Multichannel attribution

October 7, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Donors and members don’t use just one channel and prospects never see just one message. If you’re not tracking key metrics of every channel, you’re doing your organization and your message a disservice.

This was one of the takeaways from a session during the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation 2014 New York Nonprofit Conference. The session featured Janet Tonner, director of data and analytics at CDR Fundraising Group, based in Bowie, Md., and Dana Bunke, direct response television (DRTV) manager at Wounded Warrior Project in Jacksonville, Fla.

“Attribution is trying to find the cause of something,” said Tonner. “In fundraising we’re trying to understand what causes people to give gifts, become a member, open an email. It sounds straightforward but it’s not quite that simple.”

Attributing motivation to gifts coming in on the various channels will help you both allocate your resources properly, with more resources going to the best performing channels, and optimize your donor’s behavior. If you know what motivates your supporters to give or sign up, you can better provide more motivation to give or sign up.

Bunke described how media buying influenced web traffic. Wounded Warrior tracked and correlated direct response television spots with web traffic within 10 minutes of the spot. After a hiatus, “When we began to air again, gifts (on the website) soared to over 1,000 per day,” she said. “There is an instantaneous daily response that matches our spend.” She said call center response and SEM conversions “fall in line with media spends as well.”

No matter how you attribute the gift, be it entirely through the channel by which the gift came in or some sort of weighted distribution across all the channels in the campaign, the only way to account for organic gifts is by testing. “You’ve got to take a group with no touches for a period to account for organic donations,” said Tonner. You’ll also need to test a group that get messages in a single channel, and a multi-touch group.

Wounded Warrior Project is still in the exploratory stage of DRTV, said Bunke. “I’m less interested in looking at the financial and budget piece, but I am looking for what we don’t know,” she said. The media analysis has already caused a shift in strategy.

“When we saw (gifts come in to) the main website versus the DRTV microsite (as a result of the television commercial), we bought media we had dropped because we saw that lift,” she said. “What I’d like to find out is, can we analyze this data and provide our teammates with targeted individual goals that feed into our overall goals?”