Email FundraisingOne of the most frustrating, and on-going challenges for churches, para church ministries and non-profit organizations is fundraising.  There are of course, some “tried and true” methods, but everyone is always looking for new ways to accomplish this goal. Technology is opening some new doors, and one of those is email fundraising.

Pathmaker Marketing, LLC, an E-mail Marketing Firm, has been most successful in assisting their clients with e-mail fundraising. Truly E-Mail Marketing Specialists, they know that there are several things to keep in mind when you begin your email fundraising campaign.

First, you need to use your common sense.  You are, after all, raising money for a cause.  As a result, you are going to be most successful when you contact individuals who are already supporters of that cause.  Here, you do want to “preach to the choir.”  Your goal is not to solicit new supporters.  As a result, you will want to use your current database of supporters.  Again, this is not a “prospecting tool”!

You also need to consider that this program works best when it is part of an over-all communications strategy.  This includes utilizing the mail, phone, and “in person” contacts.  These all have their own individual strengths and, when combined with your e-mail campaign, will result in you being most effective.

As any Professional E-Mail Marketing Service will tell you, email has its own set of metrics.  First of all, you need to keep in mind that e-mail is always lower than direct mail.  It is, however, still profitable as there are no printing or postage charges.  Too, seldom will an email campaign yield “monster” gifts, as the largest we have seen were between $1000 - $2000 each.  Keeping this all in mind should allow you to ensure that your expectations are within the parameters of not only possibility but probability, allowing you to view the results with realistic insight.

Just as in any mode of fundraising, you must remember that “people give to people” more than organizations.  As a result, you want your e-mail to come from your chief fundraiser, such as your CEO or pastor.  Have the email look like a letter and be personalized.  “Dear Fred” goes a lot farther than “Dear Friend.” 

To “enhance the chance” of filling your coffers via an email campaign, you need a substantial e-mail list.  As a result, you may need to go an E-Mail Marketing Company and spend some money to help bolster your list.  Do know that a really small list can be cost prohibitive for using HTML, and you may want to employ TEXT as a result.


email fundraisingIt is obvious that the 21st Century is making each and every one of us re-evaluate the way we do things.  This is as true for Churches and Non-Profits as it is for Businesses.  One of the most prominent undertakings of a 501 (c) (3) is Fundraising, and there are many e-mail marketing companies who are offering their services to assist with this challenge.  In fact, Randall Mains, CEO of Pathmaker Marketing, LLC, a true email marketing specialist, has had immense success with his clients in doing just that, having raised well over a million dollars for them in the past four-plus years!
 
When conferring with Pathmaker Marketing, or any professional email marketing service, they will advise you that there are several important email fundraising concepts, which deals predominantly with “testing”  to ensuring that your e-mail fundraising endeavor is, in fact, a successful one.  Following is brief descriptions of each of these, to help you better understand the email marketing expert’s approach to e-mail fundraising.
 
DEVELOP YOUR E-MAIL STRATEGIES - Basically there are five strategies that you can employ, which include:
  1. E-Mail Tied to Current Events
  2. Monthly “Themed” E-Mail Campaigns
  3. Direct Mail/E-Mail Combo
  4. Media/E-Mail Combo
  5. “Stand Alone” E-Mail Fundraising Campaign
"SUBJECT LINE” TESTING - This process finds you mailing the exact same email, but changing what you write in the subject line.  As you experiment with these, you will find that one subject line may get more attention, and a better reaction, than another one that you use.
 
“SPLIT” TESTING - In this instance you try different “creative angles” to see which works best. This might include varying the copy that you use, or the photos.  Obviously, you will send out several simultaneously to determine what the results are.
 
“CLICK THROUGH RATE” TESTING - Typically, in each e-mail the recipient will have several ways to “click through” to support your cause.  This can either take place via a “Banner, “Learn More,” or an “Action Button.”  What you will eventually do, of course, is concentrate on “Click through Optimization.”
 
LANDING PAGE OPTIMIZATION - This may be, perhaps, the greatest “bug-a-boo” for email fundraisers.  Often, people have an excellent “click through” rate, but no one bothers to donate!  As a result, the conclusion drawn, albeit an erroneous one is that e-mail fundraising doesn’t work.  The reality is, it is the landing page that is “broken” and needs repairing, and that is where landing page optimization comes in!
 
It is, of course, possible that all of this may seem a little overwhelming, especially the landing page optimization concept.  That is why that you may find it most beneficial to contact an email marketing professional like Randall Mains and his e-mail marketing firm, Pathmaker Marketing.  They can assist you by explaining the process in greater detail, and implementing the programs as well!

