There’s always a lot of talk about what the ‘next big thing’ or hook will be for charity e-campaigns. Is there something out there that will lead to mass participation? The next video that people pass round or the next e-action that everyone takes part in because it is so engaging. But sometimes, the whole world of ‘data’ gets forgotten in these projects. It might not be as exciting and it may not get you media coverage but it is vital if the campaign is going to succeed.
Before you do anything, think about the data you want to capture and why
Conversations around data capture need to take place at the project’s beginning; there’s no point planning a visually brilliant campaign only to discover that you’re missing out on vital pieces of supporter information. Invite members of your database team along to any brain storming sessions you may be having, it could be costly to start again, particularly if you’re working with external creative agencies. But you should always balance out your data capture ‘wish list’ with the ease users have to complete actions. I see many occasions when website visitors have to fill in far too much information, which is a massive put off. Before you get going, really think if you need all the information you are asking for.
Now you are capturing the data, use it
If part of your strategy is to send out email updates to new supporters as your campaign progresses (it should be if it isn’t!) then use the data that you’ve captured in this process – don’t just sit on it and let it go stale. Segment your email lists and send supporters different information depending on their activity. If they’ve taken an action, thank them. If they’ve filled in information online relating to who they are, then use that information in the emails (age, interests etc). You have all the data to hand so make sure you use it. It’s the best way to keep your supporters engaged and it will hopefully help you to reach your campaign goals. A more active and engaged audience will lead to better results all round.
Make sure any data collected is compatible with your in-house database
If you can, use technology to feed any data straight into your in-house database. It will save so much time and hassle if this is set up correctly. You’ll then be able to pull off desired reports at any time. If you don’t have resources available to enable this, make sure that any data you want to upload is clean and in the correct format. You might be collecting great information but it’s vital that the structure is thought about before you get going.
Finally, use the data you get for proper evaluation and learn any lessons
Once your campaign has run its course, or if you have key milestones to report on during the project, make sure you use all your perfectly formatted and well thought through data in your evaluations, otherwise a lot of work will be for nothing. Set your objectives at the start of the project (total numbers, demographics of new supporters etc) and use the data collected to measure the effectiveness. Most importantly there will always be lessons to learn from the information you now have, so make sure you take them on board and apply the details for next time.