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A Beginner's Guide for Measuring Marketing Success

In today’s media rich environment, setting goals and tracking marketing analytics is essential for progress and growth. Whether your nonprofit is in the early stages of developing a planned giving marketing plan or you have a thriving program, data-driven decisions and goal setting should be a part of your planning process. Goals help you build a focused marketing approach, while analytics provide insight on your donors’ interests and measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The good news is that you do not have to be a marketing professional to evaluate success. Here is a beginner’s guide for measuring the success of your planned giving marketing.

Set SMART Goals to Define Your Own Success

Every successful marketing plan begins with goals. Goals are essential for direction and will help narrow your marketing focus. Your marketing plan should have steps and opportunities to help you achieve those goals. Consider the SMART goals framework for setting your marketing goals. SMART goals are:






It is a good practice for your goals to be well-defined with specified metrics to measure outcomes. Goals should be attainable and take into consideration the resources of your staff. They should also be realistic given the current stage of your planned giving program and include a timeframe for completion. The most important point I want to drive home is that your goals should be unique to your organization. The goals for a nonprofit with a new program will differ from the goals for a nonprofit with a mature program. One size does not fit all. Start with small, achievable goals and aim for progress every year. Reaching your goals is a great indicator of marketing success.

Track Donor Engagement

Another good way to track marketing success is through donor engagement. How do you measure engagement? Analytics. You should prioritize tracking analytics for various reasons. One primary reason is that it identifies what is worth your time, allowing you to shift focus to what leads to results. It provides insight into what marketing efforts are working, what resonates best with your donors, what marketing channels yield the most engagement and more. Second and this might be the most important reason, it identifies who is engaging with you and raising their hand electronically, giving you a clear direction for identifying new planned giving prospects. Over time, tracking analytics will help you make better informed decisions for your marketing.

Here are three metrics to track to measure marketing success:

1. Website Traffic

The planned giving website is the core of all marketing activity. Most marketing efforts, such as mailings, email marketing and social media posts point donors to the website for further education. A broad but key metric to track the success of marketing is website traffic. You should expect increased web traffic during any given marketing campaign. An increase in unique and returning website visitors indicates that your marketing is successful in promoting organic traffic to your website and your audience is finding value in your content. If website activity is stagnant, this is a sign that you may need to re-evaluate your current efforts. It also is helpful to track website traffic by source. This reporting will allow you to identify where most web traffic is coming from. Thus, giving insight into what marketing outreach is most effective.

2. Email and Social Media Performance

The performance of your digital marketing is also a key metric to track. While open and opt-out rates are important to evaluate the quality of your email list, generally, you want to pay close attention to your click-through rates. Click-through rates indicate that your audience is taking action – the goal of every marketing strategy! Emails and social media posts with good click-through rates suggest your content resonates with your audience. Tracking this data over time, will determine a strategy that provides value for both your donors and your nonprofit. Similar to web traffic, tracking this metric will provide insight into what is effective and what you may need to improve.

3. Identify New Donor Leads

The end goal for most marketing efforts is conversion. Converting leads into fully committed planned gift donors takes time, consistency and personal meaningful conversations. To get you there, identifying new donor leads through donor engagement is key and another way to measure the effectiveness of your marketing. Most marketing programs, like Crescendo’s, will use reporting to identify new and top planned giving prospects based on users’ digital activity. Look at who is highly engaged and is raising their hand electronically to begin the planned giving conversation. A promising indicator of success is discovering new leads through your marketing campaigns.


A simple and time efficient way to begin measuring your marketing success is by tracking analytics for donor engagement and setting goals unique to your program. Analytics will help you better understand your donors allowing you to serve them better. Setting realistic goals will help you fine-tune your approach and define your own progress. How do you measure your planned giving marketing success? We would love to hear your metrics in the comments below!

Maria Oliver

By Maria Oliver
Legacy Campaign Specialist, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

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