Email Fundraising

It probably is pretty safe to assume that E-Mail Fundraising is not a flash in the pan, but, rather, will be a major weapon in the arsenal of every email marketing firm in the nation for ad infinitum.  Scattered across the world wide web is tidbits of information and suggestions posted by various e-mail marketing experts meant to help give a better understanding of email marketing.  While each and everyone may be valuable, it could be painstakingly difficult to fetter them out and paint a picture with a broad enough scope to actually let you know how to attain success in this realm.  That’s why, as successful email marketing professional, I thought it would be prudent to take time to share a plethora of suggestions that have helped Pathmaker Marketing, LLC in their quest of becoming a successful professional e-mail marketing firm in the realm of e-fundraising.  So, below is a comprehensive “what to do” guide for enjoying E-mail Fundraising success.

1.    TEST - TEST - TEST - Constantly.  In email fundraising there are some variables that you can control and some that you can’t.  What you can control is when you send and how you design your emails and how you design your Landing Pages.  What you can’t control is what’s happening in the news and how people feel about the economy.  As a result, you want to make sure that you are using your very best efforts in the areas you do control in your quest for funds.

            One thing you will want to do is run “split tests” - double, triple, or quadruple splits.  You should run these on your creatives, as different versions can have different texts and/or graphics.  You test to see what is working this month or week, and by testing you mitigate against ineffective efforts.  Multiple versions of your email will enhance your chance for success, and serves as a bit of insurance.

WHEN YOU SPLIT TEST BE SURE YOU CAN TRACK RESULTS SEPERATELY. You must be able to tell how much money each email raised separately.

2.    BUILD YOUR INTERNAL FILES - Understandably, your donor file will always give you the most return on any given e-mail.  Next would be your internal prospecting file and finally any external prospecting file.  As a point of clarification, the internal prospecting file are those people who have shown an interest in your organization but have not donated and, as one would expect, are more apt to give than any external list.  In other words, the “priority order” is to solicit those who have given before, those who have shown an interest in you, and lastly strangers.

3.    GET A DECENT ESP - To conduct an E-mail Fundraising campaign you must have an Email Service Provider (ESP).  Basically, there are three types - Entry Level, Intermediate, and Advanced.  There are a variety of things that will differentiate ESPs.  One is the size of your list.  Another consideration is the “billing” process.  Typically, for Intermediate and Advanced ESPs billing is “volume based,” while for the Entry Level ESPs it is “file size” based.  Functionality is another determining factor:  The more advanced the greater the number of functions - especially in the realms of integration and reports.  As can be expected, the more advanced your ESP the more expensive it will be. 

            An example of an entry level ESP is iContact, and will usually be used when your mailing list is 10,000 or less.  Bronto would be a middle level ESP, and is for the organization whose list is 10,000 - 100,000.  An advanced ESP is for lists of 100,000+, and a good example of this would be Exec Target.

4.    NO CSS WHEN CODING E-MAIL IN HTML - What is often overlooked is the fact that that if you use CSS it will be stripped by many email clients.  For example, G-mail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and MacMail all tend to strip out CSS.  If your email is driven by your custom style sheet and it gets deleted by the email client you will have a problem.  Your email might show up looking fine, or it might look like garbage.  As a result, you would be better off using “old school” HTML 101 table formats.

5.    DESIGN AND CODE TO 600 PIXELS WIDE - At that width your e-mail will render okay in a number of environments, such as PC, iPad and mobile phones.  If you code to wider you will force people to sideward scroll, which some may consider too much work!

6.    PUT MORE EFFORT INTO YOUR LANDING PAGES THAN YOUR E-MAIL ‘CAUSE YOU CAN'T’ TRANSACT ANY BUSINESS IN AN E-MAIL - Remember, no matter how good your email is you can’t take a credit card with it!  If your landing page is “broken,” the whole process is broken.  The e-mail is what “hooks” people, but the landing page is what will “seal the deal.”  Like a good salesman, your landing page is your “closer.”

7.    UTULIZE E-MAIL FUNDRAISING STRATEGIES - Any successful endeavor is the result of developing and implementing specific strategies, and e-mail fundraising is no exception.  Below is a list of strategies that you should plan on employing:

  • E-mails tied to current events
  • Monthly “themed” Email Campaigns
  • Direct Mail/E-mail Combo
  • Media/E-mail Combo
  • “Stand Alone” E-mail Fundraising Campaign

 8.    E-MAIL CAN WORK WITH DIRECT MAILSend your Direct Mail offer first.  Then, send an email with the same offer seven to ten days later.  This over-all combination will give you lift, as the email will remind people of the mailer they received.