 

The bottom line to successful email fundraising & email marketing consists of the following four simple steps to help you stay on track:

4 STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL EMAIL FUNDRAISING OR EMAIL MARKETING

Email FundraisingAn excellent way to communicate, email has become so efficient that it has the U.S. Postal Service trembling in its boots!  But seriously, if you're still doing direct mail only, you need to add email marketing to your mix of online fund raising tools. And to get the most out of your email fundraising or email marketing program you need to implement the following four strategic steps to success:

1)    Build Your Email House File - The most successful professional fundraisers are using email marketing programs to solicit their house files.  I know this may be a long process to develop these lists, but once you have a robust house file acquisition process in place, your email lists will grow and your efundraising or emarketing communications to those lists will deliver for you maximum results, way above any external list file rentals.

Typically, your house file consists of various sub lists like your customer file (first or two time buyers); your best customer file (regular, large or monthly donors, for example); and your prospecting file of requestors who have asked for call backs, downloaded white papers,  signed up for your newsletters, etc. 

In as much as your email success will mostly be measured in dollars raised, or as a conversion rate percent of the overall send, it stands to reason that a larger size internal file will deliver you a greater number of positive replies, once you've found ways to convert the list into sales or gifts.  In other words, make a commitment to building your house file, and then ensure that's an on-going part of your marketing efforts.

2)    Test, Test, Test - There are several ways to proceed in this realm.  First, you will want to conduct a basic Email Split Test.  This is where you send out two or three different versions of the same email to determine which one(s) give you the best results.  You can test different subject lines, different email creative or different landing pages. By determining which ones perform best, you can fix the underperforming ones and/or concentrate instead on the ones that were productive and successful.

A basic protocol we use as a basis for testing fundraising for non-profits is the following:
1. Short cause-centric email to longer cause-based landing page
2. Long cause-centric email to shorter cause-based landing page
3. Premium-centric version email to basic premium (i.e. product Offer) landing page

3)    Evaluate Your “Core Metrics” - Your "Core Metrics" are your central pieces of data that help you make primary decisions regarding your email sending.  There are three major ones, and numerous secondary ones. The majors we use are the following:

a.    Opens (How Many Emails Delivered Were Opened)—this metric is not completely accurate but as a guide it's good to help you determine the effectiveness of your Email Subject Lines. When your open rates are low concentrate on improving your subject lines.

b.    Clicks (How Many Opened Emails Clicked Through to Landing Pages) —this metric reflects the effectiveness of the email creative itself. If your click through rates is low concentrate on improving your email content (i.e. creative). Usually a good ESP will also provide data on which elements of your creative were clicked on, giving you insights into those things that drive click through for you.

c.    Conversions (How Many Clicks Became Sales or Gifts) —this metric reflects the effectiveness of your landing pages at converting the visitor into a buyer. If your conversion rates are low concentrate on improving your landing pages.

A sub-item to consider regarding conversions is the average amount of each sale or gift, which, will also affect your overall results and thus can help you determine the over-all value of your various Split Test groups and online fundraising efforts.

…And a Bonus Step to a Successful Email Fundraising program:

4)   Fuss Around to Optimize - I can't emphasize enough how important it is to continue tweaking your programs, looking for pockets of opportunity in the data, and searching for ways to optimize your efforts and their results.  Figure out what people are clicking on and accentuate the positives, then eliminate the negatives! Keep a document of lessons learned as well, so you can refer back to things you have gained over the years that you can build on in the future.

Email marketing is a proven and effective way to enhance your ephilanthropy, so use these four principles to accelerate your email marketing efforts, and call Pathmaker Marketing in Phoenix at 623-322-3334 if we can be of any assistance to you. Or read further about this topic on our blog about email fundraising.

 


Internet MarketingWhether you are a premier blogging service, non-profit consultant or a fundraising company, the bottom line is you need to generate revenues. Do you know how to make people buy from you? Well, they have to trust you. Do you know how to make them trust you? Basically, they have to believe that you know what you are talking about. In short you have to be viewed as the expert that they can count on in your field.

In this post, I will detail the things that you need to do in order to push your brand and be seen as an expert in your field. Once you have accomplished this, you can be sure that you can easily generate sales through your blog. Here’s how:

1. Write contents that they would be willing to share - The first thing that you should do is to write contents that are share worthy. This means that on top of the facts that you are going to present, it has to be an interesting read and helpful to the readers. If the content you wrote is share worthy, people will recommend it to their connections and this will increase your online exposure to a wide range of audience. This will bring awareness to who you are and the kind of knowledge that you bring.

