Nonprofits need a website as a part of their marketing strategy. If you exclusively use social media channels, then you don’t own the the site. If a social media platform decides to shutter it doors – Google+- then any content created will probably lost forever.
Facebook Changed The Game – It’s Now Pay To Play
Does this sound like your nonprofit’s predicament? Facebook WAS a great marketing tool until the algorithms changed. It WAS a great way to connect with your stakeholders and donors. Until it wasn’t. A website gives you greater control than a social media platform. More nonprofits and businesses are leaving Facebook due to low engagement rates.
In beginning Facebook was a great marketing tool for nonprofits and small businesses. Facebook allowed you to connect with your audience and 90% of post would be seen. Fast forward to around 2015, and Facebook began to reduce organic views by 50-60%. Today, organic post will only show to about 3% of the people who liked your page. Now to garner the same reach, you must pay.
Many nonprofits did not know the wide spread effect on marketing on Facebook until fairly recently when donations from organic post began to dry up. Facebook made it harder to reach your audience. Yeah, you can create a Facebook Group and have a measurable impact, but most people join groups to get updates or get advice, not continuous donation appeals. Facebook groups are great to build a community around a topic, not an organization. But why put your nonprofit through the hassle of creating and promoting a Facebook Group? Why put your nonprofit at the mercy of Facebook?
You Cannot Control Third Party Platforms
If you build your audience and get them on your website, you can personalize marketing messages.Third party platforms don’t allow you to make any changes to the code. For example, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn do not allow you to add Google Analytics. You are required to use their analytics tools. Disjointed analytics makes it hard to measure the effectiveness of the strategies employed.
Nonprofits are also subject to content moderation on third party platforms. You don’t have control of any database information. Rarely do third party platforms share demographic information. Seth Godin coined “Permission Based Marketing” in 1999. Nonprofits actually do permission based marketing well. You cannot do permission based marketing without your own website.
Why Nonprofits Should Invest In Their Website?
Don’t Investing Time & Money Into Building Someone Else’s Brand.
I did the Google+ and Facebook marketing thing. I invested so much time into those platforms, with very little Return On Investment. I can waste time on building my own branded asset and know that the website will exist so long as I pay the fees to the hosting company.
A nonprofit should build it’s own website for branding purposes. You cannot have an identity on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Everybody looks the same on social media. Content marketing can be a great way to build a community around an issue or topic. Nonprofits can direct the narrative on it’s own digital assets by becoming a publisher.
The time and money you invest into advertising on social media platforms may not net an immediate return. You may get new followers, but a follower does not translate to a donation. Nor does a follower pay the operational cost for a nonprofit. A nonprofit can have a million followers on a social media platform, but if none of those followers makes a donation, what was the point?
Are these followers sharing your nonprofit’s post? Are they promoting and finding new opportunities for your organization? More than likely, followers won’t take any initiative for your organization. I view social media as a brand awareness and communication tool. But here’s the thing, your nonprofit does not have a unique identity on social media.
A nonprofit’s website can be used to tell stories, engage users, and create an unique identity for the organization. Social media allows you to communicate your brand messages, nothing else.
What Can A Nonprofit Do With It’s Own Website?
Stop thinking of a website a static thing. A website can transform your nonprofit organization into a strong community leader. Let’s think about what a website really is: a collection of pages with content. The collection of pages can be a sophisticated learning management system. It can be a communication tool like Discord or Slack. It can be a eCommerce store for a nonprofit. A website can be an online billing system. A website can be a CRM, a blog, a live streaming website, podcasting, or a place to showcase digital exhibits.
I can keep going, but you should get the point. A website is what you make it for your nonprofit. There are a ton of ways to use a website. The simplest nonprofit website acts as a primary marketing tool – or a door to introduce your nonprofit to the world. In this world, you control every aspect of what goes on. There are no algorithm changes, no going defunct (unless you take the website down), and the nonprofit is not competing for the user’s attention. Create a website that keeps your audience coming back!
Learning More About People With Your Own Website
You can use Google’s Tools to create some great survey forms. But that data cannot easily be imported into an analytics program for analysis. Google’s own tools have one major drawback – Google does not allow you to connect your data with it’s own Google Analytics platform. Crazy right? Believe me, I tried to find work ways to incorporate it.
A website can use an open source survey tool like Lime Survey to gather data. Maybe your organization needs to data for an internal research study. External tools, like Survey Monkey (Survey Monkey changed names to Momentive) cost money. If your nonprofit can afford it, great! But let’s be realistic, most nonprofits have very small budgets.
Surveys are a great way to collect higher level permission based data (this how permission based marketing works). Trust is the primary key in permission based marketing. People maybe hesitant about providing third party platforms data. But if the survey was on your own website, it has a higher TRUST level with the consumer.
Gain More Of The User’s Attention
People are distracted. On social media there are a lot of shiny buttons to push. People are checking who Tweeted them, scrolling news feeds, watching video, or a dozen other things. Your message has approximately 5 seconds to capture the users attention on social media. After that, your message will be forgotten.
De-clutter the person’s attention by getting a person to your website. Attention cost nothing, but gaining attention is priceless. Good content and a expert website design can keep the users attention longer. If they are on the organization’s website, that means you’ve got their attention. Why do you think there is so much research on getting people to pay attention? When people pay attention, they retain more details in memory. Social media platforms are a distraction.
A great website can make your nonprofit stand out. It’s all about attracting donors to your message and getting them to pay attention. Once you have that attention, don’t waster their time. Help them discover what your organization has to offer. I know getting donations is every nonprofits goal. But how you go about that goal could turn fundraising campaigns around 100%. The content on a website can help gain potential donors trust. A nonprofit cannot build trust without your own presence.