Episode 89: Make Your Site a Member of Your Team with David Pisarek

If there’s one takeaway from this week’s episode it’s that “your site is a member of your team.”

And, like the other members of your team, your site needs to be nurtured in order for it to thrive and work as effectively as you would like.

See, a lot of people think that having a website is enough. They tend to fall into the Field of Dreams fallacy. “Build it and they will come,” they say.

But this just isn’t how the web works these days.

You have to nurture your site to enable it to work to its fullest potential. And that means introducing new content, building out hub pages, storytelling effectively, etc.

The conversation today is with David Pisarek, Founder and Chief Digital Aficionado of Wow Digital. David and the team at Wow Digital focus on building strong brands with effective sites for both for- and nonprofit organizations seeking to maximize their positive impact on the world.

Our conversation was wide-ranging and had a LOT of great information for anyone seeking to fuel their organization’s growth through marketing.

Hope you have as much fun with this conversation as I did.

David’s email: [email protected]
Free eBook: wowdigital.com/ebook/

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David: The, the differentiation really comes from the brand, your organization, your story, and what makes you special and why people should care about you. The donation, everybody knows that you can donate to a charity or a nonprofit. They know they can get a tax receipt for, I don’t know, maybe a hundred percent, maybe it’s 80%, whatever, whatever it happens to be chances are people are donating to you.

Not specifically because it could get a donation or a tax receipt. They’re donating because they care. Right. And there’s that emotional connection. So it’s really about, in my opinion, and what we talked with our clients about is what is it that sets you apart? What is it that makes you you and how can we create that story?

And how can we visually tell that story through the website to get people. Give a darn about your organization.

Are you looking for ways to shorten your marketing, learning curve and help your organization survive? And. Welcome to relish this, the purpose marketing podcast, a show for purpose focused leaders who want to use marketing techniques to fuel their organization’s growth. If you’re a returning listener and you haven’t subscribed already, we’d love to have you also please consider leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

Now here’s your host, author and marketing specialist stew Swineford. 

Stu: Hey everybody Stu here. Welcome to relish this. My guest today is David Pace and he is the founder of wow. Digital. And he also likes to call himself the chief digital Aiona there at wow. Digital. I am just thrilled to death to be able to have a conversation with someone as knowledgeable in marketing and with such experience in the, in both the nonprofit and digital space as David our conversation today was wide ranging.

We talked a lot about differentiation, storytelling, et cetera. And I think that you are gonna get a ton out of our conversation. It’s so much fun to, to be able to talk. Industry leaders and and experts on a weekly basis. And my conversation with David this week was one for the books. So I hope you have a good time listening to the show.

Here we go.

Hello, David, how are you? How are you doing? I am doing really well. Where are you? Joining me today from, 

David: I am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 

Stu: Toronto. One of my good friends lives in that area. Aaron Rickson, he’s a copywriter. I don’t know if you know Aaron or not, but you should, if you, 

David: I do. He’s an hour drive away from me.

Stu: Yeah. I can’t remember the name of the town and it’s hard to pronounce. Oh, he moved actually. Oh, okay. He’s in anyway, he’s he, he and I go way back and he’s just a, a really great dude. We stay in touch and, and and, and get to see each other very infrequently. So it’s, it’s cool to get to know someone else who knows Aaron.

David: He’s a, he’s a great guy. I agree entirely enough of them. 

Stu: Yeah. So Toronto, you, have you been in the Toronto area your entire career, or is that a new, new place for you? How, how long have you been. 

David: Since the day I was born. 

Stu: Oh, wow. Awesome. Native Toronto. And that is fantastic. Yeah. So you are the founder of wow.

Digital and I am so excited to hear about what you do and how you do it and all the great things that you bring to the table for people in the nonprofit space. How did while, while digital get. 

David: Great story there. So I’ve been doing web since like the early nineties really just messing around on my computer.

Went to school, graduated and in 2000 I started working full time in nonprofits managing their web properties intranet. Digital signage systems, interactive kiosks their website, like I mentioned. And then, you know, there was, there were some cuts that happened. It happens, right. Mm-hmm with with any organization that gets government funding.

And as I was looking for work, I just ramped up my freelance. So from 2000 to 2016, I worked in nonprofits. Then in 2016, mid 2016, I started ramping up my freelance and turned it into wow. Digital within a few months. So it’s been about six years now. 

Stu: Oh, that’s great. What kind of nonprofits did you work with?

David: I worked in post-secondary education, so college and universities and healthcare. 

Stu: Nice. What were some of the things that that got you excited about nonprofit work in the, in the first place? 

David: It really comes down to, I guess my upbringing. So in terms of. You know, my, my youth, I was involved in youth groups growing up and there was always this work we needed to do and, and effort in terms of giving back to the community and volunteers, purpose and stuff like that.

So it’s, it’s really part of, I guess, who I am in my core moral belief and compass and yeah, it’s just, you know, nonprofit doesn’t mean no profit there’s organizations out there. They. Help they need marketing. Mm-hmm they need expertise. And because I worked in nonprofits, I’ve been on that side of producing RFPs and the painful processes that come with that.

I’ve been on that side in terms of working with vendors and the painful processes that, that come with that and the quality assurance that needs to happen with all of that. And one of the things that I swore when I started wow, digital is that we are going to be different. We are going to help. and be friendly and not be adversarial and deliver extreme value for our clients.

