Most widespread in the sector are social media ads optimisation and email testing and optimisation. Some message testing is also being done on social media.

New technology is enabling the collection and access to a wide range of data. This enables organisations to use the data to form insights and, based on that, make decisions on what can be optimised, if something needs to be stopped or something new developed.

Non-profits have always made efforts to evaluate their impact. What’s new and different now is that the insights and data can be provided in real time. Decisions can be made as soon as trends in data become clear and activities can be adjusted as appropriate.

Fundraising and finance teams are most likely already utilising this approach. If they haven’t they certainly should. The challenge for other parts of the organisation may be to find the right KPIs to describe impact or to collect data which illustrates impact correctly.

For example, social media reach is a metric equal to column inches – the measure is only of the opportunity to see.

Finding measures of advocacy and campaign impact is tough – most issues are covered by more than one organisation and finding a metric or a combination of KPIs which only describes the impact of your organisation will be imperfect. But as long as a KPI can enable you to recognise and respond to trends, it serves its purpose.

Things to think about

  • Does your organisation optimise any of the following: audience messages, audience journeys to improve conversions, programme intervention in order to improve reach or impact?
  • Can staff in non-digital roles read and understand optimisation reports?

Optimisation: five levels of maturity

1. Non-existent

Organisation evaluates projects at the end. Lessons are not always used for new projects.

2. Ad-based

Social media ads are optimised by an agency. Some of these insights are used in planning of social media content.

3. Journey-based

Every bit of an audience journey is optimised - messaging, content, layout - in order to increase conversions.

4. Product-based

Organisation continuously looks at data in order to optimise every part of a product in order to provide good user experience, simplify and/or automate processes and increase conversions.

5. Organisation-based

Organisation regularly looks at dashboards in order to measure progress of strategy and tweak/adjust/change on the go in order to improve the outcomes.