Martin Schloss and Cars Helping America wants to see a lot more folks donating cars to charities. In a recession, though, people are hanging on to their aging cars longer. The good news is that 1/2 the folks who call the toll-free number are ready to donate that day. Of the total donor base, more than 1/2 are first-time donors. The pluses for CHA? : 1. they take junkers with free towing; 2. because of CHA’s many connections, they can get donors top dollar; and 3. they can act fast. They also belong to the BBB, a strong mark of consumer credibility. The negative? Many other services offer, or at least say they offer, much for the same. Further, the current site needs a huge design and content overhaul. This makeover is for the site homepage, not a separate landing page, so some of my usual advice (like strip away navigation) won’t be mentioned here. However, many of the usual landing page improvements will work and are noted.
Current conversion is 1-2%. Looking to double conversions in 6 months – getting more people to donate their cars for charity.
Traffic is improving to site, but conversions are still lagging. Site, however, hasn’t been updated in years.
$25.00 per car donation
Martin Schloss and Cars Helping America wants to see a lot more folks donating cars to charities. In a recession, though, people are hanging on to their aging cars longer. The good news is that 1/2 the folks who call the toll-free number are ready to donate that day. Of the total donor base, more than 1/2 are first-time donors.
The pluses for CHA? : 1. they take junkers with free towing; 2. because of CHA’s many connections, they can get donors top dollar; and 3. they can act fast. They also belong to the BBB, a strong mark of consumer credibility.
The negative? Many other services offer, or at least say they offer, much for the same. Further, the current site needs a huge design and content overhaul. This makeover is for the site homepage, not a separate landing page, so some of my usual advice (like strip away navigation) won’t be mentioned here. However, many of the usual landing page improvements will work and are noted.
The Maven’s 10-Point Critique
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#1 – First and foremost, make your primary message relevant to the prospective donor’s self interest.
Having donated my own beloved 17-year old junker to a local charity, I had an idea of what I wanted and what I wanted to get from it: 1/highest fair market value for my contribution; 2/that my non-working vehicle will be accepted and towed away without cost to me; 3/ease and speed – make it easy for me to donate and come get the car fast; and 4/the good feeling that I’m helping a local charity, one in my own neighborhood.
Perhaps we could add a “Yes, we take junkers!” graphic adjacent to the headline.
#2 – Build credibility by answering the question, “Why CHA and not some other service?”
I’m talking about your value proposition here — what CHA does better than any other car donation service. This isn’t about knocking the competition. It’s about recognizing your prospective donors have choices and pushing your specific strengths forward for their consideration. How long has CHA been around? What special skills/expertise does your service have that others don’t?, etc.
#3 – Build even more layers of credibility.
I did a little research and many car donation sites tout themselves as #1. You do, as well. But can you prove it? By whose measure are you the nation’s #1 car donation service?. Don’t say what you can’t prove. But if you can prove it, put your proof upfront.
“We consistently get 10-15% higher value ratings than other services.” “We handle XXX donations per year, more than XX over others.” You get the idea. Perhaps you’re #1 in one aspect of the service, promote that instead.
Other credibility boosters – show the logos of the most recognized charities you work with. Show testimonials from charities AND donors attesting to your great service and how they’ve benefited from the donation, and so forth.
#4 – Lay out the car donation process, steps 1-2-3. Then edit, edit, edit.
Don’t make prospective donors hunt for this basic information. Put it right there in front of them on the homepage: “Here’s how easy it is to donate your car with CHA”, and list the key steps in the process. You can link these steps to interior pages for further description, if you like, but give visitors the quick “at a glance” rundown at first view. Eliminate all the redundant information you have now. Get your entire homepage content into the first screen. Add a closing big, bold [DONATE NOW!] button.
#5 – Use one strong visual to represent the good that the donor’s car will make in people’s lives.
Lots of little images distract from rather than enhance your message. Choose one strong positive image – children, a family, an elderly couple – to show the good that comes from a donation. (Also, I can’t imagine folks donating mint condition antique cars, no matter how good the cause, unless they’re Jay Leno.)
#6 – Keep the 2-column format, but flip the orientation, to be better seen and acted upon.
Eliminate the narrow left hand column, shift main content left, and add narrow right hand column so that whatever links, graphics you use are more likely to be read and clicked. I’d also eliminate all of the existing buttons as they don’t really add anything to you message. Keep the BBB badge.
#7 – Rework your current navigation. Give your 800# prominence in above the navigation bar.
When more than 1/2 your visitors choose to call you wanting to donate that day, then you need to make sure your toll-free number is big, bold and prominent. Upper right, above the navigation is where you want to be.
I’d split your navigation into 2 parts – primary and secondary. Primary navigation represents the focus of your viewer’s visit – it’s the reason they came in the first place. Secondary navigation shows the sweeteners or helpers to your visitor’s decision to act. You can do this with 2 horizontal bars:
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#8 – Change the font and link colors.
The font choice is very hard to read in small point size. Change to Verdana or Georgia – both fonts were developed strictly for web use. Also, don’t use red for your links. Red is a wonderful accent color, but is very hard to read as text.
#9 – Organize the charities by state or region and type.
Make it easy for donors to see what charities are working in their own area or by their particular interest. Add an email link for folks who want to donate toward a charity not listed. Tell folks what the process is. If short, you can do this with a pop-up box. If long, direct them to a fuller info page.
#10 – More credibility boosters – add full contact info.
Donors today are more careful, mistrustful and skeptical than ever and won’t do business with a company that doesn’t list a phone number and a physical or postal address. I know I won’t. Get a PO box if you need to but let your customers know where you are. I’d also update your copyright line to 2009. Any out-of-date information on your site undercuts your authority and credibility.
BONUS – Use a secure page (https) to protect your donor’s data.
You actually imply this with the GoDaddy SSL badge, but don’t seem to use it. Use it. Your donors will feel better for it.
My thanks to to Martin Schloss for his patience and support of Heifer International. Look for my next makeover in approximately 4 weeks.
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(The response to the return of the Copywriting Maven Makeovers has been tremendous – thank you! The downside is I’m booked for new gratis critiques until 6/1/09. If you’re interested in a private critique/makeover or other services, please email me directly.)]]>
Best car donation charities