Stu: Well, that’s certainly a much needed much needed in this space. I think that there are, are just a ton of people out there who, who don’t come at it from, from that same perspective. And so it’s really cool to hear how your company has been able to, to kind of carve that out and create a a, a really great opportunity for nonprofits.

Do you just work with Canadian nonprofits or you work with, with organizations down here in the states as well? 

David: Just by the, my connections. Right? So the people that I’ve worked with when I started wild, digital, I reached out to my network and said, Hey, I’m looking for work. I’m looking for projects.

Is there anybody out there that you know, in my network that needs some help? And my network is Canadian because this is, this is where I’ve been. So right. I would say my primary. Market is in Canada. But there we’re borderless, right? You can work anywhere if, if COVID has taught us anything, that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can still work for anybody anywhere.

So if you’re a 5 0 1 through C or you’re starting and thinking about starting up a nonprofit, I’d be happy to to work with anybody. In the us, in the UK, Australia, Germany, like. Anywhere that you’re looking for. Nice 

Stu: what’s wild specialty. In terms of, of the digital marketing work that you do, where what’s your bread and butter.

David: Our main service offering is websites. So if you need a new website or. You need a site because you’re a new organization. We will work with that as well as branding. So you have an organization, your logo feels like it’s stuck in the 1960s or the 1970s. We’ll work with you to refresh it, revise it, produce a brand guide, all of that and pull that through right through the web.

Stu: Nice. Is there a particular platform that you are that you specialize in or, or are you fairly agnostic when it comes to site construction? 

David: We build, I would say 99% of what we do is on WordPress. Okay. 

Stu: It’s very similar to, to my organization called called relish studio. We moved to WordPress quite a few years ago now.

As soon as it kind of caught up, it started out as that, you know, more of a blogging type platform. And at one point it wasn’t very easy to. Kind of shove around. And then once it, once it kind of evolved and matured we found it was, it’s just a great mix of functionality and ease of use for most of our clients.

And so I think it’s a pretty solid platform on which you know, most nonprofits or, you know, many for-profits could, can build a, a really strong base for for their outreach and, and gathering support and all of those good. 

David: A hundred percent myself. I’ve been building and designing and developing with WordPress since 2005 mm-hmm , we’re going on about about 17 years.

I’ve built websites and WordPress that are over 8,000 pages and I’ve built them as small as, you know, one or two pages for like a couple landing pages, that type of thing. And it’s, it’s really robust. Anything that you want to build in the platform? I would say. Most likely somebody’s already gone and done that.

So there’s free plugins paid plugins that you can get. There’s obviously some caveats with that. You wanna make sure that, you know, there’s support behind it and it was recently updated. So in terms of any holes or vulnerabilities, those are all dealt with, but any kind of functionality you want likely already exists.

And it’s just a matter of going, okay, here’s what we need to make this happen. For me, I’ve been running the agency for about six years now, we’ve developed our standard, like our SOPs, our standard operating procedures in terms of what we build the plugins we use. And we have a very reliable platform for that.

As well, we also do the hosting side. So it’s one thing to have a website. It’s another, to have it on a web host that is safe, fast and. 

Stu: Absolutely. You know, we’ve also found that there, there are certain things that one can do to optimize their hosting, to work Mo more effectively with, with the platform itself and, and other little, little tricks that you can add to the, to the hosting part of the, of the equation to make sure that things run smoothly and, and that their backups and all of the, all of that great stuff.

So that’s great to hear that you’re, you’re providing that kind of full package for. 

David: We wanna make it as easy as possible for our clients to succeed in the digital era. 

Stu: Yeah, for sure. What are some of the things that you see nonprofits missing when they’re looking for for both a hosting solution and, and perhaps, you know, their website solution, what are some of the pitfalls that that people should look out for that, that you’ve noticed in, in your ex in your experience?

David: I think there. A fine line between cheap and value. Right? So there are web hosting providers out there. I’m not gonna name names. I don’t wanna badmouth anybody, but you know, maybe three or $4 a month will get you website hosting mm-hmm . But for the most part, at that point, you’re on a shared server.

You’re dealing with thousands of other websites that are in that same environment. And for some it’ll be totally. But as soon as you wanna start growing your site, as soon as you wanna start driving more traffic to your website, it’s gonna slow down. This has been our experience. Anyways, it’s likely gonna slow down and you’re gonna end up with a site that’s hard or painful for you to go in and manage and update and edit.

Some of the other issues that, that come up. Are, if a site on that shared server is hacked. Even if it’s not yours, there’s potential that it might affect yours. So it all depends on the server environment and how they’ve segregated and separated and, and created these boundaries between the sites and the servers and the technology on the back end.

So it’s something to be careful of. You wanna make sure that you’ve got frequent backups of your site to kind of like counteract. Yeah, 

Stu: absolutely. I, I usually liken inexpensive hosting to like living in an apartment in an apartment versus living in your own house. And when you’re in an apartment and the neighbor sets his, his apartment or her apartment on fire, it tends to affect you a lot, a lot worse than when when you’re next door neighbor does that.