2. Use multimedia - When I say contents, I don’t mean only written ones. You can also share your expertise using audio and video. You can for example upload  talks on Blog Talk Radio or create a podcast at Blubbery. All these can be automatically uploaded to iTunes for greater exposure. And you should not forget to start your own YouTube channel because the exposure that you will get here is simply awesome.

3. Use the features of the social media - Give links to your contents in Twitter, answer questions in LinkedIn Answers, interact on Facebook. In short, using the social media can be helpful.

4. Join groups that are looking for experts for media exposure - Facebook and LinkedIn have groups that are constantly looking for experts for media exposure. Look for these groups and join them and then answer queries related to your expertise. Profnet  from PR Newswire is also a good place to brush elbows with journalist and authors to further your exposure.

5. Interconnect your efforts - Your business marketing promotion online should be integrated so that you can exploit its power. You can interconnect your Internet business marketing promotion website and Ministry blogs with Facebook through its social plugins and use tools like Twitterfeed so that you can feed them to Tweeter as well. Aside from the exposure that you will get, you will also increase the PR of your website and blogs through these links.

Unless people see you as an expert, you cannot expect them to part with their money. By making enough credible noise, people will begin to see you as somebody who knows what you are talking about. Take note, you have to make credible noise and not just any noise. This means accountability on your part because the moment that you publish something erroneous, that would be the end of your online fund raising career. 


      Blogging is a wonderful way to impart pertinent information to the rest of the world.  And, as a result, many people are taking advantage of this avenue of expression.  If you are in business, however, and you want to let your blog “work” for you, you probably need to adhere to a different set of “rules” than the individual who is simply blogging as a hobby, to vent frustration,  or to seek an audience to pontificate to.  For the sake of this article, let’s refer to the business blogger as a “Professional Blogger,” and the casual blogger as a “Social Blogger.”

    The Social Blogger, typically, is mostly blogging for fun.  As a result, they blog when they have a few extra minutes or when they get around to it, and they blog about a myriad of topics.  One day they may write about the wonderful new restaurant they ate at the night before, and three days later they might vent about how poorly their favorite baseball team is doing.  They will discuss the high price of gas, or how they have begun their Christmas shopping earlier this year.  While their thoughts and approach might be very focused, even profound,  in each individual blog, they tend to take a “shotgun” approach where their choice of topics is concerned - - spreading a wide range of thoughts to their reading public.

    The Professional Blogger, on the other hand, can’t pursue such a haphazard approach to their blogging - - or at least they shouldn’t.  Rather, the Professional Blogger needs to be blogging with a specific purpose in mind, always mindful of the fact that their blog site should strive for a depth of content in what they write.  Their blogging has to be intentionally focused on areas of expertise - - they must also purpose to provide a steady flow of content posts per week.  They must continually be adding quality content to their blog site, always bringing readers back for more.  They must not be lackadaisical about this - - they are using this as a major part of their marketing plan and therefore must attend to it religiously!

     The Professional Blogger needs to be targeting keywords that they want to win a Page One ranking on in Google, Yahoo or Bing.  Once these target terms are determined, they pursue these top page rankings by creating best in class content surrounding those keywords, and, as a result, they also establish themselves as an expert in their field.

     While it may seem easy to identify keywords you want to write about, the real trick is to isolate the “winnable” words or phrases, since what's most important is picking terms to blog about that both relate to your expertise, and have some capacity to win you a Page One Ranking. Page One rankings will get your blog qualified visitors, who may convert into names to your email list, qualified leads, product or service buyers, donors, etc.

     The subtlety of finding Internet success though, can find you, like the old TV character Maxwell Smart, “missing it by just that much.”  Let me give you an example.  

     Suppose you want to win a page one ranking for “e-mail fund raising,” You already have a wealth of knowledge on the subject, and have been most successful in helping clients with the endeavor.  You now, however, want to use the Internet to “recruit” new clients, and decide that blogging is the route to go.  So, you diligently begin adding appropriate keyword content to your blog and, lo and behold, nobody is beating down your door to have you help them.  The reason?   People are not searching on line for “e-mail fundraising,” they are searching for “ephilanthropy” - - by the millions!  

     Obviously, this scenario could be frustrating to the point of devastation!  To determine the keyword marketing terms to pursue, you can either hire a Premier Blogging Service firm such as Randall Mains company Pathmaker Marketing, or you need to invest hours, days, or possibly weeks to research them yourself, using Google’s Keyword Tool or something similar (To learn more about this, read my upcoming blog, How to do Strategic Keyword Marketing Research for Your Blog).  

