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Make your data meaningful by telling your digital campaign story

In the latest in our Effective digital series, Ringo Moss from Positive explains how digital storytelling can help you make sense of data

Digital storytelling has been celebrated across the charity sector because it can help you to engage with your audience and make your campaigns more memorable; I get chills every time I watch Greenpeace’s Everything is NOT Awesome campaign film and as a result I cannot forget the story of how and why they are campaigning to Save the Arctic.

But the art of digital storytelling doesn’t end there. Once your latest campaign is out there your charity will probably have technology in place to capture the data you need to measure and improve its performance. Many charities are already benefitting from the use of free tools such as Google Analytics and MailChimp, while larger charities may use a campaigning platform such as Engaging Networks.

It can be tempting to believe that by using these tools and looking at the data they produce – such as website hits or email click-through rates – you are successfully measuring your campaign. The reality is that to benefit from this data, and gain any ROI on the money you’re spending to get it, you need to make it meaningful. Meaningful data will allow you to tell the story of why your campaign tactics are working or why they aren’t.

The only way to gather data that has meaning is by strategically planning your campaign. This process begins with your project brief, which will help you to know the problem you are trying to solve, who your audience is, what your key messages are, and the constraints within which you are working. For example, you may be receiving a lot of single donations but none of these are being converted into regular donors (problem). To convert them you may decide to target single or lapsed donors (audience) with the target of increasing regular giving (objective).

By making your objectives SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based – you can begin to understand the data that you should be monitoring against these objectives. These will be your campaign’s key performance indicators – or KPIs. By measuring your KPIs you can keep control of your campaign as you move towards your objectives.

A SMART objective for this campaign could be ‘to convert 5% of your single donor database into regular donors within six months’. What you measure to see if you are being successful will depend on your strategic approach, tactics, and your intended customer journey, but could include email click-through rate, cost per impressions, and actual conversions. While the data you’re looking at may not have changed it will now have taken on meaning within your campaign, allowing you to tell a story and refine your campaign as you run it.

People remember stories better than statistics. Communicating your data in the context of your campaign’s story could help you to persuade others in your organisation of the need for digital reporting or why you might need to change campaign tactics, for example. Ultimately, this will help your organisation to be more effective in its use of data.

Read more from Ringo in our Effective Digital series

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Quick guide to measuring your digital campaign effectively

Looking at your email click-through rate might be interesting but it’s not going to help you to measure your digital campaign effectively unless you can give the data meaning. Giving your data meaning will allow you to communicate your data within the context of your campaign strategy and could help you to persuade others that you need to look at different data or change campaign tactics, for example. Achieve this by planning your campaign in five steps.

Start with a brief

The brief will outline the problem you’re trying to solve, your audience, key messages, objectives, and the constraints within which you are working. For example, your charity may be receiving a lot of single donations but you need to convert these into regular donors (problem). To convert them you may decide to target single or lapsed donors (audience) with the target of increasing regular giving (objective).

Set SMART objectives

Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based objectives will enable you to effectively measure the overall success of your campaign. Raising awareness may be a popular objective but without the specifics it is difficult to measure if this has been successful. A SMART objective for our fundraising campaign could be ‘to convert 5% of your single donor database into regular donors within six months’. It is likely that you will have more than one objective but they should all be SMART if you want to effectively measure your campaign.

Think tactically

The data you measure to see if you have reached your objectives will depend on the digital tools you use – such as display ads, social media, landing pages or email – and how you incorporate these into the different stages of your campaign. In our fundraising example social media could be used to re-engage your donors while email could be used to make the final ask. Once you know how you will use each tool to move people along your campaign journey you can create targeted content for each stage.

Choose KPIs

Your campaign’s key performance indicators (KPIs) tell you the data you should be monitoring to see if you are successfully moving towards your objectives. In the fundraising example you might want to measure the click-through rate of your Facebook ads across desktop or mobile and the conversion rate of your landing pages. Measuring these KPIs allows you to keep control of your campaign tactics. While the data you’re looking at may not have changed since before you set your objectives, it will now have taken on meaning within your campaign.

