1. Define your objectives
The key to a successful site is to start out by defining your organisations’ objectives, and work back from them. In a nutshell – decide what you want visitors to do, then work out how to use Google Analytics to measure if they are doing it or not. For example, do you want people to make online donations, sign up to your newsletter, or download a specific document?
2. Measure effectiveness
Once you know what you want visitors to do, you can set up goals to see if they are doing it. For example, you can track how many users go to the donate page but don’t submit the form (or a host of other things, such as how long a user stays on a certain page, whether they scroll or not or if they download a document).
3. Find out where your traffic is coming from (and going to)
The default statistics in Google Analytics give you a broad overview on where your traffic is coming from. You can measure this in much greater detail, however, by using the Google Analytics URL builder. This allows you to create bespoke URLs that will tell you exactly how many people are visiting your site from specific links used in campaigns from Facebook, Twitter, or in a newsletter.
4. Make first impressions count
(Most) users are lazy and easily distracted – the average bounce rate to any site is around 40-50% (anything higher than this is a concern, anything much lower suggests bounces may not be being measured correctly on the site). Therefore it’s important to make landing pages that are:
- Relevant: does the content on the page relate to the search term(s) a user may have used to reach the page?
- Reassuring: does the site look professional and trustworthy?
- Clear: does the site navigation make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for? Are call-to-actions prominent?
- Focused: are there too many elements on the page that could distract the user?
5. Make marginal gains
Gone are the days of overnight internet success stories. As websites and their users have become more sophisticated, it’s become more important than ever to focus on the details and make small changes that are based on hard data. For example, run an A/B split test on your donate page to find out which call to action works best and make changes to the site based the outcomes of the test.
Keep it simple. If you start by using these tips to make small, incremental improvements to your website, together, these marginal gains will result in a site that’s more effective at meeting your users’ needs as well as those of your organisation.
You should also consider:
- making more of the ‘Navigation Summary’; often underused, but nonetheless a very informative statistic. It tells you which pages users have come to a certain page from and where they go onto afterwards. Find it in the left-hand toolbar under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages – then select the second tab in the main part of the page.
- keeping your site ‘human’ – links that include pictures of people’s faces often attract the highest number of clicks.
- adding Google’s webmaster tools to your site to find out what search terms people are using to reach the site (however, it won’t tell you what page they end up going to). Extra reading; Advanced Web Metrics is a great book on the subject is if you want to find out more.
- advertising – charities can apply for free AdWord credits through Google ad grants.
This article was originally posted here by Fat Beehive. Fat Beehive have been producing websites since 1997. They are a small team of 13 people in London and 3 in Sydney, Australia. They specialise in working with charity and not-for-profit organisations of all sizes and budgets, providing them with high quality web design, development, support and hosting.
- Related post: 5 easy-to-action ways to improve your charity website
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