And, and that’s kind of, what can happen with, with extreme shared hosting is you can, you can get some bad apples that really, really do you know, create problems for everybody else in that, in that space. Yeah. It’s 

David: a serious concern. There’s a very large organization. That’s a client of ours and we, we only have done their annual reports.

which are on their server mm-hmm and their web hosting company said, oh, there’s a problem with this. It got infected. And I have a number of, I guess, WordPress plugins installed in there. So we’ve got word fence and mal care bikes and like a bunch of stuff on that backend to kind of secure and protect.

And I was like, there’s no way this came from ours. Turns out. It came from a third party site because they’re on a shared server. And my client didn’t know about that. Right? This is real. This does actually really legitimately happen. And what we ended up doing is moving those annual reports off and onto our server.

Okay. 

Stu: Interesting. Well, sounds like at least you had a, a way to, to, to get a work around there for sure. What what are some of the, the things that you’re seeing in the space, particularly as as you know, kind of through the nonprofit lens that, that is getting you excited about about nonprofit marketing these days.

David: Yeah. One of the, one of the biggest things that I see with the clients that we work with is they don’t really have any standard processes in place. Mm-hmm they have fragmented teams, they have systems that they don’t even have access to and really just. Organizing that for them and bringing it all together and setting them up for success from, from that perspective in terms of what their website is.

But in terms of, I guess, nonprofits in general, there’s some interesting things kind of on the horizon nonprofits tend to kind of. Lag behind education and education kind of lags behind industry, right? Mm-hmm so we’re nonprofits are probably about five to six years behind where the, where the trends are for the most part, but there’s a lot of interesting things happening around cryptocurrency.

. The markets are super volatile, but there’s a lot of chatter in, in the nonprofit world about, you know, accepting crypto or NFTs and things like that for fundraising or donations.

Stu: So nonprofits, you, you think should at least have that as a top of mind opportunity. As a, as a, a different payment structure than, than just accepting credit cards and, and cash donations. 

David: I think it’s certainly worth investigating, you know, I, there’s a certain level of risk tolerance that you would need, but you know, any smart organization is taking funds and investing them in some way, shape or form it.

They shouldn’t just be sitting dormant as cash in your, in your bank account. So I, I think it’s just another form of potential investment and it’s worth looking into as an organization, you can look into creating NFTs and sun them. Mm-hmm so that’s a non fungible token. You’ve probably heard a lot of stuff in the media about the what is it?

There’s a guy, there’s a, there’s a kid, I think he’s 13 or 14 years old. And he made something called what is it? Something about whales. Okay. And he has like all pictures of whales and he he’s selling him and he’s made millions of dollars. This like, Preteen early teen through NFTs. And if you can, as an organization, think about like, if you work with elderly people, maybe you can bring in digital, medium into it and they can produce some of their artwork and you can maybe sell it that way.

And I think, I think there’s some interesting things happening in that space, but like, I, like I said, at the start it’s, it’s a very. Sure. By the, the Bitcoin and ether and they just go up and down on an, you know, minute by minute basis. So I think it’s worth investigating for your organization. If you’re listening to this at least taking a look at it.

Stu: Yeah, it seems like it could be, you know, part of a, a differentiation of revenue opportunity where, you know, like, like people who invest in their retirement, you put a certain amount in more risky than than less risky and, and just have a, more of a diverse portfolio for so to speak. I could see how crypto.

For nonprofits could be, you know, a huge win. Just being aware of, of the volatility of that, I think would be the, you know, the one piece that that would be worth noting for sure. 

David: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, even if you accepted crypto and then you sold it and converted it to cash right away, it’s one more way that somebody can make donations to you.

Stu: So, are there any other trends in in the non nonprofit marketing space that you have seen people take advantage of? I mean, you, you mentioned that nonprofits tend to lag you know, six years or so behind kind of industry. What what are some of the things that you think. You know, if there were, if there were one or two things that, that nonprofits should keep on their radar to try and get ahead of those trends a little bit.

What, what are some of the things that you’ve seen that you think people should, should be paying attention to outside of, of, you know, revenue streams, but you know, maybe more in the actual marketing space.

David: I think the first one would be focus on your content. Right. Every organization wants to drive more traffic into their website because it’s all right. Before I get into that, let me just take a second and, and just say, you need to think of your website as a member of your team. It’s not just a marketing brochure that’s sitting there.

So having said that people want to drive traffic to their websites because that’s where they have all their information. It’s essentially free once it’s up and running. Yeah. You have maintenance costs and this and that and whatever, but you know, you’re not paying a full-time employee to sit there, talking to everybody that comes.

Right. So having up to date information on your website, easy to find contact information, but most importantly is content. Creating, even if it’s five to 600 words once a week, as a blog post, for example or latest news or what’s happening, whatever you wanna call it. That is going to drive more traffic into your website.

By doing that, you’re taking advantage of search engine optimization. So SEO you wanna make sure that you have analytics installed on your website so that you can see, you know, what are the keywords and things that people are looking for that are driving traffic into your site. And. You can start producing more content around that topic.

Right? So if you think of it as a word cloud, right? If the if the website article that you’re posting is about I don’t know why, why it’s important to take care of seniors in, in Toledo. Right? For example, mm-hmm, , mm-hmm if that drives a lot of traffic, you’ll see that in your analytics. And then you can start thinking in terms of like a word cloud, like what are some other topics around this idea that we can produce?

That will drive even more traffic in and more traffic in and more traffic in. And by driving that traffic in, you can place call to actions on those pages that are relevant to the content. And by doing that, it’ll ultimately lead to more donations for your organization, more subscribers to your email list.

