How Do Nonprofits Track the Customer Journey?

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Integrated marketing and communications is critical to nonprofits, and not just big ones. The smaller a nonprofit’s footprint in the community, the more that it has to consistently beat the drum on a narrow and powerful message. It also has to pay attention — track and measure — both activity and results from all of its external promotional efforts.

Small nonprofits may do the basics like track activity on their Facebook pages through Facebook Insights, or occasionally look at Google Analytics. They may even use a free or low-cost tool like HootSuite to understand activity and sentiment for select keywords across social networks and the organization’s website.

But what I really want is the nonprofit version of the image below:

Google Analytics Customer Journey

The basic idea is that some promotional channels assist a customer in becoming aware of or forming an opinion about an organization, while the customer turns to other channels when (at last) they are ready to act.

(In case you’re wondering, the number assigned to each promotional channel is a ratio. Google says, “In general, ratios less than one mean the channel acts more as a ‘last interaction,’ while ratios greater than one mean that the channel acts more as an ‘assist interaction.'”)

The “customer journey” reflects what many have been suggesting about nonprofit promotional strategy for some time. Potential donors to nonprofits may interact on Facebook, read e-blasts, etc. but not use links in those tools to donate until they are good and ready. Nonprofits rarely understand how all of that promotional “dating” turns into commitment.

The image is the marketing funnel for industries as a whole, created by Google using transactional data from 36,000 Google e-commerce tracking enabled accounts who gave their permission for data to be aggregated. Google also makes available the data for seven specific industries including health and education/government, but, alas, not for the nonprofit sector.

Here’s the health industry “customer journey” so you can see how it differs:

google health customer journey

Still, I think the idea that these affinity-building activities connect somehow to donations is one nonprofits must keep in mind. What channels seem to play a role well in advance of purchase (donations)? What channels come into play when someone is about ready to give? How long does it take from initial exploration or contact to spur a donation?  All communications may play a role and be necessary to build the steady drumbeat necessary to spur contributions.

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