Measuring the Success of Your Nonprofit Website with Google Analytics
Driving awareness, donations, and growing your audience are key components of any nonprofit organization’s website. If you’re successfully doing these things (and you need to be), then the next logical step is in getting a deeper understanding of where your success comes from.
One of the most fundamental ways we can do this is to install and set up a sensible web analytics platform to study our web traffic. By utilizing web analytics, a nonprofit organization can dissect how they’re achieving their goals. Over time we will start to see trends, and we will start to see changes in the way our target audience reaches us and interacts with us.
Google Analytics: Getting Started
Probably the most used web analytics platform for any organization, including nonprofits, is Google Analytics. It’s a free, web-based solution. All you need is a Google Account, and you’re on your way. Google Analytics excels at several of the most important facets of web analytics. Out of the box, by simply pasting a snippet of code in the footer of your website, you can begin to track visits, page views, geography, and advertising effectiveness.
Setting Goals and Funnels
There’s one particular function that makes Google Analytics really shine. The functionality is called goals and funnels, and it will have the biggest impact on understanding where our online success comes from. By properly setting up goals (which could include making a donation, signing up for a newsletter, or simply reading critical content on our web site) and then building a funnel, we can effectively watch visitors complete each step in the process of completing those actions. Goal funnels show us where our process breaks down, where our potential donors and advocates are failing to move towards the actions we want them to complete.
For example, if one of our social media campaigns directs people to a specific landing page, we set that as step one of the funnel. Of course, we’ll have a strong call-to-action on this page, such as, “Subscribe to Our Newsletter.” When they click subscribe button, they’ll be taken to a form to fill out. The page containing the form is step two of our funnel. Upon successfully completing the form, they’ll be taken to a confirmation and thank you page.
This last page is designated as our goal page. When the visitor sees this page, the successful goal completion is triggered. As these events occur over time will start to see funnels in Google Analytics that look like the one below.
Understanding the Results
Through goals and funnels, we can see what percentage of visitors complete each step. If 60 percent of people make it to step two, but only five percent carry on to the goal completion page and successfully subscribe, we might want to think about what’s on the second page in the process. We may decide to redesign our web form. Perhaps there are too many fields, or the page is just somehow visually unappealing.
Over time you’ll set up many goals and many funnels. Some might be based on donations and some might just be a succession of pages you really want your visitors to read. I encourage you to use funnels, and to be sure to study the results. It’s through study and understanding that your nonprofit organization can utilize web analytics to its fullest and achieve success online.