So you can market to them and more potentially volunteers that are willing to help with your. 

Stu: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we’ve we’ve seen is how, if you, if you think about the blog post is kind of a middle mid-sized piece of content, and most people think about how can I take a blog post and repurpose it a number of different ways.

So chop it up into little mini social posts or things of that nature. So certainly that one piece of content can inform down, but when you have a group of content, That has a similar theme or kind of combined can tell a story. Those blog posts can start to be the anchor for an upward trend as well.

So for example, the book that I wrote a couple years ago, actually with Aaron, Rickson, who we talked about earlier in our podcast Started as four blog posts that were very popular. And I said, well, you know, what we should do is maybe just package these together into a, you know, a small little ebook.

And and, and that way, you know, it could be, you know, a standalone kind of larger giveaway item that we could. Probably use in exchange for for an email address. And then once that idea kind of took root, we expanded it into a, you know, about a 50 page book. And, and so when you think about creating that content all around that, that one central key term now another thing we’re doing is creating HubPages around that material.

So you have. Kind of a, a content rich page that then links out to a bunch of other similar content or, or associated content within your site. And you have what, what we call a HubPage that that the search engines right now at least seem to, to really like to send traffic to. 

David: Yeah. And I’m, I’m really glad right?

At the beginning, when you were just talking right now, you mentioned, you know, creating a story, right. And it’s really, mm-hmm, that storytelling piece that will help create an emotional connection between you and your audience. And that emotional connection is what’s gonna get people to care about what your organization does because there’s, if whatever you’re doing, isn’t unique.

Right. There’s another organization somewhere else. Maybe they’re local. Maybe they’re in another country. Maybe they’re across the country, but there’s an, there are other organizations doing the same work that you’re doing for the same people that you’re, that you’re working on it for and creating that emotional connection is gonna get them to care about you versus another organization.

Stu: Yeah, absolutely. We see a lot of you know, in the, for profit space, there’s a lot of talk about funnels and you have, you know, you put a bunch of people in the top and they kind of fall out the bottom and some of those people become customers and, and it, it feels very frictionless in terms of. You know, certainly you have drop off at every stage of that, that engagement, but, but the idea around it is that it’s, it’s kind of like numbers in numbers, out game.

And in the nonprofit space, we like to talk about how much friction there is. You know, most people don’t wake up in the morning thinking, how am I gonna give away some of my money or some of my time today? And so we liken the, the stakeholder journey in. The nonprofit space is more of a mountain that there’s friction all along this journey up this mountain.

And, you know, there are a lot of people that come in at the bottom and they get a little bit of the way up and then say, no, this isn’t for me and, and go the other direction. But you have to combat that friction all along that, that journey. And then in fact You know, the hook is the, like the, the positivity hook actually happens before people make that, that that kind of donation decision.

And so you have to keep people just really excited about what you’re doing, kind of throughout that process. And, and yeah, storytelling is just part of that game to, to make sure that you reduce that friction as much as possible. Because what you’re having to do is, is basically combat not only you know, why should they choose you versus some other nonprofit, but there’s also the, or, or doing nothing at all.

So there’s kind of an extra added extra added challenge that nonprofits face in that, in that convers. 

David: Absolutely. And one of the things that I see time and time again, even from nonprofits that are, you know, in the billion dollars of fundraising a year, hundreds of millions of dollars a year is I’ll only reach out.

When it’s donation time when it’s donation season. So maybe mm-hmm towards the end of the year. Hey, get your donations in for your tax receipt. Right. And that is one of the biggest UX PAs that I could possibly tell everybody to, to stay away from you wanna stay. Tell the story you want to be consistent with the story.

You wanna have the same kind of tone and messaging through everything. So you’re, you know, consistent and have that tied to your brand. But more importantly than that is staying in touch with your audience over time. Not just when it’s time for your campaign that you want to run. Right. Part of that storytelling should be, you know, how are donor funds being spent?

What is it going towards and create those like warm and fuzzy kind of stories that will make your cause more compelling? 

Stu: Yeah, absolutely. I think that we hear all the time from nonprofits that they don’t wanna bother their donors. And, and I think that. I think that if, if, if we could recommend just a, a mindset shift on that, that if you’re bringing value and bringing more value than your competitor, or which is, you know, there’s certainly competitors in the nonprofit space.

But every step of the way, just attempting to, to. To enrich people’s lives through the information that you’re sharing. You know, you don’t have to ask for donations, every single interaction or every single engagement, but. It makes it, it, it, it makes it even more, you can actually ask more often when you’re providing material of value on a consistent basis.

So, you know, if, if you only reach out to your, your stakeholders, Four times a year and each of those times is an ask. Then, you know, they’re probably gonna get a little tired of you reaching out to them, but if you reach out to them once a month, for example, or, or even even more frequently, if you have good stories to tell you can mix those asks in on a more frequent basis and, and really improve your chances of of, of getting people to take.

David: Absolutely. I mean, I there’s a book here. I just went to grab it. I’ve got on the desk here beside me by Ian Harris called hooked on you. And the subtitle here is the genius way to make anybody read anything. And the way you do that is by telling compelling stories. And if you’re acting in a storytelling, medium and format and creating those connections, then you make your, your message more.

