Great – your nonprofit organization has a robust website with built-in blogging and connectivity to social media, now what?
Analytics is a valuable tool in understanding how our content is accessed, read and disseminated. Analytics however is not the silver bullet to ensuring success. Understanding that it only provides data on what happened rather than what will happen, we can only use it to guide our future decisions based on the past. Although it is are not perfect, it provides ample data for the majority of not for profit organizations out there. The tools presented in this article are all free to use, so go get started!
Every NonprofitCMS has a pre-configured Google Analytics module installed on every single page and blog posting of the site. Google analytics provides various insights into your viewership, specifically “who is visiting,” “how they found us”, and “what are they viewing on our site.” Nonprofits that have their website sync with Facebook and Twitter can use other free 3rd party tools like Facebook Insights and TwitterAnalyzer to see how users are engaging the community to further the interests of your nonprofit.
Who is browsing your material?
If your readers are viewing your content from a mobile device such as an iPhone or Blackberry would you choose to format your subject matter differently? What would your sponsors think if you found out 80% of your readership was visiting from a Mac instead of a PