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Traffic Optimization: Three Strategies

Published by Nathan Hill

For most organizations, traffic is perhaps the least understood metric that directly contributes to online revenue. Even though our Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue Maximization (FCORM) shows that optimizing traffic is just as important as conversion rate and average gift, few people know how to get more traffic. What happens when you realize that your traffic levels leave something to be desired?

FCORM - Traffic Optimization
Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue Maximization – Traffic Optimization

You can always buy traffic. Most organizations already buy traffic through advertising, email list rentals, or co-registration campaigns. But if your end goal is to get more donors and not just website page visits, buying traffic is not exactly the end all solution.

That’s why I’m devoting this post to going over three strategies to bring more traffic, and more motivated traffic to your website and your donation pages. By focusing on engagement and targeting high-value visitors, these strategies will help you acquire more of the right traffic to convert new donors.

1. Capture, Retarget, and Remarket to existing web site visitors.

People who have already visited your website are some of the most valuable segments of traffic. They also are some of the most neglected. Existing website visitors are no strangers to your organization, but are one step away from being an active lead. How can we get these visitors to re-engage on our websites?Multi Step Remarketing and Conversion

A while back, we developed a campaign called Multi-Step Remarketing and Conversion (MSRC) where we designed a compelling multi-step experience for website visitors.

It can be a quiz, a game, or a survey—something that engages people’s minds and creates an elongated engagement experience. At the end of this experience, we give them some sort of free offer.

The purpose of the free offer is to capture an email address. It could be a white paper, a download, an eBook, a petition, or any number of things; as long as it requires people to give you their name and email address. This will allow you to continue to engage them in a conversation through another channel.


Petition Example


After they give their email address, the engagement doesn’t end. Present these new subscribers with an opportunity to give a gift right away.

As the visitor says “yes” each step of the process, momentum is building in their mind. This increases the likelihood of them saying “yes” to a more significant call to action. You might be surprised how many people will say “yes” to a donation ask right after they’ve just said “yes” to joining your email list.


Donation Ask Example


The people who don’t give a gift enter a remarketing experience. We can tag these people and target them with display ads. That way, when people leave our website and go to other sites, they see our ads showing up everywhere.

This tactic allows us to stay in front of that targeted audience. We’re not wasting advertising dollars by advertising to a generic group. We’re advertising directly to people who came to the website and engaged with us.


Remarketing Walkthrough


Since we captured their email address, we also can send them an email – or even a series of emails – that connects the dots from their initial interaction to an opportunity to support our organization with a financial contribution.


Email Follow Up Example


We have found that there is a pretty dramatic downstream effect when using this model. Not only do we get instant conversion from the initial donation ask, but we get significant conversion later on.


Downstream Revenue - Traffic Optimization


This rainbow chart represents revenue. Where the dotted red line stops is where the initial campaign ended. The big blue bar is the initial revenue that was donated right away. They gave their email addresses and gave a gift immediately—we call those instant conversions.

All of the other color bars you see are the downstream effect of revenue that was generated. Over time we got two times the amount of revenue from the downstream effect than we get from the instant conversion.

When you think about traffic, don’t think only of strangers discovering your site for the first time. The most valuable traffic is the traffic you already have if you create an engaging, long term experience that brings that traffic to your site again and again.

2. Optimize upstream channels and sources of traffic.

Upstream sources could be a number of things. If you do a banner advertisement or search engine marketing, you may optimize your ads to generate more clicks. You can also optimize your keywords to generate more traffic. But all of us have an email list that could be optimized.

Let’s look at a formula to help breakdown email optimization:


MECLABS Email Heurisitc


If we break this down, there are two different components: Value factors and Cost factors. The value factors are relevance, offer, and incentive. The cost factors are friction and anxiety. The goal is to find ways to increase the value factors while lowering the cost factors.

Here’s an example of how to take that abstract formula and apply it to your email campaigns:


Email Click Optimization Example


These two emails are exactly the same – the only difference is the final sentence in the email: the call to action.

We set up our A/B split test, sent out the emails, and found that the treatment produced a 139% increase in click through rate. It also produced a 42% increase in revenue.


Email Click - Call to Action Example


What conveys the stronger value proposition to the person who’s reading this email for the first time? Is it taking the taxes out of the online contribution or becoming a Charter Member of the George W. Bush Presidential Center? By setting up a simple A/B split test, we were able to find the answer and experience a huge boost in revenue.

Next, let’s look at an example of optimizing a Facebook ad to get more highly motivated traffic. Here’s one we did with the Susan B. Anthony List:


Facebook Ad Control Facebook Ad Treatment


In this experiment, we thought that the people seeing our ads might have a different motivation than what we were targeting with the control ad. We created a treatment in which the imagery focused on the educational opportunity through the eBook rather than the protest.

Facebook Ad - Test Results


As a result, we saw a 76.4% increase in names acquired from the Facebook ad.

Not only does optimizing upstream traffic sources allow you to get more traffic, but it can help you get more of the right kind of traffic that will increase conversion rates.

3. Make it easy for your traffic to get to the right place.

When you send an email, tweet out a link, or even print a URL in a mailing, you’re sending your soon-to-be web traffic to a specific location on your web site. But what about the traffic to your site from organic search, direct traffic to your homepage, or other sources where you haven’t precisely directed them to a landing page? In order to get more of the right traffic to the right place, we have to optimize the donation pathway.

Let me show you a simple example of how even small changes in the donation pathway can have a drastic impact on traffic and revenue:


DTS Donate Button Test


In this experiment, we wondered what effect we could have on traffic to the donation page if we simply made the donate button stand out against the other navigation options. We made it look more like a button and gave it a purple background color.


DTS Donate Button Results


Now, we expected to see an improvement since the original donate button blended in with all of the other options. What we didn’t expect, was exactly how much treatment would impact revenue.

When we looked at the donations that came from the treatment we saw an 860% increase in average gift size. The compounding effect of the traffic increase and the average gift increase produced a 2682% increase in revenue.

This test goes to show that simple methods of optimizing your traffic can have a huge impact on the downstream revenue.

Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue MaximizationNextAfter - FCORM Report

Looking for other ways to help grow your online revenue? Our Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue Maximization (FCORM) makes it easy to identify your key areas of growth.

We will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in the 3 key metrics of online revenue optimization: traffic, conversion, and average gift. Start optimizing your online fundraising by getting your free FCORM report today.


Published by Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill is Vice President, NextAfter Institute.