Perhaps the greatest curse of digital marketing in politics is that we can measure everything that we do. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the metrics available to you as a digital practitioner (or as someone trying to make campaign decisions), but because we can put a number on everything we do, we’re also placed at a higher level of scrutiny.
And it sometimes leads to headlines like this one I saw recently in Roll Call:
“Buying or renting a list requires determining the value of the names and addresses on the list with an independent consultant. That calculation is not an exact science and depends on many factors such as what percentage of the list is donors, how frequently and how recently they have given or clicked on anything in the email, and how much the list overall has raised.
“When it comes to payment, the renter may pay a fee per email blast sent to the list or a fixed cost for each sign-up that comes from a list rental email. Each rented name could cost in the $2 to $3 range, depending on the vendor and the parameters of the deal. Names on a smaller, more localized or issue-specific campaign could cost between $5 and $8, while names on a big national list could cost as little as 40 or 50 cents.”
Whether or not this is a good price for an email list rental depends on your particular case, but that doesn’t mean that every email on your list is worth $8.
Campaign budgets are all about the costs of inputs – TV, mail, staff, digital, phones – but only in digital do we press for estimates and values on outputs. And that’s a good thing.
The more digital practitioners can demonstrate cause and effect to decision makers, the more confident they’ll become in our work. And eventually they’ll hold other inputs to the same standard.
We can measure the average cost to acquire the email address of a supporter, how long on average it takes them to become a donor, what their average gift is and how many times they contribute.
This data helps us plot the map of a supporter’s progression through the online fundraising conversion funnel and give us a reasonable approximation of how additional budget to certain inputs will result in our outputs.
Remember: Inputs and outputs.
This construct is also helpful because it makes us focus on measuring what matters. If you’re thinking about outputs, you’ve got to know what the goal is. You’re not going to be spending money for the sake of doing something. You’ll be doing it to trigger a desired output.