Posted on Dec. 8, 2008

In June of this year, Fusionbox took over the management of the Morris Animal Foundation's site from Morris' ad agency. The Morris Animal Foundation funds research to protect, treat and cure animal disease. The agency was not getting results from a pay-per-click campaign that they launched. (CTR was .003%) This was just not the agency's expertise so they referred Morris to us.

Since we have been managing the site, traffic has increased by a whopping 50% over last year and continues to go up by an average of 10% a month. Donations in October were 15% higher than they were last year despite news about the economy.

Here's how we did it:

Our brilliant pay-per-click expert took the list of keywords that the agency had created and cut it down dramatically. That list had hundreds of keyword that were related to obscure animal diseases that were getting no search volume-- no clicks ever. We cut them out. Further, the list of keywords did not include donation-related keywords like, "saving animals", "donate to save animals", etc. Our SEO developed several different campaigns around the key performance indicators that we established with the client. (All of the KPIs tied to the non-profits mission and vision.) One of the campaigns was used to test different donation-related keywords with different messaging. The click-through rate started going up and up. As we monitored the campaign, we gathered data on what worked and what did not and kept refining the messaging and the keyword list. As of October, the click-through rate is at an impressive 1.78%.

One of our goals were to increase awareness with a younger generation. In order to do this, Fusionbox created a social media marketing campaign. The campaign included a Facebook cause and page, a YouTube channel, and a presence on MySpace. Influential bloggers also played a role by posting about the Morris cause and targeted advertising on Facebook rounded out the effort.

We still had one problem, though: organic search engine placement. The Morris site was ranking better for some keywords but our organic rank was not what we wanted it to be. The site that the original developers created used a content management system to control the whole site. (Warning to anyone looking to redo a site: Do not create a site that is 100% controlled by a CMS unless you can change titles and tags for EVERY page.) Because of the way the site was created, it was impossible to write metadata for every page.

So, what did we do? We recreated the entire site to be search-engine friendly from the start. Our strategy included:

Rewriting content to include keywords
Developing seo-friendly code
Creating titles and tags for every page
Developing internal links of keywords
Renaming pages with keywords
Optimizing digital assets
Creating content management for sections of the site that would change
Refreshing the website design to be more modern
Fixing usability issues in the navigation
Creating more calls-to-action to donate
Simplified the donation process
Creating measurable conversion goals so we could track and analyze ROI

One of the most important aspects of the site was to redo all of the donation forms to measure our efforts. Our Search Engine Marketing team can now determine what keywords are converting best in order to use up our entire Google Grant. Our process has always been to design, measure and refine and now we could walk the talk.

The site has been live for about a couple of weeks now and so far, the response is very good. It will take a few months to see the full impact of redoing the site in terms of organic search position, but we're very confident that donations will continue to go up as the economy tanks-- not an easy task.

Lessons learned:
Create your focused keyword list with your goals top of mind
Don't hire an ad agency to do an interactive agency's job. SEO, usability, and web design is a specialized field.
Combine paid, organic and social media tactics for maximum results.
Always design, measure and refine.

Hit me up if you want to discuss how we might help you. All this stuff works for businesses too. Now is the time to shift ad dollars away from traditional advertising to your interactive agency.