Meeting users where they are is key to effective digital strategy.

Recently I attended NTC, The Nonprofit Technology Network’s annual conference. As one of the largest gatherings of nonprofit professionals from around the world, NTC is always the place to discuss new and innovative ways to engage people to make a difference in the world.

Microsoft was a major sponsor of the conference and took the opportunity to show off some of its newer toys. Their HoloLens Virtual and Augmented (Mixed) Reality headset device was pretty cool, but it was hard to envision your everyday nonprofit organization truly integrating Mixed Reality into their marketing or program work (at least not yet).

In fact, the most innovative use of an existing platform that I learned about was built by a company at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Microsoft, a brand-new startup called @mssg. I met with Michael Sabat, @mssg founder, who talked about using Facebook Messenger to increase the donor/supporter acquisition and conversion rates from Facebook Ad campaigns.  “Shouldn’t organizations talk to supporters the same way that supporters talk to their family and best friends?”, said Michael within minutes of chatting. “That happens with a messaging app.” He then took his phone out of his pocket and showed me a live demo of an automated conversation.

FB Messenger conversation on a mobile phone

FB Messenger conversation on mobile

Pre-filled mobile optimized donation form

Pre-filled mobile optimized donation form

It starts with a Facebook Ad. When a user clicks the ad they are routed into Messenger rather than a landing page. The user receives a welcome message as they arrive, and as soon as they engage, an automated conversation takes over. The conversation is completely customizable, but the goal is to collect the same data and drive the same action that would normally take place on the landing page. As the user completes the conversation, the donation page opens inside Messenger, and all of their information is pre-filled into the form. The user would enter their payment information to complete the donation.

While the universe of data is still being amassed, early results have shown roughly 2x ROI for acquired donors via Facebook Messenger compared to a standard Facebook ad to landing page path. This is impressive in itself, but the additional value that a tool like Messenger provides is its ability to efficiently capture single data points by using an “incremental funnel” approach. Instead of requiring an entire form of data to be submitted to capture that data, the conversational approach of asking for (and capturing) the most important information in steps allows your organization to acquire critical lead generation information even if the user doesn’t complete the entire action.

Increase in incremental data capture using FB Messenger vs traditional web form. Source @mssg

Increase in incremental data capture using FB Messenger vs traditional web form. Source @mssg

Speaking with Michael and seeing what his company has built was a validating experience. At Taoti, we know that an organization’s website does not exist `in isolation. It is simply a home base for their overall web presence. Successful organizations are those that can leverage social media platforms like Facebook where their constituents, members or customers are spending their time, and seamlessly direct them to taking the most important actions on their own. But to do this effectively, your website must be flexibly built to integrate with these platforms and adapt to the needs of your most important website visitors.

At Taoti we preach about what we call our “Responsive Responsibility” to our clients. If your site isn’t 100% responsively optimized for a mobile phone or tablet, you’re wasting your time and effort on a website redesign. Equally important to making your website easily navigable to users on mobile devices is to truly understand what your website visitors want from you when visiting on their phone or tablet. We don’t just guess what your users want, we take the necessary time to speak directly with your website visitors about what they want and adjust accordingly. A great example of this is our recent overhaul of the DC Water website.

When viewing their site on a laptop you see a nice blend of visual and text based content, a full navigation bar, and a link to the Customer Center where users can pay a bill, report a problem or contact someone at DC Water.

dcwater desktop homepage

dcwater.com

After speaking with DC Water’s customers and website visitors, we knew that they wanted easy access to the Customer Center when visiting from a mobile device. Mobile users now see a simple welcome message and are immediately presented with Customer Center actions.

DC Water’s Customer Center on Mobile

DC Water’s Customer Center on Mobile

Building your website to simply be responsive to mobile devices is not going to win you any innovation awards in 2017, but deploying the right strategy to approach your responsive website redesign initiative is more important than ever. Building a highly effective user experience across all devices that presents your users with the right information at the right time is just the start. To truly provide your users with an engaging experience that will keep them coming back for more, your website needs to account for the experiences they are having on the dozens of social media and messaging platforms available to them. The bad news is that these apps are frequently changing their approach to engaging users. The good news is that, at Taoti, we are constantly keeping track of these changes like it’s our job (because, well, it is) and living up to our responsibility to make sure your website and digital strategy are built for not just today’s needs, but tomorrow’s too.

If you are interested in chatting with us about innovative ways we can prepare your web presence for better engaging the people that are most important to your organization, please send me a note at mthompson [at] taoti.com or through our contact us form.

Matt is Taoti’s VP of BizDev and leads our Sales team. Send us a note to chat with Matt about your upcoming project.