    Determining your area of expertise should, at least theoretically, be a little easier.  However, you may want to take a broad term and “narrow down” your area of expertise.  Let’s use our example of “e-mail fundraising.”  Fundraising, obviously, is a term used by non-profit organizations.  Now, you may want to concentrate on e-mail fundraising for churches.  To be more specific, you may want to be an expert on e-mail fundraising for churches with under 500 members.  Once you make the determination of what you want your “niche” to be and you have accurately identified the marketing keywords you want to win pages for, you can begin to employ your blogs as a valuable sales tool! (Don’t miss my next blog, 5 Critical Steps to a Successful Blogging Initiative!)

     The bottom line is this: when blogging, be targeting keywords that you've thoroughly researched so that you know you can win page one rankings that will get you readers.  That process is called Keyword Marketing, and it can pay off in spades for you.

            I couldn’t tell if Jim was perplexed, confused or both. He had a somewhat dour look on his face, and was, obviously, not his typical jovial self. He was just sitting at the counter, heaving gigantic sighs, and I decided I had better get over to him and see how I could help. He had called earlier and requested that I meet him as soon as possible, but hadn’t indicated why.  He greeted me with what was as close to a smile as he could muster when I approached, and waited until we had situated ourselves in a booth before he explained what was wrong.

            “Floyder,” he began, heaving another one of those large sighs, “I think I have been hornswaggled, and by my own church!”

            I studied the man before me for just a minute. Jim is a good man, and usually when he wants to speak to me it is about Small Business Marketing Strategies, especially in the realm of Internet Marketing Ideas. Because of my affiliation with Randall Mains and Pathmaker Marketing,

he often visits with me about ideas he has for his Sporting Goods Store, but it was apparent that today’s meeting wasn’t business related. I know many of the people who attend Jim’s church, including his pastor, and was more than a little surprised that they would do anything to harm him.

            “What happened?” I asked, real concern in my voice.

            “Well, we were at a meeting last night to discuss fund raising for the church. We were kicking a few things around, and before I knew it I had been chosen to chair the committee. Floyder, I don’t know anything about fund raising.”

            I smiled to myself, realizing that things really weren’t all that bad. 

            “Well, maybe I can help you a little.”

            “Really, you think you can talk them into giving the chairmanship to someone else?

            “No, but Pathmaker Marketing does serve as a Non-Profit Consultant. We have experience with Non Profit Fundraisers, and even Non Profit Marketing. Are you trying to raise funds for anything in particular?”

            He took a few minutes and gave me a thumbnail sketch of what they were hoping to accomplish. Some of the projects had definite timelines, while others were more on-going in nature. When he finished, he asked me what I thought he could do. I mentioned a few programs that we had used, and told him that he would probably be better off contacting Randall in regard to this, as he has far more experience than I.

            “I don’t know if we can afford Pathmaker Marketing or not,” he shared.

            “Well, give him a call or e-mail him at randall@pathmakermarketing.net. I have always found that it is better to verify that I can’t afford something than to assume I can’t. After all, the worst thing that will happen is he won’t be able to help you.”

            Nodding his agreement, Jim began to smile. He now had the possibility of a “high tech” battle plan, at least, and would be able to look good the next time the committee met. We visited a while longer, brainstorming the typical fundraisers churches use, but knowing that the real money for Non Profit Fundraising is found by utilizing the Internet!


Be sure to include images in your search engine optimization efforts. You can get even more visitors to your website by properly preparing and coding your images. The reason is that properly prepared and coded images will be found and indexed by search engines, thereby increasing your search engine rankings. Here are some tips.

1. Use high quality images that are optimized for the web.
If your images get picked up by Google Images, more webmasters will link to crisp, clear photos, resulting in more people click on your photos and ultimately to your website. Also specify a width and height in the HTML to help speed up the length of time it takes your page to load into a browser. Pathmaker Marketing's professional search engine optimization services take into account the user experience, which ultimately results in more visitors and more conversions of visitors to business assets.

2. Give all images a descriptive title using your keywords.
rose.jpg is much more descriptive than img010609.jpg, and if “rose” is one of the strategic keywords you use for search engine optimization, you’ve increased the incidence of that keyword on your page. If you’re a florist who sells roses, daisies, carnations, etc., people doing a search for roses might be more likely to find your site if you use a more descriptive image name that uses your keywords. In its search engine optimization services, Pathmaker Marketing will help you research keywords that not only are strategic but are more likely to help you increase your page rankings.

