Mary Chant has been working with us across three primary areas:
1) Marketing Strategy and Capacity Building: Mary’s primary duty has been to establish MicroMentor’s marketing operations from the ground up. She has produced an extensive Marketing Plan, helped us establish our core value proposition and messaging, identified mechanism for distributing our message and compelling participants to join MicroMentor, and she is setting up key systems and processes for planning, managing, and evaluating our marketing efforts. These systems include Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Salesforce.com (including the integration of third-party applications such as AdWords for Salesforce, Vertical Response, and DreamTeam). She also leads our weekly Marketing Meeting and manages our Marketing Calendar.
2. Developing and Executing Marketing Campaigns: In addition to leading our marketing strategy and planning, Mary also leads the execution of this strategy. This primarily involves producing and rolling-out individual marketing campaigns, aligned with either specific events (e.g., National Mentoring Month, National Entrepreneurship Week, etc.), or a specific target population (e.g., women entrepreneurs, skilled business volunteers, etc.). Each campaign is multi-faceted, usually included a mix of web content development, Google Adwords, posts on relevant external sites (e.g., usaservice.org), outreach to relevant organizations (e.g., Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education/National Entrepreneurship Week), and social media outlets (e.g., Facebook, Digg, etc.). Mary also coordinates ad hoc marketing opportunities, ensuring that we are disseminating a consistent message across a variety of web sites and media outlets.
3. Product Development: Mary has lent her deep experience in usability and interaction design to our major web application development project: MicroMentor 2.0. She has advised MicroMentor management on best practice and has analyzed and made recommendation at key decision points during the process. She has helped us conduct usability testing and analyze the results. All of this has greatly enhanced our product development process and has substantially improved the quality and usability of MicroMentor 2.0, which we will be releasing in late March 2009.
Mary has made many valuable contributions over the first half of her VISTA term. A few of her more major accomplishments during this period include: a) Developing a Marketing Plan: Mary surveyed our existing (and admittedly disorganized) market research, marketing materials, web content, etc. and performed research and analysis (including interviewing key staff and partners) to produce a comprehensive Marketing Plan, This plan includes market research, competitive analysis, positioning/branding, internet marketing strategies, offline/traditional advertising strategies, marketing goals, and evaluation mechanisms. The Marketing Plan is key piece of our strategic planning work, and has guided the development of our marketing efforts. b) Overhauling the MicroMentor Website: Mary gave the MicroMentor website a badly needed makeover, re-arranging the navigation and content to make key sections easier to find, changing the layout of our homepage to increase the conversation rate of first time visitors, and adding keywords to improve our search engine optimization (SEO), and adding content to improve our SEO and better support our participants. She has continued to improve the website throughout her tenure, and we will be migrating many of these changes to our new website when it launches in late March. c) Implementing Key Systems and Processes: Mary has set up key systems for the MicroMentor team, including Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Salesforce.com, and several Salesforce applications, such as Vertical Response, and DreamTeam (a project management application). She has also established a marketing campaign planning process and a website and marketing material change control process for us. These key systems and processes have greatly increased our program capacity and will remain in use long after the end of Mary’s VISTA term. d) Leading Usability Testing and Analysis for MicroMentor 2.0: Mary helped us significantly enhance the usability of our new mentoring platform–MicroMentor 2.0–by leading a user testing and analysis project. She provided usability training to our staff, planned our user testing process, oversaw the tests, reviewed the results, and made recommendations for modifications to our application design. This project was particularly challenging as we had to perform the tests and deliver the results in a very short timeframe, and Mary worked long hours and significant overtime to help us meet our goals.
The impact of Mary’s contributions is readily apparent in our quantitative and qualitative program feedback. First off, her marketing efforts have spurred tremendous growth in our program. Our participant enrollment during the first half of her VISTA period (7/1/08 - 12/31/08) jumped from 236 to 684, a 190% increase, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, when comparing the first half of Mary’s VISTA period to the same period a year ago, visits to the MicroMentor website have increased 180%, the average time spent on the site has increased 39%, and our bounce rate (the number of people visiting the site and immediately leaving) has decreased by 11%. All of this indicates that more people are learning about the MicroMentor program and that our website is more compelling and useful to visitors.
The VISTA member will work to improve Appalshop’s capacity to digitally present its history, work, and issue-based campaigns to diverse audiences through digital delivery; build the capacity of staff to integrate emerging technologies in their organizational work; prepare a new generation of technology leaders to work at Appalshop and in their communities. All work will support Appalshop’s mission to involve the people of Appalachia in the representation of their culture, traditions, and stories.
