Only 37% of nonprofits are tracking the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, according to a new survey by Nancy Schwartz at Getting Attention. This is, of course, a real shame, because tracking is what helps you figure out what’s working, what’s not, and how you can be more effective over time. The great news is that there are some very simple and cheap tools you can use to track your online marketing campaigns. In fact, most online marketing tools have tracking built into them — you are already paying for them. You just have to use them.

Websites

Any half-way decent hosting package will include a basic statistics package. Idealware just did a report on web analytic packages that’s definitely worth a read. If you are pressed for time and only want to track a few elements on a monthly basis, my top five would be

– Visits – the number of people looking at each page. This tells you the most popular pages on your site.
– Unique visitors – how many different people are visiting your site, regardless of how many times they returned.
– Referrers – where your visitors were before they came to your site. Are they finding you through Google, by typing in your URL directly, or by clicking on a link from someone else’s site?
– Click Path – where people come into your site, where they go, and where they leave. You can also look at top entry and exit pages, but the full click path gives you a better sense for how people typically use your site.
– Keywords – which words people are using in search engines to find your site (and conversely, which words are important to you that aren’t bringing people in).

Email Newsletters

You really should be using an email newsletter service like Intellicontact or Constant Contact (both of which I recommend) for your e-newsletters and not trying to send them out of Outlook or Thunderbird. More on that some other time. When you use a service like this, you get all kinds of great tracking data. Again, my top five to track would be

– Released or Sent Successfully – your total list minus bounced messages. This helps you track the quality of your list over time. The fewer bounces, the better.
– Open Rate – how many people are opening the email (HTML email only).
– Click Throughs – how many people are clicking on a link in the email. This shows they are reading it and taking action or looking for more information. You can also see which links they are clicking on.
– Forwards – how many people are forwarding your message to someone else.
– Unsubscribes – how many people are getting off your list. Don’t be alarmed if you regularly lose a few people. But if your unsubscribes spike, carefully examine what in that particular message sent people fleeing from your list.

Blogs

Why are you blogging in the first place? The answer will determine what you should be tracking. Register with Feedburner and Technorati to get whatever stats you need that your blogging platform doesn’t provide it. All of the stats above for websites also apply to blogs. In addition to those, you might also track

Subscribers – how many people have affirmatively shown interest in your blog by subscribing to your RSS feed.
Technorati Rank – where you rank in the greater blogosphere, as determined by the number and variety of links to your blog.

As you read this list, you may have said “Doh! How obvious!” But are you actually using all of these tools to the fullest? It’s like when I walk around my house on hot summer days looking for the source of that strange smell. After looking in every room for some kid-induced odor source, I usually end up saying, “Doh! It’s the neighbor’s barnyard!” I know it’s there, but it’s become part of the background, and I forget about it. Get these tools back into the foreground and your marketing campaigns will surely improve over time.

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