Data Science – Your New GPS!

Are you optimizing your digital environment? This includes looking at things like social, email, website, texting, etc. And then asking, ‘How do they perform in a silo but also together? What’s the data that leads to the right creative to have on each one of those platforms?’

Danielle Rice, Chief Strategist for Digital and Data Science, recently joined me on the podcast to unpack the importance of this topic for any nonprofit.

Trent: Tell us what data science means and why it’s a priority for you and for our company.

Danielle: Data science is like a GPS system. Imagine trying to take a trip without a GPS telling you where to go. You can fumble your way there but it would be much more efficient and cost-effective if you just had that map telling you where you need to be going and how to get there. That’s how I think of data science. Having things properly linked together so that you can make sense of them is so important.

And then the next level is analysis and asking, ‘Why is this the way this is? How do we activate on that?

Trent: What are churches and ministries missing out on potentially by not diving more deeply into data and how it can benefit them?

Danielle: Great question. When I think about churches and data, I’ve made the solemn promise that one day, every church in America will have a data science ministry!

It’s not just having data for data’s sake, but when we can actually start to see the impact of people coming to know the Lord or more involved in community because of the data that was available, that’s really what we’re after.

Social numbers are great. We want to see the video views but we care more about the pathway from ‘I don’t know anything about Christ and/or your church’ into ‘I’m a fully discipled, serving member and I’m giving.’ There are actual tools to track those things in the secular world.

What if we used them to change lives?

And when data informs how you communicate, you can make messaging tweaks while being authentic to who you are and to the message that you’re trying to express. I don’t think people typically see them as a natural pair but data and creative are something that, when mixed together properly, can have an incredible impact.

Trent:  What are some practical tips for churches and nonprofits as they seek to implement a digital marketing strategy in a meaningful and measurable way?

Danielle: Start with having a conversation and a plan. Don’t just chase after the new shiny things. It’s ok to be relevant and pay attention to the trends, but at the end of the day, what is the specific plan that makes sense for your organization and how are you going to get there?

Maybe that means sending out emails, if you were not before. Or maybe you adjust subject lines or the content in your emails to be a little bit more engaging. And if you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, you need to add it today! It’s very simple to add and gives you such a wealth of information.

Ultimately, this tool helps you make the right decisions. You don’t want to spend money unnecessarily or spin your wheels. It gives you the ability to invest wisely and connect to multiple different systems. And it’s free! You’ll understand more of your audience, such as who is new or who is returning. How well are they engaging and taking the next step? It’s powerful knowledge to have.

The next step would be advertising. We live in a world where, especially after COVID, there’s a lot of noise and information out there. And when someone is searching specifically in Google Search, you want your website to be something that’s a good reflection of what your organization stands for. Look at your demographic and understand the type of people you want to attract.

Pay close attention to your website. It’s important to have a space where you’re available to your people and they can find you and engage with you should something ever happen to your personal social channels.

A lot of websites can feel like billboards, not interactive or engaging. So keep your website up to date with new stories or videos. You want Google Search to continue to promote you organically, even if you’re not putting money behind it. There are so many untapped resources, especially within Google, and we can help you find them.

For more practical tips on how you can optimize your digital environment, check out The Dunham Podcast episode, Data-Driven Decision Making.

+ More Insights from Dunham+Company: “The Danger of Misreading the Data”

Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters.