Overcoming Associations' Lead Validation Challenge
Websites can be a major component of outreach for associations to attract donors and volunteers. Because not-for-profits depend so much on membership dues and volunteer contributions, they naturally want to be sure that the leads they are generating from their websites can be counted on to make a difference for them and their missions. However, many not-for-profits are not getting a complete picture of how effective their websites are at bringing in those vitally important people.
Taking a page from the way many for-profit enterprises approach sales leads may help not-for-profits learn more about the people who visit their sites and establish more effective connections with them.
The crux of the problem is that many not-for-profits gauge the effectiveness of their websites in attracting members or volunteers solely on the number of conversions. Google Analytics provides organisations with the number of conversions a website generates, and organisations use that information to judge from where most of their donors and volunteers came. Based on that information, they optimise their websites to emphasise the sources that draw more conversions. The problem is, however, many of those conversions are not members or volunteers, and Google does not specify which ones are which.
Lead Validation for Associations
Nearly half of all website conversions are not interactions that lead to new customers (or members or volunteers, appropriately.) Whether you are talking about not-for-profit organisations or for-profit enterprises, website conversions also include interactions like job applications, incomplete form submissions or customer service requests. By counting these among the valid inquiries they rely on, not-for-profits might emphasise sources on their websites that bring in many conversions, but only a small portion of which are members or volunteers. In the process, they may be ignoring another source that brings in a comparatively lower number of conversions, but a larger number of valuable leads for members or volunteers.
In the for-profit world, businesses can overcome this information gap by adding lead validation to their lead generation process. Lead validation involves combing through every lead generated by a website -- whether an online form submission or a phone call -- and separating the serious leads from the conversions that aren't, for whatever reason. With that additional level of information available to them, Internet marketers can fine-tune their websites with greater accuracy and optimise them to bring in more of the conversion types they need.
Lead validation helps for-profit businesses bring in more customers, but it can help not-for-profits in their missions, as well. By knowing exactly where the majority of actual members or volunteers are coming from, not-for-profits can focus their attention on those sources and ultimately attract a higher percentage of such extremely important resources.
Not-for-profits typically have to do their best with limited resources, which means their lead generation websites have to be as efficient as possible to help them succeed. The lead validation process might seem like more work. However, it can save work in the long run.
Ultimately, lead validation can provide not-for-profits with crucial information they need to streamline their websites -- making them more efficient and effective. Outreach is essential for not-for-profits, and lead validation can help them make sure they are reaching out to the right places.
Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency in Chicago. His focus is on Internet marketing, website services and technology.
Beyond Aaron's wise advice regarding lead validation, there are a number of things associations could also be doing to improve how they market themselves to their audience and subsequently convert them to their goals. And in her book, Sheri Jacobs, CAE has set that number at 199. In 199 Ideas: Powerful Marketing Tactics that Sell, Sheri offers insight into improving your marketing process from its first step to its end point.