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What is Your Website's We-We Factor?

You’re excited about your association or cause, and keen to share your pride in the good work it has accomplished? Great! But those success stories may not be winning all the support you’d like, if your words are missing the mark.

Is your organization speaking to your website visitors… or at them?

Yes, sometimes you may genuinely need to let supporters know what’s going on behind the scenes of your non-profit’s boardroom or website, but gauge it carefully…

There’s a very fine line between informing a committed supporter of news from within your organization, and turning off a potential new supporter with too much inward focus.

“If I can’t find the WIIFM [What’s In It For Me?] in the first 30 seconds,” Jeff Hurt has commented, “I’m gone to another site.” And another marketing acronym that’s particularly important for nonprofit websites: DIMTY — Do I Matter To You? “I’m looking for WIIFM & DIMTY on your website quickly. Not only do you need to help me find what I’m looking for quickly, but you must also show me that you actually care about me the visitor to your website…”

Have you measured your message for "customer focus"?

The “We We” Calculator (or Customer Focus Calculator, if you prefer) is a free online tool designed to help you check that your copy is on track to deliver that all-essential WIIFM and DIMTY to your readers — at least as far as your word choice is concerned.  Here’s how the creators at FutureNow, Inc., explain it:

[W]e parse your page for self-focused words such as “I,” “we,” “our,” and your company name (which functions much like “we”), as well as for customer-focused words such as “you” and “your.” Then we calculate several ratios that indicate whether your visitors are likely to perceive you as genuinely focused on them. The most important is the customer focus ratio (CFR). That’s the ratio of customer-focused words to self-focused words.

Try the calculator here — just enter your web page URL and put in your organization’s name where it asks for your company.

Or, if you’d prefer to check a piece of text before it goes  public — your draft newsletter or fundraising copy, perhaps — go here, copy-paste your text into the box, and again add the name of your organization.

As you use it, keep in mind this is nothing more than a handy, but rough guide that will help you focus on something important. There are lots of variables and also remember there are no shortcuts to writing great copy.

… If you do want a rough guideline, there seems to be a clear difference between sites with CFRs of 60 percent and higher, and sites with CFRs below 60 percent.

As the creators of the We-We Calculator do emphasize, it’s a rough tool that gives a rough estimate. And in the case of member-based organizations, the numbers may tend to be rougher yet.

Nonprofits and associations tend to use inclusive language (“we” is just as likely to mean “you and I, in this thing together” as “we, the mighty organization”) so it’s going to skew the numbers in a tool designed, obviously, for checking sales copy and corporate web content.

Blogs, too, may produce off results as they tend to use a less formal, more conversational tone and bloggers will very often use personal anecdotes to illustrate a point — much less likely to be seen in “corporate” web content.

Still, any tool that encourages taking a second more critical look at our written communications is well worth a try, if only for the fresh perspective! And for double-checking the tone of your newsletters, fundraising appeals, and static web content, in particular, the We-We Calculator could be a useful tool for fine-tuning the tone of your message.

What do you think — does the We-We Calculator prompt a closer look at how your message is presented? What is your website’s We-We factor?

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Posted by 

Published Wednesday, 17 February 2010 at 2:53 AM


  • Chris Dattilo

    Chris Dattilo said:

    Wednesday, 17 February 2010 at 4:49 AM

    Wow, the nonprofit I’m working with majorly flunked the we-we factor. I tested their latest blog copy about an upcoming annual conference where they are looking for scholarship donations. The we-we score was ZERO customer (supporter) focus. I rewrote the copy and raised the score to 67% supporter focus. What fun! The copy is much improved.

    I also tested their website homepage (I’m helping with the redesign) and they received a 12% supporter focus, with little persuasive copy. I’m hoping their new website scores much better. Although the new website is heavily story-focused, with an authentic, personal voice of those who have been helped by this NP - so we’ll have to take that in account.

    Thanks for the great post and terrific links. I can guarantee you that every email and bit of web copy will go through the we-we test, and unless their are valid reasons - the copy will be written to maximize the scores.

  • Rebecca said:

    Wednesday, 17 February 2010 at 5:55 AM

    Chris, delighted to hear you found the tool useful - I've just been running some of the direct mail pieces received in the past couple weeks, and it looks like a lot of nonprofits could stand to take the test!

  • Andy Stitt

    Andy Stitt said:

    Wednesday, 17 February 2010 at 7:59 AM

    I suspected that we might be flunking the we-we factor even before I tried the tester, and it confirmed that we definitely could be doing better. Thankfully, we have the mindset, staffing, and resources to make it happen, so hopefully our website will do a better job of talking to our donors over the course of the year. Thanks for this great info!

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