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Measuring the Influence of Local Organizations Entails Multiple Metrics

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Local marketing channels are difficult to scale, and they’re even harder to measure. (No wonder automation is taking over.) When every city is a unique marketplace, understanding the scope of individual organizations is a complex process. Local partnerships can be even more involved, since they encompass multiple touch points: in-person branding, social media marketing, etc. And a measurement of their mark on a city needs to include each of these metrics.

If local partnerships are a channel, local reach is their measure. By devising a method to understand the amplification of local organizations, we’re able to see which cities, missions and organization types work best for a particular partnership.

At ZipSprout, to solve this problem, we created a Reach Score. We incorporated Domain Authority, Facebook & Twitter following, email newsletter subscribers and event attendees into the score, on a scale of 1-100, and provide rank alongside other organizations in the same metro area.

This score has brought forth interesting findings, not only for individual organizations, but also for understanding how types of local nonprofits and events weave their way into the fabric of various cities. For the purposes of this article, we’re looking at Reach Scores in Houston, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham and Boston.

Local reach quantifies a city’s culture

Reach Score provides a way to view the culture of a city. In all four cities, some entities, like the Parks and Recreation Department and local government organizations, had high reach – an average score of 59 and 69, respectively. But not all organization types garner the same reach in every city. Based on our sponsorship pricing data, local music ensembles are relatively inexpensive to sponsor in Raleigh-Durham, Chicago and Houston, but these same organizations are incredibly expensive in Boston. And their reach is significantly higher in the Houston and Boston metro areas.

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At the same time, Chicago’s theatre groups are more in number, and each with higher reach, than in the other cities. Like Boston’s music ensembles, theatres have a big stamp on certain places. If you’re looking for eyeballs in Chicagoland, this is a good trend to keep in mind.

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Reach doesn’t always correlate with cost

In fact, we found no correlation between Reach Score and cost. If anything, like the museums and music ensembles, some organizations with a trendier appeal are more likely to be expensive to sponsor than more practical organizations.

Chambers of Commerce, Public Libraries and Museums had the highest reach scores across all cities, perhaps because they’re seen as city institutions, more so than independent nonprofits. But while museums are some of the most expensive organizations to sponsor, Chambers of Commerce are often among the least expensive. There may be a branding appeal here – it could be that museums seem cooler than Chambers, and, therefore, attract a larger host of donors. But Chambers of Commerce put on a ton of local events in most cities, often unbranded. Their events may be less swanky, but they attract true locals, and often business owners.

Reach can stand for a variety of strengths

For many organizations, a high (or low) reach score correlated with a similarly strong domain authority, social following and event attendance. Parent-teacher associations and homeowners associations had the lowest average reach score across all cities – 20 and 25, respectively. But the ‘audiences’ these organizations serve are highly specific and targeted.

Local businesses near a particular neighborhood have every reason to sponsor an HOA event. Likewise, brands who serve parents of school-aged children, such as local childcare providers, or birthday party centers, have every reason to partner with PTAs. Low reach may mean a smaller audience, but if it’s the audience you’re looking for, that may be the best tactic.

Reach, locally

No scoring system can replace a dynamic programmatic algorithm. But the local ecosystem is different from any other channel – it’s fragmented and diverse, but it also reaches engaged, specific audiences. Finding aggregated ways to measure local impact beyond website authority allows brands to scale local, strategically.

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