Digital Marketing Metrics for Nonprofits

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Like commercial businesses, nonprofits have a range of specialties. From art to scholarships, housing assistance to helping animals, this is a sector that has a special place in society and our hearts. Of course, no matter how worthy the cause, nonprofits have the same needs as other businesses — they have to worry about payroll, the cost of providing services and, of course, marketing their cause. When it comes to marketing, no matter who your audience is, a digital presence is requisite and so is effectively measuring its performance.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the data that may be especially useful to helping nonprofits excel at digital marketing.

 

Digital Marketing for Non Profits

 

Return Visitors

Most nonprofits rely on attracting and engaging a loyal member base. That’s why drilling into information on return users and their behaviors can be especially useful. Sure, all businesses benefit from repeat customers. But when it comes to nonprofits, passion and perseverance are built into their DNA. Building a strong following (and working to increase it!) is essential to the nonprofit’s success. Nonprofits are often working to build the army they need to get their message out or accomplish their goals.

To better understand how they are retaining their audience base, nonprofits should focus on repeat customers in Google Analytics. This can be accomplished by using the “Returning Users” Segment:

 

Returning Users Segment in Google Analytics

 

This allows you to review all onsite activities as they apply to returning users only. This is also useful for evaluating engagement and conversions. For example, knowing what percentage of conversions are made by users who have visited more than once helps you understand how multiple visits are a factor in the decision making process that leads to a conversion. With additional segmenting you can further analyze behaviors within this group.

Try taking an even closer look at how these visitors interact with your site by adding additional segments. For example, using a custom segment to isolate the behaviors of users by age group.

Under “Add a Segment” choose New Segment > Demographics:

 

Segment by Demographics in Google Analytics

 

Together, these two segments help identify how well content is resonating with users of different target age groups. Understanding how much content they peruse in terms of pages per session or how long they spend on the site can provides insights into whether or not assets intended to engage these groups are working.

There are hundreds of ways to examine the behaviors of returning users by overlying segments. Like looking at how many returning users spend more than 5 minutes on the site, reflecting their engagement level or what percentage of returning users visit multiple times a week. When used together, these segments will help you get a better picture of how people who have invested in the organization enough to visit more than once are using the website.

Page Traffic and Conversions for Key Organizational Personas

It’s common for businesses to be able to identify different audience segments that are important to growth. This holds true for nonprofits as well. While there may be a more nuanced break down, there are segments that are especially important to nonprofits – volunteers and donors.

These two categories of user may have different points of entry and often have different pathways through the site.
Pages in a prospective volunteer’s pathway might include:

/volunteer/
/volunteer/opportunities/
/volunteer/testimonials/
/volunteer/requirements/

Assessing how users move through or between these pages, and ultimately, to a conversion will help you evaluate how effectively pages move visitors to an end goal or where improvements could be made to strengthen the funnel. This data may point to places where it would be worth experimenting with different calls-to-action (CTAs).

With completion goals separated for each group, a volunteer goal may utilize a URL like /volunteer/thank-you or /donor/thank-you/ clearly delineating these two intents. This can also apply to non-contact related goals like downloading a volunteer application or a donor tax information packet.

By outlining and monitoring the content that is consumed by these groups you can study how well they are working and which pages may be serving as entry points and exit points. It can also help bring attention to where content is functioning well and where adjustments could be made.

Events and Calendar Traffic

At some point most nonprofits have events to help support their initiatives. From galas to food drives to golf tournaments, these events need attendees to succeed. Without participation, mission-based events are less successful and fundraisers can cost more to hold than they make.

Upcoming events may be receiving active promotion in social media, PPC, email or even traditional marketing methods like fliers and postcards. With multiple sources often bringing users to the web pages featuring these events, activity there should be closely monitored. To review the traffic sources to a single page, choose from multiple options including source or default channel grouping.

 

Custom Channel Groupings in Google Analytics

 

Tracking traffic to these pages by channel or source can help assess the effectiveness of channels, messaging and when necessary, prove an ROI.

When pagination is a factor evaluate how many visitors reach page two or three of a list. This insight can help determine how many events should be available on one page. Similarly, seeing how far ahead in the year users are looking for events might help influence a group’s tactics in timing their event promotions. Studying event pages can also help you assess interest in types of events to identify trends that may shape future event planning or fundraising plans.

Event and Calendar pages with opt-ins can also help enlist and segment site users who have a specific interest in your events. This will then provide a focused and growing audience of people prime for email marketing. Tracking these sign-ups as a conversion can also help account for the rate of audience growth.

If events in general, or even a few major annual events, are the life blood of a nonprofit then paying attention to user behaviors related to these events is essential. Website data associated with events or a calendar can help the organization to focus on what works best and make informed decisions about new events.

Conclusion

Most of us are looking for a way to make a difference, for many people that means becoming affiliated with a cause close to their hearts. Nonprofits facilitate our collective sense of purpose, bringing people together to improve the world or at least our little corners of it. To help our favorite organizations succeed, digital marketers must find meaning in the data we can get from sources like Google Analytics. For nonprofits, returning visitors, persona based content funnels and events are of particular interest to the foundation of a group. A diligent eye on these areas will see both strengths and weakness. It may be that the insight this data provides will cultivate the ideas to keep a nonprofit thriving now and in the future.

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  • Duke Vukadinovic

    I’m not sure that I can agree with all you said here because when it comes to determining the best marketing KPI, people tend to be subjective 🙂

    • markdhansen

      Yes, subjective is OK, but it is always important to measure against the business priorities.

      • Duke Vukadinovic

        Don’t get me wrong! I agree with you on that, but we don’t have the same business priorities even though our end goals are usually similar 🙂