Since 1998 Birgit Pauli-Haack has worked with nonprofits as a web developer, a technology strategist, a trainer and community organizer. She founded Pauli Systems, LC in 2002, now a team of six. It is a 100% distributed company. Since 2010, her team has used WordPress to build new nonprofit sites and applications.
In her spare time, Birgit serves as a deputy with the WordPress Global Community team, as a WordPress Meetup organizer and a Tech4Good organizer.
The upcoming virtual event “CiviCRM for COVID-19 Response” scheduled for June 25, 2020, at noon (EDT) brings together nonprofits organizations and consultants to discuss how they have used CiviCRM and discuss their solutions for service delivery and crisis response. The event will be free of charge.
“Whether you are new to the open source CRM for the civic sector, evaluating solutions, or an experienced user, there will be a mix of presentations and workshop discussions. Sessions will explore needs-mapping, crowdfunding, staff rotas and volunteer registration, using CiviCRM with both Drupal and WordPress. With speakers from Calgary to Cologne, it is scheduled for the daytime in the Americas, Europe and Western Africa. For the rest of the world, videos of the presentations will be available afterwards.”
Beginners’ guide to CiviCRM with Rose Lanigan, Ruza Solutions | Bradford, UK
Using WordPress & CiviCRM with Kevin Cristiano & Dana Skallman, Tadpole Collective, New York, USA
Present at CiviCRM for COVID-19 Response
People, who are using CiviCRM as part of a response to Coronavirus: be it medical, community support, fundraising, Mutual Aid or anything else, and would like contribute with a presentation can connect with the organizers in the #covid-19 channel on CiviCRM Chat.
The worldwide pandemic is providing you with an opportunity. Many people will come through this with a keen understanding of what is important to them as a human being and the world. You are in a unique position to contribute to your visitor’s journey to have an impact and provide real life experiences to do good in this world. Show your visitors the value of volunteering, donation or just applauding. Invite your visitors into their imagination.
The web is not your mother’s internet anymore. In today’s nonprofit world, it’s not enough to simply have a website to connect with your supporters. Your website is the direct representation of your company to the public. It is your brand — your first and eternal impression. It serves your needs just as much as it needs to serve your supporters. And in the nonprofit world, “need” and “willing to serve” are familiar, welcoming words.
As website viewers ourselves, what we look for in a website is what others look for as well. It’s not a “big ask.” In order for your site to provide limitless support for your viewers, what does it need?
It needs to captivate, navigate and inform.
It needs ease of comprehension, so your visitor can accomplish tasks swiftly.
It needs quick, intuitive navigation for today’s short attention span.
Each page needs to be well written with great imagery.
It needs to tell a story formatted for readers on the fly.
It needs mobile optimization and fast loading. Research shows you have only 3 seconds to draw people into your site.
It needs to incorporate shared links to articles and information posted on social media.
It needs to be accessible for all visitors including the elderly or those with disabilities.
And naturally, it needs to be affordable. Maintaining your site shouldn’t strain your budget.
Most people learn about a nonprofit organization through social media or at local events. Research reveals that approximately 85% access Facebook from their smart phones and ergo discover your site initially using a mobile device. They open your email the first time on the mobile phone to come back later again using their desktop.
So what does this mean for the modern website of a nonprofit organization?
These 9 tips will send you on your way to a successful online impression.
#1 Keep the number of navigation links between 5 and 7.
More than that can paralyze your visitor trying to figure out where to look next.
Submenus are allowed, but just a few.
These should be easily accessible using a keyboard as well as a mouse.
#2 Make the donation button a main navigation item.
Many visitors want to do just that — donate. Make the donation button standout from the navigation in a complementary or cross-complementary color.
The best practices for ecommerce sites apply also to online donations.
#3 Keep visitors on your site to process an online donation
Maintain the trust pact you have built with your viewer. As opposed to having a third-party accept donations, your donation pages should be part of your website. This inclusion raises 6 times more money than when the donation button or link leads the donor off to another site, even if it’s a subdomain. Leading a donor away from your trusted site breaks the trust pact you’ve already established. Some potential donors hesitate with this method. If online donation is an impulse buy, any hesitation costs you money.
