TechTalk: Should I Spend More on Facebook or Google?
We have more choices about how to spend our online marketing budgets than ever before. So how can a fundraising team be as efficient and effective as possible with limited time and money? That's what we'll explore in this month's column.
There are two extremes, and it's best to avoid either one. On one side of the spectrum are those fundraising organizations that are too limited in their online marketing. They may rely heavily on only one or two online tools. They have websites and are using email newsletters, but that's about it when it comes to online relationship building.
On the other end of the spectrum are those teams that not only have extensive Pinterest collections, but spend lots of meeting time talking about Snapchat and Instagram. Not to say experimenting with new social media should be discouraged, but it should be given budget and time boundaries when compared to more proven, though less flashy, tools such as email marketing.
Most would agree that a website is a basic need for any organization, but I have seen many teams make the mistake of spending too much time and energy building or renovating their websites, only to fall short on plans to drive traffic to those websites. The old "build it and they will come" idea may work in the movies, but it does not for nonprofit websites.
It's good for any fundraiser to be familiar with the primary sources of traffic to his or her website. I don't expect the fundraiser to replace the webmaster anytime soon, but there should be a good conversation between those two roles. Their mission should be to drive more traffic to the website, particularly the type of traffic that converts to online donations or other goal that is important to the organization.
This is where tools like Google Analytics are essential. Ask your website person or company to list for you the top five or six sources of traffic to your website, in order of how many users each source brings to your site.
The list will look something like this:
- 100,000 users: Direct traffic (mainly people who know your website and type it into their browsers)
- 50,000 users: Organic search traffic (people who come to your site from a Google search)
- 25,000 users: Paid search traffic (people who click on an AdWord that links to your site)
- 20,000 users: Facebook traffic (ask about the split between Facebook mobile and Facebook desktop)
- 15,000 users: Referral traffic (people who arrived at your site from another website)
- 10,000 users: Email traffic (people who clicked on a link in an email you sent)
Based on this list, some may argue that they should spend twice as much time on Facebook as they do on email, since it drives twice as many users.
Now, ask them to sort the list of top sources based on how many online donations were generated by each source. The list may have a significantly different order such as:
- 1,000 donations: Direct traffic
- 500 donations: Organic search
- 250 donations: Email
- 150 donations: Paid Search
- 75 donations: Referral
- 50 donations: Facebook
Based on this view of the information, email should get more time and energy than Facebook.
One of the areas where I commonly find opportunities for clients is in their paid search bucket. They may already have Google Grants (if you don't, go get one), but they are not optimizing them. Further, they are not linking their AdWords to conversion metrics such as online donations. They are reporting their AdWords efforts in terms of how many visitors they drove, not in how many online donations those visitors completed.
Facebook hasn't launched a grants program similar to Google, but it should! In the meantime, there are lots of opportunities to become a better Facebook marketer. Become more familiar with your Facebook "Insights Report," which allows you to benchmark other organizations similar to you.
And a final "like" for Facebook: I have noticed that as audiences become more mobile versus desktop, the importance of Facebook increases in driving mobile donation traffic.
Keeping your team focused on your conversion analytics, not just your traffic analytics, keeps everyone on the same page: driving as many online donations as possible from your limited online marketing budget.
Philip King is founder of The Donation Funnel Project, an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip King is founder of The Donation Funnel Project, an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. He is a regular contributor to NonProfit PRO.