Having a person visit your website via search or by clicking one of your social media links is a great opportunity to begin creating a relationship. The way to do this on your nonprofit website is through creating compelling content, and making it easy for the user to go deeper within your sites content repository.
Here are four ways to drive that deeper online engagement:
- Tag your documents.
- Propose related content.
- Offer an “advanced search” mechanism.
- Start conversations.
Tag your documents
Whether you refer to them as “tags”, “terms” or use words like “vocabulary” and “taxonomy”...when creating content on your site you want to be tagging them with a small set of keywords that reflect your mission and online goals.
For example, if a nonprofit is working in the area of health, you might have the following set of vocabularies and terms:
- Nutrition (vocabulary)
- Food groups (term)
- Recipes (term)
- Low fat alternatives (term)
- Exercise (vocabulary)
- Fat burning exercises (term)
- Training calendars (term)
- Monitoring heart rate (term)
Now for each piece of content that is published, there are tags that can be applied. An article on running might be tagged with “Monitoring heart rate” and “Fat burning exercises”. When the user clicks on one of those tags they are presented with all other content on your website tagged with similar terms, thereby driving deeper online engagement.
Propose related content
This is a more “strategic” usage of the tagging of content, as instead of showing all content with the same tags, you strategically show a subset of the content. To illustrate: if your website visitor clicked on an article about healthy eating (tagged with “Food groups” using our terms from above), then you might choose to present in the sidebar the most popular video with the same tag, or perhaps the three most recent blog posts on that subject. By analysing what sort of content causes visitors to best engage you can continuously refine your content offering and presentation.
Offer advanced search
For website using the taxonomies (vocabularies & terms) referred to above, as well as custom content types (eg. pages, blogs, videos, reports) offering users an advanced search functionality is an important part of improving the user experience.
Websites that only offer basic search aren't helping the user to navigate the dozens (if not hundreds) of “pages” of content on their site...and if a user can't quickly find what they are looking for they will leave. An advanced search function will allow users to search by keywords, terms, content types...and in some cases the depth of search can go even further than that (date published, author, etc).
Human beings are driven by the desire to “belong”. This is why people comment on your YouTube videos, “like” you on Facebook, and “retweet” you on Twitter.
So...what are you allowing people to do on your nonprofit website, your online communications hub? Beyond offering the standard (yet important) social media sharing options, you can try to take that person on your website from an observer to a participator.
How to do this?
- If you write a blog, ask questions and allow for comments.
- Post surveys and user polls on your website. Get their opinions, encourage feedback.
- Consider allowing trusted members of the public to post blogs on your website (after proper vetting of content of course). What better way to teach about the impact of your organization than when it comes through the words of your most passionate supporters?
Creating online engagement is a critical first step towards building relationships, which ultimately can lead to various forms of resource development and online growth.
The process need not be complicated. A simple approach of planning, testing, measuring and adjusting will get you where you want to go. The important things to do is to...begin!
Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlz/