A hot topic in the media right now is whether or not stores should be opening the evening of Thanksgiving for shoppers to grab those early Black Friday bargains. All personal thoughts aside, retailers are in the business of making money. Clearly, they have made a conscious decision to open on Thursday night to boost their bottom line.

Contrary to the belief of some opinions I have read, I doubt the CEOs of these corporations are sitting in their offices conspiring to destroy the Thanksgiving holidays for their employees. Instead, they are exercising rational decision-making based upon data – data that shows that this is the right action for them to take. After the holiday season, they will analyze new data to make decisions and determine the course for next year.

When you think about it, this really isn’t any different from a nonprofit organization evaluating the results from a previous campaign and making decisions about how to favorably modify the campaign to increase contributions in a future year. Tiffany Crumpton’s recent post highlights a sample of metrics that you can use to measure the success of a year-end campaign. But, in order to effectively use those metrics to evaluate success, appropriate data must be gathered along the way, so that data-informed decisions can be made. While the new few suggestions may seem obvious to many, I have encountered a surprisingly high number of organizations that aren’t tracking the most basic of data points.

  • When sending out an appeal, be sure to track which constituents the appeal is sent to. Without knowing who received the appeal you can’t track response rates.
  • When a gift is received, track the appeal on the gift. Tying the gift back to the appeal aids in all forms of appeal reporting.
  • Did the gift come in via the web or mail? Knowing this will help drive future campaign audiences and guide focus on what type of campaigns to create.

Determining what data to track is important for any type of decision making, whether it be a year-end campaign or a capital campaign. Data may be specific to your operations, or data obtained from third party data sources. However, as I have told many customers along the way, don’t simply track data for data’s sake. Make sure that the data tracked in your CRM is relevant and has a purpose. Once you have the data and a plan to measure it, you’ll be in the driver’s seat toward making informed decisions to enhance your future campaigns.

What types of data are you tracking that help you make valuable decisions? Please share in the comments below.

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