In PR, variables and exceptions go on forever. There’s no one answer to any question, and there really aren’t any blanket statements that help your nonprofit (except maybe don’t give your social media passwords to your intern).
So when a nonprofit wants to improve their communications, it takes some research. There are too many variables to just assume that X is better than Y for every nonprofit. Determining what works takes time, and often money.
But if you’re a small nonprofit, with little or no budget, how do you measure your communications? Well, here are a few free tips that may help.
ONE: Set up Google Analytics
Just do it. Set up the web tracking code and get going (in fact, Google has a whole program just to help nonprofits and they’ll even help you get analytics set up). Here’s a blog post that helps in figure out what you should be tracking on analytics. My suggestion? Just pick 2 key performance metrics (KPIs) to track for 6 months. Maybe it’s arrivals to your donation page, maybe it’s how people get to your site, maybe it’s an advocacy link, you decide. Just track it and see how your other communications are supporting that.
TWO: Start measuring social
I know, I know. It’s a pain. But trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s a handy social media tracking spreadsheet from Nonprofit Tech for Good that is an awesome start. My only suggestion is to add in some qualitative data as well. Save images of some of your best-performing posts or high-quality conversations. They will make your board report much more interesting, and give then real-life examples of how your work is helping the organization.
THREE: Try A/B testing your subject lines
When you’re about to send an e-mail, take your list and split it in half. Write one subject like for one group (“Are You an Alien?”) and another for the other group (“10 Reasons You’re Probably an Alien”). See which one performs better, and record it. I would recommend keeping a simple word document of all the good subject lines in one list and all the bad ones in another. After 20 or so e-mails, see what trends emerge.
FOUR: Sync fundraising and communications
Odds are good that even if you are looking at opens and clicks, you aren’t comparing that with how many donations came in from each action. So, sit down with your development person (or if you do both, talk to yourself loudly in a public space), find spikes in donations and determine where they came from. Did a certain e-mail message cause a spike in donations? Do you ever get visits to the donation page from Facebook? Twitter? Instagram?
Now, these are by no means an exhaustive list. But if you only have an hour a week to spend measuring, I promise it’s worth it. The data you glean from these four metrics will help you improve your organizations work and give you data to prove just how awesome you are at your job.
Any other tips for free or low-cost evaluation tools?