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  • February 8, 2021

Unlocking Value: Tips for Nonprofits to Maximize Value from Web Analytics Data

Now more than ever, understanding the effectiveness of your online properties and identifying deficiencies is absolutely key towards building better and deeper engagement for your nonprofit organization. Decorative Illustration Especially with budgets being impacted by the novel coronavirus, understanding what’s happening and then optimizing your user experience based on the data can have a major impact on overall financial performance.

Here at Happy Cog, we’re extremely proud of our successful partnerships with many amazing nonprofits that have included unlocking value from their web properties by leveraging their analytics data. Most nonprofit organizations, however, tend to have very basic analytics implementations in place, which limits the insight that we’re able to provide. Therefore, the purpose of this post is to describe 5 powerful (yet easy to implement) action items that nonprofits should look to implement within their Analytics accounts.

1. Get the tool. This one sounds obvious, but we see a shocking number of sites that actually don’t have any analytics at all. Signing up for a Google Analytics account is free and only takes a few minutes of development to get basic web tracking in place.

2. Define your goals. By default, Google Analytics can track pageviews, traffic sources, and device usage, amongst other things. The tool becomes much more useful, however, when you actually define conversion goals that are important to your organization. Goals can be anything from newsletter subscriptions to online donations — and everything in between. While some goals will require development effort to set up tracking, simply defining the goal URL for your conversion point in the backend admin panel of Google Analytics will let you begin to track conversion rates and even funnels for some of your most important metrics. Having trouble defining goals? Not to worry. With Smart Goals, Google’s machine learning can do this and automatically set up some conversions for you to measure as a start. Follow this guide to enable Smart Goals in your Analytics view.

3. Filter out internal traffic. Folks who work at nonprofits tend to use their websites often to find resources or guide potential donors to specific content of interest, which is great. The problem is that doing so can cause skewed data with respect to engagement and location-specific metrics because of this internal traffic. To overcome this, we recommend that nonprofit organizations filter out the IP addresses of their team and offices. This will allow Google Analytics to reflect the behavior of external users — the ones that we’re trying to engage. If you need to track internal behavior, you can easily set up another view in Google Analytics that explicitly filters in your internal traffic so that the two groups don’t become conflated.

4. Set up Google Search Console. Google Search Console is another free tool that helps you monitor your site’s presence in organic search results. The data from Google Search Console can be linked to your Google Analytics account so that you can see which search terms are driving traffic to the site, both with and without your organization name. This can also provide insight into what people are looking for and the types of content that they’re looking to consume and engage with.

5. Implement UTM tagging for external campaigns. Most nonprofit organizations tend to rely heavily on campaigns across social media, email, and paid search channels, amongst others. While Google Analytics can track some of this behavior by default, setting up campaign tracking can provide more insight on marketing activities. A UTM code is a small snippet of code that gets added (or “tagged”) to the end of any URL that you’re sending traffic to externally. These snippets let you define campaign names, traffic sources, and content pieces so that you can see, with additional granularity, how things are performing. Check out this guide to custom campaign tracking for more information on setting up UTM parameters.

Google Analytics is an incredibly useful tool because of how customizable it is. While some of that customization can be complex, simply setting up the items noted above is a great first step towards getting more value out of your data to make better decisions for your nonprofit organization.

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