Key performance indicators (KPIs) allow you to truly understand your nonprofit’s digital marketing success and make educated decisions about future spending.
How do you know your nonprofit’s Google ad campaigns are paying off, if your curated Instagram account is leading to volunteer sign-ups, or if supporters are staying on your website or just viewing one page?
Without tracking how your digital marketing strategy is performing, you can’t know how to improve or where to invest next to see results. Analytics tracking takes the guesswork out of important decisions around fund allocation, investment, and marketing. Accurate tracking also allows you to adapt quickly if you are heading in the wrong direction, avoiding setbacks.
KPIs are the trackable factors for which you want to record data in order to work out if you are reaching your SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals. For example, if your SMART goal is to increase online donations by 20 percent year-on-year, your main KPI will be total online donation amount per year.
There are a few digital marketing performance indicators that every nonprofit should be aware of. You can set more general KPIs for other aspects of your organization too, such as the number of projects completed for your cause, but for the modern nonprofit, tracking your digital marketing data is vital.
Great companion reads for this article are Twenti’s Beginner’s Guide to Analytics and Guide to Custom Analytics Dashboards for Nonprofits.
11 Important Digital Marketing KPIs
1. Total online donation amount
This is the big one. It depends upon your main goal, but it is very likely your nonprofit will want to track the total amount of donation funding coming into your accounts.
You can track how the numbers compare to previous months, quarters, or years and calculate the rate at which they are (hopefully) growing. This KPI gives you an overall idea of the current state of your nonprofit, and how much you are going to be able to pour into your causes.
2. Total online volunteer sign-ups
Alongside donation amounts, many nonprofits will also want to track whether they are seeing an increase in volunteer sign-ups through their websites (or other platforms). As above, you can see how these numbers are growing compared to different time periods and calculate the percentage difference. This KPI gives you an overall idea if you are hitting your main volunteer-engagement goals or whether you need to ramp up, or rethink, that aspect of your marketing strategy.
3. Marketing spend per conversion
This is a central KPI to understanding how effective your digital marketing actually is. You might be seeing great results in that your overall numbers are growing and you are reaching your targets, but if you are having to spend huge amounts of money to do this, then you aren’t actually raising any more money for your cause.
Marketing spend per donation or per volunteer tells you how much money you have to spend in order to gain a volunteer or a donation. It’s simply worked out by dividing your marketing cost by your number of donations or volunteer sign-ups.
4. Website traffic
Another high-level KPI to track is your overall number of website visitors. This figure will give you a good idea of how effective the website is (generally) in search engine optimization (SEO) and if people are interested in your cause.
A low website view rate might not be a sign of a bad website, but it might indicate that it is not correctly designed for SEO, or that your advertising is not up to scratch. A low rate means that supporters can’t find you and/or that your digital marketing does not make them want to visit your website. If you are using data analytics and seeing low web traffic numbers despite your digital marketing efforts, look at revamping your SEO or digital marketing, or both.
5. Click-through rates (CTRs)
Another important digital marketing KPI is your click-through rates (CTRs) for things like ads, organic search results, or referral sites. These numbers will help you understand more about your web traffic (for example, poor ad performance might be the cause of reduced web traffic rates) and your marketing spend (for example, high spend rates might be caused by pricey but ineffective ads).
CTRs from organic search results—results that most closely match a user's query, based on relevance, in an online search engine—are particularly important. They let you know how your organic SEO is performing and whether you need to adapt your content to make it more attractive to search bots. Both your paid and organic marketing should be optimized to be as effective as possible – don’t rely on one or the other.
6. Number of social media followers by platform
Social media can be an amazing platform for both outreach and to find new donors. Knowing how far your reach stretches, and at what rate it is changing, are key to optimizing your performance.
Understanding where you are seeing high amounts of followers gives you a good idea as to who your most engaged target audiences are and what kind of content they like to see, especially when you’re on certain platforms that use only certain content, such as YouTube. This KPI also allows you to see where your social media is underperforming, allowing you to discuss how your strategy on these platforms can be improved.
Follower number, however, doesn’t necessarily equate to more reach or to more donations. Remember that many people still see your posts and become aware of your nonprofit without following you. They might even visit your site and donate, which wouldn’t be represented by the follower number. So it’s important to track your engagement and impressions (views) on posts, too.
7. Conversions by referral channel
This KPI refers to analyzing what percentage, amount, or number of donations or sign-ups come from each online platform, such as email links, social media, or Google ads. It will reveal the real drivers of your donation or sign-up amounts and which are overall being the most effective at driving your growth.
Seeing which channels are underperforming allows you to look more closely at their content and work out what needs to be improved, whereas seeing which channels are performing really well might tell you where your most supportive audiences are or guide you to invest more in these digital marketing areas.
Knowing which channels are your most effective converters makes it easier to plan how you are going to hit your targets. For example, if you are not currently meeting your volunteer targets but you know Facebook gets you the most volunteer sign-ups you can step up your Facebook ads to get the results you need.
8. Website bounce rate
Your website bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site after only viewing one page. It allows you to see where you are losing out if your website traffic and referral rate for ads, social media, and email are okay, but your conversions (donations and sign-ups) are low.
A high bounce rate indicates users didn’t find what they were looking for. You can try to reduce this figure by matching the referral content more closely to the website content (for example, by changing your ads) so that users know better what to expect. You can also try to encourage more conversions by making your navigation more user friendly and using more calls to action (CTAs).
9. Email success rates
Tracking the success of your email marketing might mean tracking several KPIs, such as email open rate, email click-through rate, and subscriber numbers.
Email open rate is a good indicator of the quality of your subscriber list and the interest in your brand, as people who open the emails are likely to be invested in your cause. A decent open rate also indicates that your emails provide value to your supporters, which is great.
Email CTR is a good indicator of the quality of your email content, and, again, of your email subscriber list. You need invested, interested, and relevant subscribers as well as good email content in order to actually drive progress.
If you are seeing a high number of subscribers but low interest in your email content, you might want to clean up your email list or add a double opt-in when people subscribe to make sure that everyone is actually interested. You’ll also need to review your email content and check if it is interesting or valuable to your subscribers.
10. Online donor retention rates
How many of your donors are repeat or even regular donors? Not only do high repeat-donor rates usually boost your overall donation amount – as repeat donors will overall contribute a lot more to your cause – they also indicate that supporters are forming a connection with your nonprofit.
If your donor retention rates are low, tweak your digital marketing to foster more personal connections with your supporters. Social media is a really great way to do this. Share uplifting stories of your successful projects to help supporters feel connected to your ongoing work. Also, you may want to add a subscription or repeat donation option to your donation system or, if you already have that feature, make it more prominent.
11. Social media impression and engagement rates
One final performance indicator that nonprofits should use is social media impression and engagement rates. These figures will probably include tracking the number of impressions and number of engagements, but you could also see engagements as a percentage of impressions or engagements as a percentage of follower counts. These KPIs are essential alongside the follower count KPI, because a high follower count is no good if those followers aren’t active supporters. To build a personal connection with your supporters on social media, they need to be engaged and reactive to your posts, not just viewing them passively.
If you’re seeing a high impression rate but little engagement (especially more meaningful engagement, like commenting), then it’s an indicator of poor quality social media content.
About the Author(s)
Subscribe to our blog
When we publish a new blog post, you’ll get notified by email.