In this webinar, Jay Wilkinson shares real-world examples of landing pages that every nonprofit should have, and what he has learned from studying the best practices of hundreds of nonprofits.

Full Transcript:

Steven:All right, Jay, is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Jay:I’m ready when you are.

Steven:All right, cool. Good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast, and good morning if you are way out on the West Coast I suppose or maybe somewhere out of country. But either way, thanks for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Convert Supporters with Powerful Landing Pages.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

Just a couple housekeeping items before we begin. I want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation, and we’ll be sending out that recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to share the content with a colleague or a boss or a board member maybe, you’ll be able to do that, just look for that email from me in about an hour after we conclude here.

And as you’re listening today, please feel free to use that chat box right there on the ReadyTalk screen. I know a lot of you already have, that’s great. Send in your questions as we go along. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A, so don’t be shy. You can also use Twitter, I’ll be checking out the Twitter stream as we listen today, so send us your tweets if you’d rather do that.

And if you have any audio issues, we find that the audio by phone is usually the best. So if you’re listening right now and the audio is a little choppy, it’s usually because of an internet connection, but we find the phone is a really solid. So if you don’t mind dialing in by phone, there is a ReadyTalk email that went out about an hour ago that has a phone number just for you in it. So try that out before you give up on us completely.

And if this is your first Thursday webinar with us over at Bloomerang, I just want to say a special welcome, we do these webinars just about every Thursday. We bring on a great guest like Jay for a very informative presentation. It’s one of the favorite things we do here at Bloomerang.

But other than that, we provide donor management software, that’s kind of our core business. So if you’re interested in that or want to learn more or maybe you’re thinking of switching, check us out, you can even download a quick video demo and see the product in action. You don’t even have to talk to a sales person if you don’t want to, so check it out afterwards. Don’t do that right now, I want you to listen for the next hour, but you can check us out later on.

But for now I am super, super excited to welcome back one of my favorite webinar presenters. It not a full year of Bloomerang webinars without this handsome gentleman. He’s one of my favorite experts, he’s one of my personal role models as a matter of fact, he’s Jay Wilkinson. Hey Jay, how is it going?

Jay:It’s going great, thanks Steven.

Steven:We’re glad to have you. If you guys don’t know Jay, I just want to brag on him real quick. He’s going to share a screen here, but he is the CEO and the co-founder over at Firespring, which is my preferred vendor for nonprofit websites. They are the best in the business. If you need a new website, if you don’t like your current website, please look at Firespring first. They are the best for nonprofits.

He certainly understands the nonprofit world. He serves on tons of boards. He has started nonprofits that he is still very active in. He is a frequent presenter and a frequent conference speaker, an international expert on web design, digital marketing, fundraising, that whole universe of things that he’s going to talk about today.

And this is one of my favorite topics, so I am going to pipe down and let Jay talk all about landing pages and websites for nonprofits, and online donations, and all this awesome stuff. So Jay, take it away my friend.

Jay:Thank you so much, Steven. I need to hire you as my wingman. That is awesome. I much appreciate it.

Steven:I’m ready. Whenever you want, I’m ready.

Jay:All right. So thank you all so much for joining us today. I’m going to give you just a tiny bit of a background as to who Firespring is before I set the stage for what we’re going to be going through and we get started today. Firespring is in Lincoln, Nebraska. We call it the Silicon Prairie out here. And we are a B corporation, so we exist to leverage our people, our products, and our profit as a force for good in the world.

And we do that through our “Power of 3” program where we donate 3% of our products to non-profits that are just getting started, 3% of our profit. And we do that by actually giving 3% of our top line revenue to the Firespring Foundation which in turn then give grants to nonprofits mostly in our backyard, Lincoln and Omaha, and then 3% of our people. We do that by having every single team member in our business volunteer one full day, every month. So if you do the math of that over the course of a year it’s a little more than 3% of their time, and it’s something that we feel really strongly about.

We are on a mission of our own to try and get more companies to be focused on their mission and their why as opposed to their what. So it’s something that we do frequently at Firespring. In addition to helping nonprofits with their websites, we also help companies go through that process of finding their purpose and understanding the why.

So today we’re going to dig deep into converting supporters with powerful landing pages. I’ll start with sharing some perspective on what landing pages are so we are on the same page, why we should care about them. We’ll talk about websites. We cannot talk about landing pages without laying the foundation first. Our websites are the foundation of our brand, it’s the core center of our entire marketing and branding as an organization, we have to start there.

And then I’ll give you a bit of a background on some search engine optimization tactics. We’re going to just barely skim the surface on that today. And then before I dive into all of the examples, I’m going to share with you four ways to fail at landing pages, because sometimes it’s easier to understand what not to do as opposed to what to do.

And then of course I’ll share some best practices, we’ll go through several landing pages, give you tons of examples. And I’ll finish by sharing 13 examples of nonprofits that you can utilize in your organization, and then open the floor for any questions you might have very specifically to your organization or in general. We’ll cover any ground that you’d like to cover.

If you are tweeting today, of course use the hashtag #bloomerang, but I would also like you to tag me @jaywilk. The reason why is because I’m going to ask our community manager here at Firespring to go on at the end of the session today and choose one of the tweets, and we’re going to send somebody a copy of my book “Captivate and Engage: The Definitive Guide for Nonprofit Websites.” So if you hear something today that inspires you to think a little bit differently or anything that you might be considering as a takeaway for yourself or for other organizations, tweet about it, use the hash tag #bloomerang, tag me as the speaker, @jaywilk, and she’ll use that identifying information to find all those tweets and choose one to send a copy of the book to.