Tell a story

Many charities are already benefitting from the use of free tools such as Google Analytics and MailChimp, while larger charities may use a campaigning platform such as Engaging Networks. However you’re measuring your campaign, following these steps will mean you are now able to tell the story behind your data. This allows you to give the data meaning and enables you to refine your campaign as you run it. People remember stories better than statistics: ultimately, this will help your organisation to be more effective in its use of data.

Read more about campaign planning and digital storytelling

Find out more about planning and measuring your campaign, give us a call

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Ringo Moss named in BIMA Hot 100

Our Creative Strategist, Ringo Moss, has this week been named as one of the top 100 most influential people in British digital by industry leaders BIMA. The Hot 100 list has been a sought-after badge of honour for digital newcomers and experts alike since it began in 2013.Ringo Moss

Ringo has been recognised for his 10 years’ experience in digital design, content and advertising for some of the world’s biggest brands including Harper’s Bazaar, Top Shop, Reiss, The Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Ted Baker, Telefonica, Jaguar and Nickelodeon.

In 2014 he shifted the focus of his work from fashion and lifestyle to the third sector. Since then he has embraced the not-for-profit field – just last year he forged a partnership with Charity Comms that resulted in a joint sector-leading report into the technology choices made by charities. He is also a regular keynote speaker at events, including Edge Digital conferences, CIM conferences, and more recently charity events with Third Sector Magazine and Engaging Networks.

As Creative Strategist at Positive, Ringo works to identify and implement best in class design, technology and content strategy, ensuring that the strategic direction of all of the work produced in the Positive studio is as effective and measurable as possible.

Ringo recently led the team to be selected by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute as a strategic digital partner in delivering the charity’s ambitious programme of digital transformation over the next three years.

Huge congrats to Ringo!

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Drupal 6 is no longer supported – is it time to migrate?

Today marks the End Of Life for Drupal 6. After eight solid years of service, it will no longer be supported or maintained after today (24 Feb 2016). You can still get support and maintenance contracts, but that is not a long-term solution for older sites.

What does this mean if you still have a Drupal 6 site?

Firstly, your site will still be there, still serving pages. It won't suddently stop working, but it won't be updated any more. One of the strengths of Drupal is the community and the support that it provides, including the continued updates and security patching. It is this that will no longer be happening for Drupal 6. So if someone finds a security flaw in Drupal 6 after today, it will not be updated.

What are your options right now?

Hopefully this isn’t the first you’ve heard of this, and you’ve migrated (or nearly finished migrating) any sites you have to Drupal 7 (or even 8). But if you have sites that aren’t in process there are still things you can do.

1. Switch the site off: This is not an ideal thing to do. But for those of you who have microsites on Drupal 6 this is an opportunity to look at whether you still need those sites and whether the cost of migrating is less than the value the site gives you.

2. Turn it into a static site: Using something like site sucker, or wget you can spider the site to flat HTML. You won’t be able to content manage it nearly as easily as it’ll be static files, but you could keep the site running off the grid and re-spider as needed. And you’ll need a different solution for search, but the side effect is that it’ll be blazingly fast.

What are your choices for a new site, or a migration?

Of course, this depends on your requirements. Today having a presence online is about integrating tools that do one thing well for you into an ecosystem that supports you. (See my recent article on integration for more on this).

WordPress and Drupal are vibrant and active content management systems and they’re a great place to start to develop your own ecosystem. Drupal 8 has now been released and the Drupal community is working hard to perfect it. However, I’d still recommend most Drupal 6 sites migrate to Drupal 7 for now, because it is currently operating at its strongest version. That said, while Drupal 8 is still being developed and it will be some time before it reaches its peak, there are still some sites would still work better being developed straight to Drupal 8. Others will work better in WordPress. It’s all very personal and specific to your needs. Gone are the walled gardens and commercial locked in ecosystems. Open source software is the way, and Drupal is a key part of that.

