5 Ideas For Making Data Decisions

October 24, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

While relying on a “gut feeling” might be helpful in deciding to not walk down a dark alleyway or wire money to “international princes,” it seems that data driven analysis beats assumptions and anecdotes in marketing. If we always just trusted our instincts, marketers probably wouldn’t use the data-driven best practices the industry relies on.

At the recent Bridge to Integrated Marketing Conference in National Harbor, Md., a group consisting of John Perell from Friends of the Smithsonian, Sarah Stallings from National Geographic Society, Laura Connors from National Parks Conservation Association and Kerri Kerr from Avalon Consulting led a session titled “Trust Your Data, Not Your Instincts” on using data to enhance organizational performance on industry, program, and campaign levels. Some of their tips were:

  • Look at overall industry-level trends to confirm or dispel common myths. Top-level industry trends provide guidance on how organizations are raising money, specifically when it comes to questions about online fundraising. For example, online fundraising grew 9.2% in 2015.
  • Using age overlay data and analyzing productivity in appeals and acquisition can allow organizations to see what age groups are giving. Industry data reveals that younger donors (under 40) don’t typically respond well to direct marketing; usually younger people need to “grow” into being donors as they age.
  • Program-level trends can be illustrated using donor-level metrics to illustrate areas of opportunity. Reviewing key metrics like retention provide insight into the health and stability of programs.
  • Setting up tests that review one element at a time isolate the impact of the variable change in testing effective campaigning methods.
  • By using rollout costs to extrapolate the true impact of the test at full quantities, you get the most accurate data out of your testing.
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