Digital Benchmarks: Time for a Gut Check

Digital this. Digital that. Digital everything. We know advancement shops coast to coast are working hard to figure out, harness and grow their digital footprint.

How can you be sure that you’ve done a good job of spreading your social-media wings and are flying high into the digital sky? Examining your own internal metrics from before and after you switch up your strategy or tried something new is a great place to start. But maybe you want more. Maybe you want some reassurance that your organization is in the rarified air with the truly digital enlightened.

Here’s a way to do just that. But first, a quick caveat.

Benchmarks can be great. It’s helpful to know if you’re leading the charge, progressing nicely or falling behind your field. (Huge however coming up in 3, 2, 1…)

HOWEVER, getting caught up constantly comparing what your school is doing to what’s going on at other institutions is the slipperiest of slopes. It’s all too easy to start feeling like you’re not keeping up or doing things as well as someone else. Looking over your shoulder all the time will slow you down or, even worse, stop you in your tracks completely.

Quickly checking in in with benchmarks like the ones below are great as long as they’re just that, quick. Just be sure not to measure yourself against them daily or even weekly.

Alright, caveat complete.

CASE recently released a comprehensive study on the digital presence of advancement offices and higher ed as a whole. They surveyed a whole bunch of schools of all shapes and sizes and asked them about every aspect of their digital strategy.

The results, especially Figure 8, can give you a good gut check on how your organization is doing when it comes to digital. With a quick scan, you’ll see how many institutions have adopted certain tactics and, based on the feedback, how difficult an undertaking CASE believes it to be.

How do you stack up?

Alright. Now you’ve got some digital benchmarks. What should you do with them, exactly?

Pick Some Low-Hanging Fruit

If you take one look at this and realize your advancement organization is absolutely killing it, way to go. Have a snack and briefly congratulate yourself. And if not, definitely do not freak out. There’s lots of low-hanging fruit on this list. Start posting about upcoming events on all your social channels. Dig in to your social media data a little bit more. Each platform provides its own reporting, or you can use services like Sprout or HubSpot to aggregate it all.

Set Your Next Goal

We’re never done exploring what we can do with digital. If you’ve stagnated a bit and aren’t sure where to go next, we get it. Happens to the best of us. What strategy can you get off the ground next? Take look at these benchmarks for an idea of what project to tackle next. Maybe that’s finally committing to the video strategy that’s never moved past the brainstorm stage. Or maybe, if you’re feeling super ambitious, it’s opening lines of communication to truly bring cross-functional teams to life.

Whatever you end up doing, make sure to take a deep breath and relax. Digital benchmarks like these aren’t meant to freak you out. No matter where you are in comparison to other schools, everyone has room to improve and grow. Use this is a chance to honestly assess where you’re at and prioritize what makes the most sense for your team, both in terms of what could have the biggest impact and what your personnel can realistically take on.

Still not sure where to start? We get it. Here are six ways to shake up your social game and engage with more prospects.