So to get started on landing pages, I want to start with this handsome chrome top here on the photograph. His name is Seth Godin. Seth is widely considered to be one of the most preeminent marketers in the world today. In fact, Seth is the one who coined the term “landing pages.” He’s the one who first wrote those words and talked about them. And when he wrote about them, he said that a landing page will cause somebody who comes to your website to do one of five things.

One, to get them to click on something, maybe another page on your website or maybe a link to someone else’s. Number two, to get a visitor to the website to give, maybe it’s money or maybe it’s time, something else. Number three, to get that visitor to your website to give permission for you to follow up. Maybe number four, it’s going to help make this viral, and they’re going to tell a friend. Or number five, get the visitor to learn something, to learn something in particular about whatever your cause, purpose, or mission is.

These are the five things. So what we’re saying here is, it’s a page on a website that someone will land on that will cause one of these five actions. But the most important thing is a landing page, by definition, will have a call to action on it as part of a landing page. It’s not really truly a landing page, so they really should call these action pages or something to that effect.

But it’s not really a landing page until you’ve given a call to action on this page, so that when someone lands on this page, they know exactly what it is that you want them to do as a result of having landed on this page. So in this example for No Kid Hungry, if I went to Google and did a search for “feeding hungry children,” I would find a link in my search result that leads me to this landing page. And when I land here, I can see that 45,000 other people have taken the pledge, all they are asking for is an email and zip code, click on the button that says “Take the Pledge. Boom, it’s simple. So this is a great example of a landing page.

Again, landing pages can be and most likely are part of the navigational structure of your website. In other words, I should be able to go to your website and navigate to it through the menu hierarchy that exists on your website, but they don’t have to be. A landing page could be essentially obscure just by the fact that you cannot navigate to it from your website.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say you have a board meeting coming up, and you want all the members of your board meeting, it’s a big one, you’re going to do your annual retreat and you want people to gather, you need to know what their lunch choices are, and what optional activities they want to do that afternoon after the strategy session, whatever. So you’re asking them to come to a landing page to sign up and to opt in for this stuff.

You know you wouldn’t necessarily put that landing page so that you can navigate to it from the front page of your website. You might just include it on your, whatever your domain name is, /boardmeeting. And when I click on that in the link that you send me in the email, it’s going to take me to that page, so it’s part of the website but you can’t navigate to it directly, you have to click on a link to get to it.

So landing pages come in many different styles and forms. We’re going to dig much deeper into it, but I wanted to start with this high level understanding and expectation of what a landing page is. There are certain aspects to it that I’m going to share with you as you move forward today. But the bottom line is, it’s a page where someone can come, be compelled to take action, and then be able to take action by clicking on the call to action that’s on the page, that’s what a landing page is.

We know from Nonprofit Hub that good landing pages are the single most common element among nonprofits who rate at the highest level, the highest 3% of all nonprofits who constituents say, “Oh, they have an incredible website, they do a great job with their web strategy.” Nonprofits that have a landing page strategy are the ones that always finish at the top of that list. But only 8% of nonprofits have a consistent landing page execution strategy, and as a result we struggle.

So I’m going to dig into the website for a moment. I shared with you that we’re going to start with this as the foundation. We know that 78% of all nonprofit websites are designed for less than $750, which means that we’re focused on the cost rather than the ROI, we’re going to come back and talk about that. But when you build your website, it must be built in such a way so that when people get to it, when they land on the website, instead of bringing them into your world and then sending them right back off of the website to go to someone else’s module or plugin or service in order to register for an event or sign up to volunteer or make a donation, we want to make sure that all of these aspects, the ability for them to engage with your organization, that they can do that right through your website.

We sometimes refer to this as the WordPress dilemma, because so many nonprofits have built their websites out in that technology that ends up using free modules and plugins and things like that. Even when we pay a professional designer to build our websites in WordPress, we often use modules and plugins that are sending people to somewhere else in order to engage with them. We have to figure out a way to get over and around that, because it limits the effectiveness and hampers our ability to connect and engage in a deep way with the people that we’re trying to serve.

So let’s dig into this and talk about it a little bit. We know that 82% of all of the people who make a donation to a nonprofit organization are going to go to that organization’s website at some point during their decision making process, or some point right in and around at the point that they make a donation, 82%. So for us to understand the importance of having a powerful and engaging website is critical. So I’m going to share that with you really quickly today, we’re going to cover this at a really high level, but it ties directly into the landing page strategies we’re going to be talking about here in just a moment. So it’s critical that we take a moment talk and about this.

The first element of the five is our website structure. When we talk about structure, we’re talking about how the website is built so that when people come to it, they can just intuitively find their way around and get from where they are to where it is that they want to be. The key to a great site structure is to have options, different ways to navigate through the website, so that I can find what I’m looking for seamlessly and quickly. And we do that by having a pull-up, pull-down menu, maybe a logical menu option, anywhere from three to eight, never more than eight, never fewer than three, high level options on the menu, and just the ability for us to get to where it is we want to go on the website with a point-and-click simplicity.

Number two refers to the design of our website. And oftentimes we misunderstand what this means. By design we’re not talking about how pretty does it look? How great does it look? We’re talking about, how is it designed so that it will tell the story of your organization through the use of the images and headlines that I see when I come to that website? I should come to the front page of your website and just get it. I instantly understand, I know who you are and what you’re about, what your mission is by the use of photographs or other images, and there’s headlines on your website that makes it really evident, really clear as to what it is that you do.

