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Why you don't need to update your planned giving web pages as much as you might think

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

A longstanding misconception has been spread around for too long. Your planned giving web pages don’t need to be updated “with the latest tax laws.” Here’s our take on the subject:
1. Microsites are not websites.
Planned giving pages sold by outside vendors are microsites while your organization’s main online presence is a website. Microsites should generate leads (using landing pages), cultivate leads and engage supporters. They should not be used primarily to “inform” supporters about planned giving since doing so makes it more likely that they will not involve you in the decision-making process.
2. Engagements instead of transactions.
What so-called marketers have been telling nonprofits for years is that they need a big, complex, online brochure microsite that tells supporters how to make planned gifts — transactions. The sellers of these microsites and their buyers believe: The more information they provide online, the better. Calculators, jargon, legalese, and tons of other ‘stuff’. Some fundraisers even believe that the more they put online the better. Yet simplicity is actually the key to successful engagement that leads to more highly qualified leads who want to talk to you.
3. Content offers not content.
Content provides information while content offers generate leads and cultivate them. Content offers should be developed to appeal to people at different stages of the consideration process and should reflect why they care about your mission. Then, once we know where people are in the consideration process and why they care (thanks to our survey platform), we can drive them to the right content offers on the right pages so they engage more with the concept of planned giving.
4. Update the content offers not the content.
The offers should be novel — updated and fresh — so they drive your leads back online for hi-value cultivation experiences. Getting these communications out can be time-consuming and tedious but automating the activity with our drip marketing system makes it easy. Over time your offers will spark more engagement so you can capture more information (verbatims and digital body language) to further prioritize leads.
Although updating tax law content frequently might sound great to a planned gift technician (usually an in-house attorney), this is not at all what donors want. Firstly, tax-oriented content is very off-putting. It makes people think about death and that scares them away. Donors, instead, want to find meaning in their lives. They want to see themselves as the heroes in their own life stories. They want to find ways to commemorate loved ones, etc. Only with non-death reminders such as engagement-oriented content offers will they involve themselves with the microsite pages and raise their hands inviting you to become involved in the process.
5. Be relevant and provide value.
Highly personalized, highly relevant, and highly contextual communications attract attention and get results. People want to feel that you know them and heard their responses to your donor survey. Your offers must provide value, not technical jargon. That’s what donors deserve and that’s what we deliver so you get results.
6. Let’s not go overboard.
Don’t worry, we will change the content if necessary. But usually doing so is not warranted when it comes to our basic microsite content. Just remember, changing content on a few microsite pages here and there will never entice anyone to come back. Traffic on most so-called planned gift marketing vendors’ microsite pages is very low. Nobody sits around waiting for the content to be updated. What drives traffic is valuable, personalized, relevant offers.
After all, you don’t really need planned giving pages, you need a long-term marketing strategy, highly qualified leads and engagement.
 

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