9.    ADD “READ MORE” LINKS INTO YOUR COPY - Writing an e-mail fundraiser piece is a little different than writing a direct mailer piece.  In the former you might stop a thought in mid-paragraph and put in a “read more,” having your email serve as somewhat of a “teaser.”

10.  STUDY THIS HEURISTIC TO LEARN A SIGNIFICANT LESSON FROM E-MAIL EXPERT FLINT McGOUGHLIN

eMe = rv(o+i ) - (f+a)

The effectiveness of your Message = relevance of your offer (offer + incentive) less (friction + anxiety)

In essence, this is saying that the advantages of your offer and incentive needs to outweigh the recipient’s reluctance to reply positively to your offer, plus the anxiety he might feel in doing so.   “Friction” deals with the ease of your check out procedure.  Asking for as little information as is necessary, and keeping the checkout process as short as possible can minimize it.  Said simply, “Anxiety” is the general reluctance someone might have in doing business on the Internet. 

11.  USE THIS FINAL CHECKLIST BEFORE YOU HIT “SEND”

Ask Did my test e-mail:

  • Allow me to go through checkout
  • Have a subject line with no issues
  • Have working links
  • Display Properly
  • Have contact’s name, address and telephone number

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 Marketing

There is no question that the Internet has become a major source of acquiring information, about topics and about people.  As a result, many pastors are discovering that it behooves them to have a sub-stantial presence on the Internet, a Five Star Footprint, if you would, that helps to further the church they serve and the ministry that it offers.  With that thought in mind, I have put pen to paper to help those individuals who do, in fact, want to accomplish this particular goal.

The first thing a pastor needs to do is decide is whether they want to be “covert” or “overt” when it comes to the Internet.  If, as you are reading this, you decide that your decision is to be “covert” you need not bother reading any further, as this article is being drafted for those individuals who want a higher profile when it comes to the Internet.  If you have not yet made this decision, a major determining factor is this:  If you believe that many people choose a church because of how they feel about the Senior Pastor, you will definitely want to develop an overt persona, to ensure that you are not a “mystery” to potential new members.

It must also be understood that, like it or not, the Internet will contain information about you. Understanding this basic fact is pastor and Church Marketing 101. The question is, if people check you out online what do you want them to find?  Do you want them discover a random jumbalaya that Google assembles, or a concentrated effort that you have orchestrated and put together?  If you opt for the latter, what you will be doing is developing your own online profile rather than relying on what Google might come up with.  The thing to remember is, if you leave it up to Google , what viewers see might be positive, benign, or adverse.  Google doesn’t filter the material, they just display it. But effective internet marketing doesn't leave these important matters to chance.

My contention is that if you are going to be “overt” you might as well be ubiquitous as well!  So, to create a Five Star Footprint you will want to begin with the Search Engines, of which there are three main ones: Google, Bing and Yahoo.  Google is the dominant engine, and in that channel there are several “Google Searches,” and you will want to make sure that you show up in all of them. 

1. Tackle the Search Engines, Google First - Your first step is to show up in a “general” Google Search, which displays everything on the Internet.  There is also an Image Search, a Video Search, a Local Search (known as “Maps”), a News Search and lesser searches such as Books, Blogs and so on.  As a result, your number one priority in establishing your Five Star Footprint is to “tackle” Google.  Once you have done that, you can then concentrate on Yahoo, Bing, and other places.

To begin the process, “Google” yourself and see what shows up.  In doing this, use every variation of your name as possible:  Rev. Bob Smith; Rev. Robert Smith; Rev. Robert E. Smith; Pastor Bob Smith; Pastor Robert Smith; Pastor Robert E. Smith and so forth.  Once you determine what shows up for you in these searches you need to identify the items you feel positive about.  For example, if GOOGLE displays your FACEBOOK page and you like your FACEBOOK page, this is a web property you need to concentrate on developing further.  You do this by adding content to that web property first, then finding ways to build backlinks to it. Make this your pattern: Concentrate on developing web properties that already show up in a Google, Yahoo or Bing search that you have control over. They are low-hanging fruit that you can more easily influence.

