July 7, 2016

The Building Blocks of a Successful Fundraising Landing Page

Your online campaign is off to a great start. Your email blast has been carefully targeted and your messaging is personalized and impactful. Your banner ad is eye-catching and you’ve spread the word through placements in high profile blogs and through social media links. You’re well on your way to meeting your campaign goals for attracting donations and expanding your base of enthusiastic supporters.

Or maybe not.

None of these online channels will be effective if the landing page they link to fails to communicate clearly or move respondents efficiently through the donation process. Your landing page present provides your first (and possibly only) opportunity to convert a prospect into an active supporter. So how do you build a landing page that converts?

Start With a Powerful Headline

Visitors read the top left corner of a website first. In those first crucial seconds, they quickly decide whether to continue reading or navigate to some other site that does a better job of sparking their interest. Therefore, it’s essential to place a well-constructed headline at the top of the page. An effective headline will be:

  • Interesting enough to get and hold attention
  • Short enough to be consumed quickly
  • Followed by a subhead that elaborates on the topic
  • Consistent with the content on the rest of the page

From a formatting perspective:

  • Headlines should utilize high contrast text (e.g., light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background)
  • Use appropriate capitalization. All caps care fine, although it may be perceived as “shouting.” Alternately, you can capitalize the first letter of each word. In that case, be sure not to capitalize prepositions such as “to” or “of.” Your spell checker should flag any errors you might make
  • Punctuation should be employed selectively. Don’t put periods at the end of a headline, as they can signal a reader to stop reading. That said, if the content requires a long header, feel free to use ellipses or dashes that coax readers through the text

Shoot for a Clean Design With Efficient Content

The fact that web visitors consume content rapidly should also influence the overall design of your landing page. The layout should be easy on the eyes—clean and crisp, with lots of white space. The body text should be kept to the minimum length needed to communicate the essential details about your organization and the goals of your campaign. Most of this content should appear above the fold, with the most relevant items starting at the top left of the page and the subsequent content guiding the visitor through a Z or F-shaped reading pattern.

"Z" formation webpage design "F" formation website design

In addition, use visual cues that highlight key points or calls to action. Selectively bolding key sentences will make them pop. But don’t go overboard. Use bullets or numbered lists to distill detailed information into an easier read. Finally, keep the color scheme of the landing page limited (roughly 1-3 colors), and use bolded or colored subheads to break up sections of text.

Visuals Are Your Friend

Visuals can enhance your page design and break up text in pleasing ways. Additionally, images, short videos, and even animations can ease navigation, convey a professional look, and communicate lots of information at a quicker pace than text.

Show Off Your Social Proof

The concept “social proof” refers to the tendency for individuals to gravitate toward things that are popular or have been validated by trusted entities. In the marketing world, displaying social proof is a means to quickly communicate the credibility of your organization and cause. You can accomplish this goal on your landing page by displaying relevant badges (i.e., favorable ratings by the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator), by highlighting the size of your membership or the success of previous campaigns, or by featuring testimonials from credible individuals or organizations.

Use a Form, but Keep It Simple

An effective landing page converts a visitor into a potential supporter, either by collecting contact information you will need for subsequent campaigns or by soliciting a donation on the spot. In both cases, you will need a form that collects at least the visitor’s name, email address, payment information, etc.). Depending on your specific campaign goals, you may want to use additional fields. For example, you might ask visitors to indicate which aspects of your mission they find most compelling by selecting items from a pull-down list. Keep in mind, however, that no one enjoys filling out forms. So keep yours as simple, straightforward, and brief as possible.

Make Sure the Page Is Optimized for Mobile

The number of web searches via mobile devices eclipsed desktop searches in 2015, and mobile traffic now “represents 65 percent of all digital media time.” Landing pages need to be optimized for mobile platforms to achieve their conversion goals.

Keep Visitors on Your Landing Page by Eliminating Navigation Links

The design of your landing page should be consistent with the rest of your website and its branding. However, you should minimize the use of links that might draw visitors away from your landing page. Simply remove all of the links normally found on your website’s navigation bar. These can be moved to a subsequent thank you page after the transaction is complete. Keep potential donors and supporters focused on completing a form, submitting a donation, or signing up to receive more information. Think about giving visitors the opportunity to share Here’s one important exception to the “no links” rule. You can choose to add links to sites like Facebook and Tumblr that enable visitors to share their interest in your cause with members of their social media networks. Ultimately, the decision whether to include social links depends on the potential number of shares and how their presence affects the landing page’s conversion rate. Which brings us to the final tip…

Test!

The only way to assess the potential conversion rate of your page is to test it. Create a few different versions of your campaign and then run each one against a small sample of potential supporters. Try varying the following components to see which ones have the greatest impact on conversion rates:

  • Using different colors
  • Changing headlines
  • Varying the length of the form
  • Trying out new text and visuals

You won’t be able to tell which changes matter if you change all of these items on every iteration of your campaign. So keep it simple and only vary one or two of these elements. That way, you’ll be able to quickly optimize your campaign and then apply what you’ve learned going forward.

There are endless design and messaging possibilities for your online fundraising landing pages, but the basic formula is simple: keep your content short and impactful, use images and clean design, and don’t distract visitors from the action you wish them to take. Learn more about fundraising and website management here.

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David Blyer
David founded DonorCommunity after a long and successful career as a technology executive and entrepreneur. He is active in community affairs, serving as a member of the Young Entrepreneur's Council at Nova Southeastern University since Sept. 2006 and on the university's Blue Ribbon Scholarship Committee. Since November 1998, he has been a Director of DryClean USA.