Google Analytics – Where Should We Start?
Free to use and incredibly comprehensive, Google Analytics is one of the best data collecting tools available for nonprofits. But with that immense amount of information comes with it a problem – many small nonprofits aren’t getting the most out of the platform. Here, we break down some steps to help get you more acclimated to the tool.
Know the basics
An important first step includes understanding the terminology. We’ve captured some of the more important phrases:
Visits vs. Unique Visitors – Visits references the number of times that your website has been accessed; unique visitors identifies all non-duplicate visits to your site (calculated through cookies). It is important to monitor both features.
Bounce Rate – Percentage of visits to that page where your visitors leave your site immediately; also to be considered pages that are being found that the visitor does not find valuable.
Referral vs. Organic – Used in reference to traffic sources, referrals coming from other websites or links (Facebook, partner organizations, email links, purchased ads) whereas organic is through individuals typing in your URL directly or through search engines
(not provided) – Becoming more and more of a problem for Google Analytics, this designation represents individuals who are finding your site through search but do not allow Google to track their search terms, demographics, and other biographical information. A limiting factor in understanding more about your audience.
Less is more
Because Google Analytics can track so much information, it is important to not focus on too much too soon. Pick 4-5 metrics that you will follow in order to assess your websites performance. Important metrics include: number of visitors, mobile visitors, number of pageviews, duration of visit, referral traffic sources, and page bounce rates.
Create a baseline
Before making any changes to content or outreach efforts, monitor your analytics for at least two months to understand how users are currently finding and interacting with your website. With this information in hand, you will have a better understanding of potential changes you could make to improve performance.
Skipping this step, or making changes based on anecdotal evidence or assumptions, can dilute the efficacy of capturing this data.
Important for any communication process, setting goals is key for monitoring your website performance as it brings more meaning than simply tracking data.
You can even set these goals within the Google Analytics platform. When setting goals, you can also determine what you consider to be the monetary value of that goal. If it is visiting a survey or donate page, this is easier to calculate. But by setting value to your goals, it helps make them mean more than just another metric to track.
Don’t let the size and scope of what the Google Analytics platform can provide discourage you from taking advantage of its benefits. By starting small, and focusing on key areas of interest, you will learn valuable information about how your audience uses your services, and where you can make structural or communication changes to broaden your appeal.
Below are a few of our favorite links from the week! Check out our Tumblr for additional content.
- The New York Times has an interesting long-form read on the challenges and success of the nonprofit organization, D-Rev.
- #fundchat had great content this week that will help get 2014 to a strong start. The transcript from this week’s #fundchat discusses strategies to improve your donor retention. Mary Cahalane also kicks off a series on the best stolen fundraising ideas.
- Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, discusses why he started using Twitter and the impact of that digital engagement.
- As rates of email consumption on mobile devices increases, incorporating mobile email strategy into your eCommunications campaigns is critical. Chief Marketer highlights the issue.
- The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s nonprofit survey always provides great data that helps to assess our sector. If you work at a nonprofit, don’t forget to fill out the survey. It takes only 10-15 minutes to fill out, and all responses remain anonymous.
- Finally, we want to highlight our friends at the Off/Page Project. They are doing an Instagram campaign in honor of MLK. Check out the campaign and please share with folks that you think would like to take part!