The September edition of our bi-monthly meetup for charity digital marketers was highly anticipated, with many organisations wishing to better understand their website visitors. Joining us to discuss the topic were representatives from The British Red Cross, JDRF UK, Bloodwise and many other respected charities.

The debate was chaired by 4Ps’ Head of Third Sector, Nick Shread, with expert opinion and experience provided by 4Ps’ Head of Skills, Emma Haslam.

The subject for this event was chosen to better understand how charities can perform user profiling with their data, then utilising that behaviour and demographic information to help drive campaign planning.

Note that these comments are provided by attendees, but are not endorsements for analytics or data management packages. You should undertake your own research to ensure it meets your own requirements.

Emma started the morning by asking everyone present whether they knew what data they had about their users. This may not just be held in an analytics package. Users give snippets of information along the way through a variety of sources. We need to locate where that may occur and understand whether that information is useful to our cause. It is also beneficial to research historical information held, for insight such as whether a purchase will influence future donation potential.

Owen Bowden, Insight & Analysis Manager at Bloodwise, the blood cancer charity, advised that cohort analysis had brought results in the past. Cohort analysis looks at groups of people who share a common characteristic over a given period of time. A tool that Owen had experienced in the past was Acorn (acorn.caci.co.uk), providing geodemographic data. The difficulty is knowing whether marketing actions have influenced user decisions.

The influence we exert through marketing isn’t always obvious, but it is possible to determine to some degree by what data we collect. For instance, Emma asked the group what donation data was collected by each charity, beyond the usual information. Linh Lieu, Digital Marketing Manager at JDRF UK, the Type 1 diabetes charity, shared that they note the connection of the donor to Type 1, which has revealed that lots of parents are keen to donate.

Data collection laws are likely to be tightened, however there is current uncertainty over how Brexit will affect privacy laws. Will laws such as cookie notification be in place after article 50 is triggered, and if so, will they remain in force after the UK has formally exited the EU.

Concerns were raised about policies for Facebook targeting, however as Facebook handles the privacy policies themselves this would be dealt with by them.

The conversation turned to personalisation next, a subject which many present had opinions on. George Mitchell, Digital Producer at The British Red Cross, talked about Sitecore (www.sitecore.net), delivering content specific to users. This opens the possibility of providing users with a journey that is tailored to their needs, increasing the likelihood of a conversion. Unfortunately, the use of such packages will fall to organisations that carry a marketing budget that matches the expenditure required. It leaves small to medium charities to find other ways of providing a semi-personalised experience.

Creating effective personas and understanding user journeys through a website can help produce this personalised experience. With landing pages intended to meet the search needs of different personas, and a site journey that is crafted with facts, figures and language that is tailored for that group.

Emma was keen to discuss the potential of the data layer to pull information from a CMS and pass relevant data to Google Analytics, Tag Manager, abandonment emails and many other processes.  This could include user information such as the last time they donated and their donation amount for example. This opens up the possibility of setting a minimum donation level on site that matches the donors last donation amount.

The difficulty of integrating Social Media followers with CRM users was raised by Katrina Velasco, Digital Communications & Marketing Strategist at Bloodwise. Options are limited here, but changing the event signup process to collect Twitter handles etc. will allow some degree of connection between the two. The wording to collect this data must demonstrate to the user the benefits of supplying this information.

If a charity has an active Social Media team that engages with event participants, it is easy to show that you will be able to help with fundraising and event promotion socially. Engaging with a brand to highlight a person’s sacrifice and dedication to the cause is always well received.

Many charities have regional representation on Social Media, which can prove difficult when coordinating a unified event promotion. If these accounts are not administered on a national level, regular communication and meetups should be held to re-inforce the overall vision and voice of the brand.

Journey analysis by device type was the next area of discussion. Emma talked about the ease of reviewing this information in Google Analytics if the URL changes per journey. It is also possible to pass identifying data to GA even if the URL remains constant through a multi-stage donation or signup process.

This data allows you to see if there is a drop-off point through the process. Is it a natural exit point, or are they leaving because there is a problem? It is possible that their journey took them elsewhere on site. Putting event tracking in place on Next and Previous buttons or links will help give clarity, such as whether they needed more information before progressing. It could be that users typically are comfortable with many steps of the journey, but there may be sticking points that they need hand holding through.

Owen Bowden questioned the best way to set goals measuring effectiveness of information areas. Emma’s advice was to work out the benchmark for different areas then set goals for lower than average Bounce Rate, higher Time On Site etc. You could also look to set up segments of people who did or didn’t view an area of the website. These segments could then be used to view the ecommerce and goal reports to determine effectiveness.

As always, towards the end of the session we asked each attendee what their key takeaway from the session was:

Linh Lieu, Digital Marketing Manager at JDRF UK:
“There is a wealth of information in Google Analytics, you just need to know how to find it.”

Katrina Velasco, Digital Communications & Marketing Strategist, Bloodwise:
“Understand the behaviour of your users, not just tracking goals.”

Owen Bowden, Insight & Analysis Manager, Bloodwise:
“Investigate setting up different types of goals to measure effectiveness.”

Marysia McSperrin, Communications Officer, SPANA:
“Personalise content and use segments to understand data.”

George Mitchell, Digital Producer, The British Red Cross:
“Investigate UX more, as there is much more to learn about user journeys.”

Tom Crowe, Digital Co-ordinator, The Children’s Society:
“Make your data work harder in Google Analytics, check drop-off rates by device.”

Nick Shread, Head of Third Sector, 4Ps Marketing:
“Annotate extensively in Google Analytics. These give context to data and provide understanding to variations in trends based upon your documented events.”

Emma Haslam, Head of Skills, 4Ps Marketing:
“Don’t underestimate the planning stage of any project. What data can you capture, how can you use this data effectively?”

We hold our Third Sector Digital Breakfast bi-monthly and new attendees are most welcome. If you work in a marketing role for a charity and have an interest in helping take them forward digitally, please do get in touch with Nick Shread to reserve your place at our next breakfast.

This is only one of the reasons why 4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. If your organisation could benefit from persona creation guidance, including tracking effectiveness through analytics, then you should consider the third sector team at 4Ps. Contact us now to find out more – what could a 4Ps analytics consultant do for your organisation?