Your nonprofit website's ability to convert visitors should be top of mind for program managers, fundraisers and executive directors. When you use Google Analytics, you'll have true visibility into what your visitors do online. Don't get trapped in endless meetings where your team argues about web site design issues! With Google Analytics you'll be armed with the information you need to change your website to drive conversion.
Q: If we have existing analytics, can we add Google analytics simultaneously?
Absolutely! Many organizations are using a paid service and Google Analytics in tandem. You might want to investigate if your CMS (content management system) for your website already has an analytics package built in. Your team might be using a different service to track specific metrics that are not captured by Google Analytics, or to validate what is produced from Google.
If you are getting reports from more than one analytics source, they may not deliver identical numbers. Don't worry, you don't need to nitpick small deviations. Keep overall trends and top-level numbers in mind so you can see the big picture.
Q: How do I find the keyword section of Google Analytics to see what keywords people used to find us?
You will find the list of keywords from search engines under Traffic Sources > Keywords. These keywords are what your visitors searched before they were directed to your web site.
When you access the list of keywords, you can also see related statistics telling you how long a visitor spent on your site or how many pages were subsequently visited. A high "bounce rate" tells you that whatever the individual was originally searching for using that word, they didn't find it on your site.
Q: Is it better to be very broad with keywords and have higher site traffic at the expense of higher bounce rates? How do you balance this?
If the broad keywords you are using in your headers, tags, meta information or adwords are bringing in higher site traffic but visitors are not completing your goals, that's your answer right there!
At the end of the day, you want to think of your web site as a machine to drive conversion. Keep an eye on Google Analytics to see if niche or targeted keywords are more effective at converting visitors to one of the actions on your site.
If you are bidding on keywords through the Google Adwords paid service, you can also track the visitors from that program to see if they are completing goals on your site.
Q: Is it better to have more clicks (less copy per page) if you are keeping buttons/links toward the top in prime real estate?
We believe that in general, web copy should be short, and number of clicks to complete an action even shorter - but this one of those truisms that is very easy to test on the Web!
While we always recommend that donation forms reduce the amount of copy pushing actionable items down the page, you can use Google Analytics to see how your content and links perform in different variations.
Remember, the only benchmark that matters is how your supporters respond to your website. It doesn't matter how Nike or MTV are building their web sites.
Google Website Optimizer is a great free tool for experiments like these. Website Optimizer will allow you to set up two versions of a page with different content (an A/B test) and evaluate how they perform.
If you don't want to create different versions of content pages, you can always use the Google Analytics site overlay tool to give you a visual picture of where people are clicking in your "prime real estate" and headers. If the amount of traffic to those areas is not what you expected, you can make changes to see if you can increase your conversion. Access this through Content > Site Overlay.
Q: Can you recommend certain custom reports that would be helpful to set up in Google Analytics?
Advanced Segments & Custom Reports let you group certain types of visits together, to keep track of questions you want to answer. For instance: "How many of my visitors on mobile devices began or completed one of my goals?" or "What kinds of keywords are used to find my site in different provinces or states?"
When thinking about making a report or segment, don't worry about what numbers you want to crunch. Instead, think about what questions you want to answer. What questions will help your organization improve conversion?
It's also useful to ask your colleagues what questions they have that can be answered by Google Analytics. For instance, does your corporate team want to know how often a sponsorship page is viewed during a critical event period?
Does your marketing team want to know how much referral traffic comes from social media sites? The most useful reports are the ones that serve your organization's unique goals.
Q: How do you get "bots" to stop clicking on donate etc. as this can mess up your stats?
It's annoying when bots try to complete your newsletter sign-ups, comment fields or donation forms!
We recommend the use of CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) on forms. This is the image of scrambled letters or numbers that users are asked to correctly reproduce before submitting information.
Many donation service providers will include this option in their software's configuration. For blogs, wikis, forums and comment fields, the Askimet plug-in might be very helpful.
As for statistics, many search indexing and spam bots crawling your site are already excluded in the numbers you see inside Google Analytics.
Q: With the increase use of mobile devices, what do we need to keep in mind when designing sites?
One easy thing Google Analytics can do is tell you what kind of mobile devices are accessing your site, and where those visitors are coming from. In Google Analytics, access Visitors and then the Mobile tab. You can also look at Visitors > Browser Capabilities to see operating systems. We think the number of visitors on iPad and smartphones might surprise you!
Remember that a lot of mobile traffic is driven by email. Your supporters read an email from your organization on a mobile device and then are prompted by the content to click on a link back to your site through their mobile web browser. The link they access might not be your home page, but an internal page. If your e-newsletters have "web versions," how do they look on mobile browsers? How does a flash-heavy or image-intensive web page look on a smartphone?
A good place to start when considering how to optimize your site is to think about how your e-newsletters and emails look on mobile devices like iPhones and Blackberries. We often see solicitations sent out by organizations that have not tested the email on mobile devices around the office. That's where grabbing a few devices for a quick test comes in handy!
For most organizations, a complete website overhaul for mobile optimization is unnecessary and costly. Do you have a easy way for the most important things on your website to be accessed through a mobile device? Once you've decided what are critical activities on your web site and identified those goals, you can think about how to optimize those pieces for mobile visitors.
If you typically direct traffic from email newsletters or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to your organization's blog, there are plug-ins you can easily add to your blog that will automatically detect smartphone browsers and present a mobile-optimized version of the page.
Q: Where can I get more information about using Google Anayltics?