2. Take on the Social Networks - Other channels where you will want to make sure you position yourself by developing a presence include: creating a FACEBOOK Page and possibly a FACEBOOK Profile; make sure you have an account on LINKEDIN, that you have a personal website, a Twitter Account, are on YouTube and possibly Vimeo.  Once you have opened all of these Accounts and continue to add content to them they will most liekly show up as well on a GOOGLE search of your name.  If you don’t currently have any videos you need to start doing them - - on your sermons, or a “Scriptural Seconds” series.  Videos can get you listed in a both a general set of search results as well as Video Search resuls. 

3. Populate the Web with Your Photos - Displaying photos of yourself is another good way to develop a Five Star Footprint.  If you don’t have a Flicker Account get one as soon as possible.  Upload your photos so that they are “optimized” to your name.  You accomplish this by entitling the files “PastorRyanSmith_DesMoinesIowa” rather than “img9356.jpg".  You can also get into FLICKER and write a Title and a short paragraph about each photo.  Remember, GOOGLE “interprets” text, not images, so once you upload your images, give it a proper file name, proper title (Pastor Smith Preaching in Pedusky), and description. Then, if someone searches “Pastor Smith,” GOOGLE will potentially bring up the photo in the display results.  You can also put photos on your Blog (make sure they are titled properly too!) and on your FACEBOOK Page.  Be sure to back link from Flicker, FACEBOOK, and your Blog to your website.  By posting and optimizing your videos and photos onto the web in these various places, like Facebook Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, etc, you are providing the internet with images that you want people see, rather than leaving matters to chance.

4. Move into Advanced Footprinting - Once you've begun to get your web properties, social networks, videos and images populating the web on searches for your name, you can move into advanced areas of branding and footprinting. These would include things like regular blogging using a ministry blog or  premier blogging service, Facebook posting, tweeting, article submissions, link buidling, social bookmarking, local listings, and so on. You might even graduate to targeting keywords beyond the variations of your name, or using online marketing tools like SEOMoz, aHREFs, SheerSEO and others. In many of these cases, you may even want to retain the professional services of a non profit consultant, like Pathmaker Marketing.

You may want to take a few moments and Google the following individuals to see how they have established their Five Star Footprint. Evaluate each person to see what is showing up. In some cases,  you might be able to replicate their paths to success. The first, Dr Michael D Evans, totally dominates “page one” rankings on Google Search, Google Images, and Google Video, which, obviously, is a very good position to be in! But others do too, and you can as well, with some time and effort taken to get yourself there.

Dr Michael D Evans

T D Jakes

Billy Graham

Bill Hybels

Luis Palau

The importance of establishing a Five Star Footprint, as we previously mentioned, is that it allows you to control what people find when they Google your name, rather than leaving what they discover to chance.  As people rely on the Internet more and more to help them make decisions of where to go and what to see, ensuring that you have a positive presence online is not only a good idea, it is a veritable must!

Disclaimer: The process above can go quickly and smoothly for some pastors who have uncommon or unusual names. For those with common names - ones that many other high profile people share - the process will be more protracted and results deferred. Don't get discouraged by this. Most of these results take time to developed, meaning 6-12 months or longer to get establish a pervasive, ubiquitous Five Start Footprint developed. If you want my personal assistance in this regard, call me at my office at 623-322-3334 or Skype me at Pathmaker.Marketing


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. 


            At the request of my Pastor I created a 20 Step program for Marketing our Church on the Internet. To make it as inclusive as possible, I recruited the assistance of Randall Mains, CEO of Pathmaker Marketing LLC. Realizing that the results of our efforts would be beneficial to a number of churches, charities or small companies, I decided to do a 20 part series and place it on the Internet so as many people as possible could benefit!

            I trust that as you read my posts regarding launching your blog, doing comprehensivek keyword research, and SEO-ing your website, that you have come to realize that the Internet really can work for not for profit organizations, and that the Internet is also a pretty good church outreach idea. A church blog is a major part of this, as it as it allows you to be targeting keywords

           The next thing I want to discuss with you is how link building serves well as a church, charity, or small business marketing strategy. After all, church marketing 101 teaches us that a church is, in fact, a small business and therefore the Internet business marketing promotions that work for companies work equally well for churches.


