The Three-Pronged Approach for Tracking Your Nonprofit’s Marketing Efforts

While good storytelling is the baseline attribute of quality nonprofit marketing, it’s important to remember that good storytelling doesn’t occur in a vacuum. When you use your story to draw in more constituents and donors, you’re only taking the first step. Beyond that, you need to refine your storytelling efforts through careful tracking that allows you to iterate and improve your current approach. But how do you determine what’s worth tracking, and how should you go about tracking it?

Every nonprofit digital marketing campaign needs to implement metrics if they’re to measure and refine their approach. Whether it involves search results, email marketing or social media, there are many areas that allow organizations to gain insights into their efforts—provided they know how to read the signs.

But first things first—before you’ve determined your marketing performance indicators, the first order of business is to map out your game plan. For this, it helps to look at your marketing goals on a macro and micro level. From a wide perspective, you should determine a few overarching marketing goals that you’d like to accomplish over the course of a year. Whether this involves increasing donor retention rates, cultivating partnerships with other organizations, or expanding your volunteer base, it’s important to put your foot down on specific, achievable milestones so that you can measure your success and make future improvements.

From here, you’ll need to take a closer look at your goals and then determine the specifics of how you’ll be measuring their success. This is a two-part process, which requires both the right metrics, as well as the right tools to measure them. These vary based on where the tracking is taking place, and below we’ll cover three approaches: Social, Email, and Search.

Search Engine Optimization for Nonprofits

When it comes to nonprofit metrics, the website is your prime domain and the one you’ll want to be keeping closest track of. By keeping tabs on the details of your search traffic, you’ll be able to find out more about your website and learn whether your efforts are working in other areas as well, including those in the Social sphere. From referrers to poorly-performing pages, user location, and user habits, search analytics tools allow you to take a deep dive into how people are interfacing with your organization.

Google Analytics is the be-all end-all of search analytics tools, but the struggle comes in using it effectively. The brunt of this work is done in the planning process we discussed earlier: While Analytics will provide you with a wealth of information, the best thing you can do is find the statistics that are most relevant to your goals, and try to improve those accordingly. Luckily, Google offers discounts for nonprofit users – something that can prove very handy for any organization.

Metrics to Nonprofits Should Track and Improve:

  • Total Site Traffic
  • New Vs. Returning Visitors
  • Referral Sources
  • Donation Conversion Rate (Unique Monthly Visitors divided by Total Monthly Conversions)
  • Donation Page Bounce Rate

Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits

Because nonprofit organizations have such enticing stories to offer their audiences, follower numbers, page “Likes” and +1’s can be satisfying to track. But keep in mind that social benchmarks can often be deceitful, as followers don’t necessarily equate to increased conversions, and vice versa. We suggest tracking social metrics on less of an independent basis, instead of working to determine how your social efforts are affecting your other efforts. However, it’s still very important to get a baseline idea of your audience’s social participation and always worth it to try and grow these efforts.

When it comes to social tracking tools, try free options like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics. Offering engagement numbers, reach statistics, and information about visits, these integrated tracking tools allow you to learn more about your audience, as well as how they’re deciding to engage with your content.

For a more in-depth approach, try implementing tools like Radian6 or Sysomos. While these solutions will cost you more than the free options of Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, they act as more generalized tools for developing a social intelligence around your organization. We recommend these for larger nonprofits who need to be able to view all aspects of their constituency’s social involvement.

Metrics Nonprofit’s Should Track and Improve:

  • Likes
  • Retweets
  • Comments
  • @Replies
  • Shares
  • Sentiment

Email Marketing for Nonprofits

Email is one of the most effective ways that nonprofits can reach out to their constituencies. Compared with other methods, it’s quick, it’s inexpensive, and it yields a high return on investment. One of email’s other big strengths is that it’s easy to make adjustments in comparison to, say, a website.

Most of the tools you’ll use for tracking email will come built-in with your existing software. Most Constituent Relationship Management platforms like Salesforce, Zoho, and Raiser’s Edge, for instance, all have integrated email tracking options. However, you may also opt for a different service to send and track emails, like MailChimp, Constant Contact or iContact. These tools will all help you to keep track of all your email tracking needs, resulting in better a more guided overall effort.

Metrics Nonprofits Should Track and Improve:

  • Delivery Rate (Amount of emails sent – Amount of email bouncebacks)
  • Clickthrough Rate (Amount of emails sent / Number of users who have clicked an included link)
  • Unsubscribe Rate
  • Open Rate

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