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How to Develop a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy for Your Nonprofit

What is data-driven marketing?   

Data-driven marketing uses audience and third-party data to gain insight into donor motivations, preferences and behaviors. These insights allow organizations to develop customized marketing strategies that drive the greatest return on investment (ROI). 

How is data-driven marketing different from traditional marketing?

The traditional marketing approach relied on assumptions about target customers and limited market research available at the time. Often based on trial and error, businesses had to launch multiple campaigns to find which ones would help achieve their goals.   

While traditional marketing still has advantages, data-driven marketing uses sophisticated methods to collect, analyze and apply information about customers and prospects more accurately.  

Technological advances and the introduction of customer relationship management (CRM) software helped launch modern data-driven marketing. CRM software enabled companies to track individual customers and automate marketing campaigns, allowing them to measure and refine their strategies in real time.   

Of course, there are now many different tools available to capture and organize donor data—keep reading for five steps for developing a successful data marketing strategy!

Why is data-driven marketing important?

The purpose of marketing is to facilitate sales and build brand awareness. Data-driven marketing supports these objectives by giving businesses the necessary information to make proactive marketing decisions. 

Benefits of data-driven marketing:

  • Saves money and increases ROI   
  • Gain better clarity about the target audience  
  • Faster decision-making process   
  • Greater transparency and accountability   
  • Improves donor retention 
  • Identifies opportunities for growth 

3 challenges of data-driven marketing and how to overcome them

Organizations that leverage data-driven marketing strategies drive five to eight times as much ROI as those that don’t. While using data to inform marketing decisions can be beneficial, it isn’t without its challenges. Here are some of the toughest data marketing roadblocks and how to overcome them. 

#1 Deciding where to start & what data to focus on

Prior to collecting data, decide what you want and why you want it. What are your goals and what do you hope to accomplish once you have accumulated it? By answering these questions, you will be able to decide what data you should collect. 

Our tip? Start with the goal in mind and work backwards!  

Once you’ve established goals or key performance indicators (KPIs), the next step is to determine a schedule for when the data collecting period begins and ends. Now it’s time to choose a collection method. These include online and transactional tracking, social media monitoring, surveys and subscriptions. How do you merge all this data? This presents the following challenge. Don’t worry, we have a solution for that too. 

#2 Integrating Data from Different Sources

An organization’s data comes from several sources, such as social media pages, ERP applications, donor logs, financial reports, emails, presentations, and employee reports. Data integration is a crucial part of the analysis, reporting, and business intelligence, which makes it perfect for combining all this data into reports. 

Organizations using the right tools can solve their data integration problems, from how visitors interact with your website and social media to the success of their email campaigns. The success of a data-driven marketer depends on gaining accurate data and translating it into insight. What are the best tools for data integration? Ask our team! 

#3 Incomplete, outdated or incorrect data

An incomplete dataset and therefore an incomplete picture of your audience will make any insights too flawed for their benefit. It’s also difficult to pull actionable insights if you’re collecting massive amounts of data without any organizational structure.

No dataset is perfect, but before you can move forward, you’ll need to clean up your current data. Here are the best ways to scrub your data:

  • Remove duplicate contacts 
  • Correct structural errors 
  • Address missing data 
  • Keep your data fresh 
  • Standardize data entry 

Let’s look at structural errors as an example. If there is a form on your website that asks highest level of education without a standard format, a bachelor’s degree could be entered in many ways:

  • Bachelor’s with an apostrophe 
  • Bachelor without an apostrophe   
  • B.A. with two periods 
  • BA with no periods 

Even though they fundamentally mean the same thing, it could be hard for marketers to spot trends if identical data is formatted inconsistently or incorrectly. An option to address this issue would be to implement a dropdown menu that controls the format on the way in. 

Automating and standardizing the data collection process and keeping your systems regularly updated will ensure more accurate donor insights. What can we do to help you get started? Let us know! 

How to Develop a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy

Here are five steps for developing a successful data marketing strategy: 

  1. Define your business objectives: Clearly outline a set of SMART goals and KPIs that will help you decide what kind of information you need to accomplish them. 
  2. Determine your data collection practices: Decide how you will capture information that meets the 6 data quality dimensions and complies with data privacy policies. 
  3. Capture and analyze data: Identify tools and platforms such as Google Analytics for collecting and organizing data, then implementing your data collection plan. 
  4. Prepare and execute your data-driven strategies: Use the data collected to guide business decisions and establish future marketing strategies. 
  5. Measure your performance: Produce analytics reports to evaluate the effectiveness of your data and campaign performance from a marketing, financial, and customer perspective. 

Examples of Data-Driven Marketing 

Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to your marketing campaigns won’t be as effective as targeting your prospects and addressing their needs in a highly specific way. Here are three marketing techniques used to tailor content for higher conversion rates. 

Personalized Email

Among the most effective marketing methods out there is email marketing. Messages that fail to grab the receiver’s attention, appear impersonal, or are irrelevant will not be opened. Organizations, particularly nonprofits, have increasingly used customized and emotional emails to capture people’s attention.  

Using data, your nonprofit will be able to discover what your donors care about and what their pain points are. By using data to guide the copy of your emails, you can reach the recipient at the right time with the right message. 

Did you know that open rates are increased by 50% when subject lines are personalized?  

Landing Pages

For businesses, a website is a static tool, designed to provide basic information to a general audience. However, using landing pages as a result of a digital marketing campaign motivates visitors to act.

By tailoring your messaging and hyper-targeting the content of your landing pages for different demographics, you can easily segment your audience and reach more people with diverse interests who are likely to consider your products or services.

Retargeting Ads 

The retargeting ad feature allows your business to show targeted online ads or display ad campaigns to users who visited your website but didn’t convert. By retargeting, you can follow up with audiences that are familiar with and interested in your brand. 

In addition to being a powerful marketing tool for businesses, retargeting can also be an effective tool for nonprofits. Here are a few examples of when to use retargeting ads: 

  • When launching a new fundraising campaign 
  • During the lead-up to a fundraising event 
  • During your year-end push for your annual campaign 

Ready to get started?

Adopting data-driven marketing practices will help your organization develop stronger relationships with your audience and adapt quicker to changing trends, allowing you to stay competitive. Ready to get the most out of your data? Contact us to learn how we can help turn your data insights into effective marketing strategies.

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