By James Mulvey
Health promotion and behaviour change campaigns have a pretty hard job online. It’s tough enough to get someone to buy a pair of shoes or shiny new ipad online--harder still to get someone to visit your website and learn about healthy living habits or memorize the signs of stroke. You have to move people to action--but often it is an unwelcome action with an intangible benefit (such as cutting down on fatty foods or exercising more).
If there is any marketing discipline that knows how to move people to action, it’s the science of e-commerce conversion. E-commerce lives or dies by moving people from casual interest to clicks and sales. As most health promotion and behaviour change campaigns are also focused on getting people to do certain things (like asking them to sign up online as an organ donor, pledge some money on a website, or commit to a new healthy behaviour), organizations undertaking health promotion and behavioural campaigns can learn a lot from the science of e-commerce.
This article covers some key e-commerce principles that your next campaign can benefit from, increasing your organization’s ability to move people from awareness to action.
How to persuade online: the conversion sequence
The conversion sequence is the path that your target audience takes through your advertising or internet searches, progressing from awareness of your product or service to navigating your website to finally converting to your desired action--whether that be a download, free trial, or new sign-up.
One of the most persistent mistakes is to clutter homepages with information. The idea behind this is that your homepage is a general introduction to your organization and should service a wide range of visitors, letting them find their own individual paths.
For example, take a look at this homepage from a national health organization.
The example above offers more than 22 different actions for visitors, including “hot news” “other news” “email alerts” “news and events” and “job vacancies.”
The logic is that because this is a national organization with many different stakeholders and audiences, the homepage must meet the different needs of a varied audience. This is often the result of committee decisions overriding a much more important measure of success: using your homepage to help achieve the overarching goal of your organization.
So while most homepages attempt to please a crowd of different visitors, if you use heat-mapping software or take a closer look at your Google Analytics, you’ll find out pretty fast how many of your visitors actually make it through the clutter. Usually, the majority will simply leave. Unless they absolutely have to find something, they will most likely hit the back button.
As a result, it makes much more sense to look at your Google Analytics, find out how the majority of visitors interact with your homepage, and then optimize for the action that best serves your organization. For example, you don’t need to put “job vacancies” on your homepage: if a person wants to work for you, they will be willing to dig a little deeper and find the section for new hires. You should be aiming to target the majority of visitors--helping move them through the door.
Your homepage should be designed to elicit a specific response from visitors. While it’s true that health organizations might not have the goal of converting visitors into paying customers--they do have goals that need to be reached. Do you want donations? Do you want people to learn about your cause? Do you want to offer support services for your target audience?
The key is to decide on a central metric, and then to work towards moving visitors from your homepage towards that specific conversion action. Here’s an example of a well-designed health organization homepage.
The above homepage is designed around a central focus: get visitors to sign-up for health coverage. It has a strong headline “your child can have health benefits” (see 1), which for any lower income mother in the USA is pretty powerful, and which then leads naturally to a big, aesthetically pleasing call-to-action button (see 2).
On the right column, there are three boxes with more information in case the target audience wants to learn more about the sign-up process and services offered (see 3). These boxes do a nice job of hiding additional information while still giving users the opportunity to dig a little deeper. This homepage understands that online persuasion is an intensely visual medium: if you overwhelm visitors with text and information choices, they will either leave or go down some path that leads away from your central goal.
Another thing to take away from the above homepage is that the most important points are presented above the fold. According to usability research by Jackob Nielsen (in his book Prioritizing Web Usability), 77% of visitors will not scroll, meaning that the majority of your visitors only read the information above the fold.
It makes sense, then, to telegraph your main call-to-action above the fold. You can then (like the homepage shown above), put secondary information such as contact info, news, and other details near the bottom of the page.
To optimize your own homepage’s design, just answer these questions: What action will provide the greatest amount of return and help your organization complete its mission? What do the majority of visitors come to your website for?
Make that action the central focus of your homepage, only displaying the information absolutely necessary to your audience completing your conversion goal.
Shopping cart or sign-up form abandonments are powerful signals that a user is interested in your product. That’s why e-commerce sites use “cookies” (pieces of data used to track browsing habits) to retarget users that came to their websites, put things in the shopping cart, and then left.
The same applies to awareness and behavioural change campaigns. If someone came to your website, began completing the desired action and then left, then they are highly qualified visitors that you should try to re-market to.
Luckily, online marketing makes it easy to track every lost conversion. If a prospect filled out half of your form and then left when you asked for credit card information, you can find and analyze that behaviour in your Google Analytics.
