[GUEST POST] Understand Your Donors with CRM and Website Data
Great donor communication requires having great donor data. The more data you have about your constituents—like their interests, motivations, and history with your organization—the easier it will be for you to connect with them.
Your constituent relationship management platform (CRM) is, of course, one of the best places to look for information about your supporters. A less commonly-used tool is your website! Knowing how your supporters engage with your website can give you unprecedented insight into what they find compelling.
Looking at both your CRM data and your nonprofit’s website will help you answer important questions about your constituents. Here are some questions you may want to ask, plus tips for answering each.
Who Are My Supporters?
Understanding the different groups of people who support you is important! The more complete your constituent accounts are in your CRM, the more effectively you can use that information to build programs, appeals, and updates that will inspire your community to get more involved. Your website is important here, too; you’ll need to use it to collect information about your donors, volunteers, and other supporters.
How to Get This Information from Your CRM
All kinds of information ends up in your CRM, especially if your CRM includes different types of engagement forms (volunteer interest forms, donation forms, membership enrollment forms, etc.). Your CRM should give you the ability to create forms that collect information about people interested in volunteering, donors, members, and even people who want to receive your newsletters. But your forms have to be hosted somewhere—and that’s where your website comes in.
How to Get This Information with Your Website
Once you’ve built your forms in your CRM, it’s time to embed them on your site. There are a few different kinds of forms you may want to consider using, including:
If you rely on community volunteers to support your programming, events, and other campaigns, you almost certainly have volunteer interest forms on your website. Here, you can collect information about your volunteers, including things like their skill set, availability, and interests.
Focus on collecting information that you really need—long forms may seem like a good way to collect data, but using lots of fields will harm your form conversion rate. You can always gather more data about your volunteers later on through things like longer application forms, volunteer surveys, and personal conversations! When you create these forms though your CRM, peoples’ information will flow directly into that database. You can then create groups and segments of volunteers that will be helpful as you communicate with this valuable group of supporters.
Your donation form is the best place to collect high-level donor details. Don’t focus on asking lots of questions here: Instead, ask only for the information you’ll need to process someone’s gift.
Even this high-level form can give you invaluable insight into your donors. If they make restricted gifts, you can identify which program or campaign is most compelling to them. If you’ve created forms specifically for different campaigns, you can get a feel for which appeals are most effective. This will be invaluable as you plan future campaigns and appeals.
This is another type of form that should be kept as brief as possible, but the information you collect can be very helpful. Look for trends and patterns in which membership levels are most popular and the perks that people seem to find most compelling.
Make More Effective Forms with Website Personalization
You can make your webforms even more effective with website personalization. Try creating personalized pop-up forms that appear based on someone’s past interactions with you. A first-time visitor who’s just starting to learn about your organization may not want to sign up to volunteer right away. In their first site visit, you may want to add a pop-up form that asks them to sign up for your newsletter. When they visit a second or third time, though, they’ve proven they’re very interested in your work; that’s a great time to show them a volunteer interest form.
Your CRM and website working together can be one of the most effective ways to gather information about your supporter base. When people submit forms on your website, that information can flow directly into your CRM, which means you’ll always have up-to-date constituent information that will help you understand your community.
How Engaged Are My Donors?
Tracking engagement levels is a great way to gauge how effective your messages and communications are with your community.
Some forms of communications will give you pretty straightforward engagement data. You can safely assume, for example, that an appeal that raised tons of money was effective with your donor base. An email that prompted a high open rate and lots of clicks to your website is definitely an indicator that you’re sharing information your readers find compelling.
Other forms of engagement can be harder to measure. This is especially true when you want to look at two different engagement metrics that aren’t available in the same platform. One example would be a newsletter. You might want to understand how people interact with content you’ve included in that email. Click-through rates—the number of people who click a link in your newsletter to go to a page on your website—can tell you how people behave as they interact with your email. But you may also want to understand how they behave after they’ve clicked, and that will require pulling information from your website.
Reporting on engagement may require a little extra effort. But understanding how your donors engage with your content can help you evaluate your communications and identify opportunities to improve.
How to Get This Information from Your CRM
If you’re using your CRM to send newsletters, impact updates, and other messaging, look at performance metrics like:
Your open rate is the percentage of people who open your email. If yours is high, it’s a good indicator that your audience is interested in what you have to say. If it’s low, there’s lots of room to experiment with different send dates, send times, and subject lines.
Your click-through rate is the percentage of people who opened your email and then clicked a link. If you have a high click-through rate, you can tell that your audience finds your content useful: Look to see which links get the most clicks for even deeper insight into what kinds of content they want to see. If your click-through rate is low, take a closer look at your email. You may notice that links are broken, don’t stand out, or are hard to click. If that’s not the case, experiment with sending different types of content your audience may find more compelling.
