November 30, 2011

How to effectively use calls to action in nonprofit videos

Getting your supporters to take the next step when your video ends

This is part two of a three-part series on how nonprofits can create engaging multimedia stories that motivate supporters to take a desired action. Part two describes the use of call-to-action video overlays to boost ROI. Also see part one:

Creating compelling advocacy videos for nonprofits

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, businesses and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) divisions, video producers, Web publishers.

Lauren MajorWhile the audience for online video continues to grow, the advances in Web video technology are changing at a dizzying pace, making it hard for nonprofits to keep up. There are several good online video platforms and third-party apps available to convert views into actions. YouTube’s call-to-action video overlay, third-party video apps and customized video domains or microsites offer great options for boosting the return on investment of your nonprofit’s video program.

YouTube’s call-to-action video overlay

The effectiveness of your message is cut short if you don’t use a clickable call to action that takes visitors to your site or Twitter page to make a donation or to take another action.

Most nonprofit Web videos make mention of their organization’s URL either verbally or with graphics edited into the video. But the effectiveness of your message is cut short if you don’t include a clickable call to action that takes visitors to your website, Facebook Page or Twitter page to make a donation or to take another desired action.

YouTube’s nonprofit program offers two such call-to-action video apps that can be easily implemented: overlays and annotations.

If your nonprofit is not already part of the Google for nonprofits program, consider applying. The free program offers many benefits and can become a center for creating effective calls to action and engagement:

  • Free or discounted version of Google Apps for your organization
  • Premium branding capabilities and increased uploads on YouTube
  • The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button
  • The ability to add a call-to-action overlay on your videos to drive campaigns
  • The ability to post volunteering opportunities on the YouTube Video Volunteers platform
  • Free Adwords advertising

Examples of video calls to action — in action

Here are a few examples of how nonprofits have incorporated overlays and annotations to drive a specific course of action.

This Angry Kid Greenpeace video is heartfelt and does a great job delivering its message. Unfortunately, the creators stop short by simply offering engaged viewers the opportunity to visit their website at the end with no actionable link:


The Darius Goes West video takes it a step further and adds a call-to-action overlay to visit Darius’ Twitter page as part of the YouTube player:

Continue reading

December 22, 2010

10 steps to create a great call to action


John HaydonOne of the most important elements on your nonprofit’s website is your call to action.

You might have a great design, compelling content and lots of visitors to your site. But what’s it worth if no one does anything on the page?

What is a ‘call to action’?

A call to action is just that – a direction or request for your visitor to take action. You want them to do something.

That something can range from sharing content via social media, joining an email list, signing a petition, or making an online donation.

10 steps to create a killer call to action on your site

1Know the time and place – If most of your traffic is coming from search, it means that the majority of people visiting your site are being introduced to you for the first time. They probably won’t make a donation, but they might “like” your Facebook Page or join an email list. You might not get kissed on a first date, but you might get a “yes” to a second date. Take the “yes”.

2Tell them what you want – Don’t be afraid to tell people what you want them to do. They’re busy. They want to be told.

3Make it about them – Instead of saying “Join our email list,” say “Don’t miss out!” Email lists are boring, but “missing out” is  painful. Think about what value they gain from taking action.

4Be specific – Giving people three donation amounts to choose from will get more results than making them come up with an amount. Guesswork takes time – remove it.

5Keep it simple – If they have to spend a minute or two to understand what you’re asking, you’ll lose them. Make sure your call to action is easy to understand.

6Make it personal – Tell personal stories about real people. People will take action to feed a little girl in Haiti before 500,000 homeless children.

7Create a short line-of-sight – Tell them how their specific donation will make an impact. “Your $10 will pay for a child’s lunch at school for an entire month.”

8Reduce the number of clicks – Remove CAPTCHAS, use Facebook Connect (the log-in protocol), keep the transaction all on one Page (as Razoo does).

9Say thank you – Tell them sincerely how much their donation means. A thank you goes a lot farther than you may think.

10Ask them to share – They just donated. That means you have a live one! Right now is the best time to ask them to share their actions on Facebook and Twitter. Use donation tools like Giving Impact to embed sharing into the donation process.

Finally, if you’re planning on using social media to promote the call to action, you need to be able to cut through the noise by presenting your call to action in a way that gets people talking. Like  Manny Hernandez did with this video.

What else works for you?

September 29, 2009

YouTube amps up its Call To Action feature

John HaydonYour organization has included YouTube content as part of your social media marketing plan. You’ve signed up for the Youtube non-profit program so that you can use external links to allow fans to make donations, sign up as volunteers or sign a petition (regular users can link only to other YouTube videos).

I wrote about the “Call To Action” layover feature back in July, but it now appears that YouTube has amped up the feature. It now includes:

1. Prettier links

prettier links Continue reading