Evolving with the Data: How to Measure Your Technological Maturity
While the evolving technology landscape presents exciting opportunities for organizations to better connect with donors, it’s also creating an unprecedented level of complexity around central audience management. The data is within reach, but a tangled web of disparate systems can obscure the very insights you value most.
Overcoming a challenge of this magnitude calls for an honest evaluation of your current technological maturity. Where do you stand relative to the competition? Consider these five themes as you assess your technology stack and find areas of improvement.
1. Managing and Connecting Identities
You likely have a number of ways to identify your donors—from personally identifiable information like names and addresses, to digital identifiers like cookies and device IDs. Without the ability to connect all of these signals across different online and offline channels, you’re missing crucial opportunities to respond to user behaviors and personalize experiences for your donors. Sally isn’t a click-through here or a phone call there. With proper cross-channel identifiers in place, you’ll find that she’s a 48-year old lapsed donor who’s active on Facebook with a particular interest in volunteerism. This level of insight is the foundation for meaningful donor relationships that inspire lifelong giving trends.
2. Creating Omnichannel Integration
Many organizations have technology limitations that force them to operate in silos, measuring outcomes by channel or program. By investing in a more sophisticated data management platform that integrates your channels, you can develop strategies that focus on the holistic donor journey. Advanced analytics models can automatically optimize user experiences in both inbound and outbound channels, using data to guide next best actions. Aside from the clear benefits of moving toward a more donor-centric model, this automation may even create efficiencies for your organization in the long run.
3. Leveraging Real-Time Capabilities
The pace at which users consume media and competitive fundraising messages means one thing: Agility is more important than ever. How long does it take for your organization to engage with constituents about timely events? How long does it take for you to acknowledge a gift? How much can you personalize? Pulling data sporadically in large batches isn’t nimble enough for today’s communications. You need rapid access to analytics, reporting and data visualization to achieve an optimal level of personalization that sustains donor relationships.
4. Moving Toward Cloud Enablement
Antiquated data ecosystems aren’t just cumbersome to manage; they can hinder your ability to innovate new programs and explore smarter marketing solutions. For example, an integrated cloud infrastructure may allow you to start segmenting digital media buys and allocating more spend toward high-value prospects. While migrating to an entirely cloud-based platform may be a significant investment, it can help you avoid the long-term costs that come with the inflexibility of hard data assets.
5. Delivering a Consistent Donor Experience
When selecting a data management platform, you’ll want to look beyond fundamental features like analytics and reporting. Consider your greater communication objectives—how, when and where do you plan to reach donors and constituents? For instance, some platforms have better modeling capabilities, while others have stronger integrations with site personalization tools. Some have strong partnerships with demand-side platforms and email service providers, so you can effectively execute cross-channel campaigns. Prioritize tools that are instrumental in making your unique donor experience a success.
Once you’ve evaluated your strengths and weaknesses from a data management standpoint, your next step is to establish an organization-wide vision for how you’d like to evolve. Which foundational capabilities should you prioritize right now to make your donor experience more consistent and effective? What people, processes and resources do you already have in place that can help make change possible? Which person or team will maintain the vision and champion participation across all groups within your organization? Complete data platform integration and seamless cross-team collaboration won’t happen overnight. But addressing these questions proactively can make this massive undertaking more manageable.
Richard Heimsoth is the senior director of Customer Strategy at Merkle.