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Nonprofit Marketing Analytics: Which Metrics to Watch and Why

It’s easy to go over budget on marketing without seeing significant results. However, with the right allocation of resources and effective use of analytics, nonprofits can tap into marketing channels and strategies that offer high returns.

By tracking the right metrics, you’ll be able to determine what parts of your nonprofit advertising strategy are successful and what needs to be adjusted. But what metrics are the right ones to monitor?

To help your nonprofit understand which marketing metrics matter and why, this guide will explore four basic advertising key performance indicators.

What is this metric?

When someone sees your ad or social media post, whether they engage with it or not, they are counted as an impression.

Keep in mind that you can only track impressions—and many of these metrics—for digital marketing. You may be able to make some comparisons for other forms of marketing like direct mail, but offline channels often have their own unique sets of performance indicators, such as returned letters for direct mail.

Why does it matter?

Impressions determine how many people are seeing your ads and posts. The higher your impressions, the bigger an audience you are being exposed to and the more potential supporters you can earn.

If you have low impressions, you should reconsider your messages or even the platform you are using. For instance, if your impressions on a social media site are on a continual decline, this could be a sign that the platform is losing users and no longer worth spending time crafting outreach on.

Additionally, watch out for impression rates that are too good to be true. Some platforms count users completely scrolling past an ad as an impression since it was technically shown to them. While some platforms have millions of users, if your impressions are in the millions, it could be a sign something is wrong, especially if your click-through rate is low.

Click-Through Rate
What is this metric?

In contrast to impressions, your click-through rate is the number of users who click on a link to your website. This link might be in an email, an ad, a text message, or any other digital marketing method.

For example, you might create a search engine ad promoting matching gifts. Individuals who see the ad and do not interact any further are impressions. Individuals who click through to it count as both impressions (since they saw the ad) and click-throughs (due to clicking on it).

Find your click-through rate by using analytics tools to track clicks. Many platforms with paid ads, like social media and search engines, will provide analytics data, such as click-through rates. Meanwhile, other communication tools, such as email platforms, can be set up to track engagement.

Why does it matter?

Whereas impressions show how effective your ads are at reaching a wide audience, click-through lets you know if that audience is actually engaging with your content. Your click-through rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions. If your ads receive high impressions but a low click-through rate, you should reconsider the audience your ads are targeting.

A good click-through rate depends on your field, but in general, campaigns that maintain a 3-5% click-through are successful.

Bounce Rate
What is this metric?

Bounce rate has a few definitions, including:

  • Unengaged website sessions
  • Website visitors who only viewed a single page before leaving
  • Visitors who land on a page before quickly leaving

Ultimately, all of these mean the same thing: individuals who visited your website and left without taking any significant action. Essentially, they saw your website and “bounced” away from it.

For example, a supporter might visit your donation page on their phone, realize it’s not adapted for mobile devices, and leave without taking any action. This visitor would count as a bounced user.

Why does it matter?

A high bounce rate is a sign something is wrong with your website or marketing campaign. Specifically, bounce rates can rise for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Your marketing campaigns are misleading. Picture this: you click on an ad promising a two-for-one deal, but on the website, it states the promotion has already ended or only applies to members. You would likely back out of the page quickly. Ensure your ads properly represent your nonprofit’s purpose and what supporters can do on your website to avoid accidentally misleading anyone.
  • Your website has performance issues. If your website has slow loading times, an out-of-date design, or appears not secure, visitors will quickly leave. For instance, in our previous example, mobile users are highly likely to bounce off of websites that are not adapted for their devices.
  • Your website is unengaging. Website visitors may simply not see anything they want to engage further with. Assess your website to ensure the navigation and calls to action are clear, your design grabs attention, and the website’s purpose is clear.

In most cases, a high bounce rate is a symptom of a larger issue. Of course, be aware that some pages will have higher bounce rates than others. For instance, many individuals may check your contact information page to check hours of operation or find an email address but not take any actions on the website itself.

Conversion Rate
What is this metric?

Conversions are the most important marketing metric. Conversion rates monitor the actual number of individuals who complete the actions your marketing campaigns encourage. For instance, a few examples of conversions include:

  • Online donations
  • Online volunteer sign-ups
  • Digital event registrations
  • Cost of acquisition
  • Number of quality leads
  • Number of new social media followers

For most digital marketing campaigns, the main conversion you track will be online donations. To find your conversion rate, record how many people interact with your ads and how many of those individuals go on to donate.

Conversions can also be used to measure the success of specific parts of your marketing strategy. For instance, you might focus on the percentage of conversions that came from a specific ad campaign, email fundraising appeal, or direct mail fundraising ask.

Why does it matter?

Conversions provide the tangible support your nonprofit needs, whether it’s donations, volunteers, event attendees, or anything else. Ultimately, conversions measure whether your marketing efforts are actually working.

Along with providing immediate support, conversions also often track new supporters. Your current donor base can and should be inspired to give again, but they have already been through the marketing process and converted. This means conversions can help you determine how successful your marketing strategy is at attracting, educating, and connecting with new supporters.

For your current supporters, you can track conversions related to increasing their support. For example, you might start a campaign to encourage volunteers to become donors or focus on turning prospective major giving candidates into major donors.

No matter the context, conversions are the most important metric, and your nonprofit should track where and why your conversions are happening to maximize them.

Analytics are an essential part of any marketing strategy. From pinpointing where in the marketing process donors are falling through to identifying a communication channel with a strong potential for reaching new audiences, setting up analytics tracking should be one of your first priorities when starting any marketing campaign.

This blog post was originally published by Jessica King on The Engage Blog. Read it here

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