Goal 1: Develop and expand Appalshop’s online capacity
Goal 2: Broaden Appalshop’s communication capacity and online content
- Developing training opportunities for Appalshop staff in CMS and CRM applications.
-Learning about, updating, and maintaining project database and facilitating integration with other online project tools. This will involve research on Sales Force (the online database), communication with other non-profit organizations to learn what tools they effectively use, and the implementation of gained knowledge in Sales Force and our online community.
-Managing online marketing campaigns using the knowledge gained in the advancement of the database, which will involve integrating petition and letter writing software into our campaign model of advocacy
-Maintaining communication with Thousand Kites partners through email, letter writing, and web 2.0 tools
-Generating radio, web, print, and video content to build capacity of the Thousand Kites Project in these artistic fields
-Aid in design, content management, and upkeep of the Thousand Kites website
The VISTA would take the lead in implementing the first phase of SF, using Sales Force’s online learning tools, identify the key programs applicable to our needs, and lead the staff through taking the courses and subsequent discussions to enhance learning. The key goals in the first phase of developing our CRM are: to work with our web design firm to connect Sales Force’s online forms to our website and email accounts, create a process for entering leads and contacts, develop email templates for communication, and customize SalesForce to fit our organization structure and needs. This was done for the Thousand Kites project, building on work by previous VISTAs and with support of Kites and other Appalshop staff. Andy brought both knowledge and energy to this work. We anticipate the VISTA member convening meetings, tracking goals, and looking for opportunities to raise the capacity of our staff and community participants in the use of technology that moves our organizational goals forward. Andy worked with Kites staff and community members providing training and technical and design including in flip-video cameras. We anticipate an increased involvement from rural youth, low-income participants, traditional musicians, and stake-holders in the pressing social, economic, and environmental issues facing the central Appalachian region. Andy’s work included all these stakeholders. Andy also contributed to strengthening the Thousand Kites website http://www.thousandkites.org/ which expanded involvement from stakeholders nationally. We intend to do an “assets survey” to evaluate and codify existing opportunities and content being produced through our education, radio, artistic, and community development work that could be migrated into engaging web content. We surveyed over 200 of our partner organizations leaving behind a clear needs assessment of our community. Our internal assessment is ongoing.
Appalshop as a whole has an expanded understanding of the use of databases and particularly SalesForce. We have also learned from the work done by the Kites project developing and presenting work based on the emerging Kites model. This is a model we will adapt for other projects.
Andy also developed and used a process for using MoxX for updating Appalshop “front page” which we continue to use. He also developed a much-improved website for our annual Seedtime on the Cumberland festival http://appalshop.org/seedtime/ This site served us well before the Festival and will continue to be a resource as we work with community partners to plan next year’s events.
Participating in the CTC Vista Project enables KDHX to begin its Interactive Web Media Project, which centers around re-building the foundation of KDHX.org. The project will create a new online platform that leverages Joomla and integrates Salesforce.com. The Interactive Web Media Project also allows us to re-design our website to enhance the user experience, not just for the sake of presenting information. We are able to use this opportunity to address other issues such as our visual layout, ways to better integrate social media, and to better incorporate video and audio clips throughout. This project needs a dedicated person to coordinate with all the different departments of KDHX so that we can build a structure to support a meaningful and useful online presence– one that is entertaining, user-friendly, and consistently maintains the integrity of KDHX Community Media while growing an audience.
Goal 1: Evaluate KDHX.org and analyze the content and user-interface from the point of view of all stakeholders.
Goal 2: With IT Director, make recommendations for an interactive web media plan based on research, analysis, and direct feedback.
Goal 3: Create and implement a plan for KDHX.org’s new interactive media website.
Goal 4: Evaluate and analyze results of Vista member contribution and project implementation.
With the help of two staff members, two interns, and one volunteer Robyn was able to investigate needs, develop a structure, select software to satisfy needs, test, and receive approval to launch a new website for KDHX.org. Robyn’s work was completed methodically and with a great deal of care. The site is currently in a late beta testing stage, and is expected to replace KDHX.org within two months of the termination of Robyn’s service period.
