We are pleased to announced that The Georgia Association of Women Lawyers won an award for “best website of the year” at their State Bar Association's annual dinner in June. GAWL launched a new website with Virtue Center in January.
“For us, the reason we went with Virtue Center from the beginning was because we wanted something we could own,” said Executive Director Karyl Davis. The association's old site “had some of the basics, but it was just dated, and it didn't do all of the thing we wanted it to do.”
The following is a list of the TOP TEN REWARDS GAWL has reaped from their improved web experience:
1. The Member Directory. GAWL's searchable directory includes photos and profiles of association members, organized by practice area and location. Of all the new features, “I think the directory still gets the most attention,” said Davis. “When we tell people about it, and they see it, once they connect with it, they're very impressed.” Members have gotten “cold calls and referrals” as a result.
2. Placement and Social Media.“It comes up pretty high on the Google search and that's been a big plus – maybe because of the twitter integration.”
3. Event Registration. “It's rally probably event registration and info about events that drives the website, at the heart of what we do.” GAWL organizes multiple events throughout the calendar year, from happy hours and meet-ups to large scale productions like an annual dinner. With a customized form that handles multiple sessions, different price ranges and scales for members and non-members, “obviously, having a website that handles all these details makes it much easier.”
4. A User-Friendly Interface. “While I'm an employee, many organizations like ours don't have an employee at all, it's strictly volunteer,” so having something easy to manage is a pretty big selling point, said Davis.
5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM). “The stuff it does on the back end in terms of tracking what people are doing online, that's something we couldn't do before,” said Davis, who was also impressed by “the idea that we could more effectively target members” with tools like email broadcast segmentation and activity monitoring.
6. A Night and Day Difference. With the previous website, “It didn't process registration, it didn't look as nice. While it worked, it was not very appealing aesthetically, we couldn't register for more than one event at once, we didn't have a basket feature. I think more than anything, it's just that the pages themselves, the descriptions were not as good – they didn't link to social media, we didn't really add photos.”
7. Getting Noticed. “It helps with the younger lawyers, the dated look that we had before was not appealing. I don't think we wanted to be associated with that kind of dated image. It's also something the sponsors tend to notice.”
8. Personal Attention. “It's been really cool to have an idea and be able to say 'I think it would be better if it worked like this...' the team [at Virtue Center] has always made sure that we were pleased with the project.”
9. Connecting a Large Organization. New features make it easier to “connect members from more remote areas in rural Georgia through technology, and make them feel that they're more a part of things, that we have something to offer and we're helping them.”
10. Exploring More. “I realize there are other things that maybe I could do that I'm not using,” said Davis, who plans to take on a video project next. With an advanced new website, the power is in her hands.
A landing page is a place on the internet used to produce a specified, measurable result, like selling a product, signing up new members, or gathering information. It is inherently easy to read, and attractive: and most importantly, it serves the specific purpose of achieving that result with a call to action that works.
Internet marketing professionals have long understood the landing page as a proven and highly effective concept for selling products and services. Unfortunately, in the nonprofit world, it is a rare case where an organization has the resources and capacity to employ a marketing guru.
Nonprofit administrators and their teams — if they are fortunate enough to have a team — are all to often overburdened and underfunded. And while they most likely understand the importance of internet marketing, many are not entirely sure how to go about doing it.
At first glance, intuition suggests attempting to bolster an organization’s clout or legitimacy by building up the content on the main site — adding a constant stream of blog posts, photographs, and other forms of content. (“Look! We’re here! We’re doing something!”)
And while there is plenty of merit to bolstering content — so long as it’s done strategically — many organizations don’t have the annual technology budgets of $10,000 or more to make sure that content is searchable, useful, and generally enjoyable to visitors.
It’s not surprising that many nonprofits have lackluster sites when it comes to achieving measurable results.
If your organization and your budget are small, I advocate keeping a relatively simple site design with basic content, and focusing on specific, goal oriented landing pages, which are proven to deliver the kind of results we’re all hoping to achieve.
