Digital storytelling has been celebrated across the charity sector because it can help you to engage with your audience and make your campaigns more memorable; I get chills every time I watch Greenpeace’s Everything is NOT Awesome campaign film and as a result I cannot forget the story of how and why they are campaigning to Save the Arctic.
But the art of digital storytelling doesn’t end there. Once your latest campaign is out there your charity will probably have technology in place to capture the data you need to measure and improve its performance. Many charities are already benefitting from the use of free tools such as Google Analytics and MailChimp, while larger charities may use a campaigning platform such as Engaging Networks.
It can be tempting to believe that by using these tools and looking at the data they produce – such as website hits or email click-through rates – you are successfully measuring your campaign. The reality is that to benefit from this data, and gain any ROI on the money you’re spending to get it, you need to make it meaningful. Meaningful data will allow you to tell the story of why your campaign tactics are working or why they aren’t.
The only way to gather data that has meaning is by strategically planning your campaign. This process begins with your project brief, which will help you to know the problem you are trying to solve, who your audience is, what your key messages are, and the constraints within which you are working. For example, you may be receiving a lot of single donations but none of these are being converted into regular donors (problem). To convert them you may decide to target single or lapsed donors (audience) with the target of increasing regular giving (objective).
By making your objectives SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based – you can begin to understand the data that you should be monitoring against these objectives. These will be your campaign’s key performance indicators – or KPIs. By measuring your KPIs you can keep control of your campaign as you move towards your objectives.
A SMART objective for this campaign could be ‘to convert 5% of your single donor database into regular donors within six months’. What you measure to see if you are being successful will depend on your strategic approach, tactics, and your intended customer journey, but could include email click-through rate, cost per impressions, and actual conversions. While the data you’re looking at may not have changed it will now have taken on meaning within your campaign, allowing you to tell a story and refine your campaign as you run it.
People remember stories better than statistics. Communicating your data in the context of your campaign’s story could help you to persuade others in your organisation of the need for digital reporting or why you might need to change campaign tactics, for example. Ultimately, this will help your organisation to be more effective in its use of data.
Ringo Moss is creative strategist at Positive, a digital agency that specialises in charity and not-for-profit