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Tips for Delivering Focused Web Content to a Wide Audience - 3/25/2014 -

How can you address a very diverse set of members and potential members in a single web presence? The answer is to develop a rich content delivery platform coupled with individual personalization of content based on a member’s account profile.

By Michael Spinosa

One of the largest challenges facing nonprofits is trying to address the diverse audience of individuals that make up its members. Attracting and retaining new members in the younger demographic is difficult while trying to still ensure that the older demographic is being supported with the correct content. In addition, most nonprofits have many programs, divisions, initiatives, and other forms of internal competition that fragment the presentation of information.

So how are you going to address a very diverse set of members and potential members in a single web presence? The deployment of this digital strategy can be managed by technology, and all that is required of the nonprofit is a sound strategy for each of the target demographics. What we’re talking about is a rich content delivery platform coupled with the capability of individual personalization of content based on a member’s account profile.

1. Deliver digital content where your audience is reading it.

Establishing a platform in which content can be delivered correctly to mobile phones, tablets, desktops, and laptops across the majority of mainstream operating systems is a major step in ensuring retention of your members.

Even the older demographic of 60+ years of age is using tablet and phone-based devices now to browse the web. Interestingly enough, most of this demographic has selected the iOS (Apple) platform for its simplistic nature, while the younger generation is choosing a mixed bag of options anywhere from iOS to Android to Windows Mobile 8.

Attempting to ensure that your content is delivered in an easily consumable format to all these devices will take some extensive pre-planning, but if done correctly, will allow you to contribute content to the core of your web presence(s) and be automatically handled correctly by each of the devices that access your website.

2. Customize the member experience with dynamic content.

Once you are able to reach your members where they browse, start building customized experiences for potential new members and current members. Let's talk current members first.

Every day, you have members logging in and out of your website to garner information from your organization. It's why they became members—whether to support specific lobbying initiatives, attend conferences focused around pressing industry matters, or perhaps to view the latest online articles that have been recently published from your magazine. Whatever the reason, each member has a distinct set of information they need from your website, and that data can be used to your advantage.

By cataloging and tracking each member’s consumption of information, you can dynamically change the way the website presents itself and offer information that may be of interest to that particular audience member profile. Additionally, you can see what calls-to-action are or are not working for a particular member profile and make changes to better target that audience.

Let's take a look at a few scenarios where this strategy can improve communications:

Scenario A: A member has registered for an upcoming conference on your website, and after doing so, is still presented with promotions to drive attendance for the conference in the major image banner on most pages of your website and also calls-to-action in the consistent rail of your website.

Scenario B: Three major areas of content are presented to your members upon logging in. Data shows that of these three major areas, he/she has never clicked on any link or piece of information in one.

Scenario C:
You have different initiatives underway that require additional funding. All members are receiving the same call-to-actions and no one is engaging.

In each of these scenarios, you have a terrific opportunity to create a very engaging experience through dynamic rule sets that help you get your membership more engaged. Let’s take them one at a time.

In the case of an upcoming event that a member has already registered for (Scenario A), why are you still wasting time showing them the same banner? They've already registered! Let's get that big banner and right rail doing something more productive, like showing more content recently contributed by the editorial staff. Or perhaps there is a book by one of the speakers you'd like to promote to the member as suggested reading before the event. Now that they’re registered, build excitement for the conference, offer additional promotions to help support the event, and get them to bring along a friend.

For Scenario B, yes, you want them to see that content—but the answer is really that they don't care. If the data is showing they aren't interested in advocacy, let's get them better content focused around whatever they are passionate about.

And finally, in Scenario C, nothing is more powerful than understanding that member’s interest and asking for their help directly in supporting programs relating to that interest. For a military nonprofit, for example, great ideas include wounded warrior programs, historical programs, and traditional awards/celebratory events.

If you're looking to properly address your mixed audience, individualizing web content is a great place to start. The upfront effort can be large depending on what point you’re starting from, but it’s well worth the effort.

Michael Spinosa  is chief executive officer at Unleashed Technologies, an organization engaging with nonprofits and publication firms to bring the highest return on investment for their online endeavors. Unleashed Technologies was recipient of "Best Non-Profit Website,” "Best Business Website,” and "Website of the Year” Blue Drop Awards for 2012.


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