Better than that, you can re-market to them, reminding them with an ad to come back and finish their purchase. You can set up conversion goals in Google Analytics, tracking where in the process the majority of your visitors drop off.
The key is to discover why people have left your site. For example, do you require users to fill out a medical number? If so, someone might not have realized they needed it before visiting your website. That means the only thing standing between them and signing up was a single piece of information. They might also plan to return to fill it out, but then forget. You can set up re-marketing in online ad platforms like Google Adwords to remind those users, bringing them back to your site at a minimal cost.
If you don’t have a Google Adwords budget, then you should follow the golden e-commerce rule: capture the most important info first. For example, email addresses should always be collected before asking for a credit card so that you can send a reminder to them in case they abandon halfway through. And you should cut away any unnecessary steps like asking for a phone number, business name, or age--unless that information is critical.
More important, find out why those people are leaving and then optimize your site to correct those leaky pathways.
Test and Measure
In every campaign, you should have a specific action you want to take place. It could be watching your new awareness commercial and then re-tweeting the commercial (turning one click into social sharing). Or signing up for a newsletter. Or downloading a health app. Whatever your goal, just remember that the best way to drive up conversions is to decide on one key action.
After you have decided on your key action, you can use analytic software to figure out what is preventing people from doing these actions.
Pay attention to key decision moments-- for example, the moment when a potential donor has to give up a credit card. Or, when you ask for personal info in return for a free health app or product. Then set up some A/B tests in Google Website Optimizer to find out what is preventing people from filling out the form.
In general, the best place to start testing is the layout of your website and sign-up form, rather than obsessing over words, colors, and images. After you have improved conversions with your design, you can test elements like the headline, images, and sign-up button.
Testing is a science, but it ultimately is about the human experience of your site. Focus on making things simple, easy, and respectful of your visitor’s time. They will repay you with their attention and a high conversion rate.
If you are planning on using online tactics for your health promotion and behavioural change campaigns, it makes sense to take advantage of analytic software and conversion principles so that your online marketing channels work hard for you. E-commerce has dug up a ton of research, insights, and best practices, giving your organization a solid foundation of effective principles to structure your campaigns and website architecture around.
If you want some help designing an effective online strategy for your next health promotion campaign, Redbird Communications is here for you. We have proven results with health promotion campaigns and would love to help you harness the power of online tactics for reaching your audience.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for more free information on using marketing to make the world a healthier, happier place.
“Planking”, otherwise known as ‘the lying down game’ is a global fad where participants lie face down in unusual places and post a picture to the internet. In the photo on the right, employees of ad agency Redbird Communications plank out the word Stroke at Victoria General Hospital, in a nod to Stroke Awareness Month for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon.
“Stroke is the number-one cause of long-term disability, the number-two cause of dementia, and the number-three cause of death in BC,” said Redbird president Carol Vincent. “Our client wants to change that, by educating people about the warning signs of stroke, and the need to call 9-1-1 if they experience or witness any one of the warning symptoms.” The warning signs of stroke are: sudden weakness or loss of strength, sudden trouble speaking, sudden vision problems, sudden severe and unusual headache, sudden dizziness. For more information, visit www.signsofstroke.ca. The planking was part of an agency social media challenge issued by Eclipse Creative.
You can follow Redbird on Twitter by clicking here.
By James Mulvey
Every nonprofit or social enterprise wants to raise a ton of donations and awareness through viral social media promotion. While there are plenty of tools and platforms out there, it takes bit of time to find the best ones for your campaign.
But raising money and awareness is less about finding the finding the right online tool than it is an effect of putting a compelling and extraordinarily unique story out there. The reach of your online fundraising campaign in social media is determined by the quality of your message. The better story you can tell about your cause and organization, the further it travels.
That said, here are some of best online fundraising sites we’ve discovered for raising awareness and inspiring behavioral change.
This is a widget that you can add to your Facebook page, website, or blog. It’s essentially an online fundraising target that you can use to track a fundraising goal. What we like about this widget is that is it is great for partnerships (if you want, for example, to help out your favorite social cause on your corporate website), as well as an easy way to convert web traffic into donors. Time and cost? No fees. Takes about 15-30 minutes for a web developer (or someone with some basic website skills) to install. Effective? Attached to a specific cause, this widget can be effective. One drawback is that it needs high traffic to covert (for example, per 1000 people that see it, maybe 1 person would donate).
