Writing a marketing report for your Board can quickly turn into a laundry list of new materials, media coverage and the number of visitors to your nonprofit’s website. The real results of your work can get lost in the shuffle.
By sharing more data in your marketing report, you can help your organization make informed decisions, as well as compare your results to industry standards and best practices. You might also find that using a recurring set of measurements helps you better review what’s working (or not) across your channels. This means you can make ongoing adjustments and conduct mini experiments rather than wait for an annual assessment that might come with big course corrections.
While every Board is different, these 11 digital marketing metrics are a good starting point to track your website, email campaigns and social media channels. We hope they help give your Board and colleagues a clearer picture of why your work is important, what activities are moving you closer to your goals, and data-driven ideas for continuous improvement.
The first 5 metrics all relate to measuring activity across your website:
- Traffic that takes action. Is your email newsletter leading to donations? Is social media sending you sign-ups? Use Google Analytics to see where conversions are coming from to get insights about how your target audiences actually engage.
- Effect of media coverage. In addition to mentioning recent press, Board members might like to know what it did for “raising awareness” – everyone’s favorite (and frustrating!) marketing measurement. Keep track of publication dates in a spreadsheet (or right in Google Analytics by using annotations) and make note of changes in channels, engagement, and conversions. If the media coverage was online, check out the traffic coming to your website as a referral to see what those visitors did once they landed on your site.
- Top stories. Identify which pages and blog posts have been most popular recently. In addition to keeping track of popular content over time, you can also take the opportunity to remind Board members of new content that they can champion, too. It’ll also help you communicate audience interest to your Board as well as write content catered to these interests and drive further engagement moving forward.
- Returning vs. new visitors. Keeping an eye on this ratio can give you a good idea of how you’re doing with retention. Marketers in the for-profit world aim for 30-50% returning users. A great website and engaging content will keep people coming back again and again, giving you multiple opportunities to educate and inspire. Returning visitors are also more likely to feel connected to your organization as well as take key actions like signing up to volunteer or making a donation.
- Form completions. Whether it’s your donation form or sign-ups for emails, watching the completion rates of your forms over time provides helpful data about form structure and messaging. Network for Good offers great tips for A/B testing your donation page, which is one way to test different form variables like layout and copy.
These next 3 metrics help summarize and assess your email campaigns:
- Engagement by content type. Tracking opens, clicks, and forwards for different types of emails will give you a baseline for the kinds of content your audiences value. If you send multiple types of emails, such as newsletters, fundraising appeals, urgent news and program stories, break them out. Measure each type against the others and track engagement within each category. This information not only helps you make content choices, but it could also help you negotiate when someone suggests sending an email that you know won’t perform well.
- Responses by segment. If possible, segment your mailing lists. For example, you could separate donors, volunteers, partners, event attendees or website leads. This way you can measure how your emails resonate with different groups and adjust and customize if needed. You might be surprised to find that past volunteers have the best response rate to a fundraising appeal about one of your programs. In the future, you could customize the appeal to focus on the role of volunteers in meeting program goals and send it to the group as a highly targeted campaign.
- Messages driving action. You can go one step further than looking at each email’s click-through rate. Just like donation forms, A/B testing your emails can give you helpful data about what types of calls-to-action actually work and get people to click. Maybe “Donate now” isn’t as inspiring as “Join the fight!” That information could then be used to update messaging in other places, and you’ll have the data to back up the changes right there in your marketing report.
And finally, here are 3 ideas for reporting on your social media work:
- Engagement by content type. Similar to tracking your email types, measure the impact of different kinds of content posted on social media. Consider photos, videos, user-generated content, polls, shares and appeals. Facebook does a pretty good job trying to summarize these things for you with page insights. Have a recent post that did exceptionally well with likes, shares, or comments? Highlight it for your Board in case they missed it.
- Influence/influencers. Assuming that your marketing goals are geared toward building brand recognition, try measuring influence and tracking influencers as a step beyond the number of retweets. One of the free and easy ways to do this is with a tool like Kred. And if you already use Hootsuite, there are similar abilities with its built-in analytics and insights.
- Channels driving conversions. This goes back to #1 in our list. How are each of your social media channels driving people to action on your website? Set up Google Analytics to track conversions and you’ll see if users referred from social media sites actually sign-up, donate, volunteer, or follow other calls-to-action. (These stats help when you’re asked about the value of social media for your organization specifically.)
Marketing Report Benchmarks
As an added bonus, here are links to recent nonprofit marketing studies and surveys that offer statistics about industry trends and benchmarks. Be sure to bookmark these sites and refer back as needed to make your case or do a data comparison in your next marketing report.
- Benchmarks X from M+R
- 2016 Nonprofit Content Marketing from CMI and Blackbaud
- 2016 Digital Outlook Report from Care2
- Donor Loyalty Study from Abila
- 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report from Nonprofit Marketing Guide
- 2015 Charitable Giving Report from Blackbaud
Board reports often boil down to the things you want to celebrate, what’s new since the last report, and the messages you want your directors to carry out into the community. Your marketing report can offer all that and more by including better and different types of data.
What other measurements might be relevant to your digital marketing and organizational goals? Have you had success communicating marketing metrics to your board using reports or dashboards? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.