demonstrate this by the choice of words you use.  If you fail in this, you let down the very people whose support you are seeking to engender.  Answering the following questions will help you choose well in your messages to donors.

Reflect Your Donors' Values in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the key values of your constituents?  Do you know which things they hold dearest?  And why they are drawn to your organization?  Is there a values niche that you serve that is unique?  Do your messages communicate these values clearly?  Most Christian ministries work hard to show they are morally clean and untainted.  What other dearly-held values do your constituents have?  Patriotism? Social activism?  When it comes to your email fundraising, don’t waste words on things that are not valued by your donors. 

Reflect Your Donors' Priorities in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the highest priorities of your constituents?  Are they family-oriented?  Prayer warriors?  Ardent for missions?  Whatever their priorities, your words must communicate that you understand the priorities that guide their lives.

Show You Understand Your Donors' Lifestyles in Your Email Fundraising:  Do your donors tend to have active lifestyles?  Are they Internet savvy?  Tuned in to contemporary Christian music?  Are they pinching every penny, or do they have a little financial breathing room?  As you consider ways to use email for your fundraising efforts, you can reflect the lifestyle choices of your backers as you communicate with them, choosing words wisely.

The extra effort you put into choosing just the right words for every part of your email fundraising strategy will go a long way to show them that you understand them and their concerns.  This connection will strengthen their willingness to give.

 


If your website isn’t getting the traffic you hope for, maybe you’ve not properly optimized it to be found by search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important step for getting your website listed in the top 10 search engine listings when someone is searching for a keyword that applies to your business. That makes SEO a key small business marketing strategy for you to consider.

Here are some tips I picked up from SEOMoz, specialists in this field.

The first step is to know the keywords that will get your website listed. Pathmaker Marketing LLC is a solid online fundraising company and non profit consultant that does extensive research for our clients. We first identify the keywords that could apply (the list is always quite long), then we get the client’s input, then we run them through a difficulty ranker. The difficulty ranker helps us determine which keywords will be the easiest for us to get a higher listing for on our client’s behalf. We can help you with this step. Give us a call at 623-322-3334 to see if there’s a fit.

Once you know your keywords, then you can begin the process of optimizing your site. Here are some important elements.

HTML Tags – the most important one to use is the <TITLE> tag. Optimize every page of your site for a different keyword. Be sure to use the keywords near the front of the <TITLE> tag for the page you are optimizing. Also, while using the Meta Description won’t get you a higher ranking, it will show under the title of the page in search results, so be sure to write a good description.

URL – if you can, get your keyword in the URL of the page. Shorter URLs work best, so don’t hide your page behind lots of directories (example: www.yourbusiness.com/page is better than www.yourbusiness.com/directory1/directory2/page.

Body Copy – be sure to use your keywords two to three times on shorter pages and four to six times on longer pages, and get at least one of those occurrences in the first 50-100 words. Use the keywords in a context that makes sense. You can also use variations of the phrase throughout the copy. Use the <H1> tag for your headline rather than an image or just making the size of the text bigger. Use <ALT> tags (using your keyword) for images, and try to name images using the keyword. It wouldn’t hurt to put the keyword in bold/italics at least once, but this only helps a little.

Linking – link to pages within your site (and make the click-through depth shallow), and do your best to get other sites to link to you. When you do, ask if you can provide the appropriate text. This small business marketing strategy will often mean you’ll need to do reciprocal links. Don’t be afraid of that – just open the link up in a new window so people won’t lose your website, but don’t make the link any more prominent than necessary.

Social Networking – have social and professional networking accounts, and link to your site from them. Work to get followers/friends in your accounts.

According to SEOMoz, here is the weight of the various factors considered in search engine optimization. Take them into consideration and make them part of your small business marketing strategies.
  • Trust/authority of your domain – 23.87%
  • Link popularity of specific pages – 22.33%
  • Anchor text of external links to specific pages – 20.26%
  • On-Page keyword usage – 15.04%
  • Registration and hosting data – 6.91%
  • Traffic and Click Through Ratio (CTR) data – 6.29%
  • Social graph metrics (the popularity of your site in social networks) – 5.30%
     
A good graphic and blog post from SEOMoz that illustrates this topic further can be seen and read here:


After you’ve made your masterpiece of a website, the next thing to do is get people there. And then you’ll want to convert them to assets such as lists, leads, sales and donations. Business marketing promotion online consists of five basic elements. All require some level of online marketing expertise that professional fundraisers offer. One excellent online marketing professional and non profit consultant you may want to contact is Pathmaker Marketing LLC.

The five elements of a complete business marketing online promotion plan, particularly as it relates to search engine marketing, are outlined below.

Blogging to win organic search

Many people have blogs, but you need one that is a workhorse to help you achieve your business objectives. Pathmaker Marketing uses a Premier Blogging Service that leverages each of your blog posts into several others. It’s keyword-oriented, meaning you identify the keywords that best relate to what you do, whittle those down to the ones that will be the easiest to get you into a top 10 ranking in search engines, and then really focus on blog posts that use your keywords. The advantage of the tool Pathmaker Marketing uses is that it automatically posts to several of your keyword blogs, giving you more content in your blog and more links back to your website. This makes your site easier for search engines to find. No other blogging tool works as hard for you as this one.

