How to Get Returning Visitors to Your Nonprofit’s Website

Knowing how to get returning visitors to your website is an essential part of building and sustaining awareness of your nonprofit. After all, it doesn’t do much good to capture someone’s interest for a single moment when you’re hoping that they get involved for the long run.

Think of it this way: how many of your top supporters or most active community members can easily stay connected without ever coming to your site? Plus, how much easier would it make your marketing life if you could count on people to visit your website to learn what you’re up to and how they can help? 

Repeat visitors are an important component of your overall website traffic, and we’re going to cover how to encourage people to come back to your website as part of an ongoing relationship with your organization.

What’s the Ideal Number of Returning Visitors?

Whenever we discuss website traffic with folks, the first question usually has something to do with “How much?” followed by “How does my site compare?”. So let’s jump right into numbers and benchmarks for returning visitors.

According to a source at Google, we should all be shooting for 30% of traffic coming from returning website visitors. Anecdotally, we tend to see high-performing nonprofit websites around the 20% mark, though a handful of sites are as high as 40%.

Keep in mind that the ratio of first-time to returning visitors will fluctuate throughout the year, and it will vary between organizations depending on your target audience and the content on your site. For example, an organization that offers a lot of helpful resources, a variety of local programming, or shares news for a specific community could expect to see people returning more frequently. 

Set Your Number and Start Growing

Rather than worry about hitting an industry benchmark, we suggest finding your current percentage of returning website users and working to improve it by 10%. (Google Analytics makes finding this number pretty easy if you have it installed on your site.) 

Once you reach that goal, keep going! You can also track whether or not these returning visitors are taking key actions on the site and work to improve the conversion rate. For more ways to analyze new vs. returning visitor data, check out this article from Whole Whale.

How to Get Returning Visitors to Your Website

Building a relationship with website users means finding ways to get them to return again and again to discover something new or find something they were interested in during the last visit. In essence, they have to care enough about what you’re doing to make the effort. It sounds like a lot of work, I know, but it’s a lot easier than trying to continually find new people who might be interested in your cause.

Here’s how to get returning visitors to your website with five core approaches.

Ask for their email address before they leave

For many nonprofits, a significant portion of returning visitors are going to come from email. It makes sense: landing in someone’s inbox is a way to remind them that you exist, and asking them to click on a link to your website in an email is simple and straightforward. 

There are lots of approaches to collecting emails on a website, from simple online forms and hard-to-miss pop-ups to offering a downloadable resource in exchange for contact information. Be sure to have a follow-up plan in place for the emails you collect, whether that’s an automated welcome series or getting them added to your newsletter list.

Blog regularly and promote your latest content

The main perk of having a blog on your website is that it gives you a place to create and publish new content on an ongoing basis. You’re in full control of the message. But you’re also solely responsible for promoting your blog post so that people find it and read it. 

Once you get into a posting rhythm that you can maintain, create a manageable system for distributing your blog posts into the world, like sharing them with your email list. We’ve outlined a basic blogging process along with a downloadable toolkit to help. As you come up with blog post topics, consider ones that will bring people back to your website to learn more, like real stories from the people you serve.

Build a social media following and link to web content

While you’re at it, all of those great blog posts should end up on your social media channels. It’s the perfect place to let people know you have something new to share and provide the link. But you’re not limited to your blog content, either. 

Think of your social media profiles and posts as opportunities to push your followers to key actions on your website. The majority of posts in your social media calendar should include links to your site, including landing pages for events or campaigns, your donate page and program pages. When you’re consistent about linking to your site, you encourage people to return to your site and dive deeper into your mission. 

Track website users to run digital remarketing ads

Have you considered using ads to push website traffic back to your site after they visit? While organizations tend to be comfortable using ads to reach new audiences, they can offer lots of value when you want to get someone back on your site to complete a process they started or direct them to something else they might be interested in, such as a specific service or story. (You’ve probably noticed this when online shopping and seen an ad for the item later on from the same retailer.)

Facebook retargeting ads are a good place to start if your target audience is active on Facebook, and most other social media platforms offer similar options. While the process can vary depending on your goals, most retargeting or remarketing ads will track website visitors and then display a relevant ad to them later on when scrolling through their personal social media feeds. 

Just like sending an email, retargeting ads can be a compelling touchpoint to drive someone back to your website with a simple click. See some good examples on the Sumac blog.

Make your nonprofit website the main activity hub

Your website should be THE place where you create online opportunities to connect with your organization. Whenever possible, avoid sending people offsite to complete important tasks like making a donation, signing up to volunteer, or purchasing tickets for an event. Offering a user-friendly and secure experience from start to finish is like a huge welcome mat for new and returning visitors. They won’t hesitate to come back for more.

It’s also important to remember that returning website visitors are more likely to enter the site somewhere other than on the homepage if they are coming back with a purpose. Keeping your content fresh and accurate on other popular landing pages signals to visitors that you’re ready for them to take the next step. Get those calls-to-action ready and place them strategically around your website to encourage people at the right moment.

Don’t Just Raise Awareness. Maintain It.

Feeling motivated but a little overwhelmed by where to begin? Sometimes having to start from scratch with your marketing plans means that no plan gets made. We created a handy marketing plan template that includes many of these ideas and more!

The Awareness Accelerator Nonprofit Marketing Plan offers a pre-planned menu of marketing tactics focused on building your nonprofit’s audience and keeping them engaged over the course of a year. Don’t forget to grab it as you look for ways to increase all kinds of visitors to your website, not just the returning ones.

Let’s Take a Poll…

What type of nonprofit do you work for and what’s your percentage of returning visitors? Why do you think that’s the case?

And if you have any lingering questions about how to get returning visitors to your website, feel free to drop them in the comments section, too. See you there.