Palatable I guess is, is, is the word right? So, you know yeah. Don’t ask for donation every single time. Yeah. Maybe in your email template, you’ve got like a donate button, right? Mm-hmm but you know, here’s how the here’s how funding last quarter. This is what we spent it on. Here’s the, the story about, you know, this child.

That we helped with X, Y, and Z, or if your organization buys, let’s say accessibility vans for families can afford them. Right. Feature the family, tell their story. Mm-hmm, talk about, you know, the big donors that helped make that come through. Right. And you can use that to drive the importance of your organization.

Stu: Yeah, absolutely. It’s it’s interesting. We have done some work with kind of the, the story brand narrative. I don’t know if you’re familiar with, with story brand and Don Donald Miller’s kind of framework around storytelling. Yep. But one of the things that he recommends is trying to. Trying to change the narrative so that the organization, isn’t the hero of the story that you’re, you’re basically your donors or your volunteers, or, or even the beneficiaries of your services become kind of the hero of the story.

And the organization is there as kind of the catalyst for that and the, the You know, they become the, kind of the guide in that story. And it’s a, it’s a little bit challenging for, for some nonprofits to not only wrap their arms around that, but, but figure out how to tell that story. Have you seen that told effectively in, in the work that you, that you’ve done with with some of your, your nonprofit partners.

David: Be honest. No, I, I haven’t there’s, there’s a lot of my clients work with the public and they, they bring in the kind of a community service type of space and they talk about the great work they do and the communities they do and, and, you know, the students that they help for example, and. It’s really hard to kind of pull that line through.

So one of the things like my agency doesn’t really focus on the content side of stuff. We’ll work with them. Okay. We’ll get them in touch with like PR or media editorial, or writers, that type of thing. If they, if they want that kind of help. And we make suggestions to them like, Hey, you’re doing this kind of thing.

Let’s talk about that. Some more, let’s build a little bit of a campaign around that.

Stu: Yeah, that’s great. I think that, you know, having at least that, that idea in, in play is it, it is a challenge. I mean, we, we see it as well. It’s, it’s a little bit, a little bit hard to kind of reframe that story in the nonprofit space because the, the organization itself is doing such great work in terms of, of facilitating You know, the help that people are bringing to the nonprofits.

So it’s, it’s certainly a, a challenge. I think that if people out there are, are writing for for your, your organization, just keeping that in the back of your mind, in terms of how can you, how can you reposition the organiz organization itself as the, as the guide of that journey? You know, that will can, can reap some benefits for.

Hundred percent. What are some of the, yeah, what are some of the things that, that you, that you get pushback on from, from nonprofits in terms of, of your methodology? But that, you know, is, is an effective, you know, technique for for creating improved per conversions, for example,

David: So when we’re working with our clients, we try our best to work with them. Not for them. We wanna partner with them. We wanna, we want to be essentially an extended part of their marketing communications, it realm of, of team. And we’re there to, to help them. We don’t wanna be adversarial. We don’t wanna be combative.

We don’t want to cause any riffs or anything like that. So part of the Initial onboarding is getting that buy in from them and, and getting them to really understand, Hey, we’re here to help you. We understand the problems that you’ve got. And we think that doing X, Y, and Z is what’s really gonna help you because of a, B and C mm-hmm

We can do that because of our experience that we have in the nonprofit and charity space. So when we are meeting with our clients, we always talk about, you know, what are their processes? How are their teams organized? And we. Get them to think. Outside of their organization. Ultimately, you need to think about things from your end user’s perspective.

So who is it? That’s looking for information about your organization, who is it that’s coming if they’re like clients or patients or volunteers or families of, or caregivers or whoever that group is, and really defining those persona. And creating avatars around that mm-hmm so we have something that we call our victory program, and it’s a series of discovery sessions, essentially, where we deep dive into the organization and who they are.

We talk about the community and we build out avatars. We talk about strategy and tactics and what is the content that they’re looking for? How are we gonna get that to them? How are we gonna drive traffic into the website? What are we gonna do with your email list? Right. Some basic things like that.

And then we put that all together and, and come up with a roadmap report. That’s really gonna outlaw the way to get them successful in, in the digital space. 

Stu: Yeah, it’s it really does start with, with the, the person that you’re trying to, to appeal to. And if. If if you haven’t done that avatar work, that that persona work, it makes it a little bit challenging to, to, you know, build a, a program and a system that that you have a high degree of confidence is going to resonate.

So I, I certainly, we do a ton of strategy work over here as well and persona. Persona development is, is a piece of that for sure. Do you, do you see nonprofits on your end typically skipping that step and just, just kind of going with the, oh, we, you know, we’re, we’re trying to appeal to everyone, is that, is that the, what you see on your end 

David: sometimes?

And it’s, it’s kind of an interesting conversation when that comes up, because I always come back to I’m like, all right let’s say it’s an organization that’s dealing with seniors, right? Mm. Okay, so you’re trying to appeal to everyone. So how about teenagers? Are you trying to appeal to them is like who, who is the mean persona that you’re trying to target?

Right, right. It’s likely not seniors. Right. It’s likely their children. mm-hmm right. It’s not their grandchildren. It’s not their friends. It’s right. So there, there is not necessarily one persona that is always gonna be the one that is, you know, your main fo who you’re focusing on. There’s always some like secondary tertiary ones.

