Monday, July 30, 2012

Metrics are just numbers without context! (Give staff a voice! Part 3 of 10)

Metrics, here, metrics there. Metrics everywhere. Everywhere you look everyone is talking metrics.

But does these numbers even matter or mean anything?

Example: Our website had 11,000 visits last month.

What does that even mean? Is that high? Was that unique or total? Is that better than last month? What did they do while they were there? So many questions.

You need to provide context to your numbers.  Try to answer these questions to help people understand the numbers:

  1. What do these numbers mean? (define the label of the metric)
  2. How do these numbers impact our goals?
  3. How does this compare to our history?
  4. Is there a benchmark that we can compare this to?
  5. How does this compare to peers?
Beyond providing a simple definition and some comparables though you also need to demonstrate how these metrics impact your organization's ability to meet the mission, operating goals and strategic plans. To do that you need to tie the metrics to the:

Business Objectives - Identify business objectives in your org that are impacted by your digital effors.

Engagement Goals - Set some goals for your reach and engagement in your digital channels based on those business objectives. This is an easy way to identify trends and set priorities.

Outcomes - Set up mechanisms and tools to track the objectives and goals above. Be sure to find a way to share these outcomes in a meaningful way with context.

Overall Marketing Strategy - Use your metrics to judge the outcomes of campaigns. But be sure to interpret them and apply those learnings. Help the business owners understand what worked and what didn't.

Example: We would like to increase online donations. We will use emails containing individual stories to drive traffic to our website. We hope to have an email open rate of 20%, which is 3% higher than past performance. However, our email open rate dropped for this campaign. That impacted our website visits because email is out top way to attract traffic. So our next plan should have a stronger email presence.

Anyway, if you only remember one thing, a metric is just a number until you know what question you are answering. 42.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Gets Measured, Gets Done (Give staff a voice! Part 2 of 10)

"What gets measured, gets done." I have heard that said many times from a number of different people. It is so simple and true. HOWEVER, numbers and data are not as useful without a tie to goals and without context.

The first step in our process to enable digital editors was to create a set of metrics. We decided we wanted to keep the number of metrics fairly simple, balance reach vs. engagement and allow for comparison. We also set a goal for each of the metrics based on nonprofit benchmark reports, similar org stats and some simple math.

So our spreadsheet ended up with a row for each location, one section of columns for reach (size of audience) and one section of columns for engagement (audience interaction). The numbers do not paint a comprehensive picture for a detailed analysis, but they do provide enough insight to identify trends and gage performance.

And recently we have added a new section for Post Frequency. We are showing the # of blog posts on the website, date of last blog post, # of posts by admin on Facebook page and date of last admin post on Facebook. A key to our strategy is consistent and current content. The addition of these columns allows our leadership to easily review progress.

So we are measuring the work. So now what? stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Give staff a voice! (Part 1 of 10)

Your staff, ALL of your staff, are potential advocates for your cause and have real expertise and experiences to share. However, the fear of writing and using online tools are real. Even with social media, smart phones and online activity taking over so much of our lives, your staff may hesitate to act as the voice of your cause online.

SO what do you do?

I have presented a session about Enabling Program Staff to be Digital Editors a few times now, but want to share my thoughts in a 10 post series. So here I go.

Gradually shifting the culture is the key to enabling digital editors. This is not a quick win, but there are quick wins to be had.

Gradually Shift the Culture
1.Publish Metrics
2.Establish Structure and Accountability
3.Remove Barriers
4.Regular Training and Resources
5.Enable Individuals while Maintaining the Brand

A deliberate effort is needed to build the voice of your organization to support and impact your cause. And the first step is to have a plan, which is pretty much always true.  The plan does not have to be a 200 line, detailed, gantt chart with pretty colors, load balanced, fully funded, leadership endorsed behemoth. It just has to be a plan that you will actually be able to act on. Don't create a plan bigger than your capacity.

Then pick a place and get started. Even though I numbered the steps above, you can go in whatever order your org needs. In fact, you may even need to add your own steps. I have had others indicate that they needed to consider some other steps like:
  • Fixing all of the tech - make it easy to use the tools to update website, email, social media, etc.
  • Get leadership support - either go direct and build a case with your leadership OR do some pilot efforts to show success, then keep getting those efforts approved. We learned the hard way that getting a strategy approved CAN be HARDER than getting a small pilot approved.
  • Get some expertise or a partner - if your org lacks the expertise to get this rolling, then look for a volunteer, partner or vendor to help. Don't forget all of the awesome resources from communities like or sites like, or
Anyway, I  think you get the idea. Hope to talk to you in the next post where we jump into how to use metrics to enable program staff as digital editors. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Getting Content Strategy started (an inner voice argument)

Ever feel like you are arguing with yourself?

Well I did that this morning on Twitter using my alter ego, I let my inner battle go public.

First, I found this great article! So I Scooped it.

But then I had a thought. So I posted from my other Twitter account:
yeah, ok
yeah but
ah, yeah

And that is a small glimpse of an inner argument. I usually win.