The scope of our project was quite large and it was intended to allow for discovery at the beginning to determine what work would need to be completed. The discovery revealed a large amount of work to replace all of the existing website functionality with the new system. Robyn discovered an innovative way of using a software called JomSocial to build a social network within KDHX.org. This unique tool enables audience members to connect to and interact with radio and television show hosts in a way that was never before possible. Additionally, Robyn was able to investigate the use of a magazine management component for Joomla! called K2 that simplifies and expands upon our capabilities to present complex data and metadata. Her investigation and skillful testing of this component has completely changed our management of content and multimedia on KDHX.org
Friends of Trees’ Technology Enhancement Coordinator (TEC) will help Friends of Trees expand the effectiveness and extent of its communications through blogging, social media, and Google Ads. The TEC will also assist in organizing Friends of Trees’ donor and volunteer data so the organization can efficiently transition from using its current Access database to using its new Salesforce system.
1) Establishment of a Friends of Trees staff, board, and arborist partners blog.
2) Expansion of our social media and online networking.
3) Fine-tuning of our Google Ads through tracking and analysis, the updating of keywords and ad content, and the creation of new Google Ad campaigns as appropriate.
4) Assistance in completing, cleaning, and managing our data in the migration from our old Access database to our new Salesforce database.
Toshio started working with Friends of Trees in July 2009 and immediately began researching how other nonprofits handled their blogs, inviting our community partners to contribute to our blog once it was set up, collecting blog post ideas, taking photos, creating videos, and doing other work in anticipation of creating a blog for Friends of Trees. Since Friends of Trees was in the process of designing a new web site and we needed to set up the blog in sync with the new web site, in a format that could be integrated with the new web site and complement it in appearance, Toshio wasn’t able to officially launch the blog until some of our design decisions were made. Toshio launched the blog on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. On that day, the blog had two visitors. As of my writing this report, the blog has more than 3,000 visitors a month and more than 200 visits per day. Each visitor spends about two and a half minutes on the blog. Through the blog, and through his comments on other group’s blogs, Toshio has increased Friends of Trees’ visibility and importance in the community in addition to driving many more people to our web site than visited it previously.
In addition to his accomplishments with our blog, Toshio’s work on our Google AdWords account has enhanced our online presence. One measure of his success is how much of our allotted $10,000 of in-kind Google ads per month we’re using, since the more we spend, the more people must be clicking on our ads. Since July 2009, our monthly spending has increased from $7,000 to the maximum $10,000. The number of clicks on our ads per month has increased from 8,000 to 14,000, and the number of impressions or times that people see our ads per month has increased from 400,000 to 620,000.
Toshio also manages our Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook accounts, posting photos that Friends of Trees staff and volunteers take at weekend plantings and adding comments to the photos as well as a link to our web site. This not only engages our supporters, who enjoy seeing the pictures, but also drives new people to our web site when our photos show up on Google Image searches. Toshio responds regularly to postings on our Facebook Fan page to keep that part of our online community engaged. We now have 900 Facebook fans. More recently, Toshio set up a Twitter account for Friends of Trees, and by tweeting a few times a day, he’s further increased traffic to our blog and web site and spread the word about our plantings and partnerships through numerous retweets. Toshio has produced many videos for both our blog and our YouTube site, and has posted the videos on local TV and newspaper web sites as well as sent them to elected officials featured in the videos, who have then posted the videos on their web sites.
Toshio accomplished a number of additional projects, including working with an IT consultant to add memory to our server so we could make regular backup copies of our extensive data. Toshio took on the project at the start of his service with us, when he was waiting to launch the blog as we made design decisions for our new web site. Another important project that Toshio took on as he waited for our blog to be set up was our organization’s transition from using MS Outlook to using Gmail. Toshio did online research and carefully timed the transition so it went very smoothly. Toshio also trained staff members how to use the various features of Gmail. We were eager to switch to Gmail because of the great amount of spam we received through our Outlook account. Gmail has been much better. Toshio also was an invaluable resource in producing some of our printed materials. In November, as I spent an unanticipated amount of time organizing Friends of Trees’ 20th anniversary celebration, Toshio agreed to design the printed newsletter I would ordinarily have produced. He knew InDesign software already, which was helpful, and he’s an excellent writer. He did a fine job on the newsletter.
Toshio brought his own expertise to the job. He already knew how to use WordPress and had created a blog of his own before he joined Friends of Trees. His writing skills, his ability to take photos and make videos, his willingness to learn about social media possibilities, and his openness to learning about all aspects of our work made it possible for him to accomplish a great deal quickly. Toshio’s personable way with Friends of Trees staff, volunteers and community partners also invited their participation in the blog.
An initial look into potential new CMS/CRM systems for KBCS by corps member Amber Cortez. The comparison chart lines up their top three contenders by price, and other factors.
An article about past Digital Arts Service Corps members’ experiences with the implementation of Salesforce.