You Ask, I Answer: Starting from Scratch with Marketing Data

Seth asks, “I just took over a marketing volunteer role for a small non-profit and they have no data repository. Like, nothing but disparate spreadsheets; some with donors, some with event attendees, some prior volunteers, etc. What should I be thinking about while building from the ground up to make sure I’m setting them up for success?”

Great and not uncommon question. Whether you’re just starting out, the organization is just starting out, or you’re doing a reboot, the process is largely going to be the same.

  • Be sure marketing’s goals and priorities are clearly outlined; some non-profits are all about the donations while others are all about the activations.
  • Start with an audit and make sure the basics of the martech stack are in place, operational, and collecting data. For CRM I recommend Hubspot’s free sales CRM edition. Google Analytics is a must.
  • Get what data you have into the relevant systems.
  • As soon as relevant, start doing qualitative data collection from members/customers/etc. as well as key stakeholders to understand priorities.
  • Rely heavily on third party data in the beginning, especially search, social, and survey data. If it’s a non-profit that addresses a public cause with awareness, look to the many public data repositories like data.gov and dataUSA for usable market insights.
  • For non-profits without much budget, I recommend AHREFs for SEO at their base package, Brand24 for social monitoring and research, Agorapulse for social posting and inbox (30% NPO discount).

FTC Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links for which my company, Trust Insights, earns a fee.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode Seth asks, I just took over a marketing volunteer role for a small nonprofit. They have no data repository like nothing but spreadsheets, donors, attendees and fire volunteers, etc. What should I be thinking about while building from the ground up to make sure I’m setting them up for success? This is a great and not uncommon question. This you can find yourself in the situation where you’re just starting out, whether the organization says getting started a reboot, starting a new role, etc. The process is largely going to be the same. The process is going to be essentially, you know, plan, fix, build grow.

The first part, the part that’s most important is making sure that you understand the organization’s marketing goals and priorities, make sure they are clearly outlined and that key stakeholders are aligned with those priorities.

For a nonprofit, some of them are all about, we want donors we want donations, you know, put the put the money in the bucket, etc. and marketing is marketing’s role is to support that. One of the first nonprofits I worked at that was they were all about getting the donations and that wasn’t marketing had to do other nonprofits. We have a customer right now that is focused on making good use of the donations that they get. There’s another part of the company that does the donations. And the marketing role for the team we work with is all about getting people in the door to serve their key audience. So make sure that we’re very clear about what it is and that the key stakeholders have checked off like Yep, this is what we care about.

The second would be a full audit full martek stack audit, what pieces are, what pieces Could you be building with? So you’re going to need a CRM, I would say for a nonprofit, take a real hard look at HubSpot CRM, because it is for

Free at the basic level, and if they’ve got nothing but spreadsheets now, the basic HubSpot CRM the zero dollar one is probably going to be good enough. And then they can upgrade to like sale starter later on if they if you want to, but that’s a good CRM to look at. Well, for the middle of the marketing automation side, you’re probably going to want to look at something like probably a MailChimp again, this is not going to be a fortune 500 massive martech organization, so you’re not going to need the the top of the line. But certainly having something like MailChimp in place to at least collect contact information and be able to reach back out to people is going to be important and it’s much cheaper than HubSpot marketing automation, which is egregiously expensive out of the gate.

The third is, you will obviously want to make sure that you will have Google Analytics installed fully configured like decked out like crazy,

every relevant feature turned on and then you’re going to want to

be pulling in other data as relevant into something like Google Data Studio. So that would be things like Facebook data, Twitter data, etc.

So that you are you’re pulling in as as complete a picture and get the data that you have like those volunteers and attendees and donors etc. into the relevant systems. With HubSpot, for example, in their sales CRM, you might want to set up different categories for the different types of contacts and be able to manage them there.

So that’s getting the martek stack in order in order and then get what data you have in the relevant places.

I would say after that, it is probably time. So you know the priorities you know the systems now it’s time to guide the marketing itself. As soon as as you have permission to do so. I would start doing qualitative research, qualitative data collection from those members, those attendees, those volunteers and the key stakeholders within the company to

Get a deeper understanding of the priorities and how people feel about them. Because if you’re going to be building marketing, you want to hear from those people. So one on ones, coffee chats, maybe a focus group, if it’s relevant, you know, using something like Google Hangouts, or you know, any of the free conferencing services. But get that qualitative data collection in place. Get things transcribed, start doing text analysis of the interviews that you do and look for those common themes. That would all be really important stuff to do. And then for other data,

look at search and social media. So a lot of when trust insights was getting started, we had no data we were brand new company, we had an understanding of the data landscape, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So our first

our first and most important acquisitions were things like a good SEO tool. We use the RFC to

Well, which is relatively expensive, although for a nonprofit, I think you can go to like the basic starter level. You don’t need to pay for like the pro level right out the gate to get search data like what is it that people are searching about in your industry? What pages are popular? Things like that? Take a look at buzz Sumo for some of the content that people talk about. What are the things that on your topic are relevant? And then social media listening data? I would say for a small nonprofit, take a look at brand 24 they are affordable they have really good social listening for a relatively low costs. And for social publishing look at buffer or Agoura pulse. I don’t know if a Gora pulse has a like a nonprofit tier. But they would be folks to look at as well. But those those would be the data sources I would look at for search and social. The other thing I would look at would be

credible third party repositories if your nonprofits cause is something that there’s going to be a good

public data about. So for example, if it’s cancer, guess what, there’s a ton of really good free medical data to work with that will help you inform your marketing and provide additional support for the creative you kind of put together. So repositories like data, Gov data, USA, cattle, and so on and so forth, if it’s a cause that people can rally behind, and that there’s public data about, go look at those sources, as places to pull data for setting marketing priorities or improving marketing creative. So there’s a lot of data out there, but this is the order that would do things and make sure you got your plan, do the audit, collect qualitative data, collect third party data and use all that and put it in keep it in though that really good structure that martek stack that that we talked about so that you know where things are, and that the systems can work together to amplify your capabilities, but really fun questions death and and good luck to the

The nonprofit of nonprofits or something that the world desperately needs more of the are doing good things. As always, leave comments in the comments box below and then subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter, I’ll talk to you soon.

want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems? Visit trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you


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