Google Analytics for Dummies (or Fundraisers!)

This blog is meant for those who use Google Analytics. You can read this if you would like to polish up on your basic Analytics skills. It’s not meant for freaks. Just some basic tips and tricks for those who want to learn about the visitors on their website or use their site to generate leads or donations.

Today I will just discuss the very basics of Google Analytics, like how to install it and what do the terms mean. In my next blog, more advanced options of Analytics will be discussed like setting goals, creating funnels or using Analytics for A/B testing.

So for now, the basics:

Install Analytics

If you don’t use Google Analytics: implement it now! It’s easy to use, it gives you great insight in your website’s use and… it’s free!

It’s important to implement the Analytics code correct. You (or your agency) need to place the tracking code on every page of your website. Go to www.google.com/analytics and sign up. After sign up, Google will provide you with the code. Copy it and paste it on Notepad (the simple text editor of Microsoft Windows). Send this text file to your agency or paste it in your CMS system on the bottom of every page of the website (don’t place the code on the top! It will slow down your website).   If you are not sure if you have Google Analytics installed go to your website. Press the right mouse button and select view source (or something like that). A new page will open with the html of your website.

Scroll to the bottom and you will find a code like:

<script type=”text/javascript”> var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-Analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); /script> <script type=”text/javascript”>  var firstTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-56267-33”);firstTracker._initData();firstTracker._trackPageview();var secondTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-5295582-._setDomainName(“none”);secondTracker._setAllowLinker(true);secondTracker._initData();secondTracker._trackPageview();</script>

Now you are sure that you have Analytics! Let’s check out what it all means.

The Dashboard

After you sign in, click on show report and this is the page you will see:

On the top you see the numbers of visitors over time in graph form. This is handy to see if your online campaigns actually got you some new visitors. If you want, you can also change this graph. On the left top of the graph you see a pull down menu. By selecting this you can toggle to the data you want to see. For example you can change to the average time on site or bounce rate, depending on your goals. You can also compare two elements like first time visitors and overall number of visitors. This is useful to see if your new campaign actually attracted new people instead of your constituency.

Below that you will see the main usage numbers of your site. What do they mean?

Visits: the number of visits to your website. These are not the visitors! If you, for example, would like to calculate your conversion rate you need to know the number of your visitors.  The number of visitors can be found in the graph visitor’s overview below the main numbers.

Page/visit: this is the number of pages visitors check on average. Between 3 and 5 pages is a normal number.

Bounce rate: this percentage are visitors to your website that instantly leaves your site after arriving. With the bounce rate you can see if the content you provide is what the visitor is looking for. Don’t expect however to get extremely low bounce rate: you can’t please everybody. However, if you have a very high bounce rate (like 80%) you should have a second look at the content you provide. The average worldwide bounce rate is 45.2% but varies of course per industry.

The bounce rate is also very helpful to measure the strength of your online advertising. If many visitors, after clicking on your banner or text ad, leave instantly, check the text on the landing page. It could be that the promise you made in the ad does not connect very well with the content the visitor sees.

Charity averages of bounce rates  aren’t available at the moment sadly enough. If you would like to share this number with me, please feel free to do so. I can publish them next time and can be used for benchmarking for the whole industry. By providing these numbers you can make every fundraiser a more effective one! Please send an email to me.

Page views: The total number of pages people check on your website.

Average time on site: this is a great measure to check your ‘stickiness’ . Are you providing interesting content? Off course, each site is different. A blog like 101fundraising has a high average time on site (especially if you read a lengthy blog like this one). If you have a campaign website that just aims for email leads, the average time is much shorter (people only have to fill in their email address).

New visitors: This is the number of new visitors to your website. Especially useful if you started a new campaign.

Overview of sources: This pie chart is divided in four parts: direct traffic, search engines, referring sites and others. Click on the view report link to have a more in-depth overview of your traffic sources.

The search engines option shows the key words people use to find your website. Take a good look at the bounce rate which you can see next to the keyword. If a key word is used often but has a very high bounce rate, you need to take a look at the content you provide. Use stronger calls to action on the landing page for example so people get the urgency to stay. Or change the content so it matches the key word better.

Referring websites show the sites that link to you or banner ads outside the Google network. Click on the sites once in a while to see why they refer to you.

The others part should be as low as possible (you want to know where your traffic is coming from!). It could be that you don’t link your newsletter correctly. You could use Google url maker (I will discuss this in the next blog) to get you some better insights.

Map overlay: The maps are sometimes useful to see if your local campaigning actually stirs something up. Do you have a local campaign in Rotterdam? This should add some traffic from that city.

Goals overview: This is one of the most useful parts of Analytics for fundraisers. It measures the goals you set on forehand. Two important goals could be the number of donations and the number of sign ups to your newsletter. Or when you want people to sign a petition on your website goals could be set for that too. Basically, one measures the goals by counting the number of times the “thank you” page appears after the donation form or email “sign up” page.

How to do this?

I will discuss this in my next blog, together with other more advanced but very useful features of Google Analytics. Features like creating funnels, setting up email reports or using Analytics for A/B testing. And please share your stats with me. The numbers will be treated confidential off course! Send your email to emailto101 at gmail.com.

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