Building a digital program is kind of like baking a macaron: you need the right ingredients, combined in the right way, or it’s just not going to work! No smooth round top, no bubbly little feet, no crispy outside and chewy inside. Sure, it might still be tasty – but it won’t be as good as it could be!

In the same way, your ingredients – your infrastructure – can make or break your digital program. So, if you’re working on getting a digital program off the ground, set yourself up for success by considering the following 6 pieces of infrastructure. Then, get baking!

A philanthropy-minded website

Your website is the bedrock of your digital program. Most everything you do – emails, ads, lead generation, social, video – is probably designed to drive people to your website. It’s where prospects go to learn more before they make their first gift, and where donors go to renew (whether or not you prompted them with another touchpoint first!)

Make sure you design your website with philanthropy in mind. Thoughtfully consider the giving journey, and make sure it’s dead easy to donate. Write your copy with donor-centricity, positioning donors as change agents, and clearly showing impact. And, install Google Analytics and conversion tracking, so you can benchmark and improve over time.

An optimized donation form

If it’s not easy to give, no one’s going to do it! It’s in your best interest to make your page completion rate (that’s the ratio of people who start the donation process to the people who complete a gift) is as close to 100% as you can make it, to get the most bang for your digital buck.

Check out this optimized donation form we developed for a real world example, and, these key tips:

  1. Make sure your page loads quickly to avoid bounces
  2. Use a matrix that closely mirrors your actual digital average gift
  3. Ensure your form is mobile responsive and easy to tap
  4. Reduce clicks and use the fewest fields possible
  5. Use remarketing to target non-completers with donation ads.

A CRM populated with clean, accessible data

You’ll have a much easier time personalizing campaigns, and be able to build much more successful appeals, if you can trust your data. If your CRM integrates with your ESP, so much the better for a super-easy digital program!

An email service provider

Email remains the cornerstone of your digital program. It’s the most reliable way to solicit or steward existing subscribers, and a good tool to convert new leads.

Every email service provider (or ESP) is different. Some, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, are cheap and cheerful – they work well for a fledgling to intermediate program, but you’ll need to integrate with other tools as you get more advanced.

Others, like Engaging Networks or Luminate Online, offer email as one piece of a larger toolset. They’re more expensive, but more extensive, and can help you create more seamless experiences more easily.

Reliable analytics

I encounter so many organizations who have one of two problems with analytics:

  1. It’s not installed correctly, so you can’t track what you want to.
  2. It’s not being monitored regularly, so you don’t get a good sense of what’s going on.

You’ll need someone with some coding skills to install most analytics platforms. Google Analytics is by far the most popular, but other tools existing – you might want to look into heatmapping, for example. When you meet with your developer (ie, your person who codes!), explain to them very clearly what you need to be able to see!

Not sure what to ask for? I’ve got your back. Here are some common metrics you might want to track:

  1. Understand what channels (like ads or email) donations come from and what path a donor takes
  2. Understand how effectively your donation page works
  3. Understand what content engages users and drives donations
  4. Understand how people are exiting and why

Human power

Finally, there’s only so much technology can do. You can automate and integrate your heart out, but you’re always going to need some human power for strategy, creative, implementation, course-correction, and analysis. One of the biggest errors I see is organizations that don’t account for the work that goes into running a digital program – just because it’s online, doesn’t mean it’s simple!

With these ingredients, your digital program should bake up perfectly, every time. Have a question? We’d love to chat with you!