Effectiveness of your holiday fundraising appeals

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Good morning, all!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted, and for that delay, I give you my apologies.

I’m working on developing a few different things here, but I wanted to take a moment to provide a blog for you all as we enter into December, where you will undoubtedly be putting together end of year appeals to your house files to close out 2010 in  a strong fashion.

A recent study written by Convio called the “2010 HOLIDAY GIVING Report” — included one chart that particularly piqued my interest. It was a survey sent to a wide array of existing and potential donors to nonprofit organizations across all sub verticals, and here is how they surveyed audience responded:

Effectiveness of Holiday Appeals

This tells us that the top two most effective appeal types are: (1) Appeals that focus on people, animals, or places in need of the donor’s financial help, or (2) Appeals that explain the need for funds now.

This goes back to the old argument of “emotion vs. logic” (which I just so happened to write about in a blog post earlier in the year — check it by clicking here).

This tells us that both with high-dollar and holiday giver audiences, that focusing on the emotional side of the coin (i.e. here’s what your funds will do to help these people/animals in need) AND creating a sense of urgency (by describing WHY the funds are needed at this time) help to drive the effectiveness of your end of year fund raising campaigns.

I also found it interesting that 40% of high-dollar donors said that they would be willing to provide a gift in the event that your appeal reminded them that they will receive a tax deduction for their end of year gift.

Perhaps segmenting your donor file into “high-dollar donors” and “average-donors” and writing two separate messages to include this sort of message in the appeal to your high-dollar donor segment might be effective. Feel free to test it & roll out the better performing message to the remainder of the email files.

Good luck this holiday season in closing out 2010 strongly!

All the best,

— GC

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Understanding Eye Flow and Avoiding The Corner of Death

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I just recently started following the Neuromarketing blog and wanted to share a really interesting article they just posted in today’s issue.

It’s called “Avoid the Corner of Death!,” and it is greatness. Below, I’ve copy/pasted their article, including the most interesting part: The eye flow chart.

Understanding this is critical, especially for landing page optimization purposes, and tells me that if you’re placing your most important information (a video, an ask, etc.) on the upper-right hand corner of a two-column landing page layout, that you’re putting your most important information at the last place in which this eyeflow chart ends.

More over, anything in the bottom-right corner is squarely in the “Corner of Death,” and will be overlooked by your audience. Avoid this at all costs.

Here’s the rest of the article:

What’s the worst place to put your logo, and where do advertisers most often put their logo in print ads, TV spots, and direct mail pieces? The answer is the same: the lower right corner, an area dubbed the “Corner of Death” by facial coding expert Dan Hill.

Hill’s comments stem from an interesting eyetracking study by Steve Outing and Laura Rule, reported in The Best of Eyetrack III. This illustration shows a composite average of how people scan a typical web page:

 

Corner of Death

Understanding eye flow & how visitors view your web page, website, email, or print piece and where you should (and more importantly should NOT) place your most important information.

Outing and Rule caution against taking this exact path too seriously, as variations in layout will cause differences in how people scan the page. The skull graphic wasn’t part of Outing and Rule’s report, but rather inspired by a similar image in Hill’s new book, About Face.

In an recent article, Hill says:

If we take print ads as an example, you’ve got 1.7 seconds of average viewing time, per reader. And the lower right-hand corner is typically the second to last place people look on a page. (What’s even worse in terms of timing, along the upper right edge, i.e., the alley of death.) What you don’t see, you don’t get. [From Mediapost – The 6 Secrets of Eye-tracking by Dan Hill.]

Despite these findings, the lower right corner is by far the most common single location for the primary logo/brand identity use in all types of advertising, according to Hill.

So based on eye-tracking research, where should the logo or brand identity be placed so that consumers actually see it? Hill says that the best place is the lower middle part of the page or layout, At that point, the viewer will have engaged emotionally with the leading part of the ad, and will then have the opportunity to associate the brand with solving a problem or satisfying consumers’ wants.

I hope you enjoyed.

— GC

Further evidence that the preselected level on your conversion form increases your average sale

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Preselected Value Chart

Further evidence that the preselected value increases your average sale.

In an article that I wrote on this  blog back in July titled, “Preselected values — your donation form’s best friend,” I covered a test conducted by our friends at the Salem Web Network regarding how their average gift values were increased by sending visitors in a split test to a form with (A) no preselected values, and (B) a preselected value of $50.

In an effort to further implement this line of thinking into our processes for fund raising, we conducted a test with one of our clients in an attempt to increase our average gift (or average sale) amount.

As seen in the chart above, we had seven different donation levels, each level being given a specific dollar amount tied to each level. Our goal was to set the preselected value at “Supporting Member,” which was a $50 giving level.

We started our testing on 7/28 and ran it through 9/30.

Over the test period, we have seen an increase of “Supporting Member” or the $50 giving level amount increase by 24.2%.

