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I’ll be the first to admit it – we’re kind of nerds over here at Mittun. Sure, we can pretend we’re cool for staying on top of the trends and designs. But man, do we love data, and no one does data better than Google Analytics for nonprofits. That’s why we want to give you a guide on how to harness this powerful and free tool for your nonprofit.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. By tracking every visit, it allows you to understand your visitor’s behavior and experience. You can measure the quality of your content, know which devices your pages are being viewed on, and much, much more that will help you achieve your goals. But with all the other tools out there, what makes Google Analytics so great?

It gives you a holistic view of your website.

Your website is the hub of your digital presence, so analyzing its performance is the best way for you to understand your marketing efforts.

It’s all based on data.

Anecdotal evidence can be misleading. By looking at the actual data to see what’s working and what’s not, your nonprofit can put energy where it will be the most effective.

It’s automatic.

Once you have the tracking code on your site, it automatically collects the data for you. No more archaic spreadsheets prone to human error.

It’s customizable.

Google Analytics offers several templates for reports that you can use, but you can also customize the reports so you can see what is most important to your nonprofit.

It’s totally free.

There are a lot of tools out there marketed towards nonprofit organizations, but Google does it best. And Google does it for free.

Before you begin…

Google makes it simple to get started. There are only a few simple steps you need to take to get your account set-up, but to truly be effective with Google Analytics, you need to spend some time brainstorming what you need it to do for your nonprofit.

Google Analytics Definition: Property

This is the collection point for all the data from a site. If you have multiple websites, you could have a single Google Analytics account with multiple properties.

How to sign up

If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, here’s how you go about signing up:

  1. Create a Google Analytics account
  2. Set up a property in your account
  3. Add the tracking code to your website

You may need a developer to add the tracking code to your website to ensure that it is on every single page. Once the tracking code is there, Google Analytics will start gathering data from that point forward. So while it will take some time before you are able to start tracking trends, the process has been set in motion.

What are your goals?

Google Analytics is a seriously powerful tool. If you dive in without an idea of what you want to get out of it, it is going to be overwhelming. So before you begin, think about your main goals for the website.

Do you want to increase donations?
Are you trying to ramp up registration for a big event?
Do you need more volunteers?

These goals might change over time, and that is fine. But make sure you are approaching Google Analytics to find answers to a question you already have in mind.

Get the most out of Google Analytics for your nonprofit

Have we mentioned Google Analytics for nonprofits is incredibly powerful? The amount of data it captures is intense. Honestly, it is probably a lot more than you will ever need at a given moment. But if you understand these basics, you will be able to navigate the mountains of data to find the gold that will guide your marketing and outreach efforts.

Choose your KPIs

Creating goals and choosing your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is an important step in the process. Google Analytics gives you a ton of data, and unless you can determine how you are going to measure your results, it’ll just look like a jumble of numbers. But in the context of KPIs, you can effectively interpret them and take action on what they are telling you.

Since you have already determined your goals, you can now brainstorm which metrics (page views, form submissions, etc.) will help you determine if you’re meeting each goal.

Find your referrals

Do you know how visitors are finding your site? This is incredibly helpful in determining your digital marketing efforts. Knowing if they are coming from a Google search, email, social media page or somewhere else can help you determine which efforts are working, what can be improved upon, and which ones might be dead ends for your organization.

For example, let’s say you send out an email to all your supporters. You could head over to Google Analytics to determine how many people clicked a link in the email that directed them to your site. Then, cross-referencing it with donation trends will help you determine just how effective your emails are.

Knowing this kind of information allows you to more strategically spend your time (and dollars) where it counts.

Understand their engagement

Google Analytics doesn’t just tell you how they found your site. It tells you what they did once they were in. You can see which pages they looked at, how long they stayed on each one, and what path they took as they navigated through the site. Knowing exactly how your audience is engaging with your site can help you with the conversion rates of your goals.

Finetune your SEO

When visitors find you via a search engine, you can actually see what keywords they used when they came across your site. Are they searching relevant keywords and finding what they need on your site? Or are they landing on your page because a keyphrase is misdirecting them, and bouncing? Knowing not just what words people are using to find your site, but also which keywords mean they are sticking around can help you determine your SEO strategy.

Set up your goals

I know, I know. We already talked about defining your goals in the previous section. But like I keep saying, Google Analytics is *the* analytics tool, and they know that defining goals are a fundamental component of any digital marketing plan. You can set up a goal in your dashboard to track specific interactions on your website. This could be form submissions, donations, or any other conversion that will help you measure your success.

Google Analytics Definition: KPI

Key Performance Indicator – a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective. KPIs provide targets to shoot for, milestones to gauge progress, and insights that help the organization make better decisions

Google Analytics Definition: Referral

A referral is reported when a visitor clicks to your website from another third-party website. The referrals report allows you to see all of the websites (by domain) that are sending you traffic.

