Analytics Let You Measure Your Website’s Reach and Impact
By Nancy Schwartz

Nancy Schwartz
Nancy Schwartz
Nonprofits need to make sure their web presence is accomplishing their marketing goals. Analytics help them determine how users find their site, how they become engaged, and what spurs them to take action and truly engage.

With these core insights, you can begin to consistently quantify site performance and usage, build your understanding of how or if your site or blog is achieving communications goals, and determine approaches for course correction if necessary.

Using a program like Google Analytics, it takes one to two hours to set up a usage measurement tool. Like similar programs, Google Analytics offers dozens of metrics and reports, but don’t be sidetracked by bells and whistles when you’re thinking about measuring the impact of your website. Instead, start with your desired outcomes. Your goals for your site will pinpoint the metrics that matter.

First steps:
  1. Define your site’s goals.
  2. Pinpoint measurable objectives that will demonstrate movement towards those goals.
  3. Identify, as specifically as possible, the target audiences you need to engage to meet your objectives.
For Google Analytics, set up is four quick steps:
  1. Set up an analytics account (you’ll need a Google account).
  2. Insert the tracking code that’s generated into every single page on your site and/or post on your blog. (If you need help with this, ask your website developer or IT consultant.)
  3. To track conversions—the page a user gets to only when they’ve taken a key action such as making a donation or providing information to get a free research report—set up goals and insert a unique conversion code on the goal (or “end result”) page. A common goal page is your donation thank-you page. Then, track where these users came from (such as another page on your site, a Google ad, or a link on a colleague organization’s site), the time of day they visited, and how long they stayed on your site. This pathway is called the “funnel.”
  4. Set up a scannable “dashboard” highlighting key stats.
Seven Fixed Metrics
1. Keywords: What top 20 words and phrases (keywords) do your users enter into Google or other search engines that drive them to your site?

It’s often difficult to understand why people come to your site. By focusing on keywords, you can discern what led them there. Once you know, then build your traffic by catering to users’ interests. Develop more content related to these terms for your site and begin using these terms more frequently (within reason, search engines can smell manipulation from a mile away).

Next, input one of these terms into a Google and Yahoo search to see where your nonprofit shows up in the list of search results. If your website doesn’t come up on the first page when you search on these terms, do more search engine optimization (SEO) to move up the list. (See “SEO Tips for Beginners”

If these terms are not aligned with your organization’s focus and/or communications goals, revise your content to reflect the words and phrases that are central to your organization’s agenda and promote your site to drive interested users your way.

2. Top referring web addresses: Which websites your users are coming from? If you have not initiated a relationship with the top 10 referring sites, do it now. These are your friends.

Similarly, if you see sites that should be sending you traffic but aren’t, contact them to form an alliance and discuss linking to your site.

3. Top 10 pages visited (a.k.a. content popularity): Why are users coming to your site?

After determining the ten most popular pages, making sure you link out from other pages in your site to what you consider your key content from the top ten.

Look at conversion rates on these pages. If they’re not good (2% or more), then adjust the graphic and/or narrative elements on the conversion (e.g. subscribing to emails, downloading or contacting you via an email link or form).

Are your site users aren’t getting to the pages that are most vital to your nonprofit marketing success? If not, revise the content, SEO elements, and/or site architecture for those must-see pages and link to them from your most-visited pages.

4. Percentage of site visitors who visit the home page: You may find that it doesn’t make sense to focus too much on your home page because most users are entering the site not through the home page, but through another page of your site via a search engine or link from another organization’s site.

Knowing home page usage levels enables you to better calibrate the resources dedicated to your homepage versus most-used internal pages. In many cases, sites spend far too much effort on their home page and far too little on popular internal pages.

5. Site bounce rate: How many visitors stay on your site just for a few seconds, never becoming engaged? For most nonprofits, 35-50% of visitors do spend more than a few seconds.

Before you can put this info to use, determine how long a user has to be on your site to be considered engaged. Ask a few people to run through a typical scenario on your site (such as making an online donation or finding program information), and time the process.

Then, dig deeper to identify which referring keywords and inbound links (web addresses linking to your site) generate traffic with high bounce rates. This is traffic you don’t want. De-emphasize these keywords in site content and tags.

Visit these referring sites to ensure you’re linked to in a way that accurately reflects your site content. If not, request a correction and provide a more effective blurb to make it easy to change.

6. Conversion Rate (goals and funnel): What is the percentage of site users who “convert” by subscribing to e-alerts, making a donation, or concerting in other ways? The standard conversion rate for nonprofits is 2%.

Make sure to track how many users reach your donation page and what percentage of them make a donation. This will reveal which marketing channel (your organization’s e-news, links from colleague organizations or the Google Ads you just launched last month) produces the majority of your conversions. Then you can focus on those and cut the non-performers.

In Google Analytics, the “conversion funnel” report reveals the pathways to and through your site that are most likely to lead users to conversion.

7. Most Frequently Searched for Keywords: What are users looking for within your organization’s site?

Make keywords more prominent in core content elements (home page, headlines, sub-heads and site menu) and title tags.

Nancy E. Schwartz specializes in nonprofit marketing and is publisher of Getting Attention newsletter. She can be reached at Copyright 2011 and reprinted with permission of Getting Attention.
April 2011