It's easy for charity trustees and directors to think that once a website is launched, you can sit back and revel in the technical glory of it all.
In fact, launching a site is just the beginning.
All websites need constant tinkering (and pimping) to refresh content, improve keyword rankings, increase conversions and add the functionality your visitors demand.
Here are five cost-effective tools that could help improve your site’s performance and keep charity trustees happy.
1. Simplify digital roadmap creation
First, learn from the A-team. You need a plan.
If you have a clear idea of your digital audiences and their goals, plus your business plan, you can use a tool like Aha! to define your digital vision, the digital products you want to introduce and map out detailed timelines.
I hate this phrase, but this tool is a genuine 'end-to-end solution' for digital planning. Aha! even gives you the functionality to crowd source ideas, like Dell's IdeaStorm. It also helps you save time when updating plans, as much of it is a simple drag and drop interface. There's no need to go near Excel.
Aha! is a great tool that makes planning and visualizing your digital roadmap a breeze and ensures you match tech advancements against strategic objectives.
There’s a free month long trial at the moment and the customer support is excellent. Certainly worth a try.
2. A/B testing in minutes
This is the simplest and cheapest way for all digital teams to improve website performance without having to spend a penny. You can use Google Experiments or Optimizely to A/B test how different words, pictures and graphics work on pages. Rather than you making assumptions on whether ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ performs better, you gather cold hard facts and figures about what engages and converts. Turn these insights into guidelines and continue to test and improve in an endless cycle of improvement.
Whether your charity has products or event tickets to sell, Shopify is one of the best e-commerce sites available today. For under £30 a month you can open up your own online store.
You don't need any tech skills to get started. You can create a branded shop in just a couple of hours. Select a design theme, specify your colours, upload a logo, connect your bank account, and you’re ready to roll. It also boasts some POS functionality as well.
Many charities use EventBrite to sell tickets for events like London Marathon, Tough Mudder etc. But you need to be aware that you can only sell tickets to your events as they have exclusive deals that ban certain events being sold on the platform. This is where Shopify could fill the gap.
4. Talk to website visitors
Live chat enables you to reach out to your visitors and proactively help them. Many teams expect online advertising and web pages to do all the marketing and selling. Wrong.
You know most people will have questions that need answering before they sign on the dotted line for any product or event. So in a world where people expect instant answers and support, live chat offers fantastic opportunities to answer questions before a person leaves your site. After all, a new Google search is just a click away.
Olark is a live chat system that gets great reviews. It's also possible to integrate with your CRM and record all conversations. If you visit the Olark website you'll see it in action when you're asked if you need help.
5. Integrate with confidence
Whether you’re using an open source CMS or a proprietary system, you’re going to need to integrate third party apps. It’s the way of the world now. Using third party integrations also saves you money as you don’t have to hire developers to create bespoke technology every time - why reinvent the wheel?
But how do you know if the systems live up to the hype of the sales team and website? I know I’ve been caught out before. I now have a tried and tested way of getting good intelligence on a company and their products.
G2 Crowd is a site dedicated to business software reviews. So whether you’re thinking about adding Shopify, Optimizely, Campaign Monitor or anything else, it’s an invaluable resource of information and customer reviews. It gives you details on where the product sits in the market and what other options you could explore.
The other site I visit, is Glassdoor. It’s a recruitment site where employees review what it’s like to work at different organisations. This can give you real insights into what happens behind closed doors. You get a really good idea of what people will be like to work with.
So there you have it, my top five tools to help digital teams pimp their website CMS. I'm going to do more detailed run throughs and demos of each piece of software in the future. Feel free to follow HB Digital on LinkedIn and Twitter for news.
I'll leave the last words to the A-team, as that's where we started.