Understanding Your Donors Using Data | NextAfter

Complete donor data analysis

Our process always begins with data.

Every organization has multiple independent data silos. That may include web analytic data, transaction data, CRM data, email data, social media data, and even app data. But these disparate data sources rarely connect to give you a clear picture of what’s really happening within your digital fundraising program.

That’s why the first step for every client engagement begins with our Comprehensive Optimization Roadmap Engagement (CORE).

CORE is a rigorous process that pieces together all of your independent sources of data and combines them in a meaningful way. This enables us to answer critical questions that inform a customized strategy to systematically grow your digital fundraising program.

For example, the CORE will enable us to identify:

  • What sources of traffic deliver the most valuable donors?
  • At what points are visitors abandoning the donor journey?
  • What’s the value of acquiring an email address for your prospects, digital donors, and offline donors?
  • What is the most efficient pathway to move donors towards multichannel giving?

Answering these questions (and dozens more) provides us with key insights for targeted optimization that leverages your organization’s strengths while overcoming areas of weakness.

Matt Schlientz: Vice President for Marketing at Hillsdale College
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The NextAfter team has been an incredible partnership for us. They are all about optimization and achieving results.

Mapping your donor experience

Once we complete the first phase of forensic data analysis, we will have a general sense of where the greatest opportunities exist to grow your digital revenue.

But data alone doesn’t get us all the way there.

We have to understand the people behind all of this data that are interacting with your various fundraising initiatives. The next step is to use the key insights about your donor’s behavior to prioritize our analysis of your conversion pathways.

The donor mountain image

Every organization has multiple conversion pathways, including new donors, new subscribers, social-engagement, and many others.  In this mapping phase of the CORE process, we shift our attention to the visitor/user/donor experience. We will step through all of your past fundraising campaigns to identify opportunities to optimize the experience and move the visitor to the next step of the process.

The donor mountain image

To help illustrate the process, we use the concept of the donor mountain.

Within this model, the goal is to get the potential donor to the top of the mountain where they make the macro decision to give; in other words, the goal is to get a conversion.  But the potential donor starts at the base of the mountain.  In order to get to the peak, and make the decision to give they have to make a series of micro decisions first.

For example, let’s say that you send an email to a prospective donor.  What’s the first decision they make?  They can decide to open your email, or delete it, or ignore it–that’s basically their three options.  If they make a decision to open, then they have to make a decision to read the message.  And then keep reading.  And if the content of that message is compelling, if it intrigues or inspires them in some way, they might make a decision to click on the link in the email that takes them to your website.  But once the prospect arrives at the landing page, there is an additional series of decisions they have to make as they navigate the content, the copy, the images or videos displayed on that page.  And if they feel compelled to support your work, they may click on the donation page.  But there are still a series of decisions the donor makes even after they click the donate button.  How much do I want to give?  Do I want to give a one-time gift or a recurring gift?  Do I want to designate my gift in some way? These are all micro-decisions that the donor must make as they go through the process of completing the donation.

Here’s the main idea– at any of these micro-decisions, the donor can say “no” and essentially abandon the process.  Now it doesn’t matter how many micro-yeses you have amassed to that point; a single “no” will undo all of that work.

And this is exactly what we assess as we move into this next phase of the CORE.  We map all of the micro-decisions across all of your existing (and potential) conversion pathways, and we look for the places where the donor is falling off the mountain.  Data informs where those events occur.  But then we step through each step of the user experience to identify places where we can optimize to move the prospect further up the mountain.  In many cases, this analysis may lead to a series of experiments designed to test different ways to generate the best results.  As Peter Drucker once said, “adequacy is the enemy of excellence.”  And that’s why testing is so important to this approach.  We may find something that works, and that delivers better results.  But it may not be the absolute best results.  That’s why we diligently examine every aspect of your donor experience so that we can find the most effective ways to increase your results.