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Using Analytics to Improve Your Nonprofit Marketing: 3 Tips

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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: 

  1. Choose the right analytics to track.
  2. Leverage your CRM software to track and store insights.
  3. Use data hygiene best practices to stay organized.

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.

1. Choose the right analytics to track.

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: 

  • Traffic sources: This metric lets you know how visitors are finding your website. They may be accessing your site through an organic search using a search engine, clicking a link on another site, or clicking on your site link in a social media post. Traffic sources allow you to see which channels are most effective for driving traffic to your site and which could use some improvement. 
  • Average session duration: This metric tells you how long users are on your site before clicking away to something else. Compare different pages to see if one has a longer duration than the others and why that might be. Then, you can adjust your content to be more appealing. Also, assess your various traffic sources and whether one leads to a longer session duration than another. For instance, perhaps those who visit your site through an organic search stay longer, while social media users leave your site quickly after arriving. 
  • Conversion rate: This is the measurement of how many website visitors take a desired action while on your website. This might include submitting a donation, registering to volunteer, or signing up for your email newsletter. This metric tells you how effective your website is for transforming visitors into true supporters of your cause. 

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.

Social media

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:

  • Engagement Data: This includes likes, comments, impressions, and shares. This gives you a basic understanding of how successful your current content is and what you can do to improve your marketing efforts on social media.
  • Social Listening Data: What are your supporters discussing on social media? This data allows you to see what’s important to your supporters and what trends could be coming up in the future.
  • Fundraising Data: What inspires supporters to donate to your nonprofit or participate in a Challenge on Facebook? How much do you raise through social fundraising? This empowers you to predict how much revenue to expect from social networks as well as host repeat Challenges in the future based on what’s inspired supporters in the past.

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: 

  • Open rate: This is the percentage of subscribers who receive and open your emails. If you’re seeing low open rates, make your emails more enticing by changing up your subject lines. Also, ensure your email list is scrubbed frequently by staff members or automatically within your email marketing platform to ensure you aren’t sending messages to inactive subscribers. 
  • Click-through rate: Click-through rate (CTR) is the measurement of how many users open your emails and click the links in them. A low CTR might mean that the email content itself is not engaging or enticing. Try adding multimedia elements such as photos and making your writing shorter and punchier.
  • Conversion rate: Similarly to the website conversion metric, your email conversion rate is how many audience members take a desired action after viewing your emails. You can use your Google Analytics dashboard to determine how many users are converting from email.

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. 

Donor information

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: 

  • Retention rate: Your donor retention rate is the number of donors who give to your organization again after giving the previous year. It’s much more cost-effective to retain donors’ support rather than constantly expend time and resources acquiring new donors. You can use your marketing efforts to increase your retention rate. For instance, you can prioritize ongoing communications with supporters, thank them for their contributions quickly and authentically, and provide frequent updates on your current fundraising efforts.
  • Donor demographics: Tracking donor demographics can reveal illuminating information about who your donors are and what motivates them. By maintaining records about the age, gender, geographic location, and employment information of your donors, you can create marketing campaigns that are more likely to appeal to them. For example, if you discover that many of your donors work for companies that offer matching gifts, you can reach out to these individuals personally and encourage them to fill out the necessary forms to get their gifts matched. 

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.

2. Leverage your CRM software to track and store insights.

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: 

  • Donor profiles: You can track all the information you gather on each of your donors, from their demographics to their involvement history, using in-depth donor profiles within your CRM. You can reference this information when crafting messages for each donor. 
  • List segmentation: Supporter segmentation is the process of grouping donors based on shared characteristics. A quality CRM will allow you to segment your donor list within the system to send more relevant marketing messages to each group. For instance, when you group donors based on their demographics, you can use lingo and pop culture references that appeal to each segment. Or, you can group donors based on their involvement history and send welcome messages to first-time donors while you send thank you letters to long-time donors. 
  • Data reporting: Your nonprofit CRM should be able to generate detailed reports based on any number of metrics you want to analyze. This allows your marketing team to assess the successes of past campaigns and make data-driven decisions for future campaigns. 

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. 

3. Use data hygiene best practices to stay organized. 

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:

  • Audit your database frequently to determine any irregularities, such as inaccurate donor information. 
  • Remove unhelpful information such as duplicate entries or information about donors who are deceased or incarcerated. 
  • Create standardized data entry procedures such as guidelines for abbreviating addresses or correcting errors once they’re discovered. 

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.

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