Salvation Army’s Online Marketing Efforts – Innovative, but not strategic

So I’m impressed by the creativity of the Salvation Army of Chicago’s marketing efforts. You can see their YouTube vide where they have Chicagoans helping them play a Christmas carol using the SA bells, and their online donation kettle.

They get a gold star for innovation, but no stars for effectiveness. Why? They did not develop a promotional plan for either effort, and in the crowded social media scape, there’s a good chance that no one will see these efforts.

Here’s where they can improve:

1. Their YouTube video should be on a channel that is branded with their colors and they should apply for nonprofit status through YouTube so that they can have a donate now button on their page. Even better, they should create their “red kettle” icon as a gif and upload it to their page. You’ll notice that no one has commented on their video. This is because (as far as I can tell) they have not promoted it to their list or social media sites. Neither their description nor the title of their video have the keywords “Salvation Army Chicago” in them, so traffic from search is limited. I don’t believe they’ve done any keyword research. If they did, they would use the worlds “holiday volunteering”, “Chicago at the holidays” are terms people are currently using in search. (You can see for yourself by using SEOBook.com’s free keyword tool).

2. Their online holiday kettle page does not allow sharing to any social media site (like Facebook). In fact, their set up process is 4 steps long. This has clearly not been tested by users. They should create shorter sign up process (user name and password with an email asking for more info later) and a link to the code that you can then embed into your blog, myspace, facebook, would be much more effective. I abandoned the process at step 3 when I was suddenly asked to fill out 15 fields. That’s too much info for helping SA by installing a simple widget onto my social media profile, blog or website. In fact, if you visit their Facebook page (with 4,000 + fans) they don’t mention either of these tools. And this is the type of community where (if you make it easy for them) they will spread your message to their friends.

I wonder what kind of adoption they will have with both endeavors. My guess is very little due to the fact that the widget was build without the user in mind and without any usability testing, both items where set up without any strategic thought to selecting keywords on the pages that would capture natural traffic, and (as far as I can tell) neither were launched with a promotional plan encouraging those they know to use and spread the tools.

So close and yet so far….

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One Response

  1. [...] compete in an online world.  Instead of going it alone, and guessing your way to success (or failure, most likely), try leveraging their brand on the web to increase exposure and improve [...]

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