To avoid the extraneous data handling effort, you could use a self-hosted open-source software like CiviCRM with events, membership, donor, contact management and email marketing – all built in.
Disclosure: Pauli Systems is a CiviCRM partner.
#4 Keep your donation process simple.
Forego large forms. It comes back to the impulse buy. Generally you don’t need the donor’s address to manage a successful payment process. You can make it a secondary contact opportunity to give a donor incentive to provide an address.
We are fans of the GiveWP plugin. You can be up and running with a good donation process in a couple of hours.
Implement a simple donation process with Form builders. We install this on most sites to enable a Volunteer Application or Event Registration. Coupled with a payment gateway like stripe, you can make an easy to use donation process and add it to any of your organization’s landing pages, or as a Call to Action in your blog posts.
#5 Include a second ask on your “Thank You” page and email.
Several plugins can instantiate monthly giving. Once installed, you can ask the donor: “Do you want to make this a monthly gift?” and use an easy checkmark box to make it a subscription. If that’s not yet feasible to implement, make the second ask something like “Tell your friends” and “Share on social media” using functional social sharing buttons.
#6 Thank you notes make and break your donor relationship.
Do not neglect the last essential piece of the puzzle: the thank you note/email. Just because an expression of thanks comes from a computer, it’s best not to make it sound automated. You can send a very personable email with your confirmation, and you can even link a “Thank you” video from a board member or one of the beneficiaries to let the donor know about the impact the donation makes. Do not use the default email of any plugin you use. Customize it.
#7 Use WP Mail SMTP Pro to process your transactional emails
The WP Mail SMTP plugin allows you to connect your website with your email service provider rather than using the built-in Mailer configuration. It’s an added cost to hook it all up, but it’s worth the money. Your emails arrive at the recipient’s primary inbox instead of in spam, promotion or updates tabs. Make it part of the requirement documentation for your consultants. Most of my clients only realize this after GoLive.
#8 Find a good versatile form plugin.
Though only 8% of the donations by individuals in the US are made online, it has grown into double-digits in the last four years. It’s a surprising number considering how much time we spend optimizing the process.
Plugins are available to streamline your administrative processes and reduce duplicate data entry for Event Registration, Volunteer applications, etc. Most form plugins also integrate with third-party tools like your email marketing provider, your Google Drive account and others. You might need to test a few to make sure you are able to handle any new form creation in house.
Here is a list of plugins with great documentation and support:
Earlier, I mentioned CiviCRM as a comprehensive tool to organize your contacts, applications and forms in one space. Once you know how your organization’s administration is digitize, a CiviCRM implementation will help you streamline your processes and handle all your data in one spot.
You can test CiviCRM as a hosted solution for less than $15 a month, unlimited users, 2000 contacts and 5,000 emails pro month. Check it out here: CiviCRM Spark
#9 Keep your homepage simple.
Many studies have shown that most people come to your website not through your homepage but through a Google search, a social media link, or an email you sent. What they read and see at this entry point is more important than your homepage design.
I have seen technology teams discuss the homepage over and over again. Discussions should focus on content strategy or donor/volunteer experience. What are the goals of your website? Unless you already have a content-rich site, that topic needs to bubble up to the front burner — content strategy and production are king.
How much of the fancy frontpage design will make it to the mobile view? Use a small logo on the top and have a few menu items. Everything else is content on a small screen. Fancy frames and shadows get in the way of a clean layout.
When we design a website, we revise the homepage design many times throughout the project. After the initial mock-ups, we talk a lot about information architecture, content strategy, landing pages with forms, and registration processes. Form follows function.
Keep in mind your main goals for your website: maintain your current supporters and attract new donors. And like anything worthwhile, a company that invests time and energy into an appealing site will reap the rewards it seeks.
Schedule a Site Review with Birgit Pauli-Haack
If you feel your organization’s website needs a site review, schedule a video conference call with screen sharing capabilities with us. We’ll go over the site with you and give at least five immediate action items you can implement with your consultant or freelancer. Interested? Fill out the form or send an email to email@example.com
What does that even mean? Lighthouse is a performance testing tool that measure your site for load speed metrics like “First time to Interaction”. Also, part of the test are accessibility how good is your site accessible also for people with disabilities and then also test pages for best practices on search engine optimization.