Number three is the element of content. Content refers to the information that we make available on our website. It’s deep, diverse, all the information that we need to fully execute on the promise that we have in our mission to deliver on the information and the educational aspect of what it is that we do in our communities. We must have great content on our website.

But here’s the key with content, it’s not really so much about the content itself as it is, but how do we get the content into the website in the first place? And in 2017, every nonprofit should have a content management system that makes it possible for you and at least three members total on your team, at least three total on your entire, and these could be volunteers, board members, anyone that is affiliated with the organization, three people at minimum should have access to update and modify the content on your website.

And note that I’m not saying change the design of your website, to change a headline to some kind of glittery purple with a unicorn zooming across with a trailing rainbow, the kind of crazy things that we try to do that might look pretty to us, but may not look pretty to others. I’m not talking about changing design. I’m talking about updating content. So if someone wants to update a blog post, they have the ability to do it themselves without going through a gatekeeper to do it. We all know what happens when there are gatekeepers involved in anything. They keep people out and they make it difficult for us to get things updated. So, a content management system that’s simple, straightforward, point-and-click easy is really important today.

Number four is the functionality of our website. What we’re talking about here are the functional tools that make it not only possible, but in many cases necessary for people to come to our website to engage with us in a meaningful way. So this might mean they’re coming there to go to look through our calendar of events or to sign up and register for our events, or to learn more about this particular tool or service or feature that we offer, but these tools make it possible and useful for people to interact and engage with us.

And the last one is vitality. This is kind of like the secret sauce, or the magic behind a really great website that so many nonprofits don’t understand. We’ve done research on this for more than a decade. We’ve had thousands of nonprofit constituents in focus group rooms asking them if we were to build a perfect website for the nonprofit that you donate to, that you serve on the board of, that you volunteer for, whatever your capacity, what could they do to engage with you in a more meaningful way? And so all the things I’m sharing with you are part of that.

But the one thing that they don’t say that we learned through data and stats by looking under the hood and looking into Google Analytics and understanding how people use the website, they don’t say this, but we know because we’ve tracked it for thousands of nonprofit websites over the years, is that having dated content on your front page will compel them to come back. So here’s the formula, dated content on the front page of your website, show three occurrences so that my brain tells me this is going on on a regular basis, never more than seven days apart, so at least once every week you’re posting new content there, a tag line with a date next to it, and my brain is convinced now that your entire website is updated all the time.

It feels like this whole thing is changing. I’ve never implemented this formula that I just shared with you into a website without seeing double-digit increases in repeat visitor counts, because people feel like there’s something always changing.

So these are the five things working together, structure, design, content, functionality, vitality, you knock those out of the park and you will have a beautiful website. You can do it in an affordable way, you can make sure that it’s mobile friendly, you shouldn’t have to choose between all of these things. The key with a good website is to focus on what’s going to have the biggest return on investment for you. It should matter a lot more, if we spend $5,000, we want to get $10,000 back in the next year in increased donations or decreased costs, or increased registrations for our events, whatever it is, we want to have a positive ROI.

There are lots and lots, lots of organizations that only focus on, “Well, how little can we spend and just have something?” rather than thinking about it as a tool to increase your return on investment. So I would encourage you to think about it from that perspective. So what we’re saying here is, all of these different ways that people find out about your website, we want to get people to come to your website and then keep them there. Don’t immediately send them back off to Eventbrite to register or to some other website in order to engage with you. Keep them on your website once you get them there, that’s the key.

I have an entire session that goes deeper into this rabbit hole called “How to Captivate and Engage Constituents with Your Website,” and we’d love to have you join us for that if you’re interested just to make sure you know that’s available to you.

All right, I want to touch on your website’s search engine optimization a little bit and start with this point. Keywords, in other words the words that you are building in to optimize your ability to be found when people are looking for you on Google and other search engines, those keywords should focus primarily on the name and location of your organization first. We know that more than 96% of the people who are searching for nonprofits are searching for you by name and some kind of geographic indicator, a city, a state, a county, whatever area you might serve. So they’re looking for you by name and location, and then your mission, and then you can come up with some really great ways to build keyword strategies and be found.

One other thing, if you have any interest whatsoever in being found online so people can get to you and find you, there’s really no good excuse for any nonprofit that’s a 501(c)(3). If you’re a 501(c)(3), you should be signed up for Google Grants. It takes a couple of months to go through the process, it’s not very difficult, just a little bit time consuming, but once you do it it’s huge. To find out more, just go to

What this means is that your ad is going to show up somewhere on the front page, either through the paid advertisements or through the organic search on the front page of a website when someone types in a keyword that you want them to find. The key is when they click on that and they get to you—this is really important—you’re not going to send them to the homepage of your website, you’re going to send them to a landing page that allows them to take action.

So when people find you, however they found you, whatever word they used to find you, they should land on a relevant landing page that relates to that keyword as opposed to just being ushered off to your front page and then happening to fend for themselves to find a way around and find the resource that they’re actually looking for. And Google Grants is a great program to do that, they actually give you $10,000 per month in free AdWords. So instead of paying $2 or less per click for every time someone clicks on a keyword to get to your website, instead of paying for it, because you’re a nonprofit organization, Google is saying, well, they’re going to give you $329 per day of free search credit that you can use, so that when people come they do a search for your organization, they’re going to come to your website and you won’t have to pay a thing for it, it’s free, but only if you sign up for the Google Grants program. So make sure you’re on top of that.

