Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) for charities
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) enables you to fine-tune your website to increase donations.
This post looks at what CRO is, why it should form part of your digital plan and what steps you can start taking today to benefit from the strategy.
What does a conversion look like to a charity?
At a basic level, a conversion is a change of state. When businesses talk about a conversion, they normally mean changing a lead into a buyer.
As a charity, your idea of a conversion will be a little bit different to the average business but the concept is the same: you want your visitors to change their behaviour by taking a meaningful action when they arrive at your site. This action could be:
- making a donation
- signing up for a newsletter
- signing a petition
- sending a letter to their MP
- ordering a campaign pack
- downloading a volunteer application form
- taking any other action that helps you do what you do...
Conversions can be further broken down into macro-conversions and micro-conversions. Macro-conversions are the actions that really make a difference to your mission (e.g. donating or signing a petition). Micro-conversions are smaller stepping stones that inch the person closer to making a difference (e.g. entering an email address to receive campaign updates).
How to calculate conversion rate?
The conversion rate of any of your web pages is the number of actions taken on that page compared to the number of actions that could have been taken.
If a visitor can only take a single action (e.g. sign up for a campaign or enter their email address to receive your newsletter), then you will need to look at the number of VISITORS to that page.
If the visitor can take more than one action (e.g. buy multiple products or make several donations), then you will need to focus on the number of SESSIONS.
Otherwise the calculation is the same:
The number of actions taken / the number of visitors/sessions x 100 = conversion rate
So, if five people sign your petition and you had 50 visitors to that page, your conversion rate would be 5/50 x 100 = 10%
If you sold 20 products from your online shop page and that page had 300 visits (sessions), your conversion rate would be 20/300 x 100 = 6.6%
Optimising your conversion rate
Optimising your conversion rate (CRO) means driving up that percentage so that you get more conversions per visitor.
CRO is more efficient than increasing traffic to your website for a number of reasons:
- You are engaging more effectively with your customers
- You can put less resources into your marketing for the same result (an increase in ROI)
- You can scale more easily (even in small markets)
- CRO improves the user experience (UX) of your website, making your supporters happier
- CRO gives your site a professional structure which builds trust
Simple tips for effective CRO
Now you know what CRO is and why it's important, let's take a look at some simple but powerful steps you can take to get those figures working for you.
First, you need to decide which page or pages you want to optimise. Your website's home page is an ideal candidate as it is likely to be the first place visitors arrive. However, if you are running an online ads campaign, you might want to focus on a separate landing page. Blog posts can also be fruitful places for converting readers as you can often focus more tightly on an important area of your work while using highly engaging content (images, videos, case studies, etc.)
When you have selected your target page, you can work on making your content clear and persuasive.
To engage with your visitors, consider the following proven methods:
- Add testimonials from charity beneficiaries.
- Suggest a donation amount and describe exactly what a donation of £5, £10 or £20 will do.
- Use authentic images of people and genuine case studies rather than stock material.
- Use colour contrast, arrows and other visual cues to show your visitor where they should click or what you expect them to do.
- Read our post on copywriting for fundraising for advice on making your words count.
- Learn about behavioural economics to get into the psyche of your visitor.
- Use customer surveys to build up an accurate picture of your ideal supporter. This will help you to create smarter content.
Refining your webpages using real data
Some charities make the mistake of following their gut feeling on how to increase conversions. Others listen to the voice of the most experienced member of the team.
Both of these approaches are risky because you are relying on guesswork rather than solid data.
By setting up Google Analytics (or your chosen alternative analytics package) you can start collecting real data and improving your decision-making. Web analytics will give you invaluable stats on where your visitors are coming from, what they are doing when they get to your website and where they might be getting stuck and clicking away. By setting up goals in Google Analytics, you'll have conversion rate data available to you immediately.
You should also look into A/B and multivariate testing so that you can tweak different elements of the page you are optimising.
HubSpot defines CRO as 'enabling people to take action' by designing and modifying elements of your webpages. Start using it for your charity or nonprofit and help your supporters help you.