Stats relevant to your website’s user experience
20% of US population has some form of disability.
You have only 3 seconds before a mobile user navigates away from your website.
60% of user browse the web on their mobile phones
Google uses Site Speed as ranking factor
Google now only indexes mobile content for you website.
We will run a performance test on your site and give you the detailed report. The performance test uses Google Lighthouse tools and measures overall performance, accessibility, best practices, search engine optimization and PWA requirements. The last part is only interesting if you are working on a Progressive Web App or on a mobile first site.
Theme migration huge performance jump
Here is an example test before and after we made some site changes. We migrated a site from theme published in 2006 to a more modern theme and spruced up the home page navigation.
The overall score went from 71 to 76 so the old site wasn’t that bad. However the details show some astonishing outcomes. The overall Accessibility went from 74 to 96 and the SEO score from 69 to 100.
This was quite remarkable. After the first day, the site owner also sent me an email that when he searched his name on Google, he saw for the first time that his own website actually showed up before any of the social networks or news sites, which normally have a much higher authority that any single topic site. Once can not know for sure but with the SEO value going from 69 to 100 percent, I definitely wasn’t surprised by that outcome.
After a week or so, the site owner realized that we didn’t bring over the advertising he placed on his older site. When we added Google AdSense areas to the footer of the site, the performance went way down again. How disappointing….
So it’s not only important to measure the performance of your website and each single page, it also is necessary to monitor the performance over time, or at least test is again, after you make significant changes or start using 3rd party systems.
Image Lazy-Loading coming to WordPress Core
The biggest problem with page speed is image loading with the site. They are most of the time the largest files and many content creators don’t optimize images before upload and employ all kinds of additional plugins.
Zoom makes is very easy to create different links for different marketing channels. In this case study, we concentrated on the channels that were the same for the first six events. We started with the Gutenberg Developer and Design leads on November 30 and ended with Site Building w/ Gutenberg on February 8th, 2019. ( We use Zoom to support the publishing and promotion of Gutenberg Times )
First we looked, how many registrations we received from visitors coming from the four channels: Facebook, Twitter, website and our weekly eNews.
Registrations by Marketing Channel
In Figure 1 we can see that the ratio of registrations is fairly well distributed with Facebook and the eNews slightly under 20% and Twitter at 27% and the Website at 34%. So far so good. All four channels contribute considerably to our Webinar audience.
What does this really mean? We know for each person, who registered through our Zoom registration page came through a link they saw on the respective network. We don’t know how often a visitor saw us promoting webinars, we also don’t know if those coming through Facebook, are not also twitter followers or saw it first on the website.
Use Conversion Rate to determine Return on Investment
To determine Return-on-Investment or ROI, we also would need to know the conversion rate of those visitors who came from those channels and then actually converted to a registration. In other words, how many visitors out of 100 visitors actually registered for the webinar?
When we crunch the numbers visitors / registration, we see a total different picture:
Figure 2 shows us the conversion rate for all for networks. The highest conversions rate have subscribers from our eNews. We also see that we need 10 times more visitors coming from Twitter to get the same number of registrations. Visitors from eNews are also the most faithful readers of our content and we are in contact with them on a weekly basis. Clearly aiming for increasing the numbers of subscribers should always be one of the focus for your marketing.
With the followers on Twitter we don’t have a close connection and the engagement is rather fleeting.
Narrowing down the audience seems to help with our conversion rate, too. On Twitter it is more the broadcast approach via the various profiles we control, on Facebook, we post the information about the Live Q & A only in three WordPress Groups. So the narrower the target audience the higher your conversion rate. Feels like stating the obvious, but it’s always good to confirm our instincts once in a while.
The visitors from the website are in between. We needed about 2 times more visitors from the Website to have the same amount of registration of our subscribers list.
Calculating return on investment (ROI)
The ROI could be calculated, by measuring how much time and effort ittakes to create content for weekly eNews to augment the promotion of the Live Q & As, compared with the amount of time and effort it takes to update the website to provide the context for the promotional graphics and how much effort it takes to distribute the posts around Twitter and Facebook. Metrics are time spent and or money spent. And then set it into relation to the money gained. We don’t have any money numbers for this project.