If you want to learn more about all this stuff related to search engine optimization, we have a session on that as well, it’s called “Be Found: The Secrets of SEO for Nonprofits.” And we’d love to hear from you on that.

All right, let’s dig into the meaty, main course for today, landing pages. I do believe and I sincerely believe that landing pages, if they’re done right, can have the single biggest impact on the fundraising strategy for a nonprofit organization as it relates to their web presence and all the things that they’re doing in the online world. The work that you might do to advertise in Facebook for example or to create a great Instagram following or to create a great search engine optimization strategy where you’re driving traffic to your website, all of that work is fruitless if you don’t have a landing page strategy for when people arrive on your website for them to be able to have a payoff as to what they’re looking for.

Only 44% of clicks, a total of 44% of clicks are directed at home pages rather than a relevant landing page, and this is what we’re trying to change. We want to get 90%, 95% of the clicks to land on the page that’s most relevant for what it is that they’re looking for, as opposed to the front page of an organization’s website.

The bottom line is this, when people are coming in to your website, whether they get there through some kind of social media like Facebook, or if they’re on a search engine like Google, or maybe you sent out your annual appeal letter or you’re giving Tuesday a letter that’s going to go out here in another few months, maybe they learn about you through email marketing program, however they find out about you, instead of sending them to the front page of your website, what we now know is we’re going to send them to a landing page that allows them to take action on whatever it is that you wanted them to take action on, because you know what they’re interested in and what they’d like to find out more about based on what they clicked on to get there. So this is the key with landing pages.

So let’s dig into this. I’m going to share with you the mechanics of a perfect landing page. Here’s the anatomy and how it works.

First of all, at the very top of the page, and this is really important, and you’re going to get pushback, and you’re going to get fight from your web designers and developers if they haven’t done their research on landing pages, which the vast majority have not. But you need to strip out all of that top line navigation. That means there’s no “About Us,” there’s no “Contact Us,” there’s no “Donate Now” button in the upper right hand corner if you’re asking them to register for your event. You don’t want to give them conflicting options. The most important thing at the very top is that we strip out all of the previously designed navigation that’s part of the interior structure of your websites.

And a lot of web developers will say, “Oh, we can’t do that, we have the home page and then we have interior pages. And the interior pages all have all of this stuff down at the footer and all of this stuff at the top, we can’t do that. You don’t want to do that. That’s a big mistake. You don’t want to lock people in on just one choice.” The research and the data indicate the exact opposite, and I can give you reams and reams of data and information that show that having all of this top line navigation stripped out will dramatically increase the likelihood that someone’s going to click on that “Register Now” button and take action.

So the only other thing that they should be able to click on when they come to this website or when they come to this landing page, in addition to the call to action which we’re going to come to here in a moment, is the logo. What happens when someone clicks on their logo? So I think you know this, you and I have been around a little bit, right? We’ve been on the internet for more than a few weeks, we weren’t born on internet yesterday. We know that when we click on the logo of a business or an organization, then it’s going to take us back to the home page of that organization or that company, that’s just the way it works.

So clicking on the logo is going to take me back to the home page. We know that. So we want to make that active, and we want to make the call to action active, that it. Those are the only two things that someone should be able to do on the page itself.

Now you can go to the browser window and hit the back arrow and do that, but the only two things they should be able to do on the page itself is click on the logo and go back home, or click on the call to action, whatever it is. Now down at the bottom, same thing, we’re stripping out all of the bottom navigation, but we also want to make sure that we don’t compete with the call to action by putting a bunch of things down here that are going to draw my attention to it.

So something that’s really helpful is having testimonials or why I should take action on this, why should I do this? Or maybe you want to have some endorsements or you know, we’re a member of this organization or that organization. It’s helpful to build credibility in those ways, make them black and white or grayscale, they shouldn’t compete and pull attention, and there should not be links.

There is another page on your website. If you’re building the best possible website where you have all kinds of testimonials and links out to your board members or supporters, those kind of things, you’re building links and reciprocal links back and forth to your website, we cover that in our SEO session if you want to learn more about how to do that. But there’s lots of things you can do here, but it shouldn’t be linkable from this page. By definition, a landing page should only give you one call-to-action, and then the ability to go back to the home page, and that’s it.

Okay, the next thing here, the headline. The landing page headline that people see when they arrive here should complement the anchor text that they clicked on to bring them there in the first place. So when you’re reading an email marketing newsletter or you have some other way to reach out to people electronically, and they click on a link, the words that they click on matter, they’re really important.

It’s not good practice to make it so, “To learn more about our new mission at XYZ organization, click here,” and then make the underlined link “Click here,” bad practice. Instead you should say, “Learn more about XYZ service,” and “XYZ service” should be the underlined hyperlink. You should use the name, or if they’re registering for your event may be a better example, “To register for our 2017 gala, click here.” You want to say, “Register for our 2017 gala.” And the underlined link is “2017 gala,” whatever the name of the event is.

And the headline that they see when they land on this page should match, it should complement that text. That increases the likelihood that Google will rank it high because of the relevancy of what they click on to where it is that they land, but it also increases the awareness and the consistency that the person who’s clicking through feels when they’re coming into your website.

There should be an image or a video that captures my attention and pulls me in. I want to capture their attention. If you’re going to use a video, make sure that the thumbnail, in other words the image that lies underneath the play button, is a compelling image in and of itself, so that if someone never clicks on the play button and reads or views the video, they still have an urge to follow through on this and to do something about landing on this page.

