Whether you’re a data whiz who loves compiling and assessing metrics, or you internally groan at the prospect of parsing through your Google Analytics dashboard, you’ve heard about how important analytics are for your nonprofit’s marketing and online fundraising goals.
But why exactly is it so important, and how can you use these insights to make tangible, effective changes to your marketing strategy?
We’ll answer all of these questions and more in this article. To make the most of your analytics and use them to boost your marketing efforts, you should:
Before we dive into the bulk of this article, let’s define the concept of “analytics.” Analytics is the systemic examination of data to find meaningful patterns, draw conclusions, and make predictions based on those findings. Regarding your nonprofit marketing, analytics helps you understand the successes and failures of your previous marketing campaigns to determine the best way to move forward and engage your audience in the future.
Now that we’ve established a foundation for what analytics means, let’s explore how you can take a more strategic approach to using your organization’s analytics.
As a larger or growing organization, your nonprofit likely has access to an ocean of data that covers every aspect of your digital marketing presence. Unfortunately, parsing through all the data you have access to can quickly become overwhelming.
Be strategic when choosing the analytics you’re going to track. DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit analytics provides a great overview of the most important digital metrics for nonprofits. These include website, social media, email, and donor analytics.
Your nonprofit’s website analytics tell you how effective your site is for driving traffic, engaging users, and converting visitors to supporters. You can track website analytics using a free Google Analytics account or a variety of other free tools like Bitly or SEMRush.
Using these tools, track the following website analytics:
These analytics provide a solid foundation for building your website’s digital marketing strategy. You can also use A/B testing to determine which versions of your website’s pages are most effective for engaging visitors and driving conversions. A/B testing is the process of creating two different versions of a webpage, showing them to visitors, and assessing which is more effective at achieving your goals.
At one point, nonprofits saw social media as a tool that was only useful to direct traffic to their websites, where further interaction would then take place. However, we’re watching the third shift in giving take place in real time (the first being direct mail and the second being via giving pages on nonprofit websites) on social media. Now, supporters want to make donations and converse with your nonprofit directly in channel on their favorite social networks.
With this in mind, overlooking the importance of social media analytics is ill-advised. This includes:
Social media provides a wealth of information to not only improve your marketing efforts, but elevate your nonprofit’s fundraising capabilities. While you can access some social media analytics directly on the networks themselves, the best way to access and analyze social analytics is by investing in a dedicated social fundraising solution.
Like most nonprofits, email is likely a major pillar of your marketing strategy. You know it’s not enough to send the occasional email and call it a day — to truly engage supporters, you need to craft an email strategy that’s consistent and aligned with your strategy on other platforms.
As stated in this nonprofit email marketing guide, email metrics are helpful to track because they’re predictable and repeatable. This means every time you send an email, you’re going to get back a solid set of metrics that directly reflect the effectiveness of your messages.
The email metrics you should track include:
By keeping an eye on these metrics, you can track email engagement over time and identify trends and patterns that help you adjust your strategy for greater success. For instance, you can use your metrics to determine who your most engaged email subscribers are, the most popular day of the week or time of day for email opens, and the most clicked links within your emails. You can then send special shout-outs to active subscribers, or plan your marketing campaigns for your highest engagement days and times.
Your supporters are the main focus of your nonprofit’s marketing efforts. Therefore, your donor data points are some of the most valuable metrics you can track to learn more about your target audience and craft your messages in ways that resonate with them.
To enhance your marketing strategy, keep track of the following donor metrics:
By maintaining accurate donor information, you can meet supporters where they are and appeal to their preferences. This can make a major difference when planning not only marketing campaigns but also fundraising campaigns and events. You can craft these experiences to align with supporters’ interests.
As you pinpoint the metrics you’re going to track, you’ll need a system for storing and assessing this data systematically. It’s helpful to have a centralized database where you can save information on all of your organization’s campaigns.
For nonprofits, this database is called a constituent relationship management (CRM) system. As Re:Charity’s nonprofit CRM guide states, these software solutions offer features like:
Quality CRMs also have marketing-specific tools built into the platform, such as email automation, event management, and social media posting tools. When you have one centralized system for collecting all data, you can seamlessly assess all of your marketing analytics without having to jump between multiple platforms.
Your nonprofit’s CRM is like a filing cabinet. When the cabinet is organized, you can quickly flip through the various folders and find the information you’re looking for. When the files are disorganized, your efficiency suffers as you spend multiple minutes flipping through documents to find what you need.
Likewise, when your nonprofit’s CRM is in disarray, you won’t be able to access the benefits that the data analytics process offers.
To keep your analytics process organized, incorporate these data hygiene best practices into your procedures:
When your database is clean and organized, you can immediately access the information you need and create accurate reports to assess your marketing or fundraising progress.
Remember, it’s better to take a “less is more” approach when it comes to data management. The simpler you can make your data analytics processes, the better. This allows you to cut through the clutter and work with your data efficiently.
These data analytics best practices will allow you to craft a more well-rounded marketing approach backed by hard facts rather than guesswork. Even if you aren’t a data expert, you can incorporate straightforward practices such as segmentation and data hygiene to give your marketing strategy more of an edge. Good luck!
About the Author:
Carl Diesing co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.