Of course you want visitors to your university website to be engaged, informed, and entertained. But you also want them to be enthusiastic enough about your school that they become informal “donor ambassadors” for it once they leave your site.
Engaging visitors can help elevate them from being fans to being donor ambassadors.
Donor engagement is one of the biggest challenges universities face today. People are bombarded with opportunities for giving – some would say “overwhelmed.” And of course people have plenty of their own financial responsibilities, so they want their giving to be meaningful and to make a difference. Here are five ways to increase donor engagement and turn website visitors into donor ambassadors.
1. Attract Visitors By Making Them the Focus of Your Content
First, you have to get visitors to your school’s site. That means your content and technical teams need to get together to ensure your pages are search engine optimized. Search engine optimization (SEO) means something different for every organization, and requires that you look at analytics, set goals, and track progress so you can change course if necessary.
More importantly, however, you must make your visitors the center of your universe, and you do this by providing captivating, fresh, high quality content that’s relevant to them. You can’t expect each page or blog post to appeal to everyone, but make sure everyone can easily find what’s important to them.
2. Build Your Brand Through Multiple Channels
Your website is your “base camp,” and from there, your supporters may want to scan your Facebook page, explore your football schedule app, or peruse Tweets about this year’s concert series. Social media sharing buttons are easy to add to pages, but that’s not enough. You have to uphold your commitment to quality content and interaction on social media properties and mobile apps as well. If it sounds like hard work, it is. But it’s necessary to show your visitors that they are your focus, and to offer them content that speaks to them that they want to share with others.
3. Identify Social Influencers in Your Visitor Base
When you can identify social influencers in your visitor base, you have the potential for creating new donor ambassadors. Donor engagement with social influencers starts with finding visitors with active, widespread social networks, and influence over their peers. When these people talk about your school, programs, teams, or initiatives, you get the benefits of word-of-mouth influence with the speed of social media. How do you find them? Look up blog commenters, people who liked your Facebook page, and Twitter followers and identify a handful who have wide-reaching influence. Then make it a point to engage directly with them to reward and encourage their efforts on your behalf.
Social influencers can wield considerable persuasive power.
4. Find Ways to Offer Perks to Visitors Periodically
The occasional giveaway can provide a terrific boost in donor engagement, and doesn’t have to be anything expensive. You could give away tickets to a university-sponsored event, a school t-shirt, or a copy of a book by a famous alumnus. Some schools use contests on sites like Instagram where people snap photos of themselves wearing university gear or attending university functions. This is an inexpensive way to put your school in front of the eyes of many people quickly. It should go without saying that these giveaways should be promoted across all social channels as well as on your website, and in relevant apps.
5. Use Marketing Automation to Reach More People More Quickly
When using donor engagement to turn visitors into brand ambassadors, you want to be able to focus on interacting and providing them with terrific content so they’ll come back and keep up with what is going on with your university. You don’t want to spend valuable time deciding whether to send someone an email newsletter or a fundraising announcement. Marketing automation tools can help, by monitoring visitor engagement and sending out personalized marketing materials at the right time. That way your team can focus on great content and giving visitors a reason to return to your site.
Your Visitors Probably Already Include Great Donor Ambassadors
Perhaps the best thing about turning visitors into donor ambassadors is that you probably already have several potential ones who visit your site or your social media pages. Those who are enthusiastic about your blog, or who re-tweet your information or share photos of your school, logo, or events on Instagram are a great place to start. Once you engage them to the point that they become donor ambassadors, their reach will help you improve donor engagement and build success on top of success.