And by the way, videos don’t necessarily perform any better than a powerful and engaging image in this day and age. Most of us have had our fill of videos, we’ve seen plenty in the last several years. We don’t need to see another video and many of us don’t have time to view them. We’re more likely to be compelled by a powerful image than a video most of the time.

So we’ve captured their attention, and then their mind and their brain is led to the descriptive sub-headline. This is where you are clearly and quickly describing the reason that someone should take action on this particular page. Why should they take action? It should be clear, it should be simple, use bullets, call them out, make it simple, and then of course have a powerful and engaging call to action. The call to action should be expressed in an action word like “Register Now” not “Click here” or “Submit” or things like that that we see all the time. “Register Now” is a great example of a solid call to action.

So this is the anatomy of a perfect website. One more thing on that call to action, there’s a lot of stuff said and written, a lot of research that’s gone into the color of those buttons, depending on what kind of response you want. Red indicates a sense of urgency and energy. Yellow is optimistic, youthful. Blue, trust, security, stability. Pink is more feminine, romantic, sensitive, nurturing, etc. You can see the breakout here.

It’s important that you think about what you want to infer by use of the color behind that action button as well. So let me do a quick review here. Engaging contextual headline, powerful image or video, limit the navigation on both the header and the footer, and provide a clear call to action. These are the four most important things that we’re focused on when it comes to the anatomy of a perfect landing page.

And before we dig into our examples, I want to share with you four ways to make your landing page crash, what not to do, just a quick primer on this before we jump into our examples. Number four, don’t provide many different calls to action. If you have too many options for people, it will stymie them and it’ll like freeze them in their tracks and not going to know what to do, and they’re most likely to take no action at all.

If you’ve ever walked up to a gas pump that’s loaded with messages and buttons and you have no idea like where I’m supposed to look next, what I’m supposed to click on, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This used to be a lot bigger issue, we’re getting better at this, but it’s important that we don’t put too many options.

Number three, is having a landing page without a powerful graphic or image that’s going to capture my attention. This example I have on the screen now is for members of Congress to help fight . . . with the problems that sea turtles have where they face destruction of their habitats and plastic pollution and all kinds of things. And what’s missing from this? There’s no image of a turtle caught up in a fishing net somewhere that needs to be rescued or helped, and so they’re not doing themselves any favors.

Number two, is when we ask for too much information. I love using this example because it’s kind of an overstated example, but we’re conditioned to believe that if there’s an asterisk next to a title or a field, or if it shows up in red, either one, either asterisk or red, then it’s probably a required field, so we have to fill it out. So by that logic, if I come to this website for the International Congress of Churches and Ministers, every single field on this page is required, including my middle name and my pager number, which I don’t probably have any more.

So make sure that you’re only asking for the minimum amount of information that you need in order to consummate this step, whatever it is that they’re doing, registration, sign up to volunteer, whatever they’re doing, ask for the minimal amount of information. And once they’ve committed to it, then you can ask them for more.

And then the number one way to make your landing page crash is to have an unclear call to action. Oxfam did a great job with this website for the most part, for this landing page. It looks fantastic, all except for the stuff down at the bottom. If they just got rid of these other three line items, because here the call to action is “JOIN,” they’ve got this compelling image, it’s clean, it’s simple, it’s straightforward.

But then they had to say “Learn more. Act now. Shop.” Well, which one do you want me to do? I’ve got four choices now. I’m going to get stymied in my tracks as I’m trying to decide which one of these four calls to action I want to respond to. Really important that we just have one call to action on every page.

So let’s dig into this and talk about some best practices now, we’ll evaluate a few pages. Again, we’re looking for an engaging contextual headline, powerful image or video, limited navigation, and a clear call to action, so that it’s very evident as to what it is that you want me to do as a result of landing on this page. So let’s dig into our first one.

This first example is from It’s at first glance a really awesome image at the top, I’m pulled in, I’m completely enraptured by this photograph of this woman holding this big, giant . . . it looks like it weighs 100 pounds on her head. The headline “CHANGE LIVES WITH WATER,” “START YOUR FUNDRAISER,” all that is great.

But then they had to go lay this stuff down at the bottom, “REAY, SET, CHANGE!” Okay, what do you want me to do? You want me to think of an idea, create a fundraiser start my fundraiser, tell others about it, what is it that you want me to do? So many different things going on here, it’s hard for me to hone in on what it is that is going to be the most logical step.

This one, “PROTECT THE PLANET THAT PROVIDES” has a really fantastic image. Again, I feel compelled to want to click that play button. I want to hear the rushing water that’s falling down on these boys as they’re playing in the waterfall. Well done, “TAKE THE PLEDGE,” it’s brief, the only required field is an email address, and they have a clear call to action, “TAKE THE PLEDGE.” Very well done landing page that pulls me in and will compel me to take action.

Here’s one from Nonprofit Hub. I have to throw our friends over at the Hub on the screen and maybe a little bit under the bus on this one, because they make one of the classic mistakes in this one of having white text on a lighter colored background. Now, sometimes it looks okay depending on the way it’s constructed and the way it’s put together to have white text on a black or really dark solid background, but then you have to make the text really large, much larger than what it is in this example. But it’s important to note that you should never use white text on a light background.

But I wanted to use another point here that you don’t have to use a photograph or a video. You can create a compelling graphic statements like this “1 HOUR MISSION STATEMENT.” And if they would have done the text a little differently behind it, this would have been a potentially powerful landing page.

Here’s one from an organization called the Hearing Health Foundation. And it’s very confusing. First of all, there are two logos, the Hearing Health Foundation, and the Healthy Hearing down below. Which one is it? I’m not even sure which one I’m supposed to follow.