3. Always use descriptive <ALT> tags, preferably using your keywords.
ALT stands for alternate text. If your link to the image breaks, or if people have images turned off in the browser or email client, they can still see a description of what you wanted them to see. But an additional useful feature of the <ALT> tag is that you can benefit from them in search engine optimization. Search engines will “see” what’s in your photos because of your <ALT> tags. If your photo is rose.jpg, and Rose is not a flower but a person who owns a bicycle shop named Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop (which is also a keyword), the <ALT> tag might be <ALT=”Rose at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop”>. Google warns against “stuffing” the <ALT> tag with keywords. Avoid something like: <ALT=”schwin shimano Windsor mountain bike”>. Sure, these might be the types of bicycles Rose sells, but none of them are in the photo. If she’s sitting on a Windsor mountain bike you could put that in the <ALT> tag: <ALT=”Rose at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop sitting on a Window mountain bike”>. Just be sure everything is in context.

4. Never put captions inside the image.
Sure, it makes it easier to keep your caption where you want it if you include it in the image itself, but it's a really bad practice for search engine optimization. Put copyright info inside the image if you want, but not your descriptive keywords. Keep those in the HTML.

5. Opt toward JPG images when appropriate.
There are various types of image files, including GIF, PNG and JPG. Some older browsers don’t read PNG images well yet, and some search engines default to looking for JPG rather than the other two mentioned. That means the search engine is more likely to recognize your photo as a photo if you use the JPG format.

6. Put your images as close to the <TITLE> tag as possible.
If the title of your page is <TITLE=”Rose at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop in Podunk”>, and someone is searching for “bicycle podunk”, your page could get picked up. If your <IMG> tag says <IMG src=”www.someplace.com/images/rose.jpg” ALT=”Rose at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop in Podunk”>, and it is close to the <TITLE> tag (at the top of the page), the <IMG> tag reinforces the <TITLE> tag to help improve your page rankings.

7. Use strategic keywords in all links to the photo.
“Click here" is a good action phrase that people are used to seeing and therefore know what to do when they see it. But “See a picture of Rose at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop” uses your strategic keywords while also using an action phrase that people can quickly figure out what to do with.

8. Register your webpage at Google Webmaster Tools and tag them with Google Image Labeler.
Google Webmaster Tools is a free service that allows webmasters to optimize and check the indexing status of their sites. It’s located here: http://code.google.com/apis/webmastertools/. Google Image Labeler is located here: http://images.google.com/imagelabeler/.

9. Provide context and relevance.
If your photo and everything that describes it is of Rose sitting on a Windsor mountain bike at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop in Podunk, it won’t help if the page content is about studying Japanese in Los Angeles. This will just send a confused message to search engines, and it could do more harm to your rankings rather than good.

10. Protect your images in a way this is friendly to search engine optimization.
You can put copyright info in the image, and some people also include a watermark. Most people don’t mind the copyright info, but watermarks could result in webmasters not linking to your photos. Google also recommends providing a snippet of HTML for people to use to give you attribution when embedding your image on their page. Be sure to include a link to your page on that snippet. This will increase visits to your site also.

Pathmaker Marketing offers search engine optimization services along with non profit fundraising services, Internet business marketing promotion and more. See how Pathmaker can help you, whether you're looking for a non profit consultant or other Internet business marketing promotion. Click or give us a call 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.


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.

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.  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


The primary goal of your email fundraising is to raise gifts or sell products, not deliver ministry (that’s what your e-newsletter does). E-fundraising is an entire course in itself that fundraising professionals like Pathmaker Marketing teach, but when done effectively, it can become an monthly income-producing channel for your ministry that might even rival your direct mail and telephone fundraising efforts.

But you’re not ready to do e-appeals until you’ve properly introduced your newfound friends to your ministry. Once they know who you are and what you stand for, then you can begin implementing fundraising for nonprofits and begin requesting their support for your worthy causes.

In general, the basic components of any email solicitation include your Subject Line, your message in HTML and/or text, and your Landing Page.

The primary goal of your Subject Line is to get your emails opened. The primary goal of your email is to get click-through traffic to your Landing Page. And the primary goal of your Landing Page is to get conversions on your offer (i.e., gifts or sales, leads, list signups, etc). Each component has a specific goal, but they must all work together harmoniously to produce effective results. 

There are different schools of thought on basic email fundraising strategies like: short email to long landing page, or long email to short landing page, but to determine what works best with your constituents, you just need to test, test and continue testing.

In addition, there’s the landing page process of effective internet marketing, which brings to mind the importance of your understanding of landing page conversion protocol. This subject is a big one and we’re only touching its surface today, but to show you how advanced you can become in this arena, here’s a patented formula I use to improve landing page conversion:

Landing Page Conversion = 4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a
M= the user’s motivation; v= clarity of the value proposition; i=incentive to take action; f=friction elements of the process; a=anxiety about entering information. Proper use of this formula from the Marketing Experiments Corp. can significantly improve your landing page conversions.