Link Building

Getting websites to link back to yours is essential for getting search engines to list you in the top 10 results on keywords that relate to you. You want national links, authoritative links, "deep" links and local links. It’s a manual process of submitting your site to directories, getting yourself into sites like Wikipedia and finding other websites to link to you. Pathmaker Marketing offers fundraising services that will help you build your links efficiently.

Social & Professional Media

There’s more to having a social media account that works for you than simply opening up an account in Facebook, Linkedin or some other professional site. You need to open the account appropriately so you can develop business content and link backs to your website. If you don’t set it up right, you could get limited value from your social and professional networds. Once you have the account set up properly, then you can increase the number of links back to your website, and you can auto flow blog posts through these account. It all adds up to increased visibility.

Pay Per Click Advertising

This is a good way to jump start your website's traffic. You advertise on sites like Google using your keywords. You develop dedicated landing pages for these keyword ads so that people see the appropriate content when they click on a specific ad. Dedicated landing pages also help you measure how well your ad is working for you. And they give you a way to collect the information you need to build your email list and get sales or donations. You only pay for these ads when someone clicks on your ad.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This involves having the right content on specific pages so that when someone does a search using one of your keywords, they get directed to your page. You should optimize many pages on your site using different keywords. Pathmaker Marketing uses a tool that helps measure how effective your content is for a specific keyword.

Call 623-322-3334 to schedule a free consultation with Pathmaker Marketing, or click here to visit the website.
 


Before I began working for a search engine optimization agency, I wasn’t really sure how to get qualified traffic to the non profit website for which I was responsible a few years ago. I’d heard larger organizations were raising significant funds online, and I could see that the site I managed was at least as professional looking as the others (albeit smaller), but the art and science of bringing qualified traffic to the site (and then converting them to assets) was a mystery to me.

If you’re in a similar situation, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned while working in a search engine optimization agency.

First, remember that search engine optimization, or SEO as professional online fundraisers like to call it, is indeed both an art and a science. It isn’t enough to have a killer website design or to write witty and professional text. Search engines look for keywords for which people are searching, and you need to have those keywords in all the right places – not too many times and not too few times.

Just one example of a common mistake that a search engine optimization agency can help yo overcome is makng sure you don't put headlines into graphics. When you do, you’re giving up opportunities for your headlines to help get you into the top 10 listings for searches that apply to your content. Content trumps design when it comes to search engine optimization.

Pathmaker Marketing uses a tool for professional web developers to help clients analyze and impelment strategies that (1) identify the best keywords for your organization to target and (2) get those keywords into all the right places on your site so you show up in the top 10 results of searches in major search engines on those keywords.

But that’s only one of the ways a search engine optimization agency can help your non profit website. SEO should be part of an overall Search Engine Marketing strategy that includes optimizing the site, developing a targeted-keyword blog, building strategic links to and from your site, strategically using social media accounts and and implementing a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign.

You can call Pathmaker Marketing at 623-233-3334 to schedule an appointment to discuss how a search engine optimization agency can get your non profit website consistently into the top 10 results for searches on keywords that apply to you – thus turning your site into a much more significant player in your overall fundraising efforts.


As professional fundraisers, we seek to connect donors with ministries that satisfy their need to give to people, causes and organizations.

Nine years ago, I stumbled in to the arena of Christian marketing and fundraising for nonprofits when I took a job with a Christian marketing and fundraising agency.  Active in ministry my entire adult life, I was looking to supplement our income as my firstborn launched to private Christian college.  This new job presented me with a steep learning curve, new vocabulary and challenging tasks.  I quickly found, however, that the things we were doing for our clients as a fundraising company were not that different from what I’d been doing for years throughout church and para-church involvement. 
 
 I began my career as a professional fundraiser decades ago when I joined the staff of Youth for Christ and was immediately responsible for raising 100% of my salary, expenses and benefits.  The need for a regular paycheck will make a willing professional fundraiser out of the most reluctant letter writer!  

I quickly learned what any good fundraising company will teach—that folks love to give to people, causes and organizations that are important to them.  In my case, the person, Meagan Gillan, was the appeal for one segment of donors.  These people would probably have supported me if I was hand-raising panda bear cubs in the Chinese rainforest.  They were behind me and wanted to let me know as much with their gifts and support.  

For another group, the gifts and donations were targeted at a cause—ministry to a cottage of juvenile delinquent girls in a locked state institution.  For a variety of reasons, their heartstrings were pulled when they learned of the plight of these girls who, though guilty of bad choices, were victims of bad family situations, bad economics and other circumstances beyond their control.  These donors wanted to help girls know Jesus and gain skills that would help them when they were released from the institution.  

