The sixth annual Convio Online Marketing Benchmark Index Study is now officially released. At a macro-level, we continue to see online engagement growing at a healthy rate. In fact, over the past five or six years, online fundraising has grown at a similar rate to retail e-commerce, good news for nonprofits.
I’m particularly encouraged by a new metric we added this year: growth in monthly giving. As monthly giving typically increases a donor’s lifetime value, this positive trend is very good news for the nonprofit sector and the causes being served.
For a summary of trends seen in the benchmark, watch my video here. For all the trends, including information by vertical, download the full Online Marketing Benchmark.
All roads are heading north! Here at AFP International in the spectacular northwest city of Vancouver, BC, it’s evident from the conference sessions I’ve attended so far that with the economy seemingly back on an upward trajectory, fundraising is also heading in that direction.
Today, the NRC, Nonprofit Research Collaborative, of which Convio is a member, announced the results of our spring survey. In 2011, over half of all the nonprofit organizations surveyed in both the U.S. and Canada saw increases in contributions. In fact, the results indicate that this is the first increase seen in the U.S. in four years. That is indeed great news!
Even better news, more than 70 percent of the organizations surveyed anticipate increases in charitable contributions received in 2012. Still, a third said the economy is the greatest challenge and a looming determinant in what lies ahead.
The sentiment at AFP? I’d say it’s largely optimistic. Yes, nonprofits realize that many of the factors Convio highlights in our 2012 predictions cannot be ignored, but rather embraced: online; mobile; peer-to-peer; and integrated marketing. Scott Harrison from charity: water reinforced that himself in his opening day keynote when he emphasized the need to tell stories and give donors a reason to care about the “why.” Essentially, if you have a compelling story, the money will follow.
According to Engage: Hispanics in January there were 33.5 million Hispanics online in the United States. Further, the Hispanic online market is growing three times faster than the general online market.
And as if those stats weren’t enough to raise your eyebrows, here are a few more:
What’s all that mean? It means your organization needs to be paying attention to this market, especially for online communication and fundraising.
Get started with these:
PS Thanks to Tom at The Agitator for blogging on this report earlier in the month.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to focus on a user-centered strategy for your website. How well do you currently understand your users? Google Analytics can show you a lot you might not have realized about your visitors.
Use these five audience insights available through Google Analytics as you develop and adjust your web strategy.
Who are they?
Google Analytics won’t tell you the names and email addresses of site visitors, but it will tell you about their technological profile.
What to do with this information: Create technical requirements for your site based on screen resolution, browser versions, connection speed and mobile devices so that your site displays well for the majority of your users. Revise yearly. (This should be in addition to accessibility requirements.)
Where are they?
Another important thing you can learn about your visitors is their physical location. Regional organizations may be surprised to see traffic from another part of the country and national or international organizations may find areas with fairly few visitors.
What to do with this information: Know the geographic concentration of your visitors. If this is surprising, consider adjusting your marketing and events strategy accordingly. Look at this at least quarterly.
Why did they come to your site?
Google Analytics can show you what search terms people used to get to your site, and what links they followed in your emails or on other sites (if you have set up tracking properly).
If you set up site search tracking in your Google Analytics instance, you can see what people searched for once they arrived. This can help you decide what to focus on in your homepage.
What to do with this information: Investigate what people are looking for when they come to your site. Design your homepage to focus at least 50% on what your visitors are already looking for (with the other 50% showing them new things they might not yet be aware of).
Where do they go on your site?
Google Analytics can also show you which pages are popular. This shows both what people are interested and what the architecture of your site leads them to. If two pages are equally promoted on the homepage or in emails but one receives significantly more traffic than the other, you can tell something about your audience’s interests.
What to do with this information: Find links or topics that are prominent on your homepage but do not get traffic and remove them from your homepage to make room for the items that people are looking for.
How frequently do people come to your site?
Do your visitors stop by weekly to read updates, or do they come by once a year to sign up for an event or donate? Google Analytics can tell you how many people come at which frequency.
What to do with this information: If visitors come infrequently, ask yourself if that makes sense for your organization. Sometimes it is fine to have constituents who visit infrequently but donate or participate in events. If you think people would be interested in frequent engagement, brainstorm ways to create unique content on a regular basis and use social media to engage people daily or weekly.
It’s important to keep focused on details that involve your audience and in turn give your constituents the best service in all areas, including online. Harnessing the power of Google Analytics to be a more data driven organization will benefit you, your constituents and your community.
You’ve probably noticed that many of us at Convio have been thinking and talking a lot about multichannel communication with constituents. Through our multigenerational research and case studies with clients, and other testing, we have pretty definitive proof that individuals expect us to speak to them in a coordinated fashion in each of the channels they prefer. This process can be new and difficult but the payoff is greater engagement, stickier relationships, and increased value. As part of a broader CRM strategy, multichannel campaigns are critical for nonprofit organizations to be thinking about.
This week at the 2012 SXSW Interactive Conference, I noticed another theme that is a facet of multichannel communications: Transmedia Storytelling. I had the luck of choosing two adjacent sessions that focused on transmedia storytelling, which really got me thinking about what this means to organizations and how it fits in with a broader communications strategy. While an official definition may be arguable, I would define transmedia story telling as a technique in telling a story where multiple platforms or channels are necessary to tell the whole story. Conversely, Multichannel communications focuses on coordinating a campaign or appeal across multiple channels. They are similar but I believe the nuanced differences are important.
One session on transmedia that I attended was presented by Adrian Hon of Six to Start about the making of the BBC Documentary called “TheCode.” This program was featured amazing content about how math is embedded in our everyday lives. Hon explained how his team was able to expand the audience beyond the typical 55 year old male who would have been the standard viewer to a much more diverse set of individuals by developing additional content through multiple channels. By developing games, puzzles, supplemental material, documents, and mailings, they increased engagement and reach. The results were impressive, there were 1.8 million viewers of the program (about what they expected), but time shifted views boosted the audience 20-40%. Over one million people engaged with games that helped tell the story and average engagement time online was around 24 minutes!
The other transmedia session told a similar story of what Bravo did with the Top Chef series and contest. They were able to engage viewers, seed content, dynamically change approaches, and increase impressions by telling the story through multiple channels.
While all nonprofits may not have the budget of the BBC and Bravo, these projects were completed on relatively low budgets for these companies and I believe orgs can mimic these storytelling techniques for similar results. To do this we must think about what media fits each part of the story and how to connect the dots. Embedding content producers from each channel in the entire process is key. Transmedia storytelling cannot happen with each person working on their own part – the whole story needs to be integrated from start to finish. It’s also important to think about how the story will be shared once people are engaged. As one panelist said, “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”
If you have a chance to attend SXSW Interactive, I definitely encourage it. The innovative vibe is invigorating, the nonprofit community is well represented, and the cross pollination of ideas is healthy! I hope you enjoyed this snippet of a take away that I learned this year – I’ll certainly be thinking about transmedia storytelling more this year.
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