Published: 22 May 2012

Measuring your organisation’s online impact

How can you measure your online impact both on and off your website? Matt Haworth recommends some tools, tips and tricks

Here are four questions measuring your digital communications can help you answer.

Who are these people?

Google Analytics can track lots of technical information about your visitors – what browser they used, or which website they followed a link from, but it’s no good for demographic data – though we might be able to assume visitors’ interests from the link that brought them to your website.

Luckily, people volunteer this information on social networks and tools such as Facebook Insights let us see gender, location and age demographics. You can also click through to your fans’ profiles to add colour to your mental picture.

Tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite Pro can extract similar information from Twitter and merge it with your Facebook users’ demographics, to give you a well-rounded picture of your social media followers. Both require modest monthly fees (under £6) and you can try them both free for 30 days.

How are people engaging with you?

Are people visiting your website to complete a specific task or are they there to kill time? Find out by looking at what keywords and phrases people are searching to find your website and which pages are getting the most views, using the Top Content and Search Keyword sections of Google Analytics.

What about content that’s missing from your site? Integrate your website’s search engine into Google Analytics to find out if people are looking for information you don’t have. Using the On-site search statistics, you can find out what the most searched-for terms are and use this to plug any gaps.

Use custom variables in Google Analytics to categorise types of content and include your web statistics in impact reports. For example, tag support guides or advice as “support” then track how many people accessed this information, or what specific advice pages they looked at. This helps identify and report back on real, engaged online service users.

Another powerful tool in measuring engagement with your visitors is the user-defined variable. This is data stored on a user’s computer and can help you get a picture of a user’s engagement with you over time. For example, when a visitor first arrives or registers at your website, you could ask a question as to their audience segment (“are you a healthcare professional / a parent?”) then track how different audience engage with you. Use this information to answer questions like “what kind of user makes the most donations?”

How are people supporting you?

You can use Google Analytics to shed light on the content that converts visitors into supporters.

Monitor the persuasiveness of content by setting goals and using funnels to measure how many people who started a process (such as making a donation) completed it. Identify the barriers people hit when trying to support you.

Use eCommerce tracking to track the financial value of support from website users, including how much money has been donated over a certain period of time, or the total value of sales made in your online shop. Imagine being able to track which social network generated the most donations, or which campaign message was most successful.

If you have a busy website, you should consider experimenting with different versions of campaign pages, to see how elements such as language, semantics and page layout affect conversion rates. Running an A/B test allows you to compare the performance of two simultaneous campaigns, served randomly to half your audience. They can be easily set up and managed using Google Website Optimizer.

How are people talking about you?

The most powerful form of traditional marketing is word of mouth, and things are no different online.

Consider signing up to Google Alerts to be notified of mentions of your organisation in online news, blogs or discussion forums. Similarly, consider using tools like Social Mention or Sprout Social to monitor what’s being said on social networks. Platform-specific tools are useful for measuring buzz – Facebook Insights shows you how many people are interacting with your updates and how many more you’re reaching.

One of your goals should be getting influential people to talk about your organisation or your cause. An online influencer isn’t necessarily a celebrity, but they will have certain characteristics:

  1. a large network of fans, followers or subscribers
  2. they’ll frequently post interesting, relevant content
  3. they’ll receive a high number of shares, likes or comments
  4. they’ll share others’ news and updates

There are a range of tools and techniques available to help you find the influencers on your topic. You can find out how influential you are by registering with Klout.

Are people talking about your cause but not about you? Find out using the Google Keyword Tool and compare some key words and phrases, including your organisation name and your main competitors too.

Top tips

  • Set clear goals and Key Performance Indicators for your digital comms which are aligned with your charity’s strategic objectives.
  • Use analytics tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Klout to measure against these goals. Remember to properly configure Google Analytics’ filters, advanced segments and goals to get the best out of it.
  • Don’t worry about getting perfect data or insights – some information is better than nothing. Try it against two or three KPIs to start with.
  • Social media analytics and Return on Social Investment is still developing and new tools are released all the time. Use your gut feeling as well as the numbers to reach your conclusions.

Matt Haworth, co-founder, Reason Digital

Reason Digital is a digital communications agency especially for not-for-profits.