What to look for in Google Analytics as a small to medium charity
How many website visitors did you generate from social media this month?
What percentage of email newsletter signups came from visitors to your home page?
How many new donations did you get from Facebook ads?
These are all questions you can dig into using Google Analytics, a free tool that is an essential part of many charities’ digital marketing setup. As old a digital tool as digital marketing itself it’s still constantly adding new features to make analysing the performance of your website even better.
But these changes and the amount of features the tool now boasts can make where to start and what exactly to look for confusing for smaller charities without someone dedicated to analytics or even for larger charities still looking to get to grips with their website data. Not to mention the challenge of how to draw insights that can inform your digital strategy.
To help you out I’ve broken down five common reports in Google Analytics that you can use to analyse your website performance, with an outline of what to look for, what you can do with the data, and what the impact of making changes to your digital marketing activity based on that report can be. Most importantly I’ve also included exactly where to find these reports in Google Analytics, so you can find the same reports on your own website’s profile and draw insights from the data yourself.
Google Analytics shows you by default which digital channels drove the most traffic to your website. But you can get a more granular view when you select the “Source/Medium” dimension.
With this view, you’ll not only find out whether emails, organic search (e.g. Google Searches) or social media drove the most traffic, but whether Twitter gave you more website visitors than Facebook, or if the Facebook Mobile App or Desktop version had the most people clicking through to your site.
To find the “Source / Medium” metric, look for the menu column along the the left hand side of your screen called ‘Reports’ and then click on “Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Source/Medium”.
Once you’ve reviewed the data, the Source/Medium dimension enables you to segment which sources of traffic are driving the results you most want.
In the example below, we can see that (Direct) / (None) is the top referrer, which means that people have typed the website address directly into the browser, they’ve clicked on an untracked link in their email inbox, or they’re using ad blocking software to hide the source of their visit.
Further, Google Organic Search is the next best performing digital marketing channel, followed by Twitter (t.co is the url shortener that all Twitter links have).
How can you use this to inform a donation campaign?
The Source/Medium dimension enables you to see how many donations can be attributed to organic search (like Google or Bing) versus paid search (Google Ads).
This insight allows you to make a decision on whether to reduce paid ad spend on keywords that are leading to more donations, or increase paid ad spend on keywords that aren’t.
Overall, use the Source/Medium dimension to identify best performing channels – and to improve those that aren’t driving much traffic to your website.
2. User Behaviour
User Behaviour is one the most important part of analytics, as you can use it to track how landing pages are performing, what users are doing after landing on your website, and how you can improve the user journey through your website.
To find the User Behaviour report, go to “Behaviour >> Behaviour Flow”.
If you want to use the User Behaviour dimension for reporting purposes, you can use it to check website landing pages, visits, how people move through the website and where they drop off.
You can use this to determine whether your donation journey needs optimisation. Look to see if there are any stages of the donation journey where a high percentage of users leave your website – as that’s a sure sign a page needs a change.
3. Bounce Rate
Related to the previous point, the definition of bounce rate is simply the number of single-page sessions (bounces) divided by the total number of sessions – the percentage of users who have not engaged beyond a superficial level with your site before they ‘bounce’.
Therefore low bounce rate means better chances of conversion success, and a high bounce rate means less.
This is useful because it shows which content resonates best with your audiences. For example, you learn which content engages your audience by looking at the bounce rate from that page.
If you see certain pages have low traffic and high bounce rates, then this is probably content that isn’t going to increase conversion rates.
If certain pages have low bounce rates then that’s the type of content you should create and share more of.
To view the bounce rate, navigate to “Behaviour >> Site Content >> All Pages”, and from there you’ll be able to see the bounce rate for the most visited pages on your website.
4. Top Conversion Paths
One hidden gem of a metric for analysing conversions is the Top Conversion Paths report.
This report shows you how users who successfully completed a conversion on your website (such as signing up to your email newsletter or making a donation) initially found your website.
The special thing is that this report also shows you how many times the user returned before making a conversion and which channels they came from to return to your website.
This is extremely helpful for analysing which visitors are actually converting, which marketing channels are the most successful, and to show how your different marketing channels can work together to help get visitors back to your website.
You can find the Top Conversions Path report in “Conversions >> Multi-Channel Funnels >> Top Conversion Paths”.
Google Analytics has a feature that provides information about the age and gender of your users, along with other hobbies and interests.
Before you can see or work with Demographics and Interests reports in Analytics, you need to enable Advertising Reporting Features, and then enable the Demographics and Interests reports. This does mean collecting more data from your users, so check that enabling these features still fits with your charity’s privacy policies and GDPR compliance!
You can find the Demographic data in “Audience >> Demographics >> Overview” and Google will show you a message if you haven’t opted in to you haven’t enabled the Advertising Reporting Features.
Once you’ve updated Google Analytics to support these Advertising Reporting Features, it will start tracking Demographics and Interests data – but be patient, it takes about 24 hours for data to start showing.
Is it worth the wait? Well here’s what audience data you get access to:
- Demographics: The age and gender makeup of your website audience
- Interests: User behaviours segmented by affinity and marketing categories
- Geo: The languages and locations of your website audience
- Behaviour: Comparisons of new and returning visitors, how often return visits occur and how long visitors spend on your site
- Technology: The browsers, operating systems and networks of your website visitors
- Mobile: A breakdown of devices used to access your website
How can you use this demographic data for your charity?
You can use the demographics report to try to identify your charity’s ideal user persona, so that you can build a plan for reaching and engaging with those users. And if you’re tracking donations in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see the demographics of those that have donated and create more content aimed at those audiences.
Also take a look at how users on mobile devices use your website. Do they stick around for longer or shorter than desktop users? Is the bounce rate particularly high for certain pages on mobile? This will tell you if your website and content is suitable for mobile, or whether it needs updating.
How are you using Google Analytics in your charity?
This article is just scratching the surface of what you can do with Google Analytics, but hopefully has given you some ideas and insight into how you can start to use the data to make a real difference to the way your charity operates online.
Google Analytics is powerful, but (relatively) easy when you know how!
Empower runs Google Analytics training for charities.