Help Attack is a fun, user-centered online fundraising platform that helps “build the act of giving into your online life.” It’s designed to integrate with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and has interactive features such as collecting coins as you progress in your fundraising efforts. Users get to choose the organization or nonprofit they want to support. You can also add your cause or nonprofit so that your supporters can find you. It’s a fun little online fundraising tactic. Time and cost? Minimal set-up. Small fee to add your nonprofit. Effective? This site taps into the power of social networking and makes giving fun. It has raised about $300,000 so far for various charities and organizations.
According to a 2007 study on charitable giving by Stats Canada, Canadians donated a total of $10 billion in 2007, which represents an increase of 12% in donations from the $8.9 billion reported in 2004. While philanthropy in Canada has become quite fashionable, the recent rise in charitable giving and activity has also led to a trend toward “philanthropic capitalism”, meaning that donors are coming to expect more professional and business-like conduct from the charitable sector. Charityintelligence.ca is a site that responds to this trend, helping potential donors find the most worthy causes. Its mission is to “identify Canada's most cost-effective charities through independent in-depth research and objective analysis.” It publishes a list of the charities to donate to, recommending that people donate to these high impact organizations. Cost and Time? Application process takes some time and resources (50-100 hours?); it is designed to look deeply into the operations and budget of a charity. Effectiveness? If successful, this site could generate high returns: inclusion in their annual recommendations for donors; exposure to serious donor networks; and creditability for your organization’s existing communications.
Started in Vancouver BC, this site has helped hundreds of non-profits and other worthy organizations raise awareness and funds for their campaigns. The site’s goal is to connect your organization with new donors, acting as a hub for donors to come and find new nonprofits to support. While anyone can submit a project proposal, there are a few conditions: you have to be a Canadian registered charity; you have to submit a proposal that outlines a specific tangible outcome; 9.99 monthly hosting fee, and each new project has 30 days to collect 100 votes of support. Cost and time? 5-8 hours to set up. Effective for raising awareness and funds? Yes. Lots of BC charities have benefited from this site. The set-up is simple and not very time-consuming.
Over the next decade, Statistics Canada predicts that baby boomers will receive considerable wealth and assets from their affluent parents – an estimated $800 billion to $1 trillion of inheritiances.CanadaGives.ca is an organization that helps Canadians get the most out of their charitable donations, including “access to a turnkey administration service for creating or building their own endowment(s) as an alternative to establishing a separate foundation.” In other words, this organization doesn’t solicit any new donors; it just manages existing ones. In their words: "CanadaGives is a “donation vehicle for the committed philanthropist.” Time and cost? No direct fees and a simple sign-up process. Effective? Definitely, especially if you have a history of attracting large donors.
3 million online donors, 1 billion in donations raised, and 8,000 non-profits--this site has the ability to do some serious online fundraising for your organization. Time and cost? 5% commission; $300 dollars to use their software and you must be registered with Guidestar. Effective? While this site has a large network and established presence, most likely your success will depend on how much energy and resources put into your pages and energy you invest in encouraging peers to share. Estimated time to see a return—20 to 30 hours.
Have a charity auction coming up? Then make it even more effective with this online fundraising tool. This site allows charities to collect items that are then sold in an online auction. Your auction can run up to 3 months.Time and cost? 15% commission; no registration fee. Requires you to upload pictures, set prices, and collect items to sell (8 hours and upwards). Effectiveness? A nice feature is that you can run online auctions at the same time as a live event (such as a Golf Day or 24 hour marathon), helping to extend the reach of the event online.
Yahoo’s Create for a Cause is an annual contest that takes submissions from October 11, going through December 3 (based on last year’s rules). Winners have their ad placed on the Yahoo login page, resulting in massive group exposure. Winners can potentially reach millions of viewers. Last year, it seems that only American non-profits could enter. There doesn’t seem to be a Canadian version. Time and cost? Unfortunately, the competition is stiff. You need to develop a high-quality digital advertisement and past winners have been submissions from international creative agencies—lots of entries, lots of creative competition, and a time-consuming entry process. Effective? If you have a really exceptional campaign, you have a chance at winning exposure to millions of viewers.
Did you know that YouTube has a special channel for raising awareness? On the YouTube Non-Profit Program, charitable organizations and other social marketing and health promotion organizations can post their videos (through their existing channel) and have the option of having a “donate now” button. Time and cost? Setting up is quite simple, maybe a few hours to apply. Effective? With any viral campaign, it’s important to not confuse the medium with the message. YouTube doesn’t make people and videos famous. It’s only a channel that helps to spread incredibly exceptional and amazing content. The best strategy is to test with some smaller videos to see what stories create the most response.
