We’ll be looking at landing page issues for the third sector and considering some of the problems faced by non-profit organisations for this weeks post. Can third sector websites learn from the practice of online traders and improve their landing page design? I did some off-the-cuff research by searching for Cancer charity in a leading search engine and I found that of the top ten results that come up only one has a landing page other than their homepage and that is a donation page.
Anything odd about that? – doesn’t that mean the SEO is working? In marketing terms the answer would probably be yes and no. Special Landing pages that are designed to direct users straight through to purchase points are now the norm in online sales. Taking users to a homepage would be seen as a wasted opportunity in this way of thinking. On the other hand it would be a mistake for example to send cancer sufferers to a donation page as a first port of call.
Hard or soft sell?
Is the commercial model wrong for the third sector? Has the hard sell approach been rejected or is the sector just slow on the uptake? Are charities making policy decisions about this or are they missing out by not using custom made landing pages?
The concept of a specially designed landing page is to make the most of your traffic and convert it into sales, (or in charity terms donations or email sign-ups) rather than allow it to bounce – page visitors who go away because your page is not what they expected or wanted. You can get a flavour of the ideal model of a landing page seen from a purely marketing point of view in this blog post by a specialist landing page designer. The traffic to and from your landing page can be tracked and analyzed to refine your advertising and SEO so you improve the conversion rate of page visits -the percentage of your visitors who go on to make a donation or purchase.
A landing page is a web page specially designed as a destination for a user who has searched for a keyword or phrase that is (in theory) strongly featured on your website. It’s not unlike online dating for keywords. Search engines attempt to marry up people searching for information with the sites who have it. Quite often the user has to have several stabs at a search in order to avoid a lot of spam results and fight their way through to the page they really want, as opposed to the page pay per click advertisers want to divert them to.
Lets assume that your landing pages are designed for people who really want to find out how to make a donation to your charity or an ethical purchase at your social enterprise. Is the online sales model useful or do you need a more subtle approach? If a donor is ready to give then the process should be made as easy as possible, the question is how does a donor get to that point?
The current conventional wisdom about online sales is that they are the icing on a substantial cake of incremental judgements which lead a buyer to believe in the product they are buying and that these decisions are fed by diverse sources, from advertising to editorial reviews, social media buzz and peer opinion.
How do you think your supporters make donation or purchase decisions? If a user is ready to make a donation then what keywords might they use if they used them at all as a returning visitor… If they have recently visited your site it is more likely they would let the auto-complete facility of their browser fill in the URL for them. If the commercial model is anything to go by it would suggest that charities should be prepared to send internet searchers direct to donation pages on the basis that the chances are they have already made the donation decision and they just need a little encouragement. The other conclusion you could draw is that your donation button should appear prominently on every page so that wherever a user lands they are only one extra click away from the donation page although it seems most charities already know this.
Simon Fell is senior web designer at Pedalo. Follow Simon on Twitter
Here are some of examples of our own design work for the third sector
See our portfolio.
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