How and why to include a call-to-action in your donor communications

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As fundraisers, we spend considerable time developing and writing stories that will inspire the public to support our cause. But are we spending enough time on communicating exactly what we hope the public will do in response? Sometimes, the best way to “connect-the-dots” and convert audiences into supporters is to make your intentions clear.

A call-to-action, often referred to as a CTA, is a simple, direct statement which provides readers with the “next step” on the path towards helping your organization achieve its goals. Some great examples of simple and effective CTAs are buttons such as “Donate Now”, “Get Involved Today”, “Make a Difference”, “Sign-up”, “Visit our Website”, etc. that appear on the websites and emails you see every day.

CTAs can quickly and easily be adapted for both print and online media, and should be included in virtually any campaign you may wish to launch. We’ve created this brief guide to help you better understand why you should always integrate CTAs into your nonprofit’s outreach and website, and how to create an effective CTA that will prompt your audience to take the next step, no matter what it may be.

CTAs Work and the Numbers Prove It If, at this point, you’re wondering whether or not you’re actually interested in learning more about CTAs, take a moment to digest this powerful statistic. According to WordStream, audiences are 370% more likely to open and read an email if they see a CTA in the subject line. If you have been frustrated with the effectiveness of your email newsletter or email fundraising campaigns, it may be time to reassess exactly how you structure this content. Although a CTA isn’t a one-stop solution for every marketing woe, research has shown that a surefire way to capture the attention of audiences is a direct and courteous CTA.

Just Because It’s Powerful, Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Be Personal Hubspot, a popular marketing research firm, discovered that CTAs—when incorporated into personalized messages—improved “conversion rates” (think of this as making a donation, signing a petition, filling out a contact form, etc.) by 42% compared to generic CTAs. The nonprofit sector is built on personal, enriching relationships with supporters, which often means that what you need to develop a sincere, unique CTA is at your fingertips. Personalizing a CTA can be as simple as incorporating your supporter’s name, e.g. “Jane, give Sarah the gift of education today.” Whether you’re communicating with your supporters online or in print by sending an eNewsletter, a donation appeal, or thank-you letter, try to find a way to incorporate a memorable, personable CTA which not only makes audiences feel inspired to help you but also respected and appreciated by your nonprofit organization.

Getting Started With CTAs Some calls-to-action are more effective than others. Here are a few ideas that will help ensure your hard work delivers results. As mentioned above, some of the most effective online CTAs today exist in the form of buttons. A button can act as a direct link to your donation form, email sign-up form, or any one of several functions which can directly benefit your nonprofit. No matter what the desired action, be sure to use wording that clearly communicates your intentions to your audience. Choose a color for your button which stands out from the rest of your website without contrasting to the point of harming the overall design. When appropriate, create a sense of urgency by setting a deadline or using more urgent language to inspire supporters to act sooner.

Double Park Your CTA If you’re drafting an email or print letter, be sure to double-park your CTAs. By this, we mean that you should always place one of your CTAs above the fold, while the other should be located at the closure of the correspondence. Generally speaking, the term “above the fold” means that readers will be able to see your CTA without having to scroll down in an email or website. Believe it or not, CTAs which remain above the fold yield significantly improved results over those that do not.

If your message is quite short, consider using an in-text link as well as a one-button CTA. For longer communications, you may consider including a third CTA. However, as a general rule of thumb, the effectiveness of your CTA decreases as the frequency of CTA usage increases.

Tracking Your CTA’s Performance It’s important to start tracking the effectiveness of your online CTAs, if you haven’t yet. Let’s say you’re including a “Support Our Charity” CTA in a blog post, email or online ad that links to a page on your website explaining all the different ways to give. By following some best practices and using Google Analytics, you can see how many people clicked the CTA from that specific campaign and how they interacted with your website. You can do this by using the free, online Google URL Builder to quickly add UTM parameters to the URL, commonly known as “tagging.” Click here to learn more about tagging your URLs and best practices.

Once you get familiar with seeing some reporting for your CTAs, you can experiment and test variations of CTAs to determine what works best with your audience. “A/B testing” is a marketing term used to describe a process where differing strategies / tactics are deployed on a single project to determine which produces the best outcomes. You can easily “A/B test” your CTAs to gain valuable feedback on what your audience best responds to. Try this: create two different CTAs, each worded in a different way with a different design scheme, but leading to the same outcome (e.g., a donation, email newsletter signup, etc.). Use each CTA for a designated time interval and pay attention to which one yields the best results. With Google Analytics, you can monitor a wide variety of valuable metrics, including frequency of visitation, bounce rate, etc. This data will allow you to fine tune your approach to CTA development over the long-term.

Now it’s time for our own call to action for this blog post! If you’d like to learn more about calls to action, how to use them and see real life charity examples, watch the CanadaHelps webinar “Raise More Money with Effective Calls to Action” for expert advice. Click here to watch the webinar on-demand.

This post was originally published on Hilborn by CanadaHelps

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One Response to “How and why to include a call-to-action in your donor communications”

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