Recently I was working with a nonprofit arts organization that hosts one very large national musical competition; they have a great looking website, fairly decent numbers of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. I was asked to help them to deeper develop their presence online, and to find new ways to engage with people.

They had a good presence and even someone to manage it – their problem was that they didn’t have a clear internet marketing focus. I always ask three questions when evaluating organizations.

  1. What accounts do they have and how do they manage them? I want to know what have they’ve tried, what has failed, what has worked. Essentially it’s an analysis of their internet marketing efforts.
  2. Why does your website exist? Usually I give a heads up on this discussion, so that they power players can be in the room. This is typically a long discussion that needs some help to remain on topic. Most organizations and businesses have never really thought about this question beyond the statement, “We just need one to stay competitive.” I direct the conversation to get 3-5 reasons; to make money, spread our mission, etc. Also it is important that these reasons can in some way be objective and measurable.
  3. What strategies will we employ? This is the most fluid aspect of the process, we want to develop systems to allow individuals to use our website and connect to the organizations in the very ways we want them to.

I understand that this this a little bit theoretical but let me show you how it worked with our organization I mentioned before. Here  are the answers to our three questions.

  1. They had a relatively vibrant following on twitter and Facebook and a fair amount of traffic to their site, and an email newsletter. And as I said a very good looking website.
  2. We came up with 3 reasons for their site to exist. To increase and facilitate donations and grants, to tell their story, to increase the number of applications to participate in the competition.
  3. We are on our first trial phase of step three but here is what we’ve decided.

a.       To increase and facilitate donations. We are making sure that we can track donations as a goal in Google analytics and at several key places throughout the website creating a clearly defined call to action to encourage donations. We are also going to tweek the email newsletter template to do the same. We also are going to set up reoccurring donations so that individuals could make smaller donations over a longer period of time.

b.      To tell their story. We are in the process of redesigning their About page, and creating an set of auto-respond emails for when individuals sign up for their newsletter.

c.       Increase the number of applications for participating in the competition. We are creating a new email list (that will get the auto responder above) for individuals to be notified of when the application is available to download. We are designing a large scale PR campaign to announce official opening of the application process.

What is interesting is that of the examples and plans above I’m positive that some will not work as well as we hoped, and that next year we are going to have to reevaluate the process and decide new ways of making this process better.

Remember that no system is perfect, and no website is really ever done. There is always room for improvement and enhancement. And interestingly enough no two organizations will need the exact same solution. What works well for some companies and organizations won’t for others. Try asking these three questions when evaluating your next site.

I’m also curious about what your techniques are I look forward to your answers in the comments.


Today’s guest post was written by Joel Wolfgang (@Joel_Wolfgang). Joel Wolfgang is a Social Media Consultant with @pinnacleindiana & is a frequent speaker at industry events.