Beyond Big Data

By Robert Fisher,  Director of Client Services, The Harrington Agency

As the term “Big Data” has faded into the past and has supposedly become the new normal in analytical tracking, it’s important to remember the key components that got us to that term and to understand the process in how to set up these tools. To not only give you great buzzwords and one-line analytical zingers in the boardroom, but to also make your organization efficient, cost effective, and on the path to making strong strategic choices. This relies on an appropriate data or migration setup for your organization. Here are a few key components to remember while brainstorming and initially road mapping data hygiene and tracking:

  • Establishing New Tracking Parameters – When setting up your tracking structure (source codes) consider cross program analysis. The way offline mail segments are tracked (HPC, Frequency, Recency etc.) are upfront coding items that are not as always easily established in the online segmentation plan. By establishing rules and structures for upfront tracking and donor interactions with your organization (gifts, engagement completions or even just picking up the phone), one can use these key indicators in the back end for analysis. This is one of the best ways to optimize your prospect and donor file.
  • Keeping the Old while Bringing in the New – While it’s incredibly important to set up your new structure and systems properly, it’s also critical to spend the time necessary making sure your historical data isn’t lost and is easy to understand when looking at the history of a program. Don’t cut ties with this information as it is still GOLD!
  • Gift Coding – Before anything goes out in the mail or online, check with your gift processing teams to make sure codes are being registered in the correct locations and within the proper tracking parameters your organization wishes to receive per solicitation … and of course going to the right campaign!
  • Don’t Forget Constituent Tracking – While gifts and actions are key, it’s imperative to set up a process for tracking the donation journey of gifts received by your organization. While your ultimate goal may be to get revenue in the door, it’s important to see the number of touchpoints it took to receive that gift. This is key when establishing ROI and making sure you’re running a well-oiled machine.
  • Reporting – Don’t wait until things are out the door to set up your reporting mechanism from a data migration or new coding structure. Test this beforehand as you’ll uncover tracking items you may not have even thought about in the segmentation. A good way to check this is by doing #2 on this list with your old data and converting it in the new system with a new structure or tracking. We are constantly wanting to add more and more analytical points, so this can help you establish what is key and what can be added.