If you would like to find out more about Drupal or migrating your website why not give us a call for a chat today.

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Integrating technology can make your charity more effective

In the second of a series on digital effectiveness Tim Marsh tackles a key challenge for digital charity professionals - integration

Intricate relationships exist across charitable organisations that have to be managed well for that organisation to succeed. The press surrounding Kids Company highlights just how important they are to get right: from the role and responsibilities of trustees to the relationships between support workers and the charity’s beneficiaries.

Achieving relationship harmony across organisations is not all roses and chocolates. It takes understanding, support, acceptance, and flexibility. Many charities get this balance right when it comes to people, but not when it comes to managing the relationships between the technologies they use. This is understandable – it’s not easy when you’re battling with legacy systems or struggling to integrate on and offline data – but it is achievable.

One of the main reasons integrating technology can be a challenge is because charities often end up locked into using one platform that claims to do everything – from CRM to CMS. Initially this can seem like a good idea, especially if it looks like this package will save you money. But the reality is you end up using this technology to do a task that it was never made to do. The result is it’s not effective, and so it’s not value for money.

The alternative is to choose the best platform for each task and use integration tools such as API’s, If This Then That, and Zapier to make them speak to each other (see my mini guide to some of the best integration tools here). This can take time and may require extra support at first, but in the long run it will allow your charity to be much more self-sufficient in its use of technology.

One example of this in action is an integration we set up for The Children’s Society to enable visitors to their website to donate regularly via text message. We used a third party API to set this up – in this case from Cymba’s Connected Fundraising platform – and linked it with the charity’s Google Analytics so they can easily see when people are donating. We set it up initially but now The Children’s Society can easily use their analytics to see if it’s effective and manage the technology themselves in-house.

This may sound simple but getting to this point could mean a shift in culture for many organisations, especially if you’re tied into a contract or your staff are afraid of using new technology they don’t understand. This article on choosing technology for charities has more advice on how to approach this. In the end everything comes back to effectiveness. If your technology is not helping you meet your organisational objectives it’s time to challenge your current set-up and begin the process to more harmonious relationships.

This article first appeared on the Third Sector digital blog.

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Four integration tools not to ignore

Integration is the key to getting the most out of your technology and becoming digitally self-sufficient. Here are four tools that can help you begin to be more effective.

If This Then That

This automation tool works with more than 250 services to automate tasks from lighting and heating your home to shopping on eBay. It’s a simple idea that allows you to set up actions for a specific trigger. For example, if the weather forecast tomorrow is for rain, you can set it up so that you receive an email alerting you to this specific forecast. Set up a free account in seconds and start discovering what else you can do.


Similar to IFTTT this simple tool exists to ‘connect the apps you use, automate tasks, and get more out of your data’. Known as Zaps, each integration allows you to set up automated tasks such as updating documents in DropBox, or saving contacts into your email lists. Zapier has recently announced a major upgrade to multi-step Zaps, making integration between a range of different tools – including Slack, Mailchimp, and WordPress – even easier. You can try it free for 14 days.

Talend open studio

This tool works in the same way as Zapier or IFTTT, but focuses on getting the most out of the personalised technology you are using, so it works really well with open source technology. Basically it allows you to get data from a source, such as your CRM, and put it somewhere useful. You can do pretty much anything with it. Download it for free and start learning more from the online community.

Drupal feeds module

Specifically for integrating data into a Drupal CMS, this module aggregates and imports external data – such as csv or xml files – and loads it into content manageable entities on a Drupal website. We have used this module to connect data captured by The Children’s Society’s Engaging Networks platform – in this case the charity’s on street collections – with their Drupal CMS, for example. This allows visitors to their website to easily see on a map where their collections are taking place and decide if they want to take part.

To find out more about getting the most out of your technology why not give us a call.