This is the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your content. If your unsubscribe rate is low, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re sending relevant content to your audience. If it’s high, you may want to reevaluate your content or how frequently you email your audience.
Email engagement metrics will give you some good insight into how your audiences are interacting with you. But you can get even deeper insight by looking at what happens after they open your email, too.
How to Get This Information from Your Website
When someone opens your email and clicks on a link, you can see that activity in your email performance report. You can track the rest of their journey on your website.
On-site engagement metrics will help you understand what your readers do after they’ve clicked. Look at:
Your Bounce Rate
This is different from your email bounce rate! Your on-site bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a page and immediately click away. If you notice that many people click on a link in your email but bounce when they actually land on the page, you can safely assume that the content on that page wasn’t what they were expecting or didn’t interest them.
Visitors’ Time Spent on Page
This is the average amount of time visitors to a particular page will actually stay on that page before navigating somewhere else. If you notice that many people click on a link in your newsletter and spend several minutes on that page, you can safely assume that they find that content compelling. If they only spend a few seconds on that page, you may have opportunities to make that content more engaging or easier to scan.
Combine Your Data
Here’s an example of how using these combined engagement metrics can work.
Say your most recent newsletter was sent through your CRM and highlighted a major news story about your organization. 10% of the people who opened your email clicked on a link to read more about the story on your blog. Your on-site bounce rates are pretty low, but people only spent 20 seconds on the page.
A 10% click-through rate is pretty respectable, which indicates you did a good job getting people interested in the news story and made it easy for them to click over to the other page. But 20 seconds isn’t a very long time to stay on that page, which means you have some opportunities to improve. To fix that, you could try re-writing the content on that page to be more attention-grabbing or easier to scan, adding visuals that keep people interested, or rewriting the piece to make it easier to read.
What Stories Inspire My Donors to Give?
Knowing what stories resonate with your audience will help you prioritize those narratives. Say your nature conservation organization knows that your donors love giving to restoration projects, for example. You can prioritize messaging that shows supporters the positive outcomes of those projects. Combining data from your CRM and your website can give you insight into the narratives that inspire your donors to give.
How to Get This Information from Your CRM
Look at which appeals you’ve sent your donors and gauge their performance. As an example: Imagine your animal shelter sent two appeals over the last six months. One focused on raising money to provide veterinary care to a litter of puppies. The second included updates about the puppies’ progress and invited donors to create similar outcomes to other pets by donating. If your second appeal worked best, you may be able to deduce that your donors are highly motivated by success stories. You could then write future appeals to highlight animals’ progress before asking them to donate.
You can use donation form data, too. If you’ve created multiple donation forms for different campaigns, you can pull fundraising performance information from your CRM to understand which campaigns prompted the most engagement. If you’re using one donation form but have included the option for donors to restrict their funds, look at which restrictions are most popular with your donor base. You may notice, for example, that your capital campaign forms or restrictions perform very well with your mid-level donors and that smaller donors tend to give most to your programs. With that information, you can prioritize sending stories and updates about your facility upgrades to the groups of donors that are interested in your capital campaign, and you can focus on sending program updates to other donors.
How to Get This Information from Your Website
Not everyone who lands on your website will make a gift. In fact, as many as 80% of people who land on your donation form won’t go on to make a gift! But their behavior on your website can still help you understand what information your audiences find compelling. Looking at how your constituents interact with your content will give you insight into their motivations.
Try looking at your site analytics to understand which of your pages most frequently result in clicks to your donation form. If you notice that particular program pages, success stories, testimonials, or blog updates result in lots of clicks to your donate page, you can safely guess that the content on those pages is important to your supporters. You can then use that information to inform future campaigns.
Say you notice an uptick in people landing on your donation form from a page on your website that includes a story from one of your clients. You could try sharing that story on your social media channels, in your next newsletter, or as the basis of an upcoming appeal. You already know that many people who read that information have thought about making a gift to your organization; try re-sharing that content and directly asking people to give.
Learn About Your Donors Using Your Website and CRM
The donor data in your CRM can help you understand who your donors are and what causes they like to support. Your website can help collect constituent information and give you insight into the types of content your audiences enjoy. Both are useful on their own! But combining data from your CRM and your website can help you understand who your supporters are, measure their engagement with your organization, and craft appeals, updates, and other content that will inspire them to support your cause.
By Abby Jarvis – Senior Content Marketing Manager, Neon One
Abby Jarvis is a writer, marketer, and speaker at Neon One, and she’s passionate about giving nonprofits the tools they need to connect with their supporters. Her 10 years in the nonprofit technology industry have been dedicated to understanding how and why donors support their favorite causes, studying donor trends and behavior, and sharing data-backed best practices nonprofits can use to build successful fundraising programs.