            Have you ever noticed that invariably some of the most important things we need to do are also the most time consuming and the most boring? That is exactly the situation with your website and link building! While an excellent way to strengthen your website's rankings in the search engines, the process of link building back links is often laborious at best. 

            “Why,” you may be wondering, “is link building relevant to our church, charity or small business?” 

Actually, there are two significant reasons that you should plan on making link building a part of your core Internet marketing plan. The first is somewhat obvious - - the more listings you have with backlinks to your website, the more opportunities exist for people to find your website in various locations online, thus bringing you qualified visitors. With a dynamite website, each time someone visits your website you have the chance of having them become a visitor to your church, charity or company.

            The second reason deals with the fact that a well-developed and properly implemented link building campaign will increase your page rankings within Google search results. This, of course, is clearly to your advantage, so link building should be an on-going part of your search engine marketing program (to be discussed in a subsequent post), thus allowing your website to be that much more available online.

Your next thought may very well be, “How do we develop a link building battle plan? Well, there are a number of techniques that you can use. First, get your company placed in as many relevant directories as possible - - national, local, and niche.” The purpose of this, of course, it to then have your listing in these communities, and get it linked back to your website, driving traffic in your direction from those sourcs.

            Work diligently to ensure that you get linked in relevant areasTo be listed in places just because they are available may be a waste of time and, in some cases, may even be counter-productive. As in any form of marketing, you need to identify your target market and pursue them with your link building efforts and dollars


            Next, establish links on relevant blogs, community sites, and forumsThese are excellent places to establish your church or charity as a leader in your community for providing services that individuals may be looking for, as you will have the opportunity to interact and dialogue with those individuals who visit the sites, thus making their arrival at your church that much easier. 

            With social media being the latest buzz, it shouldn’t surprise you that you should be incorporating links from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter into your link building rogram as wellIn as much as your Facebook account reaches out to untold thousands, the ability to link back from there to your website should prove to be a major hub in your Internet marketing program as well.

            You may have found that there is more to link building than you ever imagined! I trust that you have also discovered what a viable tool this is in your over-all Internet marketing strategy!

      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 marvel at how often clients come to us at Pathmaker Marketing and do not have a firm grasp of exactly what they want us to accomplish for them.  This seems to be as true for those companies who are seeking a small business marketing strategy as those charities who are interested in non-profit fund raising. 
     For whether they are looking for an online marketing tool, church outreach ideas or search engine optimization services, their goals are often murky and poorly defined.  An example would be those who put together an internet ad without having defined how to evaluate the results of the advertisement, or measure its success.
     First, as you develop your online ad you need to know what, exactly, you are expecting it to accomplish for you. 
     There are basically a few strategic things that you can hope to receive from your internet marketing endeavor - - a list addition, a lead or a sale.  Typically, your product or service will determine which you should expect.  For example, if you are selling your services as an Architect for Church Expansion, you will undoubtedly pursue leads, not sales. 
     On the other hand, if you are selling a $49.95 product titled “6 Steps to 1,000 Perfect Sermons,” the end result is more apt to be a sale than a lead. 
     Once you fully understand your objective you can better measure the results. Making this determination will allow you to decide whether or not your advertising program was a success.
     Second, as you determine your objectives you will find that they may be different depending on whether you are prospecting for new customers or selling to your current ones.  Example: is the list email you are using an “internal” or “external” list.  For an internal list, one where you are contacting current/past customers, you may decide that for a thousand dollar investment you will want to realize $10,000 worth of sales.  It might be more, it might be less - - you should be able to determine this because you will already have a track record with those individuals. 
     However, with an “external” list, a list of potentially new clients, you may be pleased even if you don’t break even!  For the same thousand dollar investment, a return of only $750.00 might be acceptable because you are acquiring new names/clients for future upselling to your internal list.  These individuals will have ongoing upsell potential and a “life time value,” which may be very significant.
     It is vitally imperative that you define your objectives, for without doing so you cannot determine if your campaign was successful or not!  Too, you may want to set up a “scale” of probably/possible success.  If your “goal” is to glean $10,000 on a $1,000 investment, and you only glean $8,500, you might decide that the program was, albeit short of your expectations, still a success.  As with any goal, not reaching the ultimate goal does not mean you failed.
     It is possible that you may need help in defining and refining your objective, and we at Pathmaker would be more than happy to assist you in this.  However, before you invest in an internet advertising be sure you know what you expect it to do for you!
     Give us a call if you need more help to find ways to win on the web.


