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Your Acquisition Reporting Suite

advertising strategy attribution media buying Aug 21, 2023

When I dig into opportunities to improve a client's acquisition pipeline, the first thing I look at is whether they're properly set up to report on number of new constituents acquired -- instead of just cash acquired each year.

The reason for this is simple: You'll be better able to make the case for added investment if you can showcase the long-term value of people you're bringing in the door instead of looking specifically at short-term dollars. Additionally, you'll be better able to understand the ratio at which you should set up a sustainer or subscriber model versus a 1x ask dependent on how quickly each will break even. I find often that many digital acquisition programs lack this level of insight.

This strategic view requires a dedicated reporting suite so you can validate the assumptions we make early on in establishing your program, but this set of reports is valuable regardless for any new or growing digital program.

If you don't already have these reports in place, start now:

  • New vs. returning audience cohort report: Your biggest opportunity point will always be an analysis of how many new versus retained audiences your digital efforts are recruiting or renewing/upgrading. This missing data is critical to knowing whether your acquisition or retention-level efforts need to be optimized.
  • 1x vs. subscriber/sustainer report: For similar reasons as the above, breaking conversion reporting down to this level helps you understand your conversion funnel and assists you in long-term forecasting. With this view, you'll also be able to demonstrate, for example, how the long-term value of your audiences changes with subsequent giving and retention factored in for committed audiences like monthly donors or subscribers. While they may be more expensive to acquire in the short-term and come in at lower conversion values, they grow in revenue value over time and that may be worth a strategic shift.
  • Subsequent giving report: For any paid media investments, you need to be able to understand exactly which transactions you're attributing so that you can understand how cohorts you acquire via paid efforts retain over time. This cohort-level reporting is valuable for any set of constituents, but in the paid media space, it's especially helpful to being able to establish the ongoing case for investment. If you're working with a vendor, you should set them up with the expectation that they provide you with transaction-level information regarding which conversions they've attributed to their efforts (this requires some effort and data-share on your end and should be part of your vendor onboarding process). On your end, you should establish quarterly schedule to review subsequent giving and retention patterns of paid media donors. What you’re looking for:
    • Where are donors giving their second gift after being acquired online? (i.e. paid media, email, direct mail?)
    • What is the average 1st and 2nd year retention rate of donors acquired via paid media? Does this vary based on acquisition channel? (for example, are there differences between display and paid media giving?)
    • How does average gift level change in a donor’s 2nd and 3rd, etc gift? Is this growing in value as estimated?
  • Creative report: Media creative reporting often shines a light on immediate-term metrics (clicks, impressions, etc), but at least quarterly, you should be evaluating creative by its power to drive conversion-level activities as well.
  • Aided conversions report: Your media team should be charged with providing insights on the impact of upper-funnel brand efforts on lower-funnel conversion efforts. For example, does paid search interest vary when CTV ads are in-market? Each channel's reporting should help you establish the known value of investment on your bottom line.


When you're ready, I can help you set up the infrastructure for ongoing support:

>> Book 1:1 help to formulate your action plan or discuss a strategic objective.

>> Contact me about ongoing support with financial projections, board relationships, blended investment planning, and more.


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