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Making sense of nonprofit marketing buzzwords

Let’s talk about: Data, Analytics, and Insights. Three terms you hear in almost every marketing meeting. But what do they mean? How are they connected? How do they impact your marketing/business strategy?

Think of Data, Analytics, and Insight as a three-step process:

  • Step1: Collect data

  • Step 2: Apply analytics to make sense of data/gives context to data patterns and trends.

  • Step 3: Create insights from the analytics that can be used to make business/marketing decisions and drive action.

Let’s define what each of these terms means.


Data is the information you obtain from users, such as contact, demographic info, behavior, and activity. Think of it as raw, unprocessed facts.

In today’s digital age, data sources/collection can come from multiple channels such as acquisition lists, face-to-face, surveys, apps, email, websites, and social media.

Organizations usually have different tools and systems where data is captured/stored. The effort in data transformation strategy is to put it all into a centralized system or develop a way to pull it together quickly.

An easy to relate to example of data collection happens whenever you use a shopper rewards card when making a purchase at a store such as CVS. When you enroll in the program they collect some basic information such as name, email, phone number, gender, and address. As you use your card they collect what items you purchase, date, time, total sale, etc. All of these are examples of data points that may seem very generic but are, in fact, very useful to CVS.


Analytics is the measurement and the discovery of patterns and trends garnered from your data.

Analytics is how you make sense of your data and uncover meaningful trends. There is tremendous value buried in those massive data sets, but organizations are unable to unlock that value without the help of analytics. Analytics could be represented in the form of reports, KPIs, visual dashboards, and other business intelligence (BI) toolsets.

Thinking about our CVS example from above, the collection of individual data points. But without taking the next step to analyze that data, the information doesn’t mean very much. By using analytics they can start to build a profile about you to understand how often you shop, your average total purchase, what items you regularly purchase, and how frequently you need those items. Analytics translates your singular data points into more meaningful information.


Insights are when people consume data and make observations, create hypotheses, and draw conclusions based on the data they just consumed. The real value of data and analytics lie in their ability to deliver rich insights. You can have infinite data points, but you need to be able to digest and organize that data in a way that allows you to pull out valuable insights. The best insights are actionable and prescriptive – they can be used to take immediate action that will improve your marketing strategy and donor journey.

Once you’ve consumed your data and done some analysis of it, the next step is turning that analysis into actionable insights. For CVS this might mean they learn that you are most likely to shop during the week at lunchtime, you almost always shop for snacks and beverages but are also purchasing other household items as well. They know your favorite brands so you may start to see coupon offers for items that you frequently purchase or for other similar items under their brand to entice you to make a switch. They have taken your data, analyzed it, consumed the info, and are now able to make targeted offers that are likely to appeal to you as a shopper.

In the world of non-profit organizations data, analytics, and insights are extremely important. The more data that you can collect about your constituents and their behavior the better you will be when it comes to creating a marketing strategy that speaks to your constituents in a meaningful way.

Here is an example of how it is all tied together for something as simple as an end of a year email campaign:

In our example the organization has just completed sending the first wave of its year-end appeal, which included an email segment.

Data: 34,000 constituents with unique email addresses were targeted based on previously collected data. When someone responds to the email, we collect new data points about them.

Analytics: When reviewing your email segmentation KPIs, you discovered there was an overall segment open rate of 21% and a bounce rate of 1.2%. Of the opened emails, 55% were on a mobile device and 18% gave with an average donation amount of $20. For the emails opened on a desktop, 20% gave with an average donation amount of $35.

When compared to this time last year there was an increase of 10% of open rates on mobile devices.

Insight: The rate of mobile device conversion rates have increased year to year by significant and indicates that increasing priority on mobile optimization, including email design, content, segmentation, and personalization in your marketing strategy.

Insights are not derived from a crystal ball. Establishing the right discovery and analysis practices, combined with the right strategic tools, should help your organization to identify insights and then leverage them within your multi-channel marketing strategy.

Contact BrightVine Solutions today, to assist with your multi-channel marketing strategy.


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