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Measure the Love in Your Mobile Communication Program

Posted by Elizabeth Same on Feb 6, 2014 1:56:25 PM


measure-the-love-in-your-mobile-communication-programIn the popular musical Rent, the characters pose the question, how do you measure the 525,600 minutes that make up a year of our lives?  After pondering “in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife” the characters finally wonder, “how about love?”  Love, they decide, is a good measure for a year of our lives.

But how about mobile?  How do you measure the impact of your text message communication with donors?

Love is also a good yardstick for measuring your mobile program.

Of course, by “love” we don’t mean the dozen-red roses, looking deep in your eyes “you-had-me-at-hello” variety (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the type of love that donors show the nonprofit organizations they support through loyalty, responsiveness and deeper involvement.  That’s a type of donor love we can define and measure.

When it comes to mobile, the first metric everyone thinks to measure is the amount of text donations raised.  While that can be ONE measure, focusing just on the financial return is a bit like evaluating a relationship on how much your lover spent on the jewels, Rolex watch or fancy dinner (and again, not that there’s anything wrong with those things!).

But as with romantic relationships, there are deeper metrics of love or affinity.

A key measurement of mobile donor support is the ratio between message frequency and opt-outs.  Looking at those two key stats over time can quickly give you a measure of the overall health of your mobile communication program.   Your opt-out rate should decrease as you build a better relationship with mobile donors and increasingly refine your messaging and targeting (because message segmentation is just as important in mobile communication as it is in everything else you do).

Take a look at the graph below.  This chart measures the number of text messages sent to an NPO’s mobile community over a four-year period (shown in 16 total quarters) and juxtaposes it with the opt-out rate.  Overall, the trend is positive, as it shows that the more text messages this NPO sent the lower the opt-out rate became. 

This suggests that the targeting, message frequency and segmentation were good.  Something changed after Quarter 14 and we see a spike in the opt-out rate.  This could be explained by a large acquisition of new mobile donors (with greater volatility possible) or an issue with messaging or segmentation.

Messages and opt-out percent

Now that we’ve measured message level and opt-outs, lets look at conversion rates as well.

The following chart shows, for the same time period, the conversion to donations from the solicitation text messages that were sent.  Over time, we again see that the conversion rate is increasing, while opt-out rates decline overall.  As in the other graph, we also see the same reversal in the last three quarters, indicating that something has changed. 

Donation conversion percent and opt-out percent

One place to look for clues into what could be happening with the downward direction of conversion rates and upward spike in opt-outs is message frequency.  If we measure the number of text messages sent within a month prior to a solicitation text message being sent, we find that the conversion rate doubled.

Messages per month impact on conversion rates

So, it’s possible that one explanation for the decline in conversion for this nonprofit is that it may not be sending enough text messages to its mobile community.  Unlike love, in NPO communication, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. 

Finally, another key measurement for the health of your mobile program is overall retention.  This NPO has incredibly healthy retention rates of more than 90 percent.  Especially important is the fact that those retention rates increased over the span of the program (see graph).

Mobile retention rate vs. industry overall nonprofit donor retention

Measuring the “love” of your mobile donors is more than just looking at the size of their donations.   It’s a combination of message trends with opt-out and conversion rates, message frequency and overall member retention.

There are also more holistic measures for the health of your mobile relationships.  Are your mobile donors being cultivated to develop a relationship with all aspects of your NPO?  Are they volunteering time?  Donating larger amounts through other channels?  Participating in social media?   Mobile has a role to play in all these activities.  Also, mobile can help you gather data to access the effectiveness of other aspects of your program through surveys or by driving donors to a mobile web survey form.   You can think of mobile not just as something to be measured, but also as a measuring tool you can apply.

All of this assumes that you are looking at mobile as a central, communication strategy and not just as a tool for quick text donations.   What you get out of a relationship depends on what you put into it.

A rewarding relationship touches all parts of a person’s life and a good mobile program reaches across channels in your organization.    That’s why you need to use the right measurements to evaluate its true effectiveness.  Like the characters in Rent, you can find that true success if you know how to measure it.

How do you measure love in your mobile program?  Let us know in the comments below.

Cassie Bair, VP of MarketingCassie Bair is the VP of Marketing at Mobile Accord. Cassie has worked with many U.S. nonprofits leading marketing, strategic partnership, mobile and cause marketing initiatives. mGive, a Mobile Accord service, educates, engages and empowers nonprofits and their stakeholders through our groundbreaking utilization of SMS (text message) technology. Contact Cassie on LinkedIn ( or by texting CASSIE to 50555. Message and Data rates may apply. 

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