The formula basically says that the greatest weight in the conversion process is given to the motivation of the donor to support your cause, followed by the strength of your value proposition, followed by your incentive less the friction of your checkout process, less the anxiety that the donor feels about doing business with you online.  Three factors can improve your conversion rates, while two factors can decrease them.

For more assistance with your email fundraising, contact Pathmaker Marketing at this webpage, or call us today at 1-623-322-3334. Or IM with us via Skype or Yahoo at pathmaker.marketing 


Here's a nifty tip to your ongoing email fundraising list segmentation efforts:

Once each month after you are done emailing, proceed to establish the following basic sub-segmentation lists from your prior month's efforts:

1. Givers or Buyers (those who gave or bought something)
2. Clickers but no Actions (those who made it to your landing pages but never made a donation or bought a product)
3. Openers but no Clicks (those who opened your email but never clicked to your landing page)

You can then begin to combine the givers from January with February etc to formulate a master file of all those who have responded to email solicititations.  This sublist will become your prime email fundraising list for your nonprofit fundraising efforts.

Over time your lists will begin to be parsed into better subgroups. You'll have an ongoing file of all your customers; an ongoing file of those who clicked but never purchased or donated; an ongoing file of those who open email but never click.

Your future ephilanthropy strategies can then begin to take shape as you understand a little more about the behavior patterns of your various subgroups.

You can pull off these online fund raising steps easily in blasting systems like ExactTarget, even iContact, although in some cases you may need to reimport your Givers lists back into your blasting system.

If you need prefer to use our fundraising services to help you generate significant $$ from email fundraising, contact Pathmaker Marketing today online or at 623-322-3334, and we'll do our best to see if we can assist you further.
 


Have you ever gone out with someone who was a knockout in appearance, but 15 minutes later you discovered his or her vocabulary was limited to grunts or giggles? Many non profit website designs are like that too – they look great, but they have no non profit marketing substance. And that’s a major headache!

Principle #4: Develop a hard-working site to avoid the problems of a website that’s all looks and no brains.

Here are some practical suggestions for creating a hard-working website that facilitates online fundraising, non profit marketing, asset accumulation and more:

Practical Tip #1: Develop an incentive-based opt-in landing page to encourage people to sign up for your ministry e-newsletter. For example, a well-crafted non profit website design will take into account the critical functionality needed in order to achieve your original objectives.  It’s not just about looks, but about smarts as well.

When I say smarts, I’m referring in part to how well your site converts your visitors into usable assets, such as lists, leads, gifts, or sales.  These are the names and addresses, both email and snail mail, of people who want to hear from you, buy your products, or support your ministry through gifts, both today and tomorrow.

Believe me, if you send email fundraising letters to people who don’t want to hear from you, you’ve got big headaches in store.  So ideally, everyone you deal with is someone who has opted in to receive something from you online: your e-newsletter, free information, non profit marketing re: your products, etc. 

Practical Tip #2: Develop an electronic welcome series via an auto-responder email system that immediately sends your leads the information they requested.

If your site is intended to generate leads, does it fully function in that capacity? If so, it should allow people to interact with you by signing up for an offer—a newsletter or something else of value to them (not to you, to them). Your well-crafted non profit website design will have easy-to-use and convincing pages that persuade people to give you their contact information and allow them to do it easily. 

Follow up your email reply with a Welcome Kit offer - a packet of information about your ministry sent through snail mail. Typical Pathmaker Marketing clients experience a 63% conversion rate of enrollment into the Welcome Kit offer after just prior having signed up for email offers. Once your welcome Kits are sent out, have someone follow up with a telephone call as the last step of an efficient lead follow-up system.
 


Email fundraising is a proven internet marketing tool that can help your charitable organization raise substantial online donations.  When properly executed, an email fundraising campaign can provide your ministry with a additional source of ministry revenues, an engaged donor base, a regular branding tool, and in some cases, even improve your offline fundraising efforts.

Email campaigns can be very effective at online fund raising, sometimes providing up to 35% of a ministries total annual fund revenue.  Plus, they are relatively efficient at raising funds because the costs to email can be generally lower.  Of course, it's a myth to think that email is free, given that there are typically costs associated with writing copy, developing HTML email and landing pages, getting proper rendering in multiple email clients, blasting and beyond.  

There are many important factors and techniques to apply to create effective email fundraising campaigns. You need to do some up-front strategic thinking. What are your campaign needs? What goals do you want to accomplish? Who is your target audience? Who will be receiving this email, and what Is most likely to move them to the action you want them to take?

