Guest post by Sarah Fargusson
It seems like we use the internet for everything nowadays.
Shopping, connecting with friends and family members, and watching tv (or more like, binge-streaming the latest hit shows) all happen over the internet. It’s easy to see why supporters would turn to the internet to engage with your nonprofit, as well!
Your nonprofit’s website is a key channel to connect with supporters, receive donations, and raise awareness for your mission. And, just as with any traditional channel you use to connect with supporters, it’s crucial to track engagement and understand where and how you can improve this resource to make it more valuable for your audience and help reach your organization’s goals.
In this guide, we’re going to focus on two key engagement metrics: conversion rate and bounce rate. These points can give your organization insight into how effectively your site is performing in two key ways — helping site visitors complete a desired action and providing value for those visitors, respectively.
You can trust that the best nonprofit websites are not only monitoring these metrics, but actively taking steps to improve their performance with them in mind. So, let’s get started!
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of site visitors who complete a desired action.
Let’s consider online fundraising. Imagine you’ve just visited one of your favorite nonprofit’s websites. Across the site, you see a number of “Donate here!” buttons that send you to the nonprofit’s donation page. On that page, you choose to make a donation — after all, the organization has made it easy to do so.
At this point, you’ve completed the desired action (making a donation) and you’ve converted from a casual site visitor to an online donor. Good on you!
Making a donation is the most popular conversion for nonprofits to track when it comes to their websites. However, you could also track the conversion rate for any of the following:
- Registering to attend an upcoming event
- Joining your email list
- Filling out a petition
- Downloading a resource
- Signing up to volunteer
- Contacting a local government representative
The conversion(s) you choose to track depends entirely on your nonprofit’s goals. For example, nonprofits that run fundraising campaigns will want to track online donations. But, for local grassroots organizations, petition signatures and emails sent to local representatives could be more useful.
What does this engagement data point mean for your nonprofit?
The conversion rate tells you how effectively your nonprofit’s website is achieving a specific goal.
Let’s draw back to our online fundraising example. According to Double the Donation’s nonprofit fundraising statistics, we can see that online revenue increased by 23% over the past year, up from a previous growth rate of 15%. In a similar manner, you can track your conversion rate over time to understand your site’s performance. So, if you noticed that an annual fundraising campaign page converted at a lower rate this year compared to last year, you can move forward with investigating why.
The ideal conversion rate for your web pages can differ depending on the type of conversion you’re tracking. Generally, you’ll want to have at least a 2% to 5% conversion rate across your website overall. Action pages, such as your donation page, should have a higher conversion rate than the typical page— somewhere between 20 to 30%. If you discover that your online donation page has a conversion rate below 20%, you can take steps to improve the performance of that page, promote it in new ways, and encourage conversions!
How can you improve your website’s conversion rates?
The best way to improve the conversion rate across your website is to make it as easy as possible for site visitors to convert!
Use the following tips to improve the conversion of your website, regardless of the type of conversion you’re tracking:
- Prioritize straightforward website navigation. This starts with your top web menu, which should have a clear hierarchy and have your main conversion pages (such as your online donation pages) linked and labeled. According to Getting Attention’s nonprofit marketing guide, you should also “liberally use calls-to-action buttons and links to direct users to your popular landing pages.” This includes eye-catching buttons and in-line call-to-action text. The goal is that, regardless of where on your site visitors are inspired to convert, they can quickly identify a link that will take them to the correct page to do so.
- Be clear with your language. Make sure that everyone working on your site (developers building pages, staff members writing blog posts, etc.) understand where and how you want site visitors to convert. All content on your site should use clear descriptions and calls to action. Additionally, all buttons and call-to-action text should link to the same conversion page. This creates a cohesive experience for site visitors who will have a clear idea of what their next steps should be.
- Make it easy to cross the finish line! Often, conversions are made through some type of form — an online donation form, an event registration form, an email list sign-up form, etc. Clean up your forms to make them convenient for supporters to complete. This includes limiting the number of fields, clearly labeling required fields, and making forms tab-friendly so they can be navigated using a keyboard alone if needed.
Remember, your site visitors want to support your cause. Increasing your conversion rate, then, simply means making it intuitive and straightforward so they know how to do so!
Bounce rate describes the percentage of your site visitors who leave your website after briefly viewing the first page they land on as opposed to clicking on other pages and exploring the site more broadly. Rather than sticking around and checking out your blog, “About Us” page, or educational resources, bounce rate describes supporters who check out your homepage and then “bounce” to another domain on the web.
What does this engagement data point mean for your nonprofit?
Bounce rate is an intriguing engagement data point because it’s one of the few that you want to decrease.
Imagine a time when you were quick to “bounce” from a website. Perhaps you googled “nonprofit website” seeking tips to improve your organization’s site, clicked on a page that looked promising, but found that it was a directory pointing to the websites of a few top U.S. nonprofits. So, you “bounced.” It wasn’t a bad site, it just didn’t align with what you were looking for!
A high bounce rate can indicate that your website isn’t quite meeting your site visitors’ expectations. Typically, you want to keep your site’s bounce rate under 55%.
How can you improve your website’s bounce rate?
Keep these tips in mind to decrease your site’s bounce rate:
- Improve your page load speed. Honesty hour — if it takes longer than a few seconds to load a web page and all of the multimedia elements on it, do you click away from it? We do! The internet has made instant gratification the name of the game, and no one wants to wait for a website to load. A few ways to improve your page load speed include decreasing the size of images, compressing large image files, and reducing redirect chains. We recommend conducting ongoing website maintenance to make sure that your site is functioning effectively, rather than doing a large clean-up here and there.
- Conduct SEO efforts to optimize your website for search engines. If you’ve ever Google-searched something and clicked on a page that didn’t align with what you were looking for, you probably immediately clicked away. With SEO efforts, you can ensure your blog posts, informational pages, and more are served to supporters who are looking for them. When they click through to a page that aligns with what they’re looking for, they’ll be more likely to continue exploring your site.
One final tip is to create interesting content! Fill your web pages and blog with intriguing, valuable content and stories about your mission organization itself. Remember, site visitors are passionate about your cause. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to not only grow familiar with your organization itself but also learn about your mission overall.
Web engagement data can tell you whether your site is meeting visitors’ needs and helping them continue to support your organization. By measuring conversion rate and bounce rate, you can discover where and how to improve your website to increase engagement.
These quick tips will set you up for a strong start when it comes to improving your website engagement. Good luck!
About the author: Sarah Fargusson – Director of Digital Strategy at Cornershop Creative. Self-described as a “non-profit junkie,” Sarah has dedicated her career to serving the needs of the non-profit sector. Her project management experience spans a variety of non-profit management disciplines including strategic planning, community engagement, capacity building, fundraising and research. She has worked both in and for the non-profit sector at the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, and the consulting firms The Lee Institute and The Curtis Group. With her ever expanding non-profit tool belt, Sarah joined Cornershop Creative to tap into her techie, creative side, while developing meaningful partnerships with her clients to help them more effectively achieve their goals.
How to Build Your Nonprofit Email List Using Your Website & Social Media
Your email list is essentially the communicative lifeblood of your nonproﬁt.
Okay, that was a little dramatic, but seriously, your nonproﬁt needs a robust and plentiful email list to continue engaging your community and garnering support.
But how does your nonproﬁt go about building this active email list, you might ask?
Via your nonproﬁt’s website and social media proﬁles of course!
J Campbell Social Marketing has partnered with Elevation to bring you this free guide to building your nonprofit email list, using the tools that you already have!