The experts at White Fuse share their top tips for writing web content that will attract supporters and keep them coming back for more
Whether your website is new or old, your success in attracting donations and retaining support will rest largely on the quality of your content. This post gives you a few tips on how to write excellent content that will gather support for your cause.
Don’t think of content in isolation
When you are short on time it is easy to dive straight into writing, but this runs the risk of inconsistent communication and can lead to wasted efforts. You will increase the return on your invested time if you step back and keep in mind recent and soon-to-be-published content.
Most people who commit to supporting your organisation with money or time will normally have been exposed to your organisation on numerous previous occasions, so it pays to keep these in mind.
Here are a few ideas of what this may look like in practice:
- writing a blog series counting down to a campaign or awareness week
- serialising your case studies into bite sized chunks and drip feeding them over time
- inviting feedback, input or ideas through informal comments or a survey and publishing a public response
Maintaining consistent quality with a coherent brand identity will build trust and increase open rates on emails and conversion rates on website copy.
Keep it brief and action focused
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
-- Blaise Pascal
Writing succinct content respects the time of your readers and is a crucial ingredient of effective copy. Equally crucial is action. The web is an inherently interactive medium so you don’t need to worry about ‘sounding asky’ like you might in offline media. Inherent in the mind of those browsing the web is the question ‘what shall I do next?’. Your content can feed on this question.
Here is a great example of a short paragraph leading to three clear actions (reading a case study):
Source: Wallace and Gromit Charity
Reinforce your message with appropriate formatting
90% of website pages I review can be quickly improved with simple formatting that supports the key messages. Don’t get this mixed up with decorating your content though. Formatting is not about making your page look more interesting (though it does) but rather providing visual cues to help your reader understand your message more quickly.
Here are a few simple things you can try:
- Use descriptive sub-headings throughout to help people skim read your content without reading the paragraphs.
- Use bulleted lists and capture the meaning in the first word.
- Use a quote style (this is an option in most content management systems) to pull out supporting quotes or even quote key parts of your own content.
It may seem obvious to say that content is not just the words, but it’s a mistake that many small charities fall into. Often this is due to lack of confidence in the visual assets available.
While there are certain parts of your website that do need professional grade images, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you should only ever support your content with professional images and videos.
On your homepage or key pages in your site, professional imagery can do the communication heavy lifting. A good photo really can speak a thousand words, and in these places bad imagery can be damaging. But in the context of day-to-day content there is much more flexibility. Within the context of a blog post, impact study or campaign page there is plenty of scope to use gritty images and roughly edited videos. By keeping images well cropped and small, and videos very short, you can make your content more interesting and communicate your messages more effectively than you could with only words.
Like everything else online, the way people use and respond to website content is evolving. So above all don’t be afraid to experiment. As long as you are measuring the engagement with your content then systematic experimentation is often the most efficient way to find out what content delivers results with your particular audience. For example, you could measure the ‘bounce rate’ on your donation page and keep trying significantly different titles and copy around the page on a monthly basis until you start to see some patterns.
Andy Pearson (@andyrpearson) is Managing Director of White Fuse Media, a tech company aiming to transform charity communication through digital innovation. Andy blogs regularly at the White Fuse Media Blog.