Google Analytics Definition: Bounce

A bounce is reported when a visitor’s session only contains a single pageview. The idea is that someone comes to your website and they ‘bounce’ away and leave after only viewing a single page.

Google Analytics Definition: Conversion

A conversion is reported whenever a visitor completes a goal during a session.

Put it into action

So we’ve gone over how to get started with Google Analytics and a high level overview of how to use it. We’ve got a few definitions under our belts and some homework to do (do you have your goals defined yet?). Now let’s take a look at a few real world examples of how Google Analytics for nonprofits can be a game-changer.

Increase awareness

Most people don’t become donors or volunteers after their very first visit to your site. They need to learn about your organization and decide they trust it enough to offer it their time and money, which can take some time. While you should always be nurturing the relationship you have with existing supporters, knowing that new donors take time to develop is why you also need to ensure that your awareness-building efforts are working too.

Google Analytics Definition: Landing Page

A landing page is the first page a visitor viewed during a session – the entrance page.
SUPPORTING METRICS

New visitors

An uptick in new visitors means your efforts are working. By digging deeper down this path, you can see exactly where this new traffic is coming from. Google Analytics will show you who is referring new visitors.

Landing pages

The home page isn’t necessarily the first place people look when they land on your site. Knowing which pages are most popular landing pages will let you know what the community is most interested in or in need of.

How’s your homepage?

That being said, a brand new visitor who is exploring will likely head to the homepage eventually. Check the bounce rate and user journey of the home page to make sure it is a good guide for increasing awareness.

Increase donations

It is no secret that online fundraising is vital to a nonprofit’s success. I would bet that nearly every nonprofit looking at Google Analytics to improve the productivity of their site included “increase donations” as one of their goals. 

While a great design is essential for a good donation page, how will you know? Design is often subjective. The data is not. Google Analytics can help you tweak and refine many aspects of your website to ensure that when they land on your donation page, they feel comfortable with their decision to give.

Google Analytics Definition: eCommerce Conversion

Each transaction (i.e.: donation) is given an ID which is sent to Google Analytics using a special ecommerce tracking code to capture specific information. Learn how to set up eCommerce tracking on your site.
SUPPORTING METRICS

Behavior Tab

This is where you can track the flow of pages a visitor goes through before landing on the donation page. How did they end up on your donation page, or where did they go after? Knowing what inspired them to click “Donate” can be helpful in determining which of your pages are the most effective.

eCommerce Tracking

This is not just for businesses. When nonprofits use eCommerce conversions in Google Analytics to track donations, it gives insights into valuable data. You can learn which sources drive the most transactions to your site, time between first visit and donation, and tons of demographic information about the donors.

How’s your donation page?

Once they have reached the donation page, what do they do next? Check the bounce rate and make sure nothing on the page is confusing or distracting from the goal. While not every visit to the page will result in a goal conversion, you can get insight into how to build trust with each visitor.

Increase volunteer engagement

Sure you could just count how many volunteers you have or how many hours have been spent volunteering, but with Google Analytics, you can gauge how interest in volunteering is trending and how to more effectively engage volunteers when necessary. Similar to data surrounding your donors, you can dig into the metrics surrounding potential volunteers.

SUPPORTING METRICS

Bounce Rates

Look at the bounce rates on pages that have a volunteer CTA. Is there something that is preventing them from filling out the form? Try A/B testing volunteer pages to determine if there is another approach that is more welcoming and inspiring to potential volunteers. 

Referrals

For those that do complete the conversion, where did they find you? Was it from a social media post, an email, or somewhere else? Knowing where your existing volunteers come from is extremely helpful in reaching new ones.

Pageviews

Take a look at the pages that have volunteer information. Are people clicking them? They can’t fill out a form if they aren’t viewing the pages. If they aren’t getting the views you’d like, explore other options to lead visitors there.

Other Benefits

Nonprofits are often under pressure to prove how effective their initiatives are. Not only do they have to deliver high-quality programs to their community, they have to maintain the trust of the donors, earn the trust of potential supporters, and provide the public with information measuring all of this. That is a lot.

Google Analytics can help nonprofits by arming them with accurate and relevant data which they can use to:

Attract Donors

Knowing how existing donors interact with your site and what causes others to shy away can help you attract new donors

Reduce Costs

When the data points to where exactly you should put your efforts, you can eliminate a great deal of wasted time and energy.

Improve Existing Programs

By looking at the metrics, you will learn which programs might need a boost – either in awareness or function.

Design New Programs

The metrics can also show you where you might have gaps in your programming. Are people searching for a certain key phrase, only to bounce after learning it isn’t available?

What's next?

Essentially, Google Analytics for nonprofits can revolutionize your marketing efforts. This guide scratches the surface of what you can do with the tool, but if you are continuously testing, learning and acting on the data, your website can be more effective than you ever thought possible. 

And Mittun is happy to help. We are the premier website provider for nonprofits and mission-based organizations, and we want to help you succeed. Explore more ways to take your website to the next level.

How could data take your website to the next level?

Contact Mittun for a free assessment today.

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