            I heard him. And, I understood what he said. I did not, however, have any idea what he was talking about. Unfortunately, this seems to quite often be the case when Jim and I get together. He is a wonderful person, and a true and loyal friend. But sometimes he is just a tad out of step with the rest of the world. I used to think it was just with me, but I have discovered that it’s with everyone. The problem is, I have surmised, that typically Jim only shares half of what he is thinking at any given time. So, while it usually only takes a minute, it is wise to get the whole story from him before responding.

            “Jim,” I began slowly, making sure he would stay with me, “should what be digital or analog?’

            “Why, the watches!”

            We were almost there, but I still wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

            “Watches? What Watches?’

            “You know. You told me to be sure to add a free watch, and I just want to know which kind to buy.”

             A-ha! Now I knew what he was talking about. The day before I explained to him that Randall Mains and I had been talking about the importance of “adding a free watch” when doing an Online Ad. Randall shares this concept with his clients as an excellent Online Marketing Tool. It is but one of the many Internet Marketing Ideas that Pathmaker advises their clients to incorporate, and since Jim knows that I often work with Randall, he frequently picks my brain in regard to Small Business Marketing Strategies. Jim and I had been discussing Business Marketing Promotion Online, and I had mentioned that it is often wise to give a “free watch.”

            “Jim, the ‘free watch’ doesn’t really have to be a watch,” I said with a smile.

            I immediately knew I had lost him. He gave me a look as empty as his glass, so I ordered another round of colas and began to explain.

            “Jim, people often need extra motivation to buy something - - even when it is something they want or need. The ‘free watch’ concept is to provide them with a free gift that will push them over the top, if you would, to purchase that which they are considering.”

            “Ohhhhhhhhhh. What else can you use, and how do you know what to choose.”

            “Well, I’ll answer the second part of that question first. When choosing your free gift, make sure that it doesn’t eat up all of the profit you will realize when making your sale. A good rule of thumb is the gift might cost you five to ten percent of the profit realized.

            “Now, the gift should relate directly to what you are selling and your target market. For example, if you are going to feature a new fishing rod in your ad, you would not want your gift to be a free Bible Study, for example.”

            “I see. So, my free gift should be something sportsman would be interested in?”

            Jim was following the conversation extremely well!! As the owner of an independent sporting goods store, sportsmen were, in fact, his target market.

            “Yes, but you should try to make it more specific to the exact target market you are hoping to reach. In our example about the fishing rod, it would be better to give a free fishing lure than a free duck call. While fishermen and duck hunters are both sportsmen, the fishermen don’t have to be duck hunters, so the free duck call might not push them over the top.

            “So, the free gift is always an item?”

            “No, not necessarily. A really good ‘free watch” is to offer free Shipping and Handling. Also, ‘how to’ manuals are excellent free gifts.”

            “Hmmmm. With the fishing rod, a manual on how to tie your own flies would be better than one giving five easy steps to building a duck blind?”

            “By Jove ”, I thought, “I believe he has it!”

            “Any other questions?” I asked, wanting to make sure he had a full grasp of what I had shared.

            “Just one. Should they have straps or bands?”

            Sometimes Jim has a one-track mind with a narrow gauge!!!!

 
Pathmaker Marketing exists to find you ways to win on the web. Give us a call in Phoenix at 623-322-3334 if you'd like our help with Internet Marketing Ideas that can help your business grow.


           As usual, Jim’s loud proclamation got everyone’s attention. I had just raised my glass of cola to my lips when Jim burst through the door - - literally!, and laid his statement on me. I was mighty parched, but knew that Jim’s need was obviously greater than mine, so I put my glass down and swiveled to face him. 

            He looked awful. He was perspiring profusely, though it wasn’t all that warm out. The rivulets of perspiration that had flowed from his forehead to his chin had left little trails of grime, and his eyes were as large as saucers. I noticed it had become as quiet as an abandoned mortuary, as everyone in the room strained their ears to see what Jim was going to say next. 

            “Jim, let’s go over to a booth and discuss this.”

            He started moving with me, but he didn’t wait until we got there to continue. And, he didn’t tone it down any, either.