One of the things that we wanted to do was ensure that there were no negative impact on other key measurement categories such as conversion rate, or a decline in upper tiered giving levels. It’s important to pay attention to these figures, as if we increase the number of $50 gifts in exchange for a large decrease in $75, or $100 gifts — we negatively impact the revenue we are generating.

Also, if we decrease the conversion rate, we’re losing donors as a result of our changes — which will have a negative impact on our lifetime donor values and subsequent year revenue figures.

I am proud to report that (at least through this test period) that we did not see a significant decrease in either of the two figures mentioned above.

In fact, you can see an increase in the next level up (“Level 3”) throughout this testing period and a decline in the amount of “Level 1” (the donor level below) throughout.

This tells us that those arriving at the site with the intent to give a gift/donate, are willing to give a gift at our preselected value level, or the next level up, as opposed to the “least expensive” option available on the form.

We’ll continue to run tests, and will be providing sporadic updates on the subject matter as time goes on.

Enjoy.

— GC

How can I measure the level of engagement a web visitor has with my website content?

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Recently, our team developed a proprietary formula to properly measure the level of engagement a web visitor has with any particular piece of web content.

By leveraging data found within Google Analytics, we build the following formulaic equation and named it the Aggregate Engagement Index™.

Here is the formula:

((AP x AT) x (1-AB)) + (0.1 x AP)

  • AP = Average Page Views
  • AT = Average Time on Site (measured in seconds)
  • AB = Average Bounce Rate

The Aggregate Engagement Index™ enables us to compare the relative engagement levels of each traffic source to
BioLogos.org. The most engaged audience is the one that receives the highest rank value.

Notice that the formula doesn’t place emphasis upon the amount of traffic arriving at the particular page. We specifically made this decision to give all pages an “equal opportunity” against pages like the home page of a website, etc.

For a few examples of how this works, let’s take a look at some sample data below:

Referral Source Visitors Avg. Pages Avg. Time Avg. Bounce Engagement Rank
Blogs 68,849 3.14 264.32 49.72% 4.48
Facebook 16,579 1.93 146.52 70.67% 1.02
Other Social 4,159 2.99 266.29 54.79% 3.90
Twitter 6,158 1.65 98.71 74.02% 0.59
YouTube 584 4.21 355.48 38.18% 9.66


In this example, I am attempting to measure the engagement rank associated with visitors from a particular type of referral source (in this case, social networks).

As shown in the chart, visitors arriving at my website from Blogs represent the largest amount of visitors, but visitors arriving at my website from YouTube are 115.67% more engaged in my content.

Pretty cool, huh? This can tell me a number different things (I need to focus more attention on attracting visitors from YouTube, Facebook visitors are “overrated”, Twitter visitors are the least engaged, I need to focus on blog syndication, etc).

I hope you enjoyed.

— GC

How can I increase my Google AdWords Quality Score?

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Google AdWords Quality ScoreFor those of you using Google AdWords, you’re likely wondering how you can optimize your campaigns and increase your overall results. One area that you should be focused on is your campaign keyword selections — and most specifically, your Google provided “quality score”.

The quality score is the basis for measuring the quality and relevance of your ads and determining your minimum cost-per-click (CPC) bid for Google and the search network. This score is determined by your keyword’s click through rate (CTR) on Google, and the calculated relevance of your ad text, keyword, and landing page(s).

There are several ways that you can improve your quality score, but here are ten good ways to do so:

Factors your can manage within AdWords:

1.) Split your keywords into smaller more targeted ad groups

By grouping your keywords into smaller more targeted ad groups, you can manage each subset of the overall campaign individually, and build small victories into overall campaign increases with a compounding effect. Consider using the built-in keyword grouper tool in Adwords editor to group keywords into 15 groups of 20 related keywords.

2.) Create relevant ad copy for each group

Once you’ve broken up your keywords into smaller more targeted groups, you must then focus on the ads for each group. If you have one ad group focusing on selling “Red Widgets” — then write copy specific to that product, or offer.

3.) Optimize Creatives

Create multiple versions of ads for each group that you’ve created. By doing this, you can test different ad variants and determine the best performing ads for each group to emphasize over time. Measuring the ad clickthrough rate (CTR) as the measurement for which ad creative is performing best.

You should consider turning “ad serving optimization” to the “OFF” setting so that you can accurately split test all 4 ads yourself.

4.) Experiment With Matching Options

If you are using broad matches for your keyword sets within the campaign, you may want to consider using “exact match” and “phrase match” keywords to each ad group. By doing this, you can measure which keywords generate the best quality score and lowest cost-per-click (CPC). According to studies that I’ve read, the exact match keyword groupings will achieve higher quality scores in most cases.

