You Mean You Work With Non-Profits, Too?

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 here. 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!

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10 Tips for Getting Higher Rankings in Search Engines

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.

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5 Steps to a Great Internet Business Marketing Promotional Plan

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 time frame 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.

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Best Practices for Landing Page Optimization

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Why should my ideal prospect purchase from me rather than any of my competitors?
  2. How can I streamline all the elements in my sales path?
  3. How can I counter any psychological resistance to the sale with extra incentives?
  4. How can I correct any elements which cause concern in my sale path?

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

VI/VC

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

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

Some final thoughts: Site Visitors can often be thinking…

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

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

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

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