How Data Gives You a Better Picture

When I'm speaking with nonprofits and NGOs, I fully expect that not everyone in the room is going to have access to analytics or all data points. After all, communications is usually reserved for a specific team and the siloing process begins. (That's a whole topic in and of itself, but we'll save that for later.)

However, I was shocked when I read a recent report from Google that stated only 17% of marketers looked at all their data together. My mind was blown. As communicators, we need to understand our audience. We need to know what drives them, what messaging inspires others and what falls flat. Data is at the foundation of any successful campaign.

But data doesn't just exist in Google or in our social media accounts. It can be pulled from the field, from projects, from donors, from our marketing work and more. In today's blog, I want to discuss the various types of data and how a small team can use them to bring synergy and purpose to any communications effort.

1. Data, Data, Data

There are the obvious ways a communications team collects data. Be it Google Analytics, social media analytics, or email analytics, just about every form of communication has performance indicators. But where else can you begin to understand supporters? Have regular lines of communication open both internally and externally so you can collect additional information.

Whether it is an occasional survey or focus group to your donors, team feedback or annual reviews, data can be harnessed from everyone your organization interacts with. And don't forget to loop in everyone on your team. From donor databases, to M+E tools in the field, everyone has valuable information to bring to the table.

2. Bringing it all Together

Now that you have all this data, let's take a closer look. Cyfe is a free tool that I love to use. It has a platform that allows you to examine your analytics side-by-side and get a realistic picture of what is and isn't working. There are great paid services for this as well, like HubSpot

Once you make it readily accessible, you can begin to dig in and look for trends. What message worked on all your platforms? Is one message more niche than the others? If so, it may be better suited for a smaller communication platform. The point is, until you begin to study your data and look at the overarching themes, you won't have the best understanding of who your audience is and what they are responding to. 

3. Seeing from a Bird's Eye View

It's easy to spot things right in front of you. When Instagram tells you what time of the day is best to post and Google tells you what channels people are coming from, that's all important. But the best picture of your impact is going to happen when you look at all available data. After all, when you have the window seat you snap the picture and share it with your friends. Similarly, with data you need to do the work to get you to the top and build out a stronger, more effective communications strategy. 

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Stefani is a strategy consultant + speaker with over a decade of experience working in the US government, international NGO space and with nonprofits. Currently on the UNDP's Roster of Communication Experts in Subsaharan Africa + certified in Google Analytics, Stefani is an analytical thinker and thoughtful storyteller who works with nonprofits + humanitarians to define who they are, elevate their influence and broaden their impact through strategic communications, branding + advocacy. Stefani lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, twin girls and rescue dog.