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Not Just For the Birds: Making Your Website Generate Quality Leads

th-1I’ve noticed lately that a lot of organizations don’t really think about their website as a lead generator. Sure, there is a lot of attention paid to the website as basically a new version of the “general brochure” of the organization. It’s important for your branding and general awareness raising, definitely.

And in this blog, and many others, there has been a lot of thinking about the donation page. You can check out one of our posts here.

But are you thinking about your website as a way to generate contact information for future donors?

I know that sounds logical, almost like a “duh” moment, but not many nonprofits websites seem to have this in mind.

Just the other day, a colleague mentioned the Cornell Lab for Ornithology as a great example of a website that is bringing in thousands of new e-mail addresses every month by providing value to interested visitors.

Check it out here.

What makes this special?

  1. There is an unobtrusive pop-up asking you to sign up for a newsletter. The popup stays with you during your visit to the site (but isn’t annoying) and tells you what you’ll receive.
  1. There is a hefty educational section all about birds with videos, an impressive bird guide, and bird identification tools.
  1. There are engaging tools that draw in the visitor like the Question of the Week and live bird cams.
  1. There are free offers like the bird app and Living Bird Magazine.
  1. There is a great landing page that tells you what to expect once you do push that sign-up button as well as a helpful confirmation page to reinforce your great decision.

Definitely, this site appeals to bird lovers. In fact, what I think is great about it is that it doesn’t hedge at all. This is about birds and if you want to know about birds this is the place for you. It goes all the way.

It doesn’t try to be all things to all people. It doesn’t just entice anyone to be part of the community and sign up to know more. It entices big-time bird lovers, people who are much more likely to give online to the Cornell Lab for Ornithology.

And because there is so much offered on the site and in the newsletter and because the content changes and evolves, visitors come back for more. They see this site as valuable.

Now, you may be thinking….”Animals are easier to fundraise for. What about my women’s advocacy issue, arts organization, or homeless shelter?”

Indeed, these can be less visual than birds, but there is a community out there that really cares about your organization and its work and wants to give you their e-mail address. You just have to craft a website that adds value for them.

So, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  • Do you want more e-mail addresses to use in your e-mail fundraising?
  • Is your e-newsletter good enough and consistent enough to keep people interested?
  • What can you do on your website to show people that you are a valuable resource for them on your issue or cause?
  • What online pages, language, visuals, programing do you use to turn the interest into an actual sign-up?

We’d love to see your examples. If you make a change to website to bring in more e-newsletter sign-ups, please write and let us know. We’d love to share your practice – and your results – with other Front Range Source readers.

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