5 Steps to Utilizing Analytics for Your Nonprofit’s Success

Posted Thursday, October 19th, 2017 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

There’s a great deal of pressure put on nonprofits and their volunteer managers. What kind of pressure are we talking about? Well, there’s pressure to better the communities they serve. Then there’s the constant stress of recruiting, training and retaining volunteers. And to top it all off, there’s the need to show tangible data to validate the organization’s initiatives. Whether you’re designing a new community outreach program, tracking the effectiveness of your latest campaign or presenting to board members, you need good, easy-to-read data at your fingertips!

Thankfully, lots of useful data is available to nonprofits through Google Analytics. Volunteer managers can utilize this robust program to pull data which can assist them in a number of ways, including cost cutting efforts and strategy tweaking or development.

If you are new to Google Analytics, here are 5 steps to help you get started using the tool.

Step 1: The first step to using Google Analytics is installing a tracking code on your website. This  guide will walk you through each step of installing the code. Don’t forget that you’ll also need a Google Analytics Account, so create one if your organization doesn’t already have one.

Don’t forget this pro-tip: there are many useful programs available to you and your organization through Google for Nonprofits. For instance, access free or discounted versions of G Suite, like Google Drive or gmail.

Step 2: Good job, now that you are signed up for Google Analytics and you have installed the tracking code, it’s time to relax and track the numbers. The data from your organization’s marketing campaigns will be collected in real time. Now you will likely be asking yourself, “What can I do with all this data?” Quite a lot in fact …

Step 3: It’s time to create goals and track conversion with all the data you’ve collected. Ask yourself what goal your website is trying to achieve: does your organization want to raise money or register for an event? When you have your goals down on paper, you can create a goal in Analytics and then track conversions – or how many people have completed the goal you set – to ensure your hard work is paying off.

For example, let’s say your organization is taking donations for the restoration of a city park via your website. You can use Google Analytics to track donations. Each time someone comes to your organization’s website and donates, that’s a conversion. It’s as easy as that.

Step 4: Don’t forget to carefully monitor your referral traffic. These are folks that arrive to your website after clicking a link somewhere else. Tracking these referrals is a powerful way to determine the source of your site’s traffic and whether or not your marketing efforts are working. Did you guest-blog for another nonprofit? You can see how many visitors hopped over to your site from that blog. Is your organization building up its social media presence? You can also monitor how many people were referred via your social media channels.

In this same aggregated view, you can also monitor conversions. Look all the way to the right-hand side of the data table under Conversions. This extra layer of information is essential — not only in determining where your visitors originated from, but also knowing what pages brought in donors, volunteer signups, etc.

You will find an overview of your referral traffic sources under All Traffic >Referrals.

Step 5: Why spend time creating content and marketing campaigns and then never check to see if your work is paying off? With Google Analytics you can easily comb through all the data and identify which pages perform well (and which don’t).

Check your content’s success by going to Behavior > Site Content > Content Drilldown.

There are two important parts of this data table: Bounce Rate and Exit Rate. This data can be valuable in determining how specific content is performing. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who arrive on a page and almost simultaneously exit. A high bounce rate can indicate that people didn’t find what they were looking for. The exit rate is the percentage of people who leave your website from a specific page. While you can expect higher exit rates for a blog (because people get what they need, and then exit), a high exit rate on your homepage may be a red flag. High rates for both can indicate a problem with your site’s design or content.

We hope our introduction to Google Analytics has inspired you and your organization to take charge of your online marketing efforts by tracking, monitoring and turning data into rock solid evidence of the change you create in the community. Don’t forget to monitor your results weekly at a minimum to track trends on your organization’s website.

Volunteer managers, which metrics do you monitor on your website? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share thoughts and ideas with us. Connect with us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to share your comments!*

*This blog originally appeared on Galaxy Digital’s website.