There have never been more digital tools available to nonprofits than there are today. Email, social media and digital content allow for creative and cost-effective forms of fundraising, but pulling off an effective campaign can be challenging. Here is a simple guide to producing and measuring an effective digital campaign:
Step 0: Define Your Offer
Without an offer, there is no campaign. It should be clear what it is you’re promoting, whether it’s a capital campaign, one-off event, call for volunteers or #GivingTuesday outreach. Everything starts with your offer!
Step 1: Set Goals
Before doing anything, it’s important to know what your goals for the campaign are. Ask yourself at least three questions:
Who am I trying to reach? (target audience)
What do I want them to do? (desired behavior)
What does success look like? (key performance indicators)
Clear goals are essential not only to campaign measurement, but also to ensuring the campaign is produced in an appropriate manner.
For example, a campaign goal set should look something like this:
Target audience: major gift donors
Desired behavior: buy a ticket to a fundraising gala
Objective: sell out 10 tables
Defining a goal set such as this will also allow you to decide on the appropriate channel(s) to distribute your campaign. Using the example above, direct mail, email and telephone may be appropriate. Social media may not be, unless you know that several of your major gift donors follow you on Twitter or Facebook.
Don’t feel limited to just one target audience. Keep in mind, though, that the content and distribution method of the communications should be tailored to the individual target audience.
Step 2: Create/Deploy Campaign
Once you’ve defined your offer and your goals for the campaign, it’s time to deploy the digital assets. Depending on your target audience, a multi-pronged approach may be necessary. You don’t have to limit yourself to just one email or one social media updates. For example, if you’re promoting a fundraising event, consider sending several emails in the weeks leading up to the registration deadline. Persistency in posting on social media may also be prudent, but try to avoid looking spammy. One update every other day or so should work well.
Step 3: Measure
Now that the campaign has been deployed, it’s time to measure it’s effectiveness. Depending on the channels you used, you may have to pull in data from several sources in order to draw any conclusions. The main key performance indicators (KPIs) I look for are:
Email Open Rates (who opened an email)
Email Click-Through Rates (who opened an email and clicked a link)
Social Engagement (retweets, shares, likes, etc.)
Website Conversions (who filled out a form on your website)
Conversion Rate (website visits / conversions)
Cost per Acquisition (cost of the campaign / conversions)
Purchases (who bought a ticket to the event, who donated, etc.)
Attendance (who followed through on the purchase and attended, who volunteered, etc.)
If you’re using Google Analytics, you can get a lot of the website visit data easily. Even if you aren’t using a social media management tool, social engagement can be tallied manually. Some email tools come with reporting that will let you know how many recipients opened and interacted with your emails.
Once you’ve compared actual performance versus your KPIs, it’s time to debrief. Did you hit your goals? Why or why not? Don’t be afraid to gather input from other staff members on what worked, what didn’t, and why.
Step 5: Adjust and Repeat
If you followed the steps above, you should be well-equipped for your next campaign. Be sure to discard anything that you know didn’t work, test things you aren’t sure about, and continue doing the things that you know work. Within time, your campaigns will become well-oiled machines!
What kind of process do you follow when deploying email newsletters, social media campaigns and other online content? Let me know in the comments below!
Steven Shattuck served as the chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang for 10 years. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven contributed to “Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition.” He also supports the Association of Fundraising Professional's Fundraising Effectiveness Project, serves as an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member, and sits on the faculty of the Institute for Charitable Giving. He is the author of Robots Make Bad Fundraisers - How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, published by Bold and Bright Media (2020).
You can find Steven Shattuck on LinkedIn