On-page factors you can manage:

5.) Link Building And SEO

As with any Google-related ranking, the number of inbound links and the quality in which your webpage or website is built will have implications upon your quality score. Essentially, if you don’t focus on organic ranking factors, the odds are that you will not achieve as high a quality score as you otherwise could.

Considering launching deep link building campaigns (paid links through third-party (relevant) websites, directory listings, and the like). Additionally, ensure that you have all of the factors in place that generate good organic rankings (title tags, alt tags on images and links, a well constructed and properly internally linked website, and so on). Ensure that your navigation structure works properly and include a site map to help accelerate the indexing of your website.

6.) Implement Keywords

For each page we implement most of the keywords into the copy used in your AdWords campaigns into the on-page copy.

7.) Split Test Landing Page

By doing multivariate or A/B split testing on landing pages used within your Google AdWords campaigns, you have a chance to measure which page is performing better. Ultimately, I always say that “a marketer’s intuition is trumped by cold, hard data” — there’s no way to arrive at that data unless you setup a control and a test version of your experiment.

8.) Meta Tags

Take your best performing keywords within your AdWords campaign and place them into meta tags within your landing page’s back-end file. Use the exact ad text from the best performing creative in the meta description. Also use the best performing and most descriptive keywords as the title of the page.

9.) Essential Site Pages

Ensure that your landing page (at least in the footer of the page) includes basic web page content, such as an “About us”, “Contact us”, or “Privacy policy” pages. This just helps build additional brand-specific keywords into your overall quality score ranking.

10.) Make Sure Google Thinks You’re Relevant

Use the Site-related keyword tool to make sure that Google thinks that your landing page is related to the keywords that you are targeting. Just simply type in your landing page address and double check that your selected keywords are included in the results found. If not, consider adding the results of your search into your campaign sets where appropriate.

I hope this helps all of you guys out there and you enjoyed the read.

— GC

How can I get better results from my banner advertising campaign?

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Banner Advertising

When it comes to launching a successful banner advertising campaign, you need all the help you can get. Here are 8 items that will help you to mitigate your failure rate and increase your chance of success.

I always find it funny that most people I talk to about banner advertisements still think that they don’t work. Whether or not a banner advertisement “works” depends upon what your objective is related to that advertisement to begin with.

As covered in a previous post (“What is the difference between marketing and advertising”), most online marketing efforts are measured specifically by return on investment (ROI). When it comes to advertising, you have to measure its success based upon how it lifts your direct response marketing channels (email, search, radio, etc).

Take a look at my other post titled “The reason why you should continue using banner ads, even if the ROI isn’t there” to get a better understanding of how you should set your expectations regarding ROI on advertising channels, OK?

For those that “get” the value of banner advertisements, let’s take a look at an 8-point list of items that will help your banner advertising campaign be successful.

  1. Set campaign goals
    Any successful campaign will start with the goals and work backwards from there. Define the purpose of the banner ad campaign before starting on your creative, etc. If your message is built to increase sales, the odds are that it will vary greatly from one that is looking to increase brand awareness/recognition.
  2. Placement environment
    Although some research I’ve seen shows that animated banner ads can receive upwards of 2 or 3 times the number of clickthroughs, they are often limited by channel type. For instance, a static (non-moving) banner can be placed in an RSS feed, email newsletters/campaigns, etc, where the animated banner cannot be displayed in such an environment. By understanding the website’s native creative style and designing your advertisement to appear as content that BELONGS with that website as a piece of valuable content will always outperform some annoying banner advertisement with a flashing button.
  3. Call to action
    This might be the biggest mistake that most advertisers run into when they concept and implement a banner campaign. Don’t forget your call to action … if you don’t ask someone to take a step, why would they? Well, they might, but let’s drive them to click, OK?
  4. Visual appearance
    As previously discussed, camouflaging your advertisement as a piece of native content will work well, but if you can’t do that then lean on brighter color schemes. Stay within your brand guidelines, but know that it’s a natural instinct to overlook banner advertising as the web continues to age and become more commonplace with younger generations. You want to stand out from the content … get noticed with flashy colors.
  5. Messaging
    Keep the message simple, short and focused. Don’t provide multiple calls to action, or too much text. Just provide a simple message that when an audience member views, they can quickly determine to learn more and clickthrough to your landing page. Which brings us to …
  6. Landing page
    Don’t send visitors to your website with navigation to the rest of your website. When you have a fish on the line, it’s like setting down your poll and being content with the fact that you got a nibble. Real that sucker in! By mitigating the chance of failure (by setting up a single page, with clear selling value propositions and a conversion point, like a easy-to-fill out form), you substantially increase your chance at converting that person into a customer/donor. It’s important to note that minimizing friction/anxiety factors (like the length of your form, the design of your page, the copy being too long, etc.) – you can massively increase your conversion rate. If you’re trying to get people to opt-in to receive your email newsletter on your landing page – don’t ask them for their social security number, or mailing address. Some prospective customers would argue with me that this is critical information to have on their file, but you can have a strategy in place to collect that information later. Capture their interest now, engage later, move on.
  7. Content Freshness
    Refresh banner ads regularly. Some studies that I’ve reviewed have indicated that clickthrough rates of banner ads start to drop off after 2-3 weeks. Refresh your creative to provide a new fresh look and feel (even if your message is the same). This does two things: (1) appears new to the audience again, thereby giving them a psychological incentive to clickthrough to investigate (even if it is again), and (2) depending on the network, give your advertisements a higher level of priority in the server’s queue of ads to display (especially in a cost-per-click/CPC model). If you’re not getting clicks, ad networks will eventually stop serving your ads and will cut off your traffic.
  8. Testing and tracking
    Data/Analytics > Marketer’s Intuition. Whenever someone says, “I think that ___________”, my almost immediate rebuttal is “Let’s test it!” Look, nobody is a mind reader, especially not through a banner advertisement … so, build a couple of different types of content (which would be your experiment’s “treatment”) and serve it on the same network, at the same days/times, with the same budget setup (which will act as your “control”), and let it rip. Evaluate for at least 5-7 days, and then move forward with the better performing creative set and cut the under performing one. Do it again if you’d like against a third, forth, etc., etc. number of creative sets until you’ve got the absolute best performing ad creative/message. This is your business, make it work for you!

