Those who follow me on Twitter, or for whom I’ve helped implement NetCommunity websites, won’t be surprised to find me write about Google Analytics. Probably no better an indication of my love for the knowledge waiting to be unmasked within this tool, is the (fun?) fact that I can often be found laying in bed at 6am and digging through client web reports. The knowledge one can gleam from this tool is practically endless–and the resulting testing and site modifications one can make, even more so. No wonder than, I am commonly asked; “What are the top web analytics reports and tools every nonprofit should know?”.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my ability to spend hours upon hours sifting thru web analytical data and exploring all the amazing information amassed, working to decipher what it all means. However, one’s ability to do is often unmatched by ones availability. So with that, here is my sugggested list of 5 web reports every non profit should know, what for and why.
Note: This post is written with regards to the current, original, version of Google Analytics. A new version of Google Analytics is currently in Beta testing and a future web post will address what you should know before using.
1. Google Analytics Dashboard
(First page visible upon accessing a specific website profile)
What is it? – Google Analytics dashboard provides an overview of website traffic; including visits, pageviews, pageviews per visit, bounce rate, average time spent on site, and percentage of new visits. In addition, there’s a snapshot into where people came from (Referrals), most viewed web content (Top Content), and most commonly used searched terms to find your website (Keywords).
What to do with? – Although a great report in itself, I suggest opening the date range filter to include “past comparison,” for year to year comparison (if you have previous year’s data). Also, Google defaults to the most recent month’s worth of data. I suggest increasing this to the past 3 months, the most possible. Use this comparison to survey peaks and valleys of traffic. Peaks will help you determine what is on your website that draws traffic – is it your e-newsletters or events? You can then use those pages to pull traffic to other areas on the site.
Click any of those datapoints to add an Annotation, such as “May eNewsletter Sent,” “20/20 Interview,” or “May Gala appeal mailed,” to keep track of historically significant events.
Next, turn on Email Scheduling and configure to email your Communications Team, or even entire Staff, A PDF copy of this dashboard report on the 1st of every month. This is a great reminder to review data further and also engage all staff in the website’s performance. You can’t improve what you don’t know needs improving.
2. Top Content
(Content, choose Top Content or Content by Title, sort Pageviews ascending & descending)
What is it? – Top Content allows you to view the most or least viewed webpages among any myriad of filters and presents an overview of important related data, such as unique views, exit rates, and bounce rates.
What to do with? – First and foremost, all communications staff and content authors should know the most and least viewed webpages on your site. Consider scheduling an additional email report to interested staff, highlight major changes at team meetings and/or provide incentives for program staff when specific pages see significant positive changes.
Among this report data, consider the following:
- Ensure the most viewed pages include clear calls to action, particularly on pages with the highest exit rates: subscribe, register, donate, event registration, surveys and other constituent touch points.
- If most viewed pages have bounce rates over 60 or 70%, review each page’s unique entrance point (referral, search keywords or undetermined–likely email links) and the page’s content and determine how content, or keyword usage, can be altered to better retain constituents.
- Review the least viewed webpages and determine whether necessary to maintain, or if in need of updates, better promotion and/or internal & external links.
- Sort by highest exit rate with an advanced filter for those viewed more than 10% of total pageviews to find pages worth concentrating additional calls to action on. These are often confirmation pages post user-transactions and an ideal opportunity to engage constituents further.
- Sort by highest bounce rate with an advanced filter for those viewed more than 50% of total pageviews to find additional pages representing significant website traffic for which content or keywords could be altered to better meet constituent needs.
3. Source Report
(Traffic Sources, Overview + additional sub-sections)
What is it? – The Source Report breaks down the information summarized on the Dashboard Report, showing whether users are finding your website via Direct links (bookmarks, email and memory), Referral Links (other websites and social networks) or Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc). Within this data we can delve deeper, such as specifically which pages users enter on, what are our top referring external websites and search engines.
What to do with it? – The Source Report provides a breakdown of site traffic by Direct, Referral or Search Engine. By comparing to industry averages (roughly 30%, 20% and 50%, respectively), and against our own internal month-to-month bench marks, we can determine ares prime for improvement.
- Direct traffic results can help us determine which Friendly URLs (eg; url.org/friendlyname) users access the site using. When used specifically with offline campaigns, appeals or ads we can use as a source metric. Longer, hard-URLs, with high return rates suggest webpages that have been favorites or included within emails.
- Referral traffic results help us determine which sites users find us from, and corresponding bounce rates show whether content needs adjustment. Additionally, traffic from certain websites might suggest partnership opportunities–or from specific social networking sites can help determine communications focus opportunities for future campaigns.
- Search engine traffic will help us understand which engines are used most to find our website, and could suggest additional keyword usage and/or engine optimization in order to rank higher among results, increasing new & return user visits.
4. Keyword Report
(Traffic Sources, Keywords)
What is it? – The keyword report provides top search terms used to find your website.
What to do with? – First and foremost is ensuring that you simply know how people are finding your website, what language they use to describe your issue and program(s), and if they area finding the content you would most desire for said keywords. With this knowledge we can adjust keyword usage on pages found and those we desire to be ranked higher.
- To increase (or decrease/change) page views by keyword, consider usage of said keywords appearing in the Page Title, Page Description, Header 1, and first content paragraph, prioritizing placement respectively.
5. Intelligence Alerts
(My Customizations, Intelligence)
What is it? – Intelligence Reports are a powerful feature of Google Analytics utilizing Google algorithms to help determine when something significant has occurred on your website, such as a peak in website visitors, specific webpages content average views, average time spent on site, or change in Source percentages. With Intelligence Alerts you can tell Google to email you an alert when something significant has happened.
What to do with? – Turn on Intelligence Alerts from under the “My Customizations” section in order to be alerted via email when Google determines a significant change has occurred. In addition, consider creating Custom Intelligence Alerts for specific actionable items you wish to track, such as a specific webpage receiving a certain number of visits–maybe a donation or event registration confirmation page or content page related to offline ad or snail mail appeal.
If that’s not enough to keep you busy, consider attending Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits to learn more about utilizing Google Analytics to better your organization’s website–and join my session, “Google Analytics: This Means That.” Additionally, Blackbaud NetCommunity and Sphere clients can contact their Account Manager to learn about our personalized web analytics support–providing you help deciphering of these very details, and more, and specific follow-up tasks you can take to improve website proformance.
- What is your favorite Google Analytics tool or report?
- What is Google Analytics missing that would help your nonprofit?
- What tips or tricks can you offer other nonprofits using Google Analytics?