In one of my next posts, I’ll share the tools methods and processes to create the Gutenberg Live Q & As from speaker recruiting, to collaboration on the content to social media promotion to the show and the post-production with YouTube space, transcripts and publishing on the Gutenberg Times for the archive.
How to improve ROI for promoting webinars or other online events?
To improve the ROI it might be worth looking into methods to streamline or automate processes and to reduce friction especially for twitter promotion. For Gutenberg Times purposes, we decide to add additional scheduled Tweets to promoted the webinars. This step is the easiest to do, it is free, and might catch followers and friends, who missed the announcement the first or second time.
Another approach could be to schedule the webinar more than two weeks out to give the promotion a little bit more time. Many people, have a 10 day lead time to get on their schedules, so if you are not there early, you might not catch a free time slot.
Another advantage of a longer planning period, is that we could reach out to other WordPress publications and alert them to the upcoming webinars so they can mention it on their eNews and social networks. This coordination takes time, though, but it’s well worth it. The highest numbers of attendees, would show up after the WPTavern added a post about it.
For other websites, it could be to increase interaction on Facebook, and schedule events, make sure you also include the panelists as co-hosts, which might help with distribution there.
This case study only covers, what is called last touch attribution.Neil Patel has lots to say about why only tracking last touch attribution is a bit defeating. Tracking all touch points is quite complex, and for a site like the Gutenberg Times, not feasible. If you are thinking about reaching a much larger audience (over 10,000 monthly visitors) creating a analytics framework that covers all touch-points your visitors, customers, followers have with your company would probably be worth the set-up and maintenance costs.
What online analytics framework is feasible for you?
Connect with Birgit Pauli-Haack and find out what analytics framework would be worth your while for your website and social media efforts.
Today, Heart Internet published my article on how to make themes Gutenberg-ready. It’s the first article published that was not for a site I own or for clients and I am grateful for Heart Internet and their editor Oliver Lindberg for working with me through the process of getting it published.
In other words, there are a few features the block editor offers, that might not be available yet for your theme and your site, so it’s not pure binary, works or doesn’t work.
There are multiple levels of Gutenberg-readiness.
It goes from enabling Align-wide and Align-full styling for the various blocks (columns, images, cover, gallery), to include styling for each core block to providing custom color and font-size pickers for your customers content creators, so they stay within the brands boundaries.
In this article, I’ll talk about all these different ways your theme
can interact with the block editor. We’ll talk about stylesheets, CSS
specificity and layout. There are voices, and mine is among them, that
building blocks are the domains of plugins. Themes provide the glue
between features and front-end, and a site owner should be able to
switch out their theme without losing content or composition. Of course,
like everything else in life, the edges are blurry and the block editor
is still in its infancy.
The latest version of WordPress (4.9.8) shows on your Dashboard a prompt alerting you to the “new, modern publishing experience coming soon”. Over last two months, I have been following the development of the Try Gutenberg Call-out for the WordPress dashboard. The new editor is codenamed Gutenberg, and you might ask yourself: To try or not to try?
Your graphics are honey to the bees, irresistibly drawing your worker bees – er, readers & fans – to your posts from all across the internet. Graphics are King! Don’t you believe me? You say, “It’s content.” Yes, you are right. Content is king, but only if you can get the attention of your target audience, and tempt them to click on a link to actually get to your content. A great graphic for your content makes it more shareable, more enticing to click on it and more successful.
Researchers of Vanson-Bourne investigated the used of secondary CMS among enterprise organization. The study was commissioned by WPEngine and Manifesto. 300 Enterprise-level IT and marketing decision makers, involved in their organization’s website operation, were interviewed in October 2017. Respondents were from organizations in the private sector across UK and US. The companies had at least 1,000 employees, the majority of respondents’ organizations have at least 3,000 employees and the average global revenue was 3.2 Billion.
How do I come up with blogging ideas for my nonprofit website or my online business?
