In every business sector, the more integrated today's direct marketing efforts, the better. And increasingly, that integration must involve a Web site that supports both the direct mail and e-mail campaigns. In fundraising, that holds true, for prospective donors don't waste much time before heading to a fundraiser's Web site to conduct a little research.
"Many prospective donors get a piece of direct mail, or even a telemarketing call, and go to the organization's Web site to check it out, see what work they do, look at their financials and the staff or board list, etc.," says Mwosi Swenson, vice president of client services at Donordigital, the online marketing arm of Mal Warwick Associates, a Berkeley, Calif.-based direct marketing fundraising agency. "Many refer to the site before they decide to make a gift."
Here are three ways to make sure that Web site is ready for the visit.
1. Create Continuity
"If you're doing a big acquisition mailing, it's good to have a graphic or news item on the homepage that deals with the same issue or positioning as the mail so that direct mail prospects see some continuity if they come to the site," explains Swenson.
2. Make It Easy to Give Online
Most direct mail now provides prospective donors with a URL response mechanism to give money. Campaigns surrounding emergencies and disasters, for example, often drive mail donors to an organization's Web site to "put their money to work immediately."
"You can create a special donation page for each direct mail letter so that you can track mail-to-Web donors," relates Swenson, although she mentions that many mail donors just search for the homepage rather than go to the specific URL that you sent them.
3. Stay Newsworthy
Even good donors only get so many letters a year, and their content can't be too up-to-date. "For donors who want to really follow what you are doing, or want to see what you are doing in response to a news item, the Web site is the place to go," explains Swenson. So while most mail donors seldom visit the sites of the organizations they support, those with the inclination to seek you out do so most often when your organization or its issues are in the news.