IT intelligence: Marketing to donors online

Sue Fidler says it pays to plan how you market to potential donors online.

Whatever forms of marketing you use to drive people to your site, it is crucial to think about what they find when they get there. Too many charities simply recreate their offline direct marketing on web pages. This is not going to make the most of your appeal. Online marketing needs to be different - the copy should be shorter and the donate button at the top, not at the end, for example.

The first thing to realise is that you may need more than one web page for your appeal. With offline direct marketing or email, the audience will have seen the main copy before they click through to make donations. Do they want to see the whole thing again? Think about having a short reinforcing message or an explanation of what their donation will do. Most of all, make sure the page they land on explains the methods of donating. They have read the appeal and decided to donate - make it obvious and make it easy.

At the same time, you may have other advertising, on or offline, such as newspapers, posters and banners, which don't have the 'story' because of a lack of space. With these, you should have your ask on the page they arrive on. These visitors have not read the full campaign because they have come from short strapline asks, so they need to see an appeal page. It should still be a short web version of the appeal copy, but this is your chance to convince them. Once they click through, they can then go to the page you created for those in your audience who have read the campaign.

If you have other forms of marketing available - face-to-face, leaflets or TV - you might want more landing pages to suit the message to the one the audience has received. It is crucial to think about what they have already read, heard or seen and to tailor the landing pages to follow up, but not repeat, that message.

 - Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.

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