How charities can make the most of Google Analytics

1. Learn about your demographics

This is the first thing to look at when you explore your analytics. It is easy to do and gives insight into your current audience.

From there you can make informed decisions whether you’re trying to change audience,  expand, or simply reach more of the same.

Examples of the kind of simple information you can get about your demographic are:

  • Gender: this allows you to tailor content by placing ads or working in conjunction with companies with the same gender majority. You can also see how you compare to the sector as a whole, which is majority female.
  • Age: This information allows you to do relevant research into trends among this age group or perhaps another group you want to reach.  If a large majority are over 65, for example, it may be beneficial to improve readability and navigation on your site.
  • Geographical location: knowing what countries you have audiences in means you can make informed decisions about the default language, style and domain of your site. You may find you have audiences in countries you do not reach with your services or possibility of donation. 
  • Interests: A new addition to analytics uses google search history to estimate what sort of people are reaching your site. Some examples of categories include ‘Business professional’ or ‘Green living enthusiasts’

Though these analytics are simple to track, they unfortunately don’t offer a complete overview of all your visitors. They do, however, provide a useful snapshot of people who engage with your content.

These metrics are a useful starting point and can be used alongside others to provide a lot of insight to help improve your marketing strategy.

2. Track acquisition 

User journey is the steps an individual takes to get from search engine to homepage to donation.

This one’s tricky. Those who turn off cookies, for example, can’t be tracked. This means you don’t get a full overview of your audience.

There’s numerous ways someone can reach your site. Some examples include:

  • Organic search –  By entering relevant keywords into the search bar to reach you
  • Social media – Facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube etc
  • Email campaign – Monthly newsletters, fundraising campaigns or product launches
  • Google ad – Similar to organic search, but promoted and tracked by google to try and increase traffic.

It’s important to monitor how people are getting to you as you may be spending money on tools that aren’t driving any traffic. Equally you may discover a useful source of traffic that you hadn’t been investing much time or money into.

Doing this means you can adjust your strategies appropriately, and your budgets too. For example, if email is by far your most popular source for acquisition, you will want to make sure to allocate time and budget to your future campaigns.

3. Set specific goals to be tracked automatically

Setting goals can be one of the most useful functionalities of analytics. Doing so allows you to measure success of your site and its various subsections. It’s simple to do and saves you having to check up on all your different metrics constantly.

Some examples of goals your charity might set are:

  • Time spent on sites –  If the time exceeds 5 minutes, it suggests there may be interest in your content and chance of a conversion. Alternatively, be weary that more time on the site isn’t because it’s difficult to navigate.
  • How many pages people visit – Movement around your site normally suggests good things as it shows they are engaging and wanting to know more.
  • If someone triggers an event – this could be watching a video or downloading a PDF, something to suggest they have found something worth looking at on your site.

Google analytics keep you updated of if or when these goals are achieved to save you tracking them manually. You are able to have up to 20 goal slots grouped into sets of up to 5 individual goals. This allows you to categorize the different types of goals you.

If you want to know more about the process of setting up goals there’s a useful step-by-step guide here!

4. Follow behaviour on site 

You know how people reach you; now it’s worth working out what they’re doing on your site. Tracking conversions means you know when a user becomes a donor or volunteer. 

As mentioned above, setting goals is one good way of doing this. You can track roughly how people move around on your site, from where they start to which pages they explore, and where they drop off.

If you’ve thought quite seriously about your strategy, you’ll likely have a donor funnel that pre-anticipates how you expect people to operate around your website. 

Look at all types of users so you can work out shortcomings as well as successes on your site. For example, if you have a huge drop off rate on your donate page, it may be that the process isn’t simple or clear enough.

Some of the top metrics to look at for user behavior include:

  • If you simply look at Audience > Overview you can find out what the popular times of day are for your visitors and whether these are new or returning visitors.
  • Look at Audience > Behavior > Frequency & Recency – This tells you the count of sessions within a certain time frame as well as the number of page views. This is a broad metric for exploring  roughly what people are doing on your site
  • Look at Audience > Engagement – You can see how much time is spent on specific pages or across your entire site.
  • Behavior has its own category in which you can roughly track how people move around. The Overview shows the most popular pages on your site while Behavior Flow tracks their route.

Google also introduced BETA analytics on a semi-regular basis which gives you new things to try.

5. Combine analytics with Webmaster Tools

Google also has another free tool called Google Webmasters Tools

It isn’t an essential but, depending on your needs, it could be worth you signing up for. It requires you to verify your site by uploading a unique piece of code, but that’s a one time thing that means you’re good to go.  You’ll need to ‘verify’ your site by uploading a unique piece of code to it to prove you own and control it – this is pretty easy though.

So what can webmaster tools do for you:

  • Highlight any worrying issues – Including smaller issues such as Google spiders not being able to read all content properly to bigger problems such as malware threats.
  • Keep track of your site’s speed  – Increasingly important in achieving a good Google ranking
  • It gives you some extra detail not included in your Analytics report – Useful for getting a more detailed understanding of acquisition among other things.
  • Option to use more advanced tools to benefit your SEO – for the majority of organisations, the basic tools will be enough, but there are more advanced options for down the line that you can explore here.


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