If you're like me, your list of to-dos never gets any shorter, and there never seems to be enough time to do it all. I hear this a lot from colleagues and clients in the nonprofit industry -- there are literally hundreds of things that we could do, but we simply don't have the time, budget, or staff to do it.
The competing priorities of our donors, stakeholders, partners, and our own team can lead us into a vicious cycle of nitpicking and constantly building and rebuilding, sending around for approvals and fixing again -- and then suddenly it's September and we didn't launch the new website or give the new email template a shot.
So here's my advice: stop building and rebuilding, and start testing!
Why fix what isn't broken? Why spend all of your resources on a landing page that doesn't get any traffic? Why spend months on an email newsletter when your audience doesn't read newsletters? The key is to test first, and then prioritize improvements and changes.
Let's start with five things to focus on for an experiment in testing. Each one also has a list of resources if you want to dig in further.
1. Your blog... or lack thereof:
To blog or not to blog... that is the question. Is your blog a resource and a time suck, or is it actually bringing you potential business leads?
We're just starting our blog here at Creative Science Labs, and we're eager to see how it performs and if it helps us to meet some of our business goals. Once upon a time, everyone was blogging. Now, some are realizing that it's not always the best use of resources, especially for nonprofits. You don't know until you try -- start with a small, but solid plan, set goals, and see what happens!
- Take a look at this article by HubSpot, a leader in inbound marketing, about setting SMART goals.
- Not sure if you should host a blog on your website? Check out Medium, a free, easy to use platform to publish your big ideas and best stories.
2. Your site's navigation:
If visitors are having trouble finding things on your website, chances are they won't stay for long.
When testing new menu options or moving pages around on your website, start with something minor (i.e. not your donate button). Better yet, skip the guesswork and create a small survey for your site visitors, or organize a focus group to help determine other potential changes to test.
- To learn the art of A/B Testing, check out this beginner’s guide by Kissmetrics, experts in customer intelligence and web analytics.
- Use Survey Monkey for a simple and free questionnaire.
- This Mashable article provides 10 awesome A/B testing tools to improve your conversion rate. I recommend Unbounce, a paid tool to get you started on A/B testing; but your Google Analytics Experiments account is a great, free resource as well.
3. Email Marketing:
Email marketing is a great partner for your website because it can help drive a lot of traffic, making it a valuable asset for testing and perfecting. It’s also one of the best and easiest ways to test engagement – through subject lines, image placement, buttons, messaging, links, and more. Pick one or two things to test against benchmarks and evolve your email marketing one step at a time.
- For a quick and easy read on what to test and how to test it when it comes to email marketing, skim this article from Marketo, one of the best marketing software companies out there.
- Feeling left out because you don’t have an email marketing program yet? No worries. Get started with two of our favorite email providers: MailChimp or Constant Contact.
4. Calls-to-Action (CTAs):
CTAs get people to actually do stuff. It’s literally the ask for donations, social media activity, petition signatures, event attendance, and more -- so you want to make sure they’re clear, prominent, and (of course) working. CTAs can start with getting someone to visit your website and can lead them to becoming one of your most active supporters or customers.
Most importantly, CTAs should be action-oriented -- there should be no question what you want someone to do.
- To learn everything about CTAs from clicking to placement to measurement, check out this eBook by Hult Marketing.
- Need a tool to help you create a CTA? Click here.
5. Landing pages:
Your website’s homepage is your company's online storefront. You want it to be welcoming, informative, and most importantly, impactful. However, focusing too much attention on your homepage alone may not help you achieve all of your goals and metrics benchmarks.
There are many ways to enter a website - through a content offer, a link from another company's blog post, a Tweet… the list goes on. Review your landing page analytics to determine which parts of your website should get your utmost attention. (Hint: It’s the web pages with the most traffic. Also: check the search results and see what people are looking for!)
- To find out your most popular landing pages and compare them through Google Analytics, read through this guide by Hallam Internet.
- Need a good, affordable landing page tool? Instapage works great.
We're In This Together
At Creative Science Labs we’re all about experimentation and testing. We want to give our clients an excellent digital platform so that they can serve their communities as best as they can.
While there’s always 1,001 things on our to-do list that we want to make the latest and greatest, it’s best to start testing what you already have in place. It’ll save you some time and money along the way.