The M+R Benchmarks Study came out last week. As always, it’s jam packed with lots of insightful information that will help you better understand the online world and how it works for nonprofits.
They had 154 nonprofits participating in the study who contributed data for the 2017 calendar year.
They analyzed the results of almost 4.7 billion email messages sent to over 53 million list subscribers; 528 million web visits; more than $738 million of online revenue from nearly 12 million donations; and 17 million advocacy actions. Whew!
I am just covering the very basics here so you will definitely want to download your own copy which also segments the data by mission and size.
The main takeaway for a lot of you will be the fact that total online revenue is continuing to grow and at a faster rate than before (23% in 2017 versus 15% in 2016).
Let’s jump into some more data points I think you’ll find interesting…
Is Mobile King Now?
Yes and no.
While half of traffic to nonprofit websites came from mobile and tablet users which is up from 2016, desktop users were more likely to complete a gift (20% conversion rates compared to just 8% for mobile) and they generated 68% of the donations and 76% of the revenue.
Does that mean you don’t need to worry about making your website and emails mobile friendly? NO! Just as mobile retail sales have grown as people got more comfortable shopping with their phones, they will get more comfortable with donating as well. Your nonprofit needs to be ready for mobile now.
Email. Good News and Bad News.
Almost every individual email metric declined including open rates and click-through rates.
BUT email lists grew (+11%) and nonprofits sent more email messages (66 email messages per subscriber), so email revenue increased by 24% and accounted for 28% of all online giving. And isn’t that more important?
Social Media and Breaking the Facebook Code
For every 1,000 email addresses, nonprofits had an average of 474 Facebook fans, 186 Twitter followers, and 41 Instagram followers.
Instagram grew the fastest with a 44% increase in the number of followers. Facebook fans for nonprofits increased 13% and Twitter followers increased 15%.
No, you’re not wrong about engagement on Facebook – on average, each post a nonprofit made on Facebook only reached 7% of its fans. But for any given Facebook post, 38% percent of the audience reached was not already following the nonprofit. So be sure your posts are helpful to someone new to your organization as well as those who are long-time supporters.
M+R believes that the Engagement Score (Engaged Users divided by a nonprofit’s Total Facebook Fans) on Facebook is a more helpful metric than Engagement Rate (the ratio of engaged users to post reach). The Engagement Score for an average Facebook post was 0.44%. They note that video posts tend to have higher engagement scores over links and images.
They also go into Clap Scores, Talk Scores, and Share Scores on Facebook which can also help you decide what content works best for your organization.
I also want to encourage you to check out their handy interactive Benchmark Yourself feature that allows you to add your stats for fundraising and advocacy and other metrics to compare with the Benchmarks in the report.
So beyond comparing your numbers to these, what else should you do with the data?
Reports like these are important for spotting overall trends and establishing a jumping-off point for discussions about your metrics, but your organization could be experiencing completely different results. So before you get too riled up that your social media growth isn’t as high as what’s shown in the study, start tracking your own numbers and see how they change over time.
And even more importantly, remember that metrics can tell you what is happening, but don’t tell you WHY it’s happening or whether IT MATTERS.
We encourage you to look at the trends and analysis in the report even more than the specific numbers. Think about the why behind those trends, as they relate to your organization, rather than getting mired in the data.
If you are particularly interested in email metrics, we have a free download that can help:
This 28-page download will show you how to measure:
- Open rates
- Click-through rates
- Click-to-open rates
- Response or conversion rates
- Bounce rates
- Unsubscribe or opt-out rates
- Complaint, abuse or spam rates
And then we tell you what each of these rates actually means, and what they can tell you about how your emails are performing.