            “Floyder, I swear to God I've never removed my clothes in public. I mean, I’m considered one of the pillars of the community! Good Lord, what is Martha going to think if she reads this.”

            “Jim . . . JIM!!, “ I fairly shouted, until I got a look that reassured me he was finally back with me. “Jim,” I began more calmly, “what the smash are you talking about?”

            “You gotta help me, Floyder. There must be something you and Randall can do."

            Jim was alluding to Randall Mains, co-owner of PATHMAKER MARKETING, a firm that specializes in Internet Marketing and Premier Blogging Services, as well as other Internet projects ranging from Online Fund Raising for Non-Profit Marketers to Search Engine Optimization Services. For the life of me, though, I couldn’t connect Jim’s nudity proclamation with Pathmaker Marketing!

            Jim’s facial expression could now only be described as pleading, so I knew I was going to have to get down to the bottom of what was going on.

            “Jim,” I began succinctly, “tell me exactly what happened.”

            “Well, “ he began, “remember last night when you told me the importance of Search Engine Optimization, and how that both me and my Sporting Goods store should have a presence on the Internet?’

            “Yes,” I assured him.

            “Well, I had a few minutes this morning so I typed my own name into a Google search and it popped up right there on my computer screen that I am a Nudist. And, Floyder, it even had pictures!”

            “You saw a nude picture of yourself?” I asked, my voice almost as excited as his.

            “Of course not! Floyder, I already told you, I ain’t no nudist!”

            More than a little confused, I whipped out my laptop and set it up. By the time I had logged in and started my search, we had quite a crowd forming a half circle around the table. Everyone was so interested I didn’t have the heart to ask them to leave, and, apparently, Jim didn’t have the inclination to. Finally the link popped up, and when I clicked on it sure enough, there was a photo. Only it wasn’t Jim, and he wasn’t nude.

            “See, see what I mean. That’s not me,” Jim proclaimed.

            I took a moment and read the brief bio. The gentleman pictured had the same name as Jim, of course, but was nearly forty years his senior and lived in Pensacola, Florida. Everyone drifted away, apparently disappointed the man was adorned in a bathing suit and beach robe rather than being au natural, and Jim and I were again alone.

            “Floyder, what am I going to do?”

            “Well, Jim, you have discovered what a number of other people are learning. It is important that you protect your personal branding online - - both of your personal name and your business. What you need to do is spend either the time, or money, to make sure that when your name, and your company’s name, is typed in for a Google Search, the Jim they find is the one they are looking for.”

            “Can Pathmaker do that?” Jim asked.

            “Yes, we can, and very effectively I might add.”

            “Good! I’m going to call Randall right now and set up an appointment. But before I do, will you do me a favor?’

            “What’s that?”

            “Will you call Martha and tell her I ain’t never been a nudist?’

            The plea in his eyes was greater than the one in his voice, and there was no way I could say “no” to either!

Get Pathmaker Marketing to evaluate your personal brand on Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL, and determine what you can do to displace any adverse listings that might appear.  Contact us at 1-623-322-3334 for a free consultation.


            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!


            If you have ever seen anyone “fume” you know that it is not a pretty sight. Now, there are several things that might make a person fume: For a truck driver it is a freeway that has turned into a parking lot and for a vacuum cleaner salesman it is finding out the house they are in has no electricity after they have dumped their grit and grime on the new carpet. For most business people, the match that will torch their psyche to the point that they fume is investing dollars in a marketing program and getting little or no return. 

            That latter description describes a good friend of mine. I recently met him for coffee, and as soon as he came in I could tell he was fuming! I waited until he placed his order, and then got him to talk about what was wrong. He told me he had recently spent nearly three thousand dollars on a Google Paper Clip Program and reaped no profit from his investment. 

            I interrupted him with the quizzical look on my face. When he asked me what was wrong I shared that I wasn’t sure what a Paper Clip Program was. He explained that it was where you only have to pay when someone clicks on the Ad and goes to your website. Me pointing out to him that the proper term was “Pay Per Click” and not “Paper Clip” did not endear me to him. In fact, I think if anything he was fuming even more!

As he continued to talk he began to look at me with a jaundiced eye, knowing of my involvement with Pathmaker Marketing. By the time he finished, it had become somewhat apparent that he was blaming me for his plight, though he had gone to a different fundraising company and I had had nothing to do with his current circumstances, directly nor indirectly. I forgave him the fallacy of his misplaced blame, and instead of getting upset with him decided to try to help   him - - at least to calm down.