It’s a question often asked. When you put this issue in the Google search box, you’ll find about 197,000,000 results. One answer for you: Search Analytics in the Google Search Console
The most forgotten tool for content creators is Google Search Console. About a year ago Google renamed it from Webmaster Tools as an attempt to get non-techies to pay attention to the information it uncovers.
Yes, there is a lot of techie stuff there, still. But one section is pure gold when looking for inspiration on what to blog about next. If you write for your nonprofit’s website, you need a report on the site’s position on the result pages. A report on monthly activity will work on most occasions. If it’s a new site, use the last 90 days to compile the list.
What can you learn from the Search Analytics?
It lists all keyword phrases your website was relevant, in Google’s mind, for its search pages.
For each keyword phrase in the list you can see:
Number of clicks
Number of Impressions
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Let’s take it one at a time:
Number of Clicks
People saw one of your pages listed, found it worth checking out and clicked to pull it up in their browser. If they didn’t lose patience while waiting for the page to come up, they landed on your website.
By the way, those are the visitors and sessions you see in your Google Analytics under “Organic search.”
Number of Impressions
Search Console Help states: “A link URL records an impression when it appears in a search result for a user.”
Every time one of the web pages from your site was included in the search results it counts as an impression. Google also notes that the URL does not have to be scrolled into view for it to count. It does not mean the user searching has seen the web page. What you can now see is how many people have searched for the keyword phrase.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
You can calculate the click-through rate by dividing the Impressions by the Number of clicks. It gives you a relative measure of your web page’s’ performance.
The last number is average position and identifies the spot on the search result pages. The goal, of course, is the number 1 spot. Ranking number one for your brand is easy. If people search for your company, your site should come up on the number one or number two spot.
Apart from that, to rank high enough to get to the top spot, your content needs to hit the keyword phrase exactly. The web page needs to cover the topic deeply and exhaustively. Most of the time that’s not the case.
A lot of different ranking factors go into the algorithm determining the placement of a web page. All you can aim for is close to the first page of the search result pages.
How do keyword phrases in Google Search Console help you create better content?
You look at the keyword phrases with a high click-through rate. Decide for yourself, if it’s a keyword phrase, that is relevant to the goals of yours. Relevancy is key. Sometimes we find surprises in the Search Analytics. For instance, our website ranks high for “pardon our dust.” A phrase placed on our site before we had any content. A person searching for this phrase is not interested in nonprofit technology topics.
Next, to the keyword phrase, you see a gray arrow in a square. If you click on this square, you will see an example of Google search page for the keyword combination.
Take a look at the sites listed on the first page. Now asked yourself, if you can’t do a much better job writing about the topic than they could. Your next blog post will be on this subject. Combine it with a series of other blog posts, make an ebook out of it and use it as a lead magnet. Invite an expert and interview her on this topic for your next video. Re-purpose the audio of the video and publish it as a podcast. It’ll be a lot of work, but it will be worth it.
“What’s a good read for people is good enough for Google.”
This approach should drive your editorial calendar. Do this for twelve more keyword phrases, and you improve your average position. To get to number one spot might take a few months. And you will generate more clicks to your pages along the way.
How long should your blog post be?
Well, you can aim low and go for 300 to 600 words with a nice graphic to attract readers on the social webs. If you want to hit a home run, you need to take a big swing, though. Go for the long form content.
Back in 2012, I was doing some research for myself and our customers to select the best blogging tool and work through all the necessary features to use it as the central hub of an organization’s online communication. The research for the post took me quite a while to make real apples-to-apples comparisons, and test each of the 17 features in four blogging tools.
When you search for “compare blogging engines” the article is still listed on the first page, five years later. It doesn’t perform as well anymore because in the last five years a lot has happened in that landscape. You can imagine that on top of my to-do list is to update the post with new information, make the overview table responsive to mobile devices, and then it will drive more relevant traffic to our website again. Studies show long-form content outperforms shorter content for the long tail and both have their places in your content marketing strategy and search engine optimization activities.
“Give people what they need, and they will reward you with their clicks.”
NewsCred’s managing editor, Heather Eng, wrote about their internal Content Quality Checklist every piece of content needs to pass. It should get you started to formalize quality standards for your content producers.