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Don’t Ignore Mobilegeddon

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Amy Padre0064By now, you have heard of the change to Google’s search algorithm, which took effect in late April—and was quickly dubbed Mobilegeddon. No, it’s not a summer blockbuster, but clearly the new algorithm has generated strong opinions in the digital world. I’m hoping that it also triggers decisive action on the part of nonprofits.


Google wants to return relevant search results that are better optimized for users’ devices, while encouraging organizations to make their websites mobile-friendly. The new formula will give a boost to sites that are designed to look good on smartphones, while penalizing those that don’t. (This change only affects mobile results—tablet and desktop searches are unchanged.)


There is some good news for the late adopters: Google has implemented its revised algorithm slowly, giving organizations time to make necessary changes. And Google will not significantly penalize non-responsive websites if their content is extremely relevant to the search terms being used. Nonetheless, this is a decisive move on Google’s part to push businesses and nonprofits into the mobile era.


Our take? It is time for nonprofits to join the mobile-friendly revolution. More than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device, and 71% of people will immediately delete an email that doesn’t render properly. It makes sense to get with the program and update your website now. 


Need more of a push? Check out Tom Belford’s blog Mobile and Fundraising (subscription only), where he writes, “These days The Agitator is badgering readers on the importance of mastering mobile almost as much as we hammer away at donor retention.” He goes on to explain even more reasons why, and links to a helpful white paper outlining how to seize the mobile-marketing opportunity. 

Avoiding Landing Page Mishaps and Protecting Internet Freedom

Barb-PerellHere’s what we have seen and heard online this month:

First up, a wake-up call from blogger Frank Barry at npENGAGE called Donation form optimization stats you’ll wish you’d known yesterdayBarry’s got a great infographic with helpful reminders, and he also calls out a few glaring missteps that, apparently, most nonprofits are making – for example:

    • 72% of organizations put buttons, menus, or other elements on their landing pages to give potential donors the ability to “click-away” to other pages on their website.
    • Over 80% of landing pages are not optimized for mobile.

Clearly, lapses you can – and should – take care of right away! 

Thinking Beyond Shiny and New

Baby Shiny Toy

With so much movement in the digital market, and new strategies and technologies coming at us daily from every direction, what should we focus on before committing our digital marketing dollars?

Justin Perkins of Care2 wrote a smart piece in The Nonprofit Times recently, in which he laid out what successful digital marketing looks like – what we should be paying attention to and what we can ignore for now; where opportunities lie and pitfalls await; and what technology deserves further study.

Some of Perkins’ points really resonated with me, and bear repeating:

      • Focus 90 percent of your resources on what predictably works and save 10 percent for occasional experimentation in new channels…In other words, build the list. This is good advice. Successful digital marketing depends on building a qualified email list that is primed and ready to deploy whenever necessary. And, for best results, send frequent emails.

    • Understand the size of your target market, and come up with realistic goals for gaining market share (mind share) of your key audience. Perkins recommends visiting for more direction on what you can reasonably expect from assorted variables when allocating your digital marketing budget – including how fast/slowly your email list will really grow.

    • Study industry benchmarks to get a sense of what’s in the realm of possible. In other words, email campaigns aren’t free – and they require as much strategy, set-up, and analysis as direct mail marketing campaigns. As Perkins writes, “…growing a one-million- person list with a $20,000 budget and one intern is impossible – but maybe your stake holders don’t understand that. Use industry benchmarks to prove your point.

    • The key metrics (Key Performance Indicators) to understand are average gift, conversion rates, frequency of emailing, growth rates, and percentage of revenue that are driven by email, traffic, social, mobile, etc. Get a handle on the relevant KPIs so you can truly measure your results, campaign by campaign, and across multiple communications channels.

In The Agitator, Tom Belford echoes much of what Justin Perkins has to say, and sympathizes with people whose bosses bellow, “We need to raise more money online. Get on it!” Sound familiar? Well, in Belford’s opinion, if that order has been barked at you, don’t turn to Facebook for all of the answers. He notes that most people who give online aren’t giving through social media – according to Blackbaud, only 1% of all online fundraising can be attributed to social media.

And Belford concurs with Perkins that looking to your email file first is the way to go. Are your emails mobile-friendly? How are solicitations handled on your website – in a compelling, easy-to-convert way? He also recommends producing an online video, which he believes …could help you on all fronts — email appeals, mobile impact and website conversion.

One thing is certain in digital marketing – there’s the tried and true strategy and there’s the shiny new thing. I’m in full agreement that tried and true is often the way to go to build a solid a program that will be sustainable year after year. But sometimes taking the risk, making the big swing, and being an early adopter can mean the difference between a program that grows incrementally and one that sees real increases that can be banked and built upon. So keep an eye on trends to see what’s really catching on in the industry and what shiny new toys fizzle out quickly. And leave a little bit of room and time to test innovative ideas yourself.

More Email, More Segmentation, More Revenue

Here is what I’ve seen and heard online recently:

• Check out Alchemy Worx’s 3 Reasons to Consider Sending More Emails and remember that an increase in volume must also be relevant and meaningful to your supporters.


New Google Grid View• Want more choices than simply Subject Line A or Subject Line B when segmenting your email file? Google Grid View allows marketers to send Image A, B, C, D, and E, all at once, and let an algorithm determine which of these images to serve to the person seeing it, based on the device, time of day, location, behavior, gender, age, and even purchase history. Read all about it!


• And last, a blog about click-to-call technology – in The Mobile Call to Action That Drives More Revenue Than the Rest, Eric Holmen cites Google’s report, The Role of the Click to Call in the Path to Purchase, 70 percent of mobile searchers have used the call button to connect directly with a business from the search results page. Definitely something to consider when potential supporters are seeking information about your organization and you’re seeking to convert them to donors.

From the Desk of Allison Porter

At Avalon we’re always looking for ways to make online fundraising – which has such great potential – a winner for our clients. So I read the recent annual M+R/NTEN eNonprofit Benchmarks study with great interest, and some of the takeaways, as usual, were surprising. For example, while the study shows 14% growth in online revenue, it also shows declines in fundraising metrics like opens, click-throughs, and response rates.


This suggests that many nonprofits both lack digital multi-channel strategies and suffer from under-investment in the digital space (especially acquisition) – two shortfalls that hold organizations back. Although email still accounts for about one third of online fundraising revenue, organizations must diversify online revenue streams and implement comprehensive multi-channel strategies in order to achieve meaningful success online. To move your digital program forward, you must examine the whole digital landscape and leverage each digital channel.


As always in our industry, smart testing is essential for every organization. This can mean optimizing your website by testing different elements, making it mobile-responsive, testing online advertising, or experimenting with search and social media to drive website traffic. Be sure to track the source of every donation – your email donors may also give through other fundraising channels. Because up to 70% of online revenue is driven by direct mail-acquired donors, it is critical to understand the breakdown between true online joins and channel migration.

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