Mm-hmm . But ultimately there’s one demographic, one psychographic, one geographic, when you’re putting that persona together in terms of who you should be targeting. And, you know, with regards to, to that, you know, a lot of organizations want to. Publish their content on their website in the way their organization is organized.

Right? So you have like these silos of content on the website, and that’s not how people are surfing the web. That’s not how people are gonna be looking for it. If you are Department is called careers and volunteerism. For example, instead of like human resources and volunteer services, for example, you, you need to think about how is it that people are gonna be looking for.

Right. So having a section on your website that says get involved, that might be able to encapsulate it a little bit more differently than you know, taking up more space in your navigation for careers and then volunteers. 

Stu: Right. Right. So you subscribed to the idea that only the, that the Mo more important elements should be in the, in the top nav and the less important elements may be moved down to the footer.

Is that accurate? 

David: I think it’s important to have a clear site mapping process that that will really outline The intent of the different parts of the website are for right. Mm-hmm . So taking a look at your navigation that you’ve got on your website, currently taking a look at your analytics to go, okay, here are the popular pages on our site.

Should we reorganize these right? Should there be a programs area and a services area when you only have like maybe three or four of each mm-hmm , maybe those should be combined into like programs and services. And then it’s one place where they. Discover other related services that you have to offer at your organization?

I don’t think there’s a necessarily a one size fits all. We, we take an approach where we’re very super collaborative with our our clients that we work with so that we can produce something that will resonate for the people that they’re trying to target. And it ultimately comes back to those avatars and personas that you’ve developed.

You know, who are they? What are they looking for? What is their level of ed, their typical level of education? Are they tech savvy? Are they not tech savvy? Right. And basing it off of that, it’ll really help drive those conversations about these other pieces for the website. 

Stu: Yeah, absolutely do do. I mean, I, you know, clearly the.

Amount of lift that you get will depend upon what organization you’ve done the work for. But when you do that reorganization, do you, do you typically see big gains in traffic? Is it, is it drop offs? Is it both that you’re, that you’re improving when you make those, those changes? What’s the key metric that you’re trying to, to influence there.

David: APIs are really interesting when it comes to web because. they’re not, they’re not all created equal, right? Mm-hmm if you have a lot of copy on a webpage and maybe it’s a little bit more scientific, let’s say you’re talking about research that your organization is doing, or a partnership that you’ve founded with another organization, something like that.

Where it might be a little bit harder to digest that content and the copy imagine like a wall of paragraphs of content, right? People aren’t used to reading walls of copy. They just wanna skim really quickly. So like in terms of best practices for content anybody listening to this think about like short paragraphs, maybe a couple sentences bullet points and bolding and, and and highlight.

In terms of titles for different types of content, that’ll really help you get across information to the people that are browsing your website a little bit easier. But back to what, what you were asking is, you know, building out your site in a way that makes it easy for people to navigate and find the information they’re looking for is, is ideal.

You might have there’s something called bounce. Right. Mm-hmm so that’s somebody coming into a page and leaving without looking at any other content on your website. That could be, you know, what, they went into Google and they searched for Stew’s organization contact. Right. And they click on your contact page and they.

Find your phone number and they pick up the phone and call right there isn’t necessarily a need for them to browse another page of your site. Mm-hmm so, you know, that’s not really necessarily a great metric to, to drive traffic for there’s time on page, which like I was talking about before, if there’s a lot of copy, chances are you’re either gonna have a short page time, cuz people are just gonna zone out and leave.

Mm-hmm it. it. I, I don’t. I don’t subscribe to the, you know, the Google analytics as a, be all and end all of, of tracking your metrics and your KPIs. I think what, what some good metrics are to measure is maybe email subscribers. Donations increase in donations to your organization. So like year over year.

And one of the things, one of the trends, just going back to your question like super early on in the episode is the, one of the other things that I’m really interested in is driving increase in donations. So building smart information forms that know, okay, Stu you’ve gone to David’s organization and last year you donated a hundred dollars, right?

It knows who you. And it’ll recommend $110, right. Or $200 or $300 or other, for example, you’ll be like, yeah, I think I donated about a hundred last year. Sure. I’ll do 110. Right, right. As opposed to a hundred, a hundred, a hundred, a hundred. And. You know, if you can increase your donations by 5% year, over year or 10% year over year, even on some of the smaller donations, let’s say it’s $50 and you have, you know, $55, 75 and a hundred, right.

Chances are, you’re gonna increase your donations. And there’s some interesting things kind of happening with some donation platforms around that space. 

Stu: Yeah, we do quite a bit of donation system optimization. And one of the first questions I ask is, do you know your average donation through this type of a channel?

Because what we wanna make sure of is that we provide. Recommendations for donation sizes that tends to tends to help conversion, but we wanna make the right recommendations where, you know, obviously we want to anchor anchor high to get people to be encouraged to, to look at that middle that middle number.

But we absolutely want that middle number to be larger than your average. So. You’re you’re effectively trying to drive that average up a little bit. And, and that’s just one of those, one of those things that that a lot of organizations struggle with is figuring out what, what should those donation, you know, those prefilled essentially donation, values be, or those pre or easy, easily selectable donation values.

And then certainly we wanna leave an open ended opportunity. I have seen some donation forms that. That just had, let’s say three to five recommendations. I think five is too many. But but they just had the recommendations and it’s like, well, you might have been leaving money on the table because that, that person may have been interested in, in giving you you know, a thousand bucks or 10 grand or something like that.

