Evaluating supporters' online engagement with Salsa scoring for National Physicians Alliance

Evaluating supporters' online engagement with Salsa scoring for National Physicians Alliance

PowerThru Consulting has been helping our client NPA utilize Salsa Classic’s Scoring module for several years to evaluate their supporters’ engagement levels.

The National Physicians Alliance creates research and education programs that promote active engagement of health care providers with their communities to achieve high quality, affordable health care for all. The NPA offers a professional home to physicians across medical specialties who share a commitment to professional integrity and health justice. They came to PowerThru looking for some simple help sorting out donations in their Salsa installation. But when we started working together on how to not only track, but increase, their donation rates and averages — the NPA got more than they hoped for.

Today, PowerThru helps build them innovative tools and online actions – like their campaign to protect physicians’ free speech – that have boosted donation rates, added new members and made them a more visible and powerful organization than ever. We’ve helped them grow their presence on social media to spread their message as well. Here’s more about how we use Salsa scoring to evaluate their supporters.

Initially, we had created an aggregate Salsa scoring algorithm that would give a single value based on several different types of activities in Salsa Classic – signups, actions, donations, emails, etc. That algorithm was configured as follows:

Reference Name Category Object Column Multiplier Expiration (days) Minimum value Halflife (days)
sign up Normal supporter 2 365 0 180
online action Normal supporter_action 1 180 0.05 60
letters to the editor Normal supporter_letter 1.5 180 0.1 60
event Normal supporter_event 5 365 2 180
Donations Normal donation 10 365 5 180
donation amount Fixed Value donation amount 0.1 730 0 365
email opens Fixed Value supporter_email_statistics open_percentage 0.1 60 0 30

While this algorithm is good for simple targeting of the most active members, by lumping different types of activities together it doesn’t allow the NPA to do more sophisticated targeting — such as people who have taken many actions but have not donated. For that reason we recently implemented a system where we track scores on three different, separate algorithms for donations, actions and emails.


Reference Name Category Object Column Multiplier Expiration (days) Minimum value Halflife (days)
Actions Normal supporter_action 2 365 1 365
LTE Normal supporter_letter 2 365 1 365
Campaigns Normal supporter_campaign 2 365 1 365
Old Petition Normal supporter_petition 2 365 1 365
TAFs Normal supporter_invite 1 365 0.5 365
Event Registration Normal supporter_event 10 365 5 365

This algorithm gives points for each type of action someone can take in Salsa and then degrades them after 1 year to ½ of their original value, but still keeps a residual value, allowing us to give more weight to recent action takers but still keep a pretty high value for past action takers.


Reference Name Category Object Column Multiplier Expiration (days) Minimum value Halflife (days)
Donation Made Normal donation 10 365 5 180
Donation Amounts Fixed Value donation amount 1 365 0.5 180

This algorithm gives 10 points each time someone makes a donation, as well as a point per dollar they donate. The goal here is to give a pretty high value to recurring donors — while they may not have as high value of donation as some one-time donors, they get 10 points each time their monthly donation is made.


Reference Name Category Object Column Multiplier Expiration (days) Minimum value Halflife (days)
Emails clicked Fixed Value supporter_email_statistics emails_clicked 3 365 0 180
Emails opened Fixed Value supporter_email_statistics emails_opened 1 365 0 180

This algorithm is pretty simple – 3 points each time an email is clicked and 1 point each time one is opened, reflecting the relative importance of each activity.

Using these three algorithms, the NPA can target for fundraising those supporters who have a high activism and/or email score but a low (or no) donation score by setting up a query such as:

Supporters with Activism Algorithm > 10 AND Donation Algorithm = 0 OR Email Algorithm > 30 AND Donation Algorithm = 0.

Note that determining which scores to use for these queries is a little bit trial-and-error – we usually run them, see how many people we get back in the query results, and them tweak the numbers to get an appropriately large universe.

We also use these scoring algorithms to produce two types of monthly reports for the NPA. One gives a breakdown of the number of supporters who have a particular score range that month, and how that compares to the month before. For example (note – real numbers changed):

Score Current Month – # of Supporters with Score Range Change from Last Report
<1 1 0
1 100 0
1-5 500 18
5-10 300 -8
10-50 100 -6
50-100 10 -1
100-1000 1 0
>1000 0 0

The second gives the score for each supporter on each algorithm, allowing them to see people who could be ripe for fundraising solicitations — who have high activism or email scores but low donation scores.

Total Scores Composite Algorithm Donation Algorithm Activism Algorithm Email Algorithm supporter_KEY First_Name Last_Name Email Etc…
33030.00 3015.00 30015.00
27510.00 2505.00 25005.00
25922.16 2514.77 23246.37 59.02 102.00
21297.58 2154.69 18870.36 43.54 229.00
16524.44 1511.39 15010.00 2.05 1.00
16520.00 1510.00 15010.00
11353.51 1133.25 10104.00 34.26 82.00
11258.00 1242.59 9572.00 302.41 141.00
10860.02 1156.95 9634.37 50.70 18.00

Another great use of Salsa Scoring is to create an “embargo” group for new supporters receiving a welcome series.

The National Physicians Alliance also wanted to implement a best practice for their new signups to their email list – start by sending them a series of emails introducing them to the organization before starting to send them the general stream of communication. Putting that in place involved a few steps:

–      Creating a set of email reply triggers with a condition of “Is New == 1.” That way only people who are new signups to Salsa will receive those messages.

–      Configure one of those triggers to be an immediate reply, and the other two to go 1 week and 2 weeks later, respectively.

–      Adding those three email triggers to every signup, action, donation, etc. pages that they create.

–      Creating a Salsa scoring algorithm that would give people 14 points when they first signed up and depreciate that value down to 0 after 14 days.

–      Add a condition to their email blasts of “AND Welcome Series Embargo Score = 0” to only capture those people whose score had degraded to 0, thereby indicating that they had been in the database for at least 14 days.

That scoring algorithm in Salsa looks like this:


Reference Name Category Object Column Multiplier Expiration (days) Minimum value Halflife (days)
Signup Normal supporter 14 14 0 7


Have more questions or need help using Salsa scoring for your organization? Contact PowerThru.


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