Engagement Scoring: The Next Level in Fostering Meaningful Communication

Submitted on Fri, 10/12/2012 - 3:45pm
The emerging field of Engagement Scoring provides the tools for nonprofit communication specialists to make data-driven decisions to engage site visitors.

If your organization is like most, you have a communications team pushing content through multiple channels.

No matter the outlet – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, mass emails, direct mail, blogging or SMS campaigns – how does your team know how well they're doing? Is it number of likes? Is it the total contributions from an outreach campaign? How does your team know which members are primed to make the leap from supporter to volunteer?

You probably have some metrics in place, but the next step in effective engagement is using data to push your audience up the ladder of engagement.

The emerging field of Engagement Scoring provides the tools for nonprofit communication specialists to make data-driven decisions to engage site visitors. More than looking at unique visitors and click-through rates, Engagement Scoring provides a quantitative analysis of effectiveness of outreach across your communication channels. As we round out the Year of Data, it's time to spend the last few months of 2012 making sure that you are technologically set up so that data capture becomes second nature and you can spend your time making the right decisions to move your organization forward in 2013.

Choosing the Right Tools for Tracking Engagement

Measuring web analytics is standard practice for nonprofits these days. The majority of organizations have set up Google Analytics ( possibly even the top of the line Omniture). But measuring page visits and clicks doesn't give you the insight or assign importance to the user action.

For nonprofits who are future focused, it's all about personalized engagement with their audience. But how does that differ from more traditional web analytics? Well, for starters, every interaction doesn't carry a one to one rating. In Drupal, the ability of a site administrator to track and score various types of interactions with contacts is called Engagement Scoring.

By implementing an engagement scoring tool into your CMS, you'll be able to customize the weight of an action and begin to invest in content and users that pays off. For more than five years, the Drupal User Points module has made it possible to provide limited measures for a logged-in visitor's engagement with the website. Recently, this framework for tracking and measuring engagement was extended to anonymous visitors through new community contributions.

How is this being done? For Mission Investors Exchange (MIE), the following key criteria were used to evaluate potential solutions: tight integration with their Drupal site, simple membership management, and room for growth.

Because MIE was built using RedHen, a native Drupal 7 constituent relationship management tool, no integration is necessary to connect it to a Drupal-powered site. Using a configurable scoring system, site administrators are able to track engagement for authenticated and anonymous site visitors, including comments, event registrations and staff notes on in-person interactions. With minimal customization, communication specialists can be tracking the scores for a particular contact with a full listing of their engagements.

Developing a Plan for Implementing at Your Organization

The first step in developing your engagement scoring plan is to analyze what tools are already in use at your organization. Gather a list of all of your tools, whether it’s Google Analytics, Salesforce for Non-Profits, CiviCRM, or RedHen. Once your list is compiled, take note of what information is being captured by each tool.

The second step is to create a ranking system specific to your organization based on user profiles for your ladder of engagement. Create weights based on targets you are moving towards. For example, page visits will likely receive a lower rank than event registrations or donations. Having a clear matrix of your communication channels that map the movement of users up your engagement ladder will provide you the foundation for your personalized Engagement Scoring system.

After surveying your tools and mapping out your scoring needs, the final step is connecting the dots between your tools and your users. Many nonprofits are already using CiviCRM, which can be customized by an external or internal development team to capture and relate the information from visitors to your website and contacts in CiviCRM. Your internal development team would need to connect your CiviCRM contact with your website user by leveraging the CiviCRM API.

If you have an internal development team familiar with Drupal, CiviCRM or RedHen, then they can download these open source options today and start configuring for your organizations needs.

Additionally, if 2013 is your year to redesign your website, now might be the time to start planning how you can more tightly integrate your Drupal website and CRM solution to build a customized engagement scoring solution for your organization.

Training for the Marathon

Engagement metrics aren't plug, play and everything is fabulous. Reliable metrics take time to build and for quality data to gather. You don't want to get stuck in a predicament where your data isn't painting the real picture because then you'll be stuck in a situation even worse than ignorance - engagement misinformation.

Betsy Ensley is the Director of Professional Services at ThinkShout, Inc. Passionate about process improvement, Betsy develops efficient systems to help focus on what we do best -- collaborating with clients to deliver streamlined solutions using open source technology.