online outreach

Marketing and UI Design

VISTA Name: 
Mary Chant
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

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 (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.,, 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.

Project Outcome: 

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,, 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.

Communications Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Oriana Magnera
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

We are seeking a CTCVISTA volunteer to assist with the our communications systems, specifically in regards to the development of a series of Project Initiative websites, and the internal and external communications mechanisms for project planning and development. This work would include web design and management, integration of social networking tools for initiative projects, communication support for project partners, interviews and podcasts with initiative participants, the development of online evaluative forms and database.

AmeriCorps*VISTA member will work with CDS staff to organize CDS information systems to support our organizations efforts including:

1. internal staff site for communication and information sharing,
2. public website (story theater, newsletter, curriculum, podcasts, program initiative kit),
3. marketing materials and activities (public screenings, brochures, email information campaigns, video PSA’s, surveys),
4. Training for staff, intern and volunteer in implementation of Initiative-based systems

Project Outcome: 

Principal Task: Internal and External Communications including web, electronic and printed materials. Oriana created a new and professional looking electronic and web quarterly newsletter featuring the Program Initiatives for the first time. She created a newsletter template, staff training materials, a form for collecting newsletter submissions, imported and organized thousands of contacts, managed the list and added new names on a quarterly basis. She completed both ongoing website updates as well as a round of improvements to the layout and information on the website. She began research for a new platform and web hosting service as well as prepared information about applying for a Tap Root Grant for web and marketing support which CDS will pursue in the spring of 2011. Creation of “Donate Now” button for CDS website to collect financial/in-kind donations. Creation of a multi-page guide to newsletter production and distribution.

Secondary Task: Oriana has also began making improvements in our internal communications. She has assisted with organizing materials on our internal Staff Site, managed any trouble-shooting issues with our email and web provider, and sent emails to our Program Initiative teams to collect information to place on the Staff Site as needed. She completed a Grant Writing Seminar and gathered and organized current and past grant proposals and resources from staff to place on the Staff Site for reference.

Greatly improved external communication and marketing through newsletter and public website. More connectivity between staff through email and internal staff site.

Oriana also undertook a complete re-layout of our book entitled Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. This task included converting book files from Framemaker to InDesign, revisions on every page of the book, as well as research for updating Technology Appendices and re-indexing the entire book.

Transmission Project