Started by the actor Kevin Bacon, Sixdegrees.org lets non-profits and worthy organizations to create fundraising badges which are shared on the site. The idea is based on viral fundraising—your cause needs to be shared and picked up by people. Time and cost? Low (a few hours). No fees. Effective? Yes. But don’t expect it to be a major fundraising source. It can integrate well with other tactics such as Facebook.
Trying to raise awareness for a contentious social issue? Change.org is a platform to raise some serious noise about big issues like Gay rights, labor disputes, and other social-orientated causes. It’s designed with a grassroots theme and has a simple sign-up process. The site allows you to write a petition, upload some photos and info, and then let your cause grow. Time and cost? Just writing a petition and signing up. No fees. Effective? Good place to get some grassroots support and could be effective in driving traffic to your website, if your cause gets some attention from the community.
Want to get teens involved in your cause? Then Dosomething.org is definitely worth checking out. This site is designed specifically to engage teens with social causes. Any teen can post a project and try to build support for it. They can also form clubs. Time and cost? No financial cost. But requires trying to get teens to set up an account. Effective? The site’s easy integration with Facebook could tap into the large social networks of teens. If your target audience is teenagers, this might be an effective awareness and fundraising platform for you.
If your health organization or non-profit is active on LinkedIn, this is an easy and effective online fundraising tactic. It basically allows LinkedIn users to use “non-profit badges” to promote various organizations through their professional network. As some non-profits and health organizations have large professional networks, you might want to consider adding this to your networking and fundraising mix. Time and cost? A few hours to set up, no cost, and most of the work (and success) depend on the response of people in your network. Effectiveness?This tactic most likely benefits larger National organizations (such as the American Cancer Society), but it is relatively easy to set up.
This site allows people to search for their favorite non-profit and to give an online donation. It’s pretty useful during a specific fundraising campaign, especially if you are a smaller organization. Time and cost? Free, easy set-up. Effectiveness? Great alternative to setting up credit-card processing—just register your charity with the site and direct your donations through Canadahelps.org.
Use your fast texting skills. . .for a good cause. Justtextgiving.com helps fundraisers by tapping into the power of mobile phones. Based in the UK, the platform has raised over 700 million pounds for over 8,000 charities. It only takes a few seconds to set up a page for your charity, and easily integrates with Facebook, email, and iphone apps. Time and cost? Really easy set-up, only a few minutes. The fee is a small monthly charge and a 5% fee on every gift, which is used to pay for web development and hosting. Effective? A great way to integrate your online fundraising with mobiles and smart-phones.
Giveforward.com helps people easily create a fundraising campaign for friends or a favorite cause. You set up a page, tell people about your cause, promote your page in Facebook and other social media, and then spread the word through friends, websites widgets, and from exposure on the site. While this site is designed for micro-giving campaigns, it can be an effective way to encourage your donors to launch their own little fundraising campaigns on your behalf. Time and cost? Small commission fee and easy set-up. Effective? Giveforward.com has helped raise over 4 million for causes. It’s mostly for micro-campaigns but has an easy set-up.
Go Get Funding gives all types of fundraisers—from non-profits to personal fundraisers—an instant online platform. The fundraising campaigns vary from personal projects to raise money for life-saving medical operations to larger campaigns for charities.
The site takes a 2% fee. Set-up is very simple and the site is packed with social features to help you gain attention and pledges. You can visit Go Get Funding here.
Some Final Tips:
Remember, most online fundraising tools are similar: they are simply platforms to connect your cause to an audience. As a result, it’s best to concentrate on a few platforms, rather than blasting your message thin across every new widget that comes out. It’s easy to think that the platform will do the work. But the real effectiveness of online fundraising tools depends on the ability of your organization and cause to capture a big emotional space with your stories, videos, and fundraising communications.
If you need help creating an effective online fundraising strategy, the Redbird Communications Team is here to help.
Further Fundraising Resources: The Most Effective Tactics for Attracting Donors and Volunteers
Redbird has released a free research report for non-profits.
In the report, you'll find:
- Research on approaching business leaders, corporations, and foundations for support.
- Research and actionable insights on the most effective fundraising tactics.
- Research on donor motivations and psychology.
- Research and tactics on attracting and retaining volunteers.
- Analytical commentary, tables, and graphs.
Redbird Communications specializes in health promotion, awareness campaigns, and behavioural change workshops. Our clients include the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, BC Hydro, government ministries and other private and public-sector organizations that in one way or another work to make the world a healthier, happier place.