As Peter Drucker (and as repeated by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin from Marketing Experiments) once said:

“Adequacy is the enemy of excellence.”

Always strive for better things for you/your business and you will always be better than when you started.

I hope this helps in setting up your next banner advertising campaign – remember always to track your results (remember my credo, which is “If you can’t track it, don’t do it!”). Track it by medium (banner), or by individual sources (they websites in which your ads were served) to segment, optimize and re-prioritize moving forward.

All the best,

— GC

How can we customize our Facebook Fan Page to insert a call to action?

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I recently read a case study that showed how a large non profit organization leveraged a custom home page on their Facebook Fan Page to insert multiple calls to action for those visiting their page, including “signing a petition”, “liking” the fan page itself, or “give a gift”.

Of course, the campaign was highly relevant to some state legislation that was going to cut funding for the nonprofit, so there was a clear cause, message and goal in terms of raising the funds.

The campaign, when coupled with direct response channels (like email, direct mail and search marketing) ended up generating $950,000.00 over the course of several weeks. The Facebook Fan Page helped spread the message across the social network and generated (1) brand awareness, (2) cause awareness and (3) new donor dollars.

In doing some investigation on how to build custom home pages on your Facebook Fan Page to include a “call to action” for your marketing campaign, I found an article from Mashable that gives you a great step-by-step walk through on how to get one setup, which I’ll gladly regurgitate here.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Add the Static FBML App
    The tabs at the top of your Facebook Fan Page are apps. Some, like your wall and photos are built into Facebook. Others are essentially plug-ins where fans can view external content, like YouTube videos, Flickr photos, etc.The app you need for your custom page is called “Static FBML,” located here. If you’re logged into Facebook, you can add it to your Page. It is essentially a blank canvas where you can add whatever content you want, including custom graphics and links via standard HTML.

  2. Set Up Your Tab
    Once you’ve added the Static FBML app, click “Edit Page” below your company’s profile image. This will bring up all your settings and apps. Look for the FBML app and click the “Application Settings” link.

    The app can function in two ways: As a set of boxes, or as one dedicated profile tab. If you’re building a splash page, you’ll probably want to use it as a tab, so go ahead and make sure that the “Box” setting is removed, and the “Tab” setting is added. You can always experiment with boxes later if you find them more useful.

  3. Add Your Content
    Once you’re in tab mode, go back to your settings and click the “Edit” link under the Static FBML app. This opens a standard text field where you can add your content.

    “Box Title” will be the name of your tab, so you’ll want to change it to something appropriate, like “This Week’s Deals,” “Special Offers,” or simply “Welcome,” depending on how you plan to use your Page.

    The main text field is where your content goes, and you can add standard HTML to the page as you would any website, including images, text, links, and other formatting. No need for HTML, BODY, or HEAD tags.

    Note that your images must be hosted elsewhere (on your company’s website, for example) and only referenced in your HTML code.

  4. Make It the Default Landing Page
    If you want this new tab to be the “face” of your business Fan Page, head back over to your page settings and edit your “Wall Settings.” There is an option for “Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else.” From that menu, select your new tab.


    From now on, it will be the first thing visitors see when they arrive.

  5. Engage Further With FBML
    FBML stands for Facebook Markup Language, and it is the code used in Facebook applications to reference items on the social network, like user profiles, groups, feeds, and other data. If you’re really looking to integrate your landing page and get interactive with visitors, it might be worthwhile to learn this language.

— GC

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