Implementing a mobile strategy is no longer an option for nonprofits, because in less than a year more of your supporters will visit your website from a mobile device than from their desktop computer.
Despite the explosion of mobile usage, too many nonprofits think that having a successful mobile strategy means simply creating a mobile-friendly website. In reality, an effective mobile strategy encompasses design, content, and messaging into all channels used for marketing and fundraising – websites, emails, appeals, events, blogs, and social media.
This extreme shift to mobile devices has huge implications for the nonprofit world, as the competition for resources is fierce and donors’ attention spans are shrinking.:
Fundraising: A 2012 Pew Internet study found that 50% of donors are already using mobile devices to access nonprofit websites and emails. Another 40% of those surveyed used a mobile device to make a donation. While online giving is still a fraction of total giving, it is the segment that grew the fastest in 2012, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Constituent Communication: Pew Internet has reported that a majority of young adults, black, and Hispanic adults and low-income adults rely on their mobile devices for online access and not on desktops or laptops.
Nonprofits that want to reach these populations need to pay attention to the portion that are “mobile only” and design their communication strategies accordingly.
Having a “mobile strategy” does not just mean ensuring that your website looks OK on mobile devices, and it’s very different from text-to-give online fundraising strategies.
A great mobile strategy ensures that your supporters are getting and processing your information on their mobile devices. Success on mobile means that your readers can do everything you want them to do on their mobile device – easily and without obstacles. The following should help:
1) Create content designed for mobile.
Get out your copy writing and editing hats – all marketing and fundraising content you produce needs to be unique, persuasive, clear, concise, heavily visual, and easily digestible.
Think about your message. Can it be expressed in 140 characters? Can it be expressed in a visually compelling image? What can you cut? What can you shorten? Can this be easily shared?
The types of content most read and shared on mobile devices are valuable blog posts/articles, shareable links, key updates, photos, and videos. Always think about your reader and how they consume information – waiting in line at the grocery store, watching TV, in the bathroom.
2) Overhaul your long, graphics-heavy email newsletter.
Constant Contact found that 43% of all emails are being opened on a mobile device. The days of the long, wordy nonprofit email newsletter with 10 photos and five news stories are OVER.
Email newsletters now should function like email blasts – short, to the point, and with a clear call-to-action in the middle.
TIP: Use a single column template for your emails. Do everything you can to prevent the text and photos from overlapping. You do not want your readers to have to zoom in or scroll across. If necessary, add more information to a mobile-friendly website or blog post and have readers click to access it.
3) Create your website with responsive design.
Forget setting up a separate mobile-friendly website. You should have one website that functions as the information hub of your organization and your most important marketing piece.
With responsive design, you ensure that no matter what device your supporters use to find you, the website will adapt to the screen size.
For more on responsive website design, read John Haydon’s blog post Three Steps to Creating a Responsive Design For Your Nonprofit Website.
4) Pay attention to your headlines.
Blog headlines and email subject lines are crucial in the era of mobile, where you have two seconds to capture someone’s attention.
For ideas on attention-grabbing headlines, read Michael Hyatt’s blog post Headlines That Grab Readers by the Eyeballs and Suck Them into Your Message.
5) In all content, use more white space.
Do not create huge blocks of text with no breaks. Think short paragraphs (one sentence) and bulleted lists for emphasis.
Do not make the text too small to read on a mobile device – no smaller than size 12 font. Make the links easy to tap or click on with a finger.
TIP: The most effective way to encourage readers to click on links it to feature large, colorful buttons embedded into the content.
6) Incorporate visuals.
Using photos, videos, and other visuals is the single most important way to increase engagement with your supporters. Where possible, make all images clickable links to send readers to more information, to sign up for an event, to donate, etc.
While you want to be visual, you do not want to stuff too many images and graphics into your content that can overwhelm it.
TIP: Make all images clickable links to your website.
7) Have a very clear call-to-action within your mobile content.
What is the #1 action you want people to take with this particular email campaign? Sign a petition? Donate a certain amount? Sign up to volunteer? Register for an event?
Feature only one call-to-action per email, blog post, or other piece of content.
8) Don’t purchase a mobile app for your organization – yet.
Focus on optimizing your website, email newsletter, and all marketing and fundraising content for mobile first before delving into the world of mobile apps.
The majority of smart phone users only download and use apps for gaming and social media, or to get a value-added service (finding the cheapest gas, finding coupons).
It is rare that an agency, company, or organization designs an app that is widely used when the browser on the mobile device works just as well to find information (if not better in some cases).
Now Is The Time
The first step on the path to an effective mobile strategy is to just do it!
Always make sure you are reaching your audiences where they are – not where you want them to be. And where they are is on their phones.