Analyze This: Data Driving 21st-Century Communications Strategy

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At this year’s Fall Conference in Seattle, we’re holding 14 separate breakouts on a range of topics from storytelling to program/communications collaboration to using data effectively. This post previews the session titled Analytics in a Digital Age: Using Data to Drive Strategy for Marketing and Communications. Session presenters are:  Anjula Carrier, vice president, marketing and communications, and Vanessa Schnaidt, director of communications, Foundation Center; Roxanne Joffe, communications lens leader, and Melissa Thompson, communications lens manager, The Patterson Foundation.

Guest Post: Melissa Thompson

Data in context is a powerful way to show social good, philanthropic progress and promote funder collaboration. Before a data-driven story can be told, communicators – and their organizations – must understand the role of analytics. It’s about extracting and collecting the “right” data – those gems that are going to engage and inform.

Taking cross-sector cues

Social issues that foundations tackle are often complex. In fact, that may be the understatement of the century. It goes without saying that the application of data in philanthropy can be challenging and a bit daunting.

Rule No. 1? Don’t do it alone. Just as chief marketing officers and chief information officers are learning how to work together in the corporate world, there’s a call for foundations to adopt collaborative cultures where all employees value using data and analytics to inform, engage and drive strategy.

Internal contests are great ways to begin to encourage this kind of interaction. In our session at the conference, the Foundation Center will share how they used contests and incentives to educate and create awareness about data uses and analytics tools.

An action plan to cut clutter

Generally, we’re fans of simplicity. One of the simplest ways for an organization to wrap their arms around data and analytics in an agile way is to create an action plan – a template we’ll be sharing during our session – that helps an organization focus on what analytics and sets of data matter and will help further its goals.
You wouldn’t create a communications plan without a goal, and you wouldn’t collect data without one, either. It’s setting these key performance indicators (KPIs) that will keep you on track.

Taking tools to the next level

From newcomer Sparkwise to tried and true Google Analytics, we’re curating a list of tools and resources that might be useful to you in your data and analytics communications journey. Many of these tools do the heavy lifting so you can focus on making connections and meaning out of the results.

 Leading up to Seattle, we will continue this conversation on Twitter:  Keep your eye on #datacom and #comnetwork12 as well as @fdncenter and @thepattersonfdn


Melissa Thompson is communications lens manager, The Patterson Foundation.

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