And if you don’t allow them the ability and the opportunity to fill in their own number then there’s potential missed opportunity as. Have you seen other other donation form optimization tips that you’d like to share? 

David: Keep it short , that’s probably the, the biggest thing. I would say for that first, you know, I’ve never made a donation.

You’ve just got like a donate now button on your website. You wanna keep it short? So like first name, email, phone, and their donation, and like take them through for their credit card processing and that type of thing. Getting their E like their mailing address. Make that like a down the road. Right? So if you say that another right, you, you wanna make it as streamlined as possible.

You don’t wanna make it super cumbersome. If you have a ton of different departments at your nonprofit or charity, and you want people to donate to like a specific cause. Don’t display all of your options at once, make it a dropdown, but you, you wanna visually just make it super simple for people.

Yeah. And they don’t feel overwhelmed when they’re looking at it. That would be probably the best advice I’ve got. 

Stu: Yeah. I think removing any, any F. Form fields that are unnecessary is, is key. You know, if you don’t have to collect the address to, to capture a credit card or to process a credit card, then I would say you’re absolutely spot on.

Just save that for later. And in fact, we have seen that phone is one of the things that people want to part with the least. And so if you don’t have to collect a phone number Absolutely don’t do that. And certainly don’t make it, don’t make it mandatory people that’s the, the one device that, that people have, you know, really continued to try to protect as much as 

David: possible.

And that’s exactly it, right? Like how think, think about it from your own perspective, right? You’re sitting at home and then you get a phone call about a donation, you for an organization that you made a year and a half ago, and they they’re hitting you up trying to get another donation out of you. It’s like, why are you calling me?

I haven’t heard anything from you. Right? 

Stu: mm-hmm what are some of the techniques or tips that, that you’ve used to, to work on differentiation? And we talked early on about, about how you have to, you know, tell a story that that explains why people should give to you as opposed to a different organization.

We had an organization that we, we just did a survey for. And one of the things that we noticed was their differentiation. F on their donate button was that this is 100% tax deductible. And I pointed out that that’s absolutely not a differentiator differentiator in their space that that we need to, to do a little bit better job of of, of providing some information that is gonna help, help somebody make that decision of why, why them versus another organization.

Are there, are there techniques that you’ve used to try and help people get to that differentiator? 

David: The, the differentiation really comes from the brand, your organization, your story, and what makes you special and why people should care about you. The donation, everybody knows that you can donate to a charity or a nonprofit.

They know they can get a tax receipt for, I don’t know, maybe a hundred percent, maybe it’s 80%, whatever, whatever it happens to be chances are people are donating to you. Not specifically because they could get a donation or a tax receipt. They’re donating because they care. Right. And there’s that emotional connection.

So it’s really about, in my opinion, and what we talked with our clients about is what is it that sets you apart? What is it that makes you you and how can we create that story? And how can we visually tell that story through the website to get people. Give a darn about your organization, 

Stu: right. Are there ways that you and your team help tease that out?

I know you mentioned that you don’t really do content, but it sounds like you do a lot of strategy and, and, you know, helping people with processes. Do you have a process for walking through a client, walking a client through that type of

David: One of the things that we do in the victory program when we’re talking about their organization and the people that work there. So really like the first session that we, that we conduct with them, we talk about why do they care about the org? Why do they love working there? What is it that they’re doing day to day that gives them value that gives them purpose, that makes them care to come back the next day.

Right. And really kind of getting those, those details and compiling that will. Figure out and solve, you know, the Rubik’s cube of their story to mm-hmm what is it that really. Creates that, that message right. Talking to the volunteers, getting together with you know, a beta testers group, for example, and, or like a web steering committee, volunteer group of people who volunteer or have made donations to the organization.

Why did you donate, you know, $10,000 to this organization? What made you care about this? Usually it comes down to, okay. They know some, if it’s a health related thing, they know somebody that has been affected by lung cancer, for example. And so they care about the cause because of that and really.

Being able to tell the story that way through the website comes through in the visuals. Right? So the mm-hmm, the images that you’ve got on the website videos that you can produce testimonials those type of things, and collateral that you can include in the website that you can include in social media and really building a bit of, not just a brand guide, but the brand story.

And mm-hmm, related collateral around that. So Like the mood board essentially. Right. Uh Here’s how everything should look and feel as you go out in the world and you tell people about the work that you do. 

Stu: Yeah. I think that’s a great, a great process for sure to at least keep people Thinking about that.

And, and starting with those, those, you know, either client or support or interviews interviewing your team you know, you can get a lot of, of really great information just from, from doing some interviews. One of the things that we’ve found and particularly in the, for profit space, because those, those are.

Those tend to be the businesses that get reviewed. But you can get a lot of information from just looking at reviews, either for your own organization or competitor organizations, just to get a feel for what were some of the motivations or motivators that drove people to support that organization.

David: A hundred percent. Right. You can use, you can leverage influencer marketing, for example, mm-hmm right. In terms of social media and driving more attention to your organization, if there’s somebody related to somebody who’s got like a cousin twice removed, right? Like you there’s, there’s ways around finding brand ambassadors to help you kind of tell that story.