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Digital self-sufficiency is the future for charities

In the first of a series on digital effectiveness, Ringo Moss discusses how charities must face the challenges ahead

Most charities are on a mission to work themselves out of a job. They exist to combat a disease, for example, or to eradicate climate change. Once that has been achieved they hope there will no longer be a need for them to exist: just last month it was reported that the closure of charity Disaster Action – that helped the survivors and bereaved people affected by disasters in the UK and abroad – was a mark of the charity’s success, not failure.

To achieve change on this scale charities need to be visible and efficient, and they need to take people with them. Developments in digital technology are having a scalable impact on how charities step up to these challenges – from how they deliver frontline services to internal decisions over team structure. But just as achieving social change takes time, so too does the digital transformation of an entire sector.

To effectively support charities on this journey I think the digital sector can learn a thing or two about how these organisations approach large-scale change. Ultimately we are here to help charities to eventually help themselves and become self-sufficient – just as charities are doing for people and communities across the world. Adopting this mind-set has definitely had an impact on how our team at Positive works with our clients on digital.

For us it’s about providing long-term solutions that can be re-used and replicated for multiple purposes. This is one of many reasons we’re huge fans of using open source, because it allows us to develop new technology that will benefit more people than just those organisations we’re working with directly.

This fundraising campaign we worked on with The Children’s Society is one example of how we’re practising what we preach. Another is the parallax we built for their Old enough to know better report, published in November last year. We built the report within the charity’s open source CMS and integrated it with all of their current systems. This allows The Children’s Society to create engaging and powerful reports internally, without relying on expensive and limiting propriety software or agency support – making them self-sufficient.

Of course, the journey doesn’t end there. Digital and social challenges are constantly developing and we will continue to listen and adapt our approach. That’s why we’re supporting the launch of Third Sector’s digital stream, and why we’ll be continuing to explore these issues and more in our new Effective Digital series. We hope you find these articles useful and insightful and we look forward to hearing your comments.

This article first appeared on the Third Sector digital blog.

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Five reasons the death of Internet Explorer matters

Version 8 of Internet Explorer was released in March 2009. At the time iPhones were still in nappies and Barack Obama had just taken office. Considering Obama was expected to bring change to the United States of America in four years, you can see how us web types must have felt waiting half that time just to get a glimpse of IE version 9 in March 2011.

The world, the web, and web standards have come a long way since then. And that’s why, on 12 January 2016, Microsoft ended support for older versions of IE. The last version of the browser will be IE11, as Microsoft moves to Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. So what does this mean for those that manage websites?

Your security is at risk if you don’t upgrade.

The biggest risk of not upgrading your browser to a newer version is security, because there will be no security updates made to the old, retired versions of IE. This will mean you could become vulnerable to malicious software if you continue to use these older versions. I expect to see big companies drop support for them very quickly.

There will no longer be a support network for older versions.

Microsoft themselves take advantage of HTML 5 in their office 365 product and state it works best with modern browsers. If you stick with an old version of IE, you may find yourself gradually excluded from the tools and services you use online.

Websites will need to be tested in IE11 and Edge.

Most home users will have automatic updates and antivirus set up on their PC. If they don’t have automatic updates their antivirus will warn them that they are using an unsecure, unsupported browser. If your website audience is home PC users they will mostly quickly update. This means you’ll need to test in IE11 and Edge if you aren’t now.

Organisations can provide better online experiences.

YouTube, one of the world’s most-visited websites, doesn’t work in IE8. The increase in mobile use has pushed modern browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to set higher expectations for web users. This upgrade will allow web owners to embrace modern web technologies – such as HTML 5 and CSS 3 – and give their users richer experiences without the cost of having to support older, less capable browsers.

Microsoft can focus on improving their new products.

Edge is faster and will be updated more often. Microsoft is also now supporting developers with free and open tools and you can run WordPress and Drupal on Microsoft operating systems and ion the Microsoft cloud.

Like this? Check out Three reasons to get excited about WordPress Calypso

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