Has your nonprofit’s website traffic flatlined? Working to continuously grow website traffic is an important piece of building awareness for your organization and its mission. Website traffic gets you in the door to convince new supporters, to help those you serve to find their way to your programs, and to educate community members about the problems that your work can solve.

A short-term boost in website traffic is awesome for a single awareness campaign, but the dream is to build a marketing strategy that continues to increase traffic to your site over time. To open more doors and exponentially grow a community around your organization.

The more people interested in your cause that you can get on your website, the more opportunities you have to bring them into your circle.

Why Traffic Stagnates

A drop or stagnation of website traffic often affects every other goal you have for your website. With fewer total visitors, fewer people are taking the actions that you want them to take on your site — which is likely a noticeable shift that you’ll want to work to correct.

A study by Next After found that the median nonprofit gets about 12,708 visits per month. But how your nonprofit compares to that benchmark is not nearly as relevant as how your organization’s traffic is growing, declining or remaining flat.

If you use Google Analytics to track the traffic to your website, our General Visitor Overview dashboard and other dashboards for nonprofits can give you a quick look at your traffic to help determine if something warrants investigating. And while you’re at it, check in on the website metrics that matter for awareness.

If you’ve noticed your website traffic slowly declining or stagnating over months, quarters or even years, this could be due to a ton of different reasons, but the key takeaway is that it means something needs to change with your marketing strategy.

Dig into the marketing channels that you use

Does the drop stem from one or two channels, like social media traffic or organic search traffic? Knowing more about where the dip in traffic is coming from and any supporting data or insights you can gather about what’s changed on that particular channel can help you remedy it through additions or updates to your marketing strategy.

Maybe you’ve stopped posting as much as you used to. Or the algorithm and best practices for the channel have changed. Or maybe your audience is really interested in a particular topic that you’re not covering and they went elsewhere to get information.

To get to the bottom of the drop, put together a website analytics report for your nonprofit, zeroing in on the channel in question with key questions that you’re hoping to answer, all in the context of the overall wellbeing of your site. Use the data and resources at your disposal to answer the questions that you’ve noted about your traffic.

  • What were the results of the recent marketing strategy change that we made?
  • Have there been algorithm updates or shifts in the best practices for the channel? What are they and how does that change our strategy?
  • What content or pages saw the biggest hit? Why?
  • Has something changed with our target audience?

But understanding what happened to your traffic and working to fix that particular issue(s) is only one piece of the puzzle. To prevent future drops and encourage continuous growth, your marketing strategy should include ongoing efforts that work toward website traffic goals.

The Importance of Good Content

If your content is not helpful, well written and interesting to your audience, they will not spend much time with it, will not engage with it, and may not come back to your site in the future. Good content matters for every single page on your site that you want to drive traffic to.

It will make it easier to engage and convert visitors once they land there. And it encourages returning visitors to your site. It will make others more likely to share your content with their networks. Search engines, ad tools and social media sites will also get indicators that visitors from their channels are enjoying your content and be more inclined to send visitors there.

In short, your digital marketing strategies will not work if your content isn’t good. If you think you have a content problem, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Website Content to start strengthening your content and prepping it for future marketing efforts.

Strategic Ways to Grow Website Traffic

To grow website traffic on an ongoing basis, I’d recommend choosing one or two of the following channels to focus on through your nonprofit’s digital marketing strategy.

I’ve seen all of these channels be successful ways for different organizations to drive traffic to their websites. The choice of which to focus on will depend on your particular audience and where they like to hang out online, the success that you’ve had in the past and the resources (including capacity!) that your nonprofit has available.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

According to the M+R Benchmarks Study, nonprofits on average see 42% of their traffic coming from organic search. If your organic search traffic has been falling, a fresh SEO strategy could be in order.

To get the best results for the time and money that you spend here, I’d recommend optimizing your content for high-intent keywords. Depending on your mission, work and audience, these are the words that are most likely to lead to a direct conversion or action taken on your site. Brainstorm and conduct keyword research to target a list of high-value words and phrases that have significant volume within search engines.

These include branded keywords — the words and phrases that your community knows you for, like your organization name, popular annual event names or program names. They also include any words or phrases that directly describe your services or ways to get involved. For example, people searching for phrases like “St. Louis programs for women experiencing homelessness” or “volunteer at a food bank” have a specific need that a nonprofit can meet through optimized website content.

By focusing on the highest value keywords with search volume, whether through pages on your site or blog posts, you’re ensuring that the work you’re doing to increase traffic will also support goals for key actions on your site, expanding your community and bringing your services to more people in need.

Check out our blog for more SEO resources and tips.

Social media

If your organization has seen a dip in social media traffic it likely has something to do with one of two things. First, your internal social media strategy is not effectively engaging with your audience on social media. Two, there was an update to the algorithm of the platform that your organization used to shine on.

Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of your social media issue and worked to remedy it, consider implementing another strategy update to increase traffic over time: leveling up your activity on social media outside of posting on your own page.

Do some research on the hashtags that are popular with your current audience, as well as those that are popular with the general public and relevant to your mission. Use them to join the conversation! Once you’re comfortable, you can even create, promote and use branded hashtags to group conversations among your community together. This guide on hashtags from Hootsuite covers how to find and use the best hashtags for your organization.

And to get a better understanding of your followers on social media, as well as other organizations in your space, you can add social listening components to your strategy, too.

Email newsletter

If your subscribers are opening emails, but not clicking through to your website, there’s a good chance that you have a segmentation issue. The time has come to create content for the multiple audiences on your list.

Through their lackluster clicks, your subscribers are telling you that they are not interested in the content that you’re talking about or linking to within your emails. To boost traffic from your email newsletter, you need to send emails that speak to your audience. That means segmenting contacts based on their interests and personalizing email content to the best of your ability.

The easiest way to figure out each person’s interest is to ask. A simple survey could help you break up your list into manageable groups based on their interests. You can then customize each newsletter to cover the topics that particular group is most interested in.

Google Ads can be a fickle tool to master. In my personal experience, whenever a client sees a dip in their account, I look at the quality — of the ad, of the keywords and of the landing page — that Google rates using their Quality Score. A higher Quality Score most often leads to more impressions, clicks and conversions from ads.

Since the score depends on the ad content, keywords and landing page working together, review each one of those pieces to ensure a cohesive ad group resulting in impressions and clicks. Pause ads or keywords with low click through rates (CTR) and replace them with content most likely to resonate with someone looking for the content on your landing page. When everything is working together smoothly, you’ll see the Quality Score start to tick up. And it’s pretty likely that you’ll see the traffic from Google Ads on your website follow the same trend.

A Strategy Built for Continuous Growth

The important takeaway from this dive into stagnant traffic is building a strategy that actively works to prevent this situation in the future. When we get too comfortable with the status quo, fall behind on new best practices or start prioritizing marketing efforts without much traffic potential, fewer people will end up on your site as a result.

The Awareness Accelerator

To help you build and optimize a nonprofit marketing strategy that’s focused on raising awareness for your cause and organization, we created the Awareness Accelerator Nonprofit Marketing Plan that combines proven nonprofit digital marketing strategies. It allows you to customize a template strategy with the current tactics that you’re seeing success with and get new marketing ideas that may resonate with your audience.

Has your organization seen a traffic dip in the past? How did you make it past the slump and grow website traffic? I’d love to hear about your experiences or current dilemmas in the comments below.