5 Digital Marketing Metrics All Nonprofits Should Track

Whether your nonprofit is putting tons of time and resources into digital marketing or just dipping your toes into more than email, one thing is for sure: you need a method of measuring your results so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

For many nonprofits, it’s challenging to be strategic about digital marketing. With many channels — sometimes overseen by different people — it’s not unusual to create content and messages but not really have a cohesive understanding of how any of it’s performing. We’ll break down how to gain that understanding by tracking the right marketing metrics.

The Key to Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Your digital marketing strategy likely involves several channels, including:

  • Your website
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Ads
  • Mobile marketing
  • Online fundraising campaigns, such as peer-to-peer platforms

The key to developing a strategy that accurately measures the performance of all of these channels is in your data. But what exactly should you be looking at? 

Tracking key digital marketing metrics is the first step to making sense of how your initiatives are going, where you need to adjust, and where there’s room to grow. Tracking is not a strategy in and of itself. You still need to analyze your data to get the most out of it. But before you can try an experiment or make data-informed decisions, you need to measure what’s going on. 

Metrics can give you a baseline to compare your results, help you see where things are flourishing (or going awry!), and help you measure your progress over time. 

Think Before You Track

While you can track many different metrics, not all of them will give you the information you need to make decisions. Scrupulously counting up the likes on each individual social media post may not be as useful as monitoring how many people who click through on social posts make a donation, for example. The metrics you track should help you adjust and refine your strategy and help you reach your goals.  

In order to know what you should track, it’s helpful to first consider what those goals are. What are you trying to accomplish with your digital marketing? Some possible goals for your digital marketing include:

  • Raising more awareness of your cause.
  • Raising more money.
  • Attracting new donors.
  • Recruiting more volunteers.
  • Promoting an event.

Once you’ve chosen your goals, consider how the metrics you track relate to them. What do you need to know in order to understand whether or not you’re making progress?

The 5 Digital Marketing Metrics To Track

These five metrics are not the only possible things you can track, but they’re a great place to start. 

1. Conversion Rate

How many people take action and make a donation in response to your marketing? Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who “convert” from people who received a marketing message into people who make donations. You calculate it by dividing the number of action-takers by the total audience, then turning that number into a percentage.

For example, if you send a fundraising email to 6,000 people and 200 of them click on the donate button and make a gift, your conversion rate would be approximately 3%.

200/600 = .03 

.03 x 100 = 3%

You can compare your conversion rate to past performance or industry benchmarks to see if your communications are inspiring people to take action.

2. Cost To Raise A Dollar

How much are you spending on digital marketing initiatives? Is it worth it? Keeping an eye on how much it costs to raise a dollar can help you see how efficient and effective your fundraising is.

To calculate the cost to raise a dollar, divide your fundraising expenses by the total funds raised. So if you spend $5,000 on a campaign that raises $20,000, your cost to raise a dollar would be 25 cents. 

5,000/20,000 = .25

If you discovered you spent $15,000 to raise $20,000, your cost to raise a dollar would be 75 cents. At that point, you might want to start tweaking some things. The big exception is if the thing you’re analyzing is a new donor acquisition campaign, in which the initial cost to raise a dollar is high. These campaigns are run in the hopes that first-time donors will become sustaining supporters with a greater donor lifetime value than the first gift alone.

3. Click-Through Rate

How often do people who see your ads, read your emails, or see your social posts actually click on a link? Your click-through rate is a good metric for assessing how engaged your audience is and how well your content is performing. 

You calculate your click-through rate by dividing the number of clicks by the number of times the content was shown or the number of people who received the communication (impressions). If your Google or Microsoft Ad was shown 1,000 times, and 100 people clicked on it, you’d have a 10% click-through rate. 

100/1000 = .1

.1 x 100 = 10%

Once again, you can compare your results to your past performance or to existing benchmarks to get a sense of whether or not people are engaging with your marketing. Click-through rate is different from conversion rate, however, in that it only measures if audience members click on a link, not if they complete the action you suggested. 

4. Total Online Revenue

This one is very simple: how much money are you raising through digital channels? Is that number growing or shrinking? How do this year’s results compare to last year’s? Is one quarter out-performing others? 

When you know how much you raise online, you can identify where you can expand your digital marketing and put additional resources. 

5. Email Response Rates

With changes in Operating Systems and privacy settings, email metrics continue to evolve. Click-through rate and conversion rates are important, but consider tracking your email response rates, too. Your response rate is simply the percentage of people who responded to your email, compared to the number of emails delivered. If they filled out a survey, answered a question, or wrote back to you, they responded. 

For instance, imagine you sent a post-event survey to donors who attended your event. If it was delivered to 5,000 people and 500 people completed the survey, you’d have a healthy 10% response rate.

500/5,000 = .01

.01 x 100 = 10%

You can use your response rate to discover how engaged your audience is, and if that engagement changes over time or in response to different things. If you find that you get a 10% response rate when you send a survey, but a 15% response rate if you send an informal email asking a single question, you may decide to take a break from surveys. If you notice your response rate increases when you change email formats or include a personalized greeting, these insights can help you engage your audience better.

Let Metrics Be Your Guide

If you haven’t tracked metrics before, you don’t have to start doing everything at once. Consider your goals and pick a couple of metrics that will help you understand how you’re progressing toward them. Track those over time and share them with your team. As you get comfortable with those, you can add more. 

Metrics help you make data-driven decisions, which in turn help you get better results. Start tracking, so you can start growing today!