            As we continued to talk he explained that his biggest complaint was he didn’t get the results he had desired - - sales! In fact, on the item he was selling he made a six-dollar profit per sale, and he had only sold twenty-four. A hundred and forty four dollars, he pointed out, was a long ways from three thousand. And, he added, twenty-four was a long way from one percent of 119,000. That set off a bell or two, so I asked him to explain what he meant.

            He had been told, he shared, that he should expect a one to two percent success rate on the number of hits he got. The program had been running for nearly three months, and in that time he had received just south of 119,000 hits. Even at one percent, he said, obviously having done the math at least several times, that would be almost twelve hundred sales! He assured me that seventy two hundred dollars would have been a great return on his investment, but he didn’t get the twelve hundred sales!

            Knowing that I might be taking my life in my own hands (remember, he was fuming!) I boldly pointed out to him that the Pay Per Click Program had been immensely successful! Preparing to duck, I watched as he just stared at me, incredulity heavy on his face. What I said was computing, but very slowly. I waited until I figured he had at least a reasonable grasp on what I had said, and then I explained what was, to him, my outrageous statement.

            I shared with him that the task of a effective internet marketing campaign like Pay Per Click is to drive qualified potential buyers to his website. The program had, apparently, done just that. His problem, I pointed out, was not with the Pay Per Click program, but rather that his website was the culprit. If that many people went to view what he had to offer, and only twenty-four made the decision to buy, his site was not converting the site traffic effectively, and might be in desperate need of repair.  He needed some new internet marketing ideas for his site, so I pointed out, like a restaurant blaming a cab driver because none of the passengers that he brought them got out and dined there when the reality was the eating place looked like a dive. 

            He pondered it for a while, and as he did so I saw his jaw muscles relax and a placid look rest gently on his countenance. As we sat there, however, I saw a reverse metamorphosis take place, as his jaw again tightened and a brooding look supplanted the peaceful demeanor that had so recently been there. Shaking his head in disgust, he answered my unasked question when he asked, “So I guess I wasted the eighteen hundred dollars I paid my web designer?”

            I just nodded and grinned, fully understanding his plight. Internet Marketing Ideas, with all of their intricacies and ramifications, can be a challenge. That’s why I would suggest that you visit Pathmaker Marketing and see how we can help you wisely invest your marketing dollars. After all, I would hate to see you fume!


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.


The secret to targeting keywords on your business, church or non profit website is this: research.

Many people think they just need to build their website, and search engines will lead people to your doors or online store. Those who take time to optimize their homepage for their business, church or non profit name may also be missing the search engine bus. And the keywords you think might bring the most people to your site may not work at all!

So what’s a website manager to do? Targeting Keywords through thorough research is essential.

Start by thinking about the keywords and terms you would enter into a search engine to find your competitors' rather than your own site. Compile a short list of targeting keywords, and then actually look them up in your favorite search engine to see what kinds of results these keywords return in a search.

Next, get some help growing your targeting keywords. This is where some online tools can help by suggesting targeting keywords that pertain to words you feed the online tool. One good tool is Wordtracker, which offers a free trial period for their subscription service. Google also offers a good free keyword research tool. Whether you choose a free or subscription tool, you can enter words into the tool and get back suggested targeting keywords for your optimization efforts. The benefit to a fee-based system is that you also get a more robust set of analytical tools, and a better idea of how competitive the targeting keywords are.

And that’s the next bit of research you need to do: find out how competitive the targeting keywords are. The free Google tool will give you some of this data, like Global Monthly Volume and estimate Cost Per Click charges, (both indicators of probable competitiveness) but subscription based services will give you a more in-depth analysis. This step is important because different combinations of words can be less competitive than the ones with which you initiatially start. This will make a significant difference in getting your site listed in the top 10 search results.

Once you’ve thoroughly searched your list of targeting keywords, then you’re ready to start optimizing various pages of your website for each keyword.

If this all sounds like a tedious process to you … well, it can be. Pathmaker Marketing LLC is here to help you find the right targting keywords and put those words into your site in just the right places and combinations to get higher listings in search engines. Give us a call at 623-322-3334 to help you get your targeting keywords process down.


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:

 

The Business Blogging Platform Powered by Compendium  |  Sitemap