You’ll notice down below, I mentioned earlier all their credibility sources, all these different organizations they’re a part of. Those should be in black and white. The text here again, it’s a white text on a blue background, it’s not quite the right contrast, and it should be justified left, you should never center text in a column like this. It’s harder to read when you do that. So many mistakes. It would take only a couple of quick changes to completely change the dynamic of this landing page and make it better.

The American Red Cross. This is what happens when you have too many cooks in the kitchen. I know that so many organizations like the Red Cross, they have so many people that are working and they have policies and procedures and red tape to go through, everybody has to get their stuff in. So somebody came in and said, “You know, we’ve got to keep all of our stuff at the top, what we do, stories, news and events. We’ve got to have the hierarchy up at the top.” So here’s the call to action, “TELL YOUR STORY” or is the call to action “Make a Donation.” There are two different calls to action. I’m not sure which one that I want to do. So again, so busy, so much stuff going on here, so much pulling my attention away.

Here’s one from World Vision: For Children, For Change, For Life. This also has really compelling images. I love the photograph of the children at the bottom because every child is worth it, and the photograph of Drissa, a four-year-old boy who lives in Mali. Now, if they just showed one or the other of these graphics, and then made it possible for us to sponsor the person that we see in the photograph, all the better. So we want to hone in on specifically the one call to action that they want us to focus on with one image.

Here’s the International Fund for Animal Welfare. What’s missing here? Well, they are clearly missing a graphic, a powerful and engaging graphic that’s going to pull my attention in. And what they’ve done also here, and this is the first time I’ll mention this today, but the best practice, the absolute, optimal way according to research to build your landing pages is to build them so on the first page they can commit to making a donation.

So I’m going to go back, so like you might sponsor Drissa now, and then on the next page once they’ve clicked on that page, it allows them to plug in the payment details. Best practice dictates that having the payment details along with the address on the same exact page as the “Donate Now” button actually decreases the likelihood that someone will submit it and fill it and send it out and consummate the entire donation, because it feels like there’s a lot of work to be done here.

So I’m now going to dig in and show you some very specific things that definitely have room for improvement. I’m going to start with this one from GiviGiv. This is a fantastic landing page in all respects, except for one. You’ll see the headline at the top, they’ve cleaned out all the top line navigation. The writing, the headline is really powerful. I love the image of the dog. They’re asking only for an email address, you can see the asterisk, it’s clear what they’re asking for.

Down below there are cool graphics, “Select and Experience,” “Send to a Friend,” “Donate,” “Sign up now.” It’s a pretty well done website with the exception of one thing, and I’m delaying on this because I’m giving you time to look at this and see if you can identify what the one thing is, something I’ve already mentioned early in this conversation today, I mentioned it very briefly. But here’s the thing, the world’s worst call to action is the word “Submit.” What does that actually even mean? I want to submit to helping? What are we submitting to or for?

So don’t use the word “submit” or “click” or words like that. We want to use action words that allow us to give credibility, like “Give now” which is a good action word. But this organization puts all this data, all this information on the front page here before I’ve committed to it, so it feels like there’s so much that I have to do. And the image, while it’s a great photograph, it’s so small, it just gets lost on this page. You don’t even feel like you’re looking at this image. So again, lots of work to be done there.

Same with the UN Refugee Agency. They’ve got all of the data, they’re using the word “submit” again, and they’re also giving me all these other options, donate to this appeal or donate to this crisis or donate to this one over here or this one over here, all these different things that is pulling my attention away from being ready and able to hit “submit,: because I don’t know exactly what it is that you want me to do.

And then here’s one at Another example of a landing page without a photograph or an image to pull me in. “Start a petition” is not a bad call to action. The call to action works, but without a graphic or an image it just totally gets lost, and they’ve got all this stuff at the bottom of the page, lots of stuff that is unnecessary. We want people to hyper-focus on the call to action.

And then here’s one from a charity event that Time Warner Cable is doing. It’s called “Take the Pledge,” but they’re using here that dreaded captcha. Captchas are not necessary, folks. If your web developers tell you that the only way they can safeguard or protect your website from being inundated by people submitting forms over and over and over again, you probably have the wrong web designer, because it’s something that can be accomplished through the design of the website. You can put in protocols that make it possible, that if somebody from the same IP address, for example, submits the same form within 15 seconds that it basically doesn’t allow it, it shuts them off.

There are things you can do with just the coding and the technology that you don’t have to put these things in, you don’t have to put in these safeguards with captchas. Captchas almost 100% of the time will scare people away from a landing page. Now, if you’re using a captcha for some very specific thing deeper in, you’ve already got a relationship with the person, it’s different. But having it on the front of a landing page where you’re trying to get someone to engage with your organization is always a big mistake.

So next I’m going to share a couple that go to the front of the class. These are landing pages where they really do knock it out. You’ll notice down here at the bottom, 98% of their goal, they were at 268,000 submissions at the point in time that I took this screen shot. And it’s a great example of a simple landing page. They don’t even use a photograph. They use text treatment to say, “Join the Global Food Revolution.” But all of the top line navigation and the bottom line navigation is stripped out. “Sign Petition” is very clear. We know exactly what it is that they want us to do, now that we clicked on this, and it’s very simple and straightforward. They’ve done a great job with this one.

