Nonprofit Marketing Metrics: What to Track
While nonprofit marketing metrics like engagement, social shares, event attendance, and “likes” provide insights into your campaigns, they don’t tell you how your marketing spend directly helps your organization’s sustainability. Here are seven marketing metrics that go beyond engagement and focus on return. Keep a close eye on the following to grow your donations, reconversions, and volunteer hours.
1. Campaign Conversion Rate
When you run a campaign, it’s critical to measure how many people your campaign converted. Whether you’re encouraging first-time donors, volunteers, or newsletter subscribers, these numbers will be measured as a percentage of total visitors.
You’ll get better data when you measure total visitors if you drive traffic to landing pages in which you place only one dedicated form per page. Then, you’ll measure the number of form submissions, and divide it by total visitors.
For example, say I ran a social media campaign that brought 100 visitors to my landing page. Then 25 of those people converted on the form, becoming donors. My campaign conversion rate is 25 percent.
After you have that percentage, you can measure it against different campaigns and forms. Or, use that number to set future goals—for example, you might seek to improve your campaign conversion next month by five percent. To improve your conversion rate, you might test the language, add compelling quotes, or rework your call-to-action. You can also run split tests, driving half of your traffic to one version of the page, and the other half to a different version.
Real-time awareness of your campaign conversion rate allows you to make smarter decisions about where to invest marketing dollars. Let’s say you ran a Twitter promotion that brought in 1,000 visitors and had a five percent conversion rate. But you also ran an email campaign with 500 visitors that had a 20 percent conversion rate. These close observations guide your strategy moving forward.
2. Percentage of Site-Wide Conversions from Each Online Channel
Fifty-four percent of nonprofit marketers struggle to measure the effectiveness of their content, according to CMI. Which is why it’s so important to calculate conversion rates across channels such as social media, organic search, direct and referral traffic, and paid campaigns.
Using Google Analytics (or an automation software like HubSpot), calculate the percentage of total traffic that comes from each marketing channel. For example, I might discover that five of my 500 social media visitors convert into donors or subscribers. Thus, my social media channel conversion rate would be one percent.
With this data, you can then decide where to scale your efforts for the greatest return. If you discover your referral traffic (that is, backlinks from other sites) converts visitors at a 10 percent rate, compared to a 2 percent rate from other channels, that will be an indication to invest more time publishing press releases and third-party articles… you’ve proven that those work!
On the other hand, if you find an area with lackluster results, you should optimize your efforts for that channel before investing further dollars and time.
3. Donor Acquisition Cost
Do you know how much you spend to acquire a new donor? This metric helps to measure the profitability of your marketing campaigns and make informed decisions with your budget.
To avoid an overwhelming number of potential variables, focus on a particular campaign and add up its costs—design fees, marketing spends, and any paid advertising you purchased. Divide that amount by the number of conversions acquired from the campaign (as in new donors or volunteers.)
Now that you know your donor acquisition cost for a particular campaign, you can replicate campaigns that have a low spend, or strategize ways to minimize spending on more expensive campaigns. Optimally, your donor acquisition cost is lower than the average donation amount, indicating you made revenue and the campaign was profitable.
4. Reconversions of Donors or Volunteers
For the health of your organization it’s imperative to not only acquire new donors, but to retain them. According to Network for Good, the average recurring donor gives 42 percent more during the course of a year than a one-time donor.
Recurring donors not only give more, they’re cheaper to maintain. The cost to reconvert an existing contact is often much lower than the cost to acquire a new donor. You can reconvert donors and volunteers online with several tactics:
- An email nurture series
- Updated content for a reconversion campaign
- Paid advertising, retargeted to existing donors or volunteers
Follow the same formula outlined above for campaign conversion rate to measure the conversion rates of these efforts. Set up a custom landing page for each reconversion campaign—with language targeted to existing donors or volunteers to simplify your data.
5. Total Online-Generated Revenue
In addition to reviewing your past quarters, you can also make a projection for your upcoming year of fundraising. To do so you’ll first need your online gift frequency. Gift frequency is the average number of online donations a donor makes in 12 months.
To identify trends in online generated revenue overall, use this formula:
Online Gift Frequency × Number of Online Donors × Average Donation =
Estimated Online-Generated Revenue for the Next 12 Months
By looking ahead and estimating online-generated revenue, you can make informed decisions about your budget and strategy. Or, if expected revenue is lower than, well, expected, you can set goals to increase your gift frequency, the number of donors, or the average donation size.
6. Percentage of Total Revenue from Different Donor Segments
When you segment your donors into different categories you can measure the impact each group has on the organization’s sustainability.
To avoid doing this manually, use marketing automation software to create lists of donors. First, decide on criteria for different segments, such as: first-time donors, high-level donors, recurring donors. With automation software you can create smart logic so your lists will auto-populate.
Once you have your lists created, compare the impact of segments. For example, what percentage of your revenue comes from first-time donors vs. recurring donors? Or, what size donation is most common—or uncommon—for your organization?
By segmenting this way, you can make strategic decisions about where to target your resources. You can also use your lists to send targeted campaigns. While you wouldn’t want to rely on one segment’s generosity for your organization’s survival, by calculating your revenue breakdown, you can create targeted campaigns and mobilize key segments.
7. Donor and Volunteer Retention Rates
Using automation software, your nonprofit should chart how many one-time donors and volunteers stop engaging with your nonprofit, as well as at which point they stop paying attention. For example, do they tend to volunteer at two events and then leave? With that information, you can set up a triggered email to reengage them at that time.
This information can help your nonprofit set up periodic touch points and reminder emails, as well as identify which marketing efforts need some help.
Data as a Nonprofit Tool
For nonprofit sustainability, data is power! In fact, 65 percent of nonprofit content marketers say data capture is incredibly important for decision making. This number will only grow as the power of data and analytics increases in the nonprofit sector.
Though it takes time and effort to collect these metrics—and maybe even an investment in automation software and tools—you will have a better way to make decisions, reduce your budget, and set goals that support your organization.
Kayli Kunkel is a marketer, writer, and graphic designer who loves results-driven, creative challenges. She works as an Account Team Lead at Ironpaper, a NYC-based growth agency specializing in nonprofit marketing strategies.
The Guide to Meaningful Nonprofit Metrics
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