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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


I wanted to present you with a GENERAL analysis of one client's current email fundraising results to assess the effectiveness of remarketing splits and reblasting to non-openers.

I'll present a fuller analysis later after I analyze every single motive code.

In this case a three-way Split Test was developed (three different creatives) and run out to three 7% random samplings of the master file (no overlapping names).  The strategy was short cause email to long cause landing page (A), long cause email to short cause landing page (B), and short premium offer to short premium landing page - no cause (C). The blasting process then unfolded as shown below:

June 18 Split Test (A,B,C) = 36 gifts for $2897 from June 18-21.
A had 11.6% Opens, 22% Clicks, 6% gift conversions fo 14 for $1,150 total
B had 11.2% Opens, 10.5% Clicks, 12.6% gift conversions of 13 for $1,555 total
C had 9.9% Opens, 19% Clicks, 7.7% gift conversions of 12 for $680 total
Based of these numbers we executed the following schedule of blasts:

June 22 Full Blast to B = 114 gifts for $8905 from June 22-23
June 24 Re-blast of B to Non-opens = 68 gifts for $4615 from June 24-28
June 29 Full Blast to A = 86 gifts for $6444
July 1 Re-blast of A to Non-opens = 75 gifts for $5503

Total Campaign (gifts still coming in) = 379 gifts for $28,364

Many of the details and nuances I have excluded from this post in order to display these general results that convey various blasting points re: fundraising for non profits.

Ranked by dollars given
$8905 from "winning" B Full Blast (114 gifts)
$6444 from "losing" A Full Blast (86 gifts)
$5503 from "losing" A Re-blast to Non-opens (75 gifts)
$4615 from "winning" B Re-blast to Non-opens (68 gifts)

Analysis of "Winning" version vs "Losing" version blasting
"Winning" B version of the eappeal: $13,520 from 182 gifts
"Losing" A version of the eappeal: $11,947 from 161 gifts

Remember, this is a first blush analysis, but it illustrates the point in general WHY it's often meritorious to send both split test versions of your email fundraising efforts. If we had NOT sent the "LOSING" version, we would have FORGONE $12,000 in income from 161 givers.

Analysis of First Blast vs Re-blasts to Non-opens
First Blasts = $15,349 from 200 gifts
Re-blasts to Non-opens = $10,118 from 143 gifts

Same disclaimer here, but it illustrates the point WHY it's often meritorious to send to non-openers. If we had NOT sent to Non-opens we would have FORGONE $10,000 in income from 143 givers.

Crazy idea:
If we HAD NOT SENT the "LOSING" version NOR SENT to Non-opens, we would have RAISED $11,802 from 150 givers and FORGONE $16,562 from 229 givers.

These are real time online fund raising results that have occurred during June 2009, also showing that despite the rotten economy, the right offer at the right time with the right executional effort can yield some very substantial results.

If you'd like some help to implement a plan like this, contact Pathmaker Marketing today at 623-322-3334 and we'll do our best to help your not for profit organizations.
 


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.
 


I still find non profit organizations that are apprehensive about email fundraising.
It seems like their concerns sometimes hover around issues like: "Will email cannibalize their snail mail results?" or maybe even more fundamentally, "Will people react negatively to solicitations?" from their non profit through email.

To address this issue I want to share a recent client Case Study from Pathmaker Marketing. Before April 2008, this client had not been doing any email fundraising. They agreed to let Pathmaker start a monthly email fundraising effort on their behalf that was tied to their monthly snail mail fundraising efforts.

After doing an initial Verify My Email campaign, their email list netted out to 20,000 deliverable names.

Here are the results from our last 13 eAppeals for them:

Thirteen-month Summary:
1,816 gifts = $190,887 gross income generated
(Averages: 140 gifts for $14,683)


Month-by-month eAppeal Income Summary:
13. April eAppeal: 118 gifts = $10,305
12. March eAppeal: 91 gifts = $11,813
11. February eAppeal: 69 gifts = $13,184
10. January 09 eAppeal; 88 gifts = $9,521
  9. December eAppeal: 122 gifts = $23,833
  8. November eAppeal: 161 gifts = $16,950
  7. October eAppeal: 106 gifts = $6,853
  6. September eAppeal: 231 gifts = $17,828
  5. August eAppeal: 199 gifts = $28,550
  4. July eAppeal:  112 gifts = $18,500
  3. June eAppeal: 139 gifts = $10,450
  2. May eAppeal: 138 gifts = $12,528
  1. April 08 eAppeal:  242 gifts = $10,572


During this period we saw no dilution in their snail mail results. In fact the opposite could be aid: email was giving LIFT to their snail mail efforts while also standing strong on its own two feet in the metrics analysis.

Said differently for this client, staying on the sidelines prior to April 2008, meant they were effectively foregoing almost $15,000 in additional revenue PER MONTH.

I would say that's a significant amount of income for any not profit organization to overlook.

If you are looking for a professional fundraiser or non profit consultant for your charity, non profit organizaton, or church, please give me a call at 623-322-3334 to consider whether Pathmaker Marketing can assist your enterprise in generating significant sources of email fundraising income.

Don't be shy if your email lists are small to begin with. Pathmaker can help you implement a Traffic Conversion Plan and list growth strategies that will build your email file into a company asset that can deliver significant results for you. We're confident that we are one of the fundraising companies that can move your non profit marketing to the next level.
 

 

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