Here’s one from St. Baldrick’s Foundation. This image of this child with a shaved head is so compelling, it truly does pull me in. “Be A Shavee. Meet Zoe. You Can Help Save Her Life.” And very brief information, and the call to action, “Find an Event Near You.” We know exactly what it is that they want us to do as a result of landing on this page, and it takes care of all of the things that are important, most importantly having a powerful, compelling image, the engaging contextual headline, we know what it is, we’ve limited the navigation, and a clear call to action. All four of the major steps are accomplished here.

And then here’s another example of the GiviGiv website, replacing the call to action that used to say “Submit” with a simple call to action that says, “I Support GiviGiv” which is basically what you’re asking them to do when they’ve come to this website. This simple change increased the effectiveness of this landing page by more than 30%. It increased the number of people who filled out their email address and clicked on the “I Support GiviGiv” button by 30%, which is pretty dramatic if you think about how . . . If you have 100 people coming to your website, a 30% increase is it is a big impact.

I also want to point out that you can make landing pages not just on your website, you can also make them on Facebook. So Planned Parenthood, for example, has options where you can click right through on their Facebook page and it works the same as a landing page, and you can get started right here. Same with No Kid Hungry. You can fill out the basic information and take the pledge right here on their Facebook page. So Facebook goes to levels of connectedness with our constituents that websites do not.

Facebook has become, in the nonprofit sector, the second largest search engine for the entire sector, meaning that Google is number one, and Facebook is number two. YouTube is actually number three in the nonprofit sector, and it’s actually number two in the generic or just global sector as a search tool, how people find different companies and where they come across non-profits, etc. But Google is a great tool, but Facebook is where more and more and more of the people are searching for the nonprofits they support. So having a landing page built right into Facebook is a logical step.

Here’s the bottom line. People who come into your website through a landing page are 10 times more likely to take action than those who begin on your homepage. This is huge people, this is huge. If we can get landing pages built throughout our website and have several of them, we’re going to change the way that we connect and change the way that we convert people who come into our world.

So here are 13 ideas for landing pages. Become a member. Donate to our general fund. Sponsor an exhibit. Donate a good or service. Support an artist. Sign our petition. Take the pledge. Sign up for our “insider only” email list. Sign up to volunteer. Register for our event. Buy tickets, etc.

Every nonprofit organization should have a minimum of five landing pages, and when I say minimum of five landing pages, I mean at any given time you should have five landing pages that are active and built into your website. So let’s say you are the type of organization that works with volunteers, you do raise money from the public through donations from the general public, and you have two events a year, there’s four right there, so just pick one more for your fifth.

You’re already at four. If you have two events that you do, you take donations, and you allow volunteers to sign up. It’s really important that we diversify these landing pages and make it possible for people to take action on whatever it is that we want them to take action on simply by coming to our website and clicking on the buttons. It makes it so much easier for people to engage and easier for us to convert them into donors, followers, important constituents, etc.

So as we start to turn this corner here, we’re going to be opening the floor for questions here in just a moment. Send those across in the questions panel now. I’ll pause here in a moment and ask Steven to just share a couple of questions that have come through. But I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.

Steven, Jay, the whole crew at Bloomerang, we have been fans of Bloomerang from the very beginning, even before Bloomerang started we were having great conversations about what it was going to become, and it’s been just a true joy watching the growth of Bloomerang over the years to see what it’s done and how it’s taken hold in the nonprofit sector. We are big believers in Bloomerang. We have a deep integration between our products because we are such big believers of the Bloomerang toolset, and we appreciate the entire Bloomerang community for coming together today for this session.

So our mantra at Firespring with these kind of sessions, with educational content is to “Educate Without Expectation.” So what we do is we pull together the best information we can gather through our focus groups in the research that we do, and we share it just without expectation. But I am going to take just a quick moment, for about three to four minutes here and share with you, with some expectation, some things about Firespring that we’d love to share with you so you can learn more.

Firespring solves a problem in the nonprofit sector. Our goal is to help nonprofit organizations have a powerful content management system that makes it possible for you and other members of your team to update and modify the content of your website without having to go through a gatekeeper. So what we do is take your existing website, whatever you have today, and just take that content information and plug it right into this content management system.

We pair that with powerful email marketing tools, with event registration tools that make it seamless and powerful for you to manage your own events through your own website and not send them off to someone else’s, blogging tools and news feeds that make it easy for you to have that vitality we’re talking about, and of course landing page templates. Point and click, where you click a button and it walks you through the process of setting up the perfect landing page. All you have to do is upload a photograph, the content itself, and decide what the call to action is going to be. It’s that simple, having simple, straightforward landing page templates is a really important aspect in order for executing on landing pages and making them happen.

And then we have search engine optimization tools built right into the website. Not only the tools but the education on how to use them and how to be found, and we make it easy for all of your donations to come right through your website, so you don’t have to send people off to PayPal or some other source in order to take online donations. And then we’ve partnered with nonprofit hub to offer a very robust fundraising boot camp where we walk you through the process of how to become a master fundraiser for your organization. And then of course provide you with live people support, you can pick up the phone and call and talk to a real person any time. That’s the power of what we’re focused on.

And our websites start for $89 a month. There’s no upfront cost, it’s just $89 per month for all of the all of the functional services of the website that you need. If you went down the street and tried to hire another graphic design firm or a professional web development firm to build this for you, you’d pay at minimum $25,000, the average cost is more than $50,000, because we’ve actually taken the specs of what the Firespring product does and taken it to custom designers and asked, “How much would you charge to build this?” So you have landing page templates built right in like we’re talking about today, the ability to integrate your blogs and all of the other functional tools.