Even if it’s just volunteers famous, not famous, doesn’t really matter. Getting people out there talking about the work you’re doing, letting employees know, Hey it’s okay. During the day to spend a few minutes on social talking about, not necessarily talking about your organization, but maybe going in and liking a post or sharing a post mm-hmm and doing things like that, and really having the.

In the business world, the company culture, right? Yeah, the organizational culture that, Hey, it’s okay. Everything that you’re doing, we’re all here as a team, we’re all here working together for the same cause and purpose to help X, Y, and Z to solve X, Y, and Z. Right. And it it’s really a matter of.

Creating that like kind of family bond and making people know, okay, we need to share this stuff because we wanna do this next year. Right. We worked with an organization that’s looking at setting up Another campus, another facility for them. And we walk through like a quick budget conversation.

It’s like, all right. They, they have a gala. They run every year. They get about 250 to $300,000 every year through that gala. But they wanna open up this new space. So what do they need to do? They need to raise X amount of money. And then I went into a conversation with them and. All right, but what about buying tables and chairs?

Okay. They work with children, right? So, you know, you need art supplies, you need staffing, you need this, this, this it right. And really quickly jump to, oh, if we wanna do that in three years time, we need to raise 750,000 every year. Right. And kind of having those high level strategic conversations. About, you know, what are their goals and aspirations and how can we help them get there?

I mean, that was way off base from from the work that we typically do. Right. You know, it it’s part of that strategy that we bring to the table. Yeah. 

Stu: With the, the clients we meet. Yeah, it’s fun to be able to kind of expand marketing into just business practice. And I’ve heard you talk about SOPs a lot.

And so clearly you and your team are focused on how do we help our clients. So those in the nonprofit space for, for a while, how do, how do we help them? You know, perform at their peak. And if that means helping them out with, with, you know, some, some, some SOPs, then let’s help them out there. And if it, if it means helping them with a, a rebrand, then let’s, let’s go that direction.

So it’s really great to hear how, you know, how much you and your you and your team bring to the table. 

David: Thank you. In terms of imagery, if anybody listening to this is, is still listening to this. I know we’ve been going on for a while now. If you’re gonna put images on your website, Try to get people looking at the camera.

Okay. So scientifically, psychologically, this goes back to like caveman cave people days. It’s a fight or flight, right? Mm-hmm , if you can look at somebody in the eyes, you can engage with them more and you’ll be able to tell, okay, is this a safe space or do I need to like fight or, or run away kind of thing.

Right. You know, it’s baked into our DNA to look at people in the face and you can create a better, stronger, emotional connection with somebody. If you’ve got eyes looking out at the people. 

Stu: Yeah, absolutely. That’s great advice. I can’t believe it’s been an hour. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today.

David, it’s just been super fun to talk with another marketers, particularly one who’s who’s so steeped in the, in the nonprofit space. And I know that that our, our conversation today is gonna bring a lot of value to to those who are able to listen to it. How can people find out more about you and your.

David: Right. So thanks. Say first off, I wanna say thank you Stu for, for having me on the show. This has been great. Looking forward to hearing it live and, and connecting with people in the audience. If they want to, you can reach me directly, David at wow. digital.com. You can go online to our website. Wow, digital.com.

But also anybody listening, I have a special offer. We’ve put together an ebook. It’s called three simple words to increase your donations by 20%. You can get it by going to wow. digital.com/ebook. 

Stu: That’s a great offer. I know you also have a podcast. What’s the, what’s the name of your. 

David: The show is called the nonprofit digital success podcast.

And we’re we talk specifically only about things that are related to digital, digital marketing. And technology that type of thing. 

Stu: Yeah, that sounds great. If, if people are looking for another podcast to listen, to, to help fuel their nonprofit growth and, and learn even more about digital marketing and, and the digital landscape, when it comes to nonprofits, I would recommend you go check out David’s podcast.

I love having these conversations and being able to just talk through things and, and throw out ideas and really kind of, you know, Go over all of the, all of the fun aspects of, of marketing in the nonprofit world. But I also really want people to take action when they leave our conversation to have something to do.

And so if there was one thing that you would want the audience to do after listening to our show today, what would that be? 

David: First off. I love that. You’ve said that I’m all about taking action, whether it’s small or big taking the step forward will only get you closer to where you want to be. So putting that aside what I would want people to do is.

Go and take a look at your website analytics. If you don’t have analytics installed, sign up, I, I would recommend Google analytics. It’s free. If you need help with it, you know, contact me. We’ll install it for you for free, no charge, just, you know, reach out. But take a look at your analytics, make sure you’re capturing data and see what the content is that people are going to and looking at on your website.

Stu: That’s great advice. I think that there’s so much information to be, to be gleaned from, from having a better understanding of how people are using one site, as well as how they’re getting there. So all of that information is definitely available in analytics and, and I think that’s just sound advice and I appreciate you taking the time to to share that and to chat with me today, David, it’s been really wonderful and I can’t wait to, to hear what’s next at wow.

David: Thanks so much, Stu I appreciate the opportunity. 

Stu: Have a great day. 

David: You as well.

Stu: And there you have it. Another great episode of relish this. Thanks again for listening, you can find past episodes of the [email protected] And remember if you liked what you heard today, please subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. For more information on purpose market. Grab your free copy of my book.

Mission uncomfortable. How nonprofits can embrace purpose driven marketing to survive and thrive. Get your copy [email protected] Thanks again for listening. Come back next week. Won’t you.