Donation form abandonment issues, part II | npENGAGE

Abandonment Issues, Part II

By on Jun 19, 2013


*No relation to the recent holiday. (Dad, you’re the best!)

I got a lot of good feedback on my recent post about donation form abandonment. So, I figured I’d take this subject a step further rather than, well, abandoning it.

I’ll start with the caveat that we’re going to get pretty advanced here. If you haven’t mastered donation form abandonment tracking, in-page analytics and setting up goals in Google Analytics, go back & visit those posts now. If you want to start at the very beginning, check out this Intro to Google Analytics for nonprofits series.

If you’ve come to know & love the reporting native to Google Analytics, then it’s time to expand to more granular tracking. Nope, you don’t need a new analytics tool, just some knowledge of javascript (or someone to do the coding for you).

Google Analytics tracks page visits by default, but you can also track clicks, mouse hovers, video plays, length of time watching a video, error messages, and of course internal site search (but you’ve got that already, right? If not, read up on how to track internal site searches). Ultimately, almost anything on a website is trackable.

One of the best places to start with more granular tracking is your donation form. Of course you’re already noticing when people abandon at a particular page in your process, but you can dig deeper and see what field they get to with event tracking.

This is important because seeing that people abandoned at page 1 can tell you that something was wrong with page 1, but does not tell you what it might be. Event tracking can tell you how many people click into each field. While you’re bound to get some inaccuracies here (due to several possible reasons including people clicking back to a field they’ve already filled out) you can take the data with a grain of salt and notice broad patterns. Sometimes these can tell you very interesting things.

  •  If you see relatively consistent level of events for each field until you get to an optional field at the end and then number of events drop off, then people could feel overwhelmed and abandon. Try removing the field for a streamlined experience.
  • High numbers aren’t always good. An exceptionally high number of events on the donation amount field could mean that people are having trouble deciding on an amount and might be abandoning due to analysis paralysis over the amount to give. Consider adding or adjusting your ask amounts, or using enhanced asks to equate each dollar amount to a tangible affect your organization can have.
  • A decrease in events after the donation amount or designation might similarly imply confusion. See if you can make these decisions easier to casual donors.
  • If people seem to be getting all the way through the form and then abandoning, then make sure your security badges are in place and that you don’t have overly challenging captchas getting in the way.

For the technical explanation of how to set this up, reference the Google Analytics Event Tracking Guide.

The syntax you’ll use for tracking a field as an onfocus event will look somewhat like this (where the field is “email”)
onFocus=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘form’, ‘fieldfocus’, ’email’]);”

While you’re setting up event tracking on your donation forms, you might as well also capture error messages as events. Using the same basic principles, you can capture the text of the error messages to see where people are running into technical issues in the donation process. If people are having technical issues you may be able to pinpoint the problem. Or if people are making “user errors”, you can see how you could have the form guide them through the process.

Event tracking does require more technical work, but once you have it set up, you can get some impressive insights.


Alissa Ruehl has been using Google Analytics since the first weeks it came out as a Google product. Through consulting, webinars, and conferences, she has helped hundreds of people at a variety of organizations and companies navigate Google Analytics and use it to refine their online marketing and website effectiveness. She currently uses her analysis skills as a senior user researcher on the Blackbaud products side, but she loves re-immersing herself the world of website analytics for her monthly Google Analytics blog posts. The only thing Alissa likes talking about more than data is food, but that’s a whole other blog.

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