Smaller charities can struggle to fully embrace the potential of digital due to financial, technological and/or resourcing constraints. Despite an appetite for innovation, our capacity and time can be a barrier, impacting the space for the development of our teams’ skills and expertise to enhance our digital practices.
When significant changes and developments occur on key channels, keeping up with digital can be a challenge around our business-as-usual activities. In this blog, I want to share how we, as a small charity, developed digital habits to progress and maximise our digital approach.
From setting up clear KPIs to weekly monitoring sessions, from a quarterly website review to enhancing keyword research, there are lots of different tools available to fit your purpose.
Familiarise yourself with Google Analytics 4
On 1 July 2023, GA4 became the default version of Google Analytics. It allows first-tracking, AI-driven predictive analytics, and cross-channel data measurement. In other words, you can track when, where, how, and why a user has visited your website, focusing specifically on the type of content. You can read more about why this matters in: Three practical ways to get started with GA4 today
Universal Analytics will be sun-setting in July 2024 following an extended window for GA4 activation.
Following the seven steps for GA4 set-up properly can ensure that your dashboard works best for the data you need and helps you become familiar with the settings and all of the options available for tracking data.
A lot of charities may have already set up or have automatically been set with the basic GA4 dashboards, so what will take them to the next step?
When I adopted these new settings and integrated GA4 onto JustRight Scotland’s website, with a bit of help from our web developer, I learned these important lessons:
- Have a backup of your website’s design and structure
- Uninstall plugins that aren’t beneficial
- Prepare the content and the information you need for this process beforehand
- Take your time!
Use free data analysis tools
Running data analysis tools and examining the outputs is a great way to better understand your audience. However, sometimes Google Analytics is not enough, and you may need to cross-analyse your data and compare engagement rates across your platforms.
In order to do so, there are some free digital tools you can use including:
- X Analytics, which provides useful data on post impressions and highlights.
- Meta Suite can show results, audience details and an overview of shared content on both Facebook and Instagram.
- LinkedIn’s analytics section, which allows you to track your engagement rates over a specific period of time.
- There are also other free online tools, we’ve used, for example, Mailchimp and Canva (free versions) which can be used to share content widely and organise your content planner in an effective and efficient way.
- Finally, there is Buffer (free version) which allows you to schedule your content on your social media platforms and review your insights.
Audit your content
When we speak about analytics we often think about hours and hours of data analysis, monitoring and reviewing across your accounts. However, there are more tools and apps which can help to minimise the impact on your workload:
- Analytics tools include Rival IQ, which you can use to monitor your content, but also your competitors.
- KeyHole allows you to check trends and hashtags.
- Feedly allows you to track specific topics and understand how people are interacting on a specific issue and how you can create content which is effective and becomes part of that online conversation.
Once you choose the best available tool for yourself, the next step is to decide on the appropriate method to integrate this data into your general report. I usually set aside some time weekly to review the trends and generate content accordingly. This means, for example, adapting, directing, re-purposing, or designing elements that you know will generate more engagement due to the trend analysis you have undertaken.
Try bite-size data analysis
Your preferred method depends on your workload, however as a comms person, it’s wise to dedicate time to check trends, monitor social media, and look after your platforms.
I would suggest blocking out regular hours on your calendar in order to do so, allowing you to focus on collecting and analysing your data weekly. I’ve found that by regularly examining trends, the topics linked to keywords remain mostly constant and linear, while exceptional issues may arise based on the field you work in.
For example, when looking at trends globally, it’s possible to see that there is a continuous cycle and re-cycle. On the contrary, when something unexpected happens, the trends rapidly change, and you need to adapt your content accordingly to be able to keep your engagement rate high.
Here are some tips for you:
- Block your calendar for online monitoring daily.
- Review articles on new digital platforms once a week.
- Take some time to think creatively!
- Research courses you may find helpful and bookmark them!
Read around the topic
I personally read a lot about AI, digital tools and free resources available for small charities.
As part of JustRight Scotland, our social enterprise JRS Knowhow provides useful information and resources about the ever-changing world of online training and learning: Blog & news – JRSKnowhow
Develop a flexible multi-channel approach
You need to think creatively about how to manage the data in Google Analytics to tailor the content you produce in a way that’s effective.
If you have limited resources and time, look at your main goals and targets and establish a flexible content planner. This will allow you to be adaptable but also to plan in advance.
Consider the ways you will disseminate this content via your other channels and track the data back in your Google Analytics to map how the content contributes to actions.
You don’t need special tools! A simple spreadsheet with clear aims could be helpful to track rates, map trends, visualise existing gaps in your content planner, and act strategically.
For example, when launching a campaign which will feature across all your platforms, testing reactions to your content can help you decide when/if you need to re-purpose your messaging, diversify your key elements based on your target audience, improve your approach and even change direction of your campaign if needed. A/B testing throughout your campaign whilst using free digital tools is a great way to deliver a more effective and impactful campaign.
The benefits are that you can engage more with your supporters, keeping them informed in a way they like, leading to increased donations.
- Third Sector Lab Blog
- The Big List The 61 Best Social Media Tools for Small Business
- Looker Studio Overview
- Three practical ways to get started with GA4 today
Banner Image: Dhaval Parmar on Unsplash