How to Use Website Analytics to Improve Donor Development Strategies

Responsive nonprofit leaders obsess over one thing: the donor. As such, donor development strategies became something we think about constantly. It’s at the center of the product features we release, the resources we create and the conversations we have with our partners. 

Recently, we hosted a webinar called Donor Listening Strategies: Listening Strategies to Turn Website Behavior into New Donors to help organizations strengthen their relationships with new people before their first gift. 

The webinar, and information included, helped so many, that we wanted to highlight a few of the most important takeaways here for you. If you’re looking for new ways to engage with the people who visit your website, but haven’t given their first gift yet, here are a few of the best strategies to use.

Donor Development Strategies Must Change Based on Behavior

Before we dive into the tactical aspects of new donor development strategies, it’s important to outline the responsive philosophy when it comes to nurturing website traffic into community members and life-long donors. 

The truth is, the relationship between your mission and the people who help make it possible begins long before the first gift. It begins when they hear about the work you do from their cousins or neighbors. Or, it might begin with a local news story that someone watched and wanted to research more. New donors might have even stumbled upon your organization through a YouTube video or other social media platform.

While in the past, fundraisers prioritized development strategies for donors that already gave, responsive fundraisers understand the importance of developing relationships with people long before that first gift. What’s more, donor development strategies must be personalized to the ways in which that individual was introduced to your organization. 

For example, if someone comes to you through a Facebook Ad they received because their best friend is a highly engaged donor, it is likely that she wouldn’t need much of your introductory content. She’s likely been introduced to your work through her friend over the years and has a comprehensive understanding of what you do. She will need a much different donor journey than someone who was recently inspired by a documentary, searched for causes similar to yours and stumbled upon your website. 

While you likely have donor development strategies for people who have been in your community for a few months to a few decades, you also need to separate donor development strategies for people who you haven’t formally met yet. That’s what Josh Kashoreck from FiveQ helped outline in this webinar. 

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Donor Signals to Consider when Creating Development Strategies

In the webinar, Josh mentions that the five stages of donor engagement include: inspire visitors, connect with leads, educate contacts, ask supporters and appreciate partners. The best way to inspire visitors and connect with leads is to start using website tracking strategies. Let us show you how. 

Referral Traffic Highlights Where Donors Are Making Connections

Referral traffic is one of the most important donor signals for your development team to understand. In Google Analytics, this shows you where traffic comes from when they land on your website, if they didn’t go through Google. 

Likely, you’ll see much of your traffic entering your site from social media websites, but Josh recommends digging deeper into these reports. It’s possible that you’ll find referral traffic from a donor’s personal website or a corporation that supports your cause. These individuals should trigger a different donor journey than those who arrive from your social media profiles. Not only do they have a different connection to your mission, but they also probably don’t have as much information about the various programs you offer. 

Varying the content served to visitors based on their referral source will help you create a personalized experience for each donor, increasing both your revenue and commitment from each person. 

Campaign Tagging Optimizes Current Strategies

As the number and variety of digital engagements increase, so too does the scope and nuance of reporting capabilities. You no longer have to rely on open rates or conversion rates alone to understand what resonates most with people who visit your website. Instead, your team can create campaign tags that give you insight into every step of a donor’s journey, including when they are simply a nameless visitor to your website. 

Josh suggests adding detailed campaign tagging to each touchpoint in your marketing and development efforts. By indicating which campaign, donor persona and program each engagement is associated with, you’ll start to collect vital information about intent and interest. Soon, you’ll notice trends in the kinds of messaging that drives giving. You’ll see patterns in what suggestion leads to more new donors and which falls flat. The campaign tags will give you more and more information over time about which efforts are working and which you need to optimize. 

Landing Page Conversions Help Understand Donor Interests

Your team should already be monitoring the success of your giving page to ensure that you have a conversion rate that can sustain your goals. However, Josh suggests that you pay attention to other conversion points, especially when it converts an unknown website visitor into a lead. 

For example, your nonprofit likely has a call-to-action to get website visitors to subscribe to your mailing list. Josh encourages you to test what you have now with other variables to see if you can increase conversions. Try using a different message to inspire people to subscribe. You may also want to test when they are asked to subscribe. Does it inspire more visitors if you ask after 2 page visits? Is it the first thing they should see? Try testing the ask based on referral source. 

Of course, some tests will result in fewer conversions, but responsive fundraisers know that failure will be part of the process. The point is to try as many data-driven tests as possible in order to serve your website visitors and donors with the best possible experience of your organization. 

Content Affinities Point to The Right Donor Journey

The last area to focus on when trying to create donor development strategies for new visitors is content affinities. This is essentially which content is the most interesting to which audience. When categorizing your content, you can think about it in terms of the themes (e.g. case studies, beneficiary profiles, success reports) or type of content (e.g. videos, text, interactive experiences). 

To understand content affinities look at average time spent on your various content, look at daily visitors and shares. When looked at comprehensively, a pattern will emerge for each of your donor personas that will help inform your donor development strategies. 

The point is not to only create the kinds of content that your website visitors engage with, because that may evolve over time. But you do want these engagement metrics and affinities to inform your decisions when you’re planning your content calendar and crafting new giving campaigns. 

Put Everything Together for the Right Donor Development Strategies

Most importantly, Josh reminds responsive nonprofits to put all this information together to create a comprehensive picture of what will resonate with your website visitors and donors. One metric or focus area will not create the exceptional experience that today’s donor demands. You must understand them with as much context and nuance as possible, so that your engagements will be personal and effective. 

Remember that what inspires a visitor to become a lead will not be what converts a lead to a donor. You must change your development strategy for each stage of the donor journey in order to grow consistently. 

Learn More by Watching The Full Webinar

If you’d like to see the full webinar, including more information about how to pull these important metrics, and others to pay attention to, just click here.

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