Conversions — new members, new donors, and new event attendees — are the prize at the end of the rainbow with landing pages.
Picture a funnel, a small tornado, designed to entice a reader and rapidly suck them into a conversion center - where they can make a donation, sign up for a program, or turn over their contact information to an organization attempting to build a more robust mailing list.
While it may seem counterintuitive, focusing about half your resources — half your time, and half your budget — on one, clearly identified and articulated goal, is a highly effective way to achieve those coveted conversions. And the best way to do that is with a landing page.
So choose the single outcome that is most crucial to your organization in the present, whether it’s list building, or increasing subscription-model donors, or building your membership, and set to work on a clear, concentrated effort to captivate and convert your target demographic.
Especially for organizations that are still at the capacity-building phase of development, it’s crucially important to focus on a small number of critical goals, maybe even just one, rather than scattering resources around a complex website that may not achieve your desired outcomes.
A complex website can actually inhibit the growth of a nonprofit, while a strategically executed landing page can get you a lot closer to where you need to be.
Virtue Center's core product is our customer relationship management (CRM) system. One of the central features of any CRM system is the ability to send and track targeted email campaigns.
The ability to broadcast trackable emails through the VCMS has been available for some time, and while many customers leveraged the tightly integrated reporting capabilities, sending out an email newsletter through the VCMS interface has not been significantly easier than sending this messages through other single-purpose emails systems – until now.
Since the database that drives email broadcasting is the same database that drives website content, it is now possible to use Email Template Plugins to pull from existing content and have that information automatically populated into an email message. Simply putting, dynamically populating events and blog posts content into email templates is now as easy as choosing the "blog" or "events" plugin upon creating an email template.
One of our favorite customers has an email going out that includes mention of their 18 upcoming events? Sound tedious copy/pasting all these events titles, dates and links into an email template? With this new feature, what otherwise would could have take 20 minutes of an execute director's valuable time will now take 2 seconds.
Thanks to Virtue Center's continuous integration model, this feature is now available to all customers who have previously licensed or subscribed to Knowledge Contact.
Virtue Center Technology Team
The Council for American Islamic Relations Tampa chapter is a mid sized non profit organization that advocates for civil rights issues among the state's Muslim community. Less than a year after switching from an antiquated website to one powered by Virtue Center, executive director Hassan Shibly had a major “A-Ha!” moment.
When an unsolicited $1,000 donation hit the organization's accounts, he wanted to know what compelled the user, with whom he had no personal connection, to open his wallet. A quick look at the CRM system told him that just moments before making the online donation, the user had read an emotionally compelling blog post that had been published earlier that day.
The topic of the blog was a hot button issue. Terry Jones, a notorious anti-Islamic media monger, had recently announced his intention to relocate to the area and diffuse his campaign of hate against Muslims. Mr. Shibly had written a blog post advising Florida Muslims to turn a blind eye to Jones' Koran burning tactics.
No one had left a comment on the post, so without the CRM software linking it to the donation, Mr. Shibly would have had no idea of it's impact.
“Especially as a small non-profit, we're learning,” said Shibly, who was initially uncertain whether blogging on the topic would be worthwhile. “I wondered, should we put things up like that?”
From a donation perspective, it seems he absolutely should. With the communication technology facilitated by Virtue Center, he was able to immediately post an attractive and well placed blog on a current events issue as it happened, to gauge the popularity by seeing how many of the members in his database clicked, and ultimately to track the motivation behind the donation.
How did this donor end up in his CRM database in the first place? Mr. Shibly wouldn't be able to pick him out if he saw him at a mosque or grocery store – but it turns out the donor was a regular visitor to the site whose information was fed into the VCMS when he signed an online petition.
Armed with the power of knowledge, Mr. Shibly feels more in control than ever of his fundraising strategy, a transformation he wouldn't have thought possible just over a year ago. Now, when he makes content decisions, he can gage their immediate impact.
“Based on the users interaction, this is the kind of stuff they like, and the kind of stuff we have to keep on doing," he said.