A third group gave because they believed in and wanted to be associated with the organization.  Youth for Christ had already piled up decades of relevant, Gospel-focused ministry to millions of youth.  These givers were glad that I was serving a particular group of girls in a specific institution, but they were particularly pleased (and willing to give) because they knew and loved the organization with which I served.  Trust was a given.  

That innocuous beginning has led to a lifetime of helping people live in to their God-ordained need to give.  I’ve had up-close experience with several fundraising companies, and remain in awe, with many fundraising professionals, of the extraordinary faithfulness of the family of God as they pump billions of dollars of charitable giving into the human efforts that advance God’s Kingdom on earth.  It never ceases to amaze me.  


I know … I’ve been there … when you hire a professional fundraiser, your most prevalent thought has more to do with the skills, abilities and behavior of the professional fundraiser rather than how you can be a good client. But even the best professional fundraisers shine more brightly when they have good clients with whom to work. Also, the better client you are, the less likely it is that you will waste money.

So, here are some thoughts on how to be a good client.

Define what you’re looking for in writing. Whether it’s a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) or simply a one-page outline, writing down what you want to accomplish will help you communicate clearly and succinctly and stimulate discussion on what is realistic and what isn’t.

Be sure you have the authority. Get approvals from your management to hire a professional fundraiser. Understand the expectations they have (put it in writing). Make sure the people with the decision authority are in all meetings, unless they give that authority to you. And if they do, be decisive. Also beware that having too many decision makers can destroy a project.

Put it in writing. Contracts protect both you and the professional fundraiser. The contract can be as informal as an email, but it needs to communicate specifically what you are paying for along with the remuneration and timeframe. Include what you will deliver to the professional fundraiser, along with what the fundraiser is expected to provide. Terms of payment are important, and so is an arbitration agreement and an “out clause,” which gives both of you a way to end the contract amicably should things not work out.

Give room for creativity. The vision you have in your head may not be what will best accomplish your goals, even if it worked well for a friend. When you consider your professional fundraiser a partner, and clearly communicate your goals and vision, you might be surprised how differently your vision gets expressed by someone who is trained to think in marketing terms.

Be responsive. If you’re going to achieve your goals within your budget and timeframe, you’ll need to return calls, answer emails, provide the resources you agreed to provide, line up internal decision makers for approvals and do what’s necessary to avoid delays, scope creep and budget overages.

Promote trust. This is a partnership, and you need to be transparent and respectful.

This isn’t the whole list, of course, but following these guidelines will move you toward a successful outcome in any project with a professional fundraiser.


1. Identify three of our five principles of good non profit website design and communications:

a. Consider banner advertising
b. Link relevant content to search-centric promotion
c. Search engine-optimize your site
d. Develop your email communication tools
e. Build Interactivity into your website

2. What are some incentive-based offers for your email signup page? (choose all that apply)

a. Discount coupons
b. Topical e-newsletters
c. Free downloads
d. Cash rewards
e. Special premiums
f. All of the above

3. What is search-centric content?

a. Website content that is relevant to web searches
b. Website content that conveys your needs and central passions
c. Website content that shows up in search engine results

4. Which ways below will NOT help you build interactivity on your non profit website?

a. Prayer Walls
b. Wikis
c. Your best building photographs
d. Forums
e. Games
f. News reports and updates
g. All of the above

5. Which of the following will help you develop your email fundraising and communication tools?

a. An incentive-based email offer page
b. Implementing an electronic welcome series
c. Developing effective transactional email
d. Learning to use surveys
e. Improving landing page conversion
f. A, B, and E
g. All of the above


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrating your online and offline communications is our strategic non profit marketing tip for today.

    One important mistake that many ministries make is to consider online communication to be separate from offline communication. But these days, savvy marketers put their web addresses on all printed materials and even in their radio and television ads. Likewise, your website should contain toll-free phone numbers and mailing addresses. Cross promote as much as possible. You should also put your web address in your catalogs, on your brochures, business cards, in your radio or television program. You get the idea. 

    Another good strategy is to cross-pollinate your monthly direct mail appeals with an online fund raising effort. Our typical email fundraising approach, when synergized to snail mail, is to start Split Testing 10 days AFTER the snail mail arrives in homes, then go to full blasting 3 days after that. The email will stand on its own results, plus give LIFT to your snail mail this way.  After reblasting and remarketing for another week, you can have your email efundraising efforts done in 10-13 days total, and be out about 1 week before the next fundraising snail maill effort arrives.

    The combination of the two channels – direct mail and email fundraising -- working in tandem with each other to promote the same initiative will raise the water table overall on your results. Combine telemarketing in this mix and you have a powerful one-two-three punch for your fundraising efforts.


   This topic — maximizing your nonprofit fundraising efforts by combining traditional channels with online marketing tools — is quite detailed and I plan to expand on it in future blog entries. For now, I’ll wrap up this series by again leaving you with these words:

    A strategic online communication plan will use integration to strengthen existing donor relationships while building new ones to enhance your ministry and expand its outreach.

 

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