My favorite part of December isn’t the decadent food, cheesy Netflix movies or the endless holiday parties (though, I do love all those things). It’s the year-end “best of” lists. This month, however, is not only the end of 2019… it’s the end of an entire decade. That means an abundance of 2010s nostalgia lists.
Everyone from Buzzfeed to The New York Times is pondering how this decade will be remembered (What will we wear to the 2010s theme parties of the future???). Journalists can argue about whether this decade’s key historical contributions were meme culture, smartphones, YouTube or #MeToo. But I feel like a decade’s culture doesn’t quite solidify until well into the next one.
What seems so clearly defined in retrospect is fuzzy and haphazard when you are living through it. But in reading through these lists, one thing *is* clear to me. The digital world is ever-changing. Staying up-to-date with the trends and skills — from targeted ads to better UX to online privacy — is both more important and more difficult than ever. For me, writing this newsletter has been an excellent way to keep up, and I hope you all feel the same.
So raise your glass to the end of 2019 and the start of the 2020s! 🥂
From Fake News to Full Transparency
The 2010s can be described as the decade “fake news” became prominent as a buzzword online. Yes, it’s been around for longer than that, but digital media secured its prominence. People are very skeptical these days with so much fake information out there, so it’s important we keep that in mind as we create new digital content and products. Designing for transparency should be our goal in 2020 (and beyond).
Hey Google, How Do I Fix My Ads?
If only someone would come into your office and tell you exactly how to fix your Google Ad campaigns. Well, Google’s been rolling out its new “optimization score,” which provides concrete suggestions for improving your ad campaign. The latest version now even has display campaigns. This is a great tool, but nonprofits should be cautious. Some of the suggestions Google provides don’t really work for nonprofits. For instance, adding your phone number to ads will earn you a few points, but it also might get you a lot of unsolicited calls that your staff doesn’t have the capacity to handle.
Another sweet Google Ads feature is explanations for why changes in performance occur. You can now spend less time diagnosing why your ads aren’t showing and more time expanding your campaigns!
Drowning in Donor Data? Here’s Where to Start
“Here’s how we can increase donor donations,” is all we really want to hear in the nonprofit world. The thing is… there’s no secret. It’s all about analyzing the data you do have on your donors and digging into a few key metrics. The metrics I find most useful are donor gift size and frequency. You can’t expect to turn a $5 one-time donor into a $10,000 monthly donor, but you CAN align your request for donations with their previous behavior to get a $10 one-time donation instead of a $5 one.
So, Define “Political”
It’s another article in the debate around political ads online. (Cliff Notes version: Twitter has banned them, Google’s made changes and Facebook is, well, still deciding). In this article, Axios provides an interesting take on why this whole issue is fraught: What even defines “political” in the first place? As someone who works on a lot of “political” issues — environment, healthcare, education — but not actual campaigns, I’m often bumping up against these regulations.
What’s Behind Those Data Headaches
Many of my clients have the same problem: they have so much data, but they can’t seem to take those numbers and turn them into, say, a better digital fundraising strategy or improvements to their website design. This article explains where many people get tripped up. Data can backfire if we’re not utilizing it properly. Because even the right data points don’t tell us what’s causing the results we see. This article lays out a few common reasons why many organizations can’t seem to move beyond tracking numbers and into understanding what, why and how things are happening.