“Online Marketing is the new normal: What charities can learn and do” webinar

26 Jan 2022 Jocelyn Horton    Last updated: 9 Feb 2022

As part of the #DigitalFundraising Webinar Series, Ciaran Connolly, CEO at ProfileTree, a Belfast-based content marketing company, hosted the “Online Marketing is the new normal: What charities can learn and do” webinar.

ProfileTree’s primary service is to help clients generate leads and sales through a structured digital strategy, sleek web design and engaging digital content to improve eCommerce performances. Ciaran’s presentation looked at the techniques businesses use to improve their online presence and attract customers; areas that charities can replicate to achieve goals and greater impact.

Ciaran began by highlighting that tremendous change in digital engagement and transactions within every sector has seen huge growth. He urged attendees to reflect on their own personal online activity and spend time noting what the ‘big players’ such as Amazon do to interact with them as customers. Then ask themselves “are we as charities generating as much activity from our online presence as we could be?”  

What can charities/social enterprises do to improve their online presence?

Do as businesses do

Many businesses use the marketing funnel for online marketing to attract and retain customers and users. The funnel’s three elements are:

  • Attract - Attraction occurs through the likes of improved Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), social media posts, viral content, interactive tools and entertaining campaigns encouraging visitors to your website.  
  • Convert - Conversion is to engage visitors, encouraging them to take in blog posts, case studies, videos, slideshares and guides with the aim of informing and persuading visitors.  
  • Nurture - Nurturing is to follow-up contacts through email campaigns, newsletters, fundraising appeals, signing petitions, etc.

Online the funnel is wholly digital. Charities/social enterprises can apply the different elements of the funnel to relevant sector goals such as:

  • Signing people up to workshops or counselling sessions
  • Encouraging attendance at events
  • Raising funds through general donations and cash appeals

At the heart of each goal, is the need to build your brand and raise your profile through your digital activity.  

Your most important asset is your website

Your own website is your most important asset because you control it!

Often charities set up their website and focus most of their time and efforts on social media. Instead, Ciaran recommended putting all your content on your website, regularly updating and adding more content to keep it fresh with them aim of entertaining and educating visitors.

Regularly freshening up your website’s content with what people will be searching for online nearly always increases visitors to your site month on month!

Tip: If you are planning on posting pictures from a volunteer social event on social media. Turn it into a short article with images on your website. Offer visitors deeper content such as case studies, volunteer testimonials, blog posts, etc and always include a Call to Action (CTA) at the bottom of the page asking them to sign up to your newsletter.

Why increase visitor numbers and time spent on your website?

The longer a person spends on your website, the more time you are spending building your brand and their relationship with you – they are getting to know you, like you, and trust you!

Visitors learn what you do, what value you bring to the community, and how they can support you/get involved. Potentially turning inquisitive visitors into supporters, volunteers, and donors.

Google notices any increase in the amount of time people are spending on a website and sends more people your way from searches!

How do people find you online?

Ciaran dispelled the myth that people find your organisation through your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Research shows that most people find an organisation’s website from search engines such as Google.

Use Google Analytics to find out where people are coming from and who is using your website. YouTube has videos showing you how to do this.

To increase visitor numbers, improve your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results, i.e., when someone uses Google to find your products or services.

Most people start by using broad search terms then narrow the search down over time with to more specific terminology until they get what they want.

Tip: Employ a keyword strategy when developing content for your website.

  • Identify 50 keywords and use in titles and descriptions, but don’t use them all on one page.
  • Start off by improving 4-5 of your most important webpages, not the whole site.
  • Include all the information to people’s questions on webpages especially on your homepage.

How to increase time spent on your website?

Give people reasons to stay on your website for longer to make Google take notice:

  • Add images, videos, links to blogs/case studies, customer reviews/service user testimonials, etc.  There is even a free chatbot function you can add to your website to interact with visitors (see webinar).
  • Videos – they don’t have to be yours. You can embed relevant videos from YouTube to your webpage. If using your own videos, upload them to your own YouTube or Vimeo account (both free) to save storage space on your website and not slow it down.
  • Photos – don’t need to be professional, keep it real with your personal photos using your phone. You should also optimise your images before adding to your webpage to not slow it down/take up storage space.
  • Always put a Call to Action on your web page. Imagine you have created your social media post on the volunteer celebration and linked back to your webpage:
    • No Call to Action - 20 people visit your page and do nothing after browsing it.
    • With Call to Action – 20 people visit and potentially: 5 people sign up to your newsletter or to a workshop, 5 people inquire about volunteering, or 5 people make a one-off donation!

Audit your website

Websites are like gardens. In time, weeds will grow. So always check links still work and use the range of free/paid tools mentioned in the webinar to make the best webpage on the internet!

Webinar Recording



jocelyn.horton@nicva.org's picture
by Jocelyn Horton

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]