We’re also offering, because of your relationship with Bloomerang, we’re offering a $500 onboarding grant. So if you want to utilize that to have us help you build out your content for example, we can do that. We do a lot of work with Giving Tuesday. We love helping nonprofit organizations see the strategy behind how to put together a really outstanding Giving Tuesday, and we’re here to help you kick butt on that day, so we have a free resource available to you. If you’d like to learn more about Giving Tuesday, just go to, and there’s more information about our Giving Tuesday resources available to you as well.

We also have some webinars that are specifically oriented for Giving Tuesday. We know that people don’t give to nonprofits, they give through nonprofits, and the ability for us to leverage the way that they give in really powerful ways is something we’d love to help you more with, and so we have some several more sessions coming up on social media, avoiding donor attrition, how to leverage blogging and thought leadership, and all kinds of really important topics as it relates to Giving Tuesday.

All right, with all of that being said, we’re going to go ahead and pause here and take for the last couple of minutes of our session take whatever questions might have come through that might be relevant for the whole group. Steven, what’s out there?

Steven:All right, we’ve got some good ones, but I just want to say thanks, Jay, and return all the kind words. We love Firespring and you guys over there just as much. I just love this presentation. I love geeking out over these bad forms and trying to pick them apart, so I was just sitting here enjoying my popcorn. So thanks, Jay, this was really cool.

We’ve got some good questions. We probably won’t get to all of them. But a lot of people ask a variation of the same question, Jay, and that is, these landing pages should be what people land on, but should you link to them within the website? So let’s say someone comes to the homepage first, should they be able to get to these pages once they’re already on the site in addition to these pages being what they visit first in a lot of cases, does that make sense?

Jay:Absolutely. In fact, the majority of landing pages, 90% of landing pages are accessible through the navigation of the website. So “Donate Now,” which is a common button on most nonprofit organizations’ websites, when they click on “Donate Now: it should take them to the landing page that allows them to make a contribution to the organization. When they click on maybe a banner that you have on the front page of your website about your upcoming event, it should take them to a landing page that allows them to register for that event. So yes, the majority of the landing pages you should be able to navigate to from your website.

Steven:You said this at the top of the presentation, I’m glad you did, but the term landing pages is kind of problematic, and I think you said action pages, like maybe we should just start, try to change the whole industry and call them action pages, because these are pages where people do something, and I think once you kind of get that clear in your head, then the whole world or the opportunity opens up. That’s what we’re saying, that these are pages where the user takes action.

Jay:It’s a great point, and I do think that’s what they should be called, is an action page.

Steven:All right, we’ll change the world together, I’m with you. So you answered a lot of these questions as we go along. A lot of people asked about the Facebook thing. I think you got a lot of people’s attention when you talked about using Facebook as a landing page. Any resources or tutorials that you’ve put together or seemed to how to maybe make more use of that?

Jay:I know that within the nonprofits that I’ve been part of, I don’t consider myself to be an expert on Facebook development or management, but I actually just did a search for “how to build a landing page on Facebook” and I went and built one for an organization that I’m part of. So it’s not difficult, it wasn’t time consuming. So you can either go up and down the street and find somebody in your local community that specializes in this, that’s an expert at it, and pay them like 100 bucks to do it for you, or just do a quick search for the search term I just mentioned and you can do it yourself, it’s not difficult.

Steven:Okay, cool. Well, we’re about out of time, I guess, Jay, we’ve got 10 seconds, any final thoughts? What’s the one thing people should do today to improve their current situation? What’s your homework?

Jay:I would pull out a blank sheet of paper and plot out the first landing page that you’re going to build. What’s it going to look like? If you go to the slide that I shared, because you’ll get a copy of this presentation after the session. If you go to that page that has the example landing page on it with a powerful engaging headline, the graphic, and design your landing page on a piece of paper, hand it to your web developer and say, “How long will it take you to get this up? We need to get something going.”

Steven:All right, I love it. Jay, this was so awesome, thanks for coming here. I love having you do this presentation because they’re on top of it in web design, SEO, digital marketing, it changes all the time. And please check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, check out Firespring’s blog, they have awesome webinars, they’re free, just as good as ours if not better probably. Please check out all their great resources because obviously they’re a wealth of knowledge.

So Jay, thanks for hanging out with us for an hour today, it was really fun.

Jay:Steven, thank you very much.

Steven:And we’ve got some cool webinars coming down the pipeline here. We’ve got some great resources on our website that you can check out as well. Next week, one week from today we’ve got Tom Ahern. He is the donor communications guru, and he’s going to talk about how to do copywriting specifically for all these digital channels.

He’s going to talk about donation pages, landing pages, specifically how to write those headlines and those compelling offers. He’s going to talk about Facebook updates, email, it’s going to be great. This is a presentation that he gave at our user conference, and it was too good to hide, so we’re going to give it away to the world. So check that one out, one week from today.

Two weeks from today, we’re going to do a special hour long Q&A session. There’s no presented slides, we’re just going to accept all of your questions. If you have been impacted by all the recent natural disasters, whether with a hurricane or maybe one of the wildfires in the Northwest, please join us. We’re going to have some experts in disaster recovery fundraising join us, so to register for that, send us your questions and you may get your question answered live. It’s going to be really cool, definitely a new format for us.

But check those out, we’ve got a couple other webinars throughout the end of the year that you may be interested in in addition to that. So we’ll call it a day there, look for an email from me with all the goodies, the recording, the slides, and hopefully we will see you again next week.

So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend, a safe weekend, and we’ll hopefully see you next week.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.