Once you have a clear strategic outline of what you want to accomplish through email fundrasiing, here are some practical steps to follow to assist in the over-all effectiveness of your online fund raising campaign.

1.    Make them personal.
Speak directly to your audience using “you” centric statements instead of the less personal “we” or, even worse, “one.” Personalize your email fundraising if possible, inserting First Name data in your Subject lines and body copy.  You are more likely to engage your readers if you speak to them individually, not collectively. This, of course, also means you need to understand who your audience is, what inspires and motivates them, and what causes them to take action.

2.    Engage the reader’s heart.
People often give to causes and non-profits that fulfill an emotional need in their own lives. Your readers gave you their email address because they trusted you...thought your non-profit worthy of their time and attention...believed in your purpose in life...saw how they could make a difference in the world through you, etc. When you ask for their support, you need to tell them through a short, heartfelt, and compelling story how your non profit is making a difference and why you need their support.

One school of thought says that your heartfelt story needs to be told in no more than one or two short but effective paragraphs in the email, with an option for readers to get more details by clicking through to your landing pages.  Another school of thought says that you can tell your whole story in the email, with the click-through process going straight to your checkout process. I've seen both methods be successful.
 


Whether or not proper grammar matters in online fundraising depends upon to whom you are talking. If the reader of your email fundraising letter doesn't know that it's "commitment" and not "committment" or that commas always go inside the quotation marks, then it probably doesn't matter to that person. But some people, espeically those who write for a living, have a hard time getting past those little blunders, and that could hurt response. So here are some grammar basics to use in your online fundraising.
  1. Try to write to the 6th to 8th grade level. It's harder than you might think, and it requires you to clearly explain yourself.
     
  2. Use active voice. "I went to the store" is more interesting to read than "I have gone to the store." It also uses fewer words, which is a good goal.
     
  3. Compose your non profit websites and emails in an application that checks your grammar, spelling and punctuation as you write (such as Microsoft Word), and then carefully proof it yourself. These programs won't warn you when you've used the wrong form of a word: "fare" vs. "fair," for example, so you need to be sure nothing is amiss.
     
  4. Americans don't usually care if you use formal writing, but you need to decide what form you're going to use ... and then stick with it. For casual writing, which is appropriate for non profit website design and email fundraising, you can easily get away with using casual writing techniques such as contractions ("don't" instead  of "do not," for example). Just be consistent.
     
  5. Another form of casual writing is the use of the word "one" rather than the word "you" ("One should know" rather than "You should know" for example). If you're like me, you prefer to be referred to as you, not one. The word "you" is much more personal and will get more responses in email fundraising as well as non-profit websites.
     
  6. Pick a style for your use of dashes and elipses ... and stick with it.
    Do you put one long dash between words (commonly called an M Dash)? Do you put spaces before and after the dash? Do you use elipses (three periods strung together)? If so, do you include spaces before and after them? I typically include no spaces between M Dashes and the words they separate, but I do use spaces before and after elipses. Different people will have different ideas on what is correct, but the important thing is to be consistent.
     
  7. Stay away from run-on sentences and fragments. Run-on sentences are too long and complex. Fragments are fine occasionally, especially when you're trying to make a case, but don't over do it.


When budgets get tight, often the first thing to go is efforts to secure publicity. That’s because publicity is a long-term strategy that builds awareness, trust , and brand recognition rather than securing short-term income. It’s a mistake to exclude long-term goodwill and reputation management even when times are hard. Here are some online PR efforts that you shouldn’t cut even when budgets get tight.

Upload a monthly press release to an area of your website marked “News” or something like that. This shows that your non-profit is alive and active in spite of tough economic times. You don’t have to have huge announcements to justify a press release that is only one page long. Did someone in your organization earn an award? Announce it! Have you added new staff? Announce it! Think about all the things – large and small – that your non-profit is up to and announce something at least once a month.

Find information sites that apply to your niche and get known for providing quality information. Submit your monthly news releases, but also provide short articles that appeal to their readers. For example, Crosswalk.com and Beliefnet.com love to get short articles (500 words or so) on religious topics. Find out who is the right person to whom who can submit your news releases and articles, and develop a cordial relationship with them through phone and email. Learn what they want and fill their need. You can also submit content to Google Knol and Squidoo.

Establish a page on Wikipedia. This online encyclopedia was launched in 2001 and has grown into one of the largest reference sites on the Web, currently attracting about 684 million visitors annually. Volunteer editors from across the globe adhere to strict writing guidelines and know that their content can be edited by anyone else who has Internet access. Most edits consist of corrections to typos, grammatical errors and factual errors. Wikipedia recommends that someone other than the organization submit articles about notable persons or organizations, so write it as factually and non-self-serving as possible, have a third party post it, and you have a good chance of getting it accepted. You might even spend a few dollars to get someone else like Pathmaker to do it on your behalf.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently came back from the Marketing SHERPA conference in Miami, Florida. I would recommend the conference to anyone who wants to train in email fundraising, non profit marketing, landing page optimization, etc.  It's full of actionable data and healthy networking for email fundraising.

Some of the top take aways that were presented at the conference include a seminar by Flint McLaughlin, Director of MarketingExperiments on landing page optimization. In his session he conveyed the following:

Top 3 questions to ask yourself when building or improving any landing page are:

   1. Where am I?
   2. What am I supposed to do?
   3. Why should I do it?

Getting clear answers to those questions will help you improve your landing pages, whether you are in non profit fundraising, marketing or a commercial business. In addition, here are four other questions you should ask yourself, in order to construct the most effective landing pages:

   1. Why should my ideal prospect purchase from me rather than any of my competitors?

   2. How can I streamline all the elements in my sales path?

   3. How can I counter any psychological resistance to the sale with extra incentives?

   4. How can I correct any elements which cause concern in my sale path?

McLaughlin's session also centered are the concept of value contributors (VC) versus value inhibitors (VI). This is a golden-nugget summary of his complete training course on the same topic. The basic goal to optimization of any landing page is to have your value contributors outweigh your value inhibitors.  An example is the photo here.
 

 


More specifically, value contributors include factors like your value proposition and your incentives. Value inhibitors include user friction caused by over lengthy or unwieldy forms and fundamental anxiety toward the sale. VCs increase conversions. VIs reduce them.

Since people come to landing pages for various reasons, so your offer should be clearly presented, and your form questions minimized to those only absolutely necessary, while including incentives to outweigh any anxiety someone feels toward the sale. Too many form fields can cause friction (concern that it will take too long to complete), and overly invasive questions can cause tension (Why do they need this data?, What are they going to do with it? Why do they want my annual income?), which leads to abandonment.  Keep your forms streamlined to the core essentials.

Some final thoughts: Site Visitors can often be thinking...
 

“Is this legit?” Some effective ways to make them feel more confident is by offering helpful information to reassure them...let them know how long you have been established in business, or what credible institutes endorse your company (Better Business Bureau).

“Is it secure?” Be sure to offer a safe and secure purchasing environment for your customers. Your customers want to know that any information they provide you is uncompromised. Mitigate against anxiety by over-compensating in this part of your landing page...subscribe to and include HackerSafe or Verisign logos, etc. to assuage any concerns about safety.

For more in depth training on the subject of optimizing landing pages for non profit fund raising, look for material by Flint McGlaughlin, Director of MECLABS, Director of Enterprise Research at the University of Cambridge, and the Pastor of The Beaches Vineyard Fellowship. http://www.flintmcglaughlin.com


Your first question might be, “What the dickens in Web 2.0?” At least that was my first question. Quite simply, the term refers to a way of using the Internet to “build community.” Building community is the process of causing people to feel a sense of ownership in what you do ... because they are part of it. The process hopefully will build your email list, increase traffic to your site and convert visitors into engaged participants. This could provide a boost to your online fundraising. Here are some techniques to consider.

Allow visitors to add content to your site. For example, Pathmaker Marketing LLC worked with Gregory Dickow Ministries (and others) to install a couple of Prayer Walls on their website. People can come to the Prayer Wall to submit their prayer requests or praise reports for others to read. They also can read the requests and praises of others and pray for those people as they feel led. The Prayer Wall has become a meeting place for like-minded people to be a part of the ministry along with each other’s lives.

Integrate social networking into your online mix. For example, you could design a Facebook page to integrate with your site. You can quickly build up your list of friends, which will give you a growing list of potential participants in your cause. Professional networking includes such sites as Linkedin and other sites that appeal to a specific niche (such as authors). Twitter is a social networking site that simply allows you to post updates on what you’re up to in order to keep in touch. Use several of these services to build your participant list and manage your search engine listings.

Start blogging. We’ve worked with clients to install a blogging tool on their websites that is search engine optimized. You create one blog entry of just a few paragraphs that contains the right keywords (that you defined), and the content automatically is posted to the other blogs with those keywords. You’re using what you have in your head to create more than one blog with the effort of only one blog. Blogging is another tool that can boost your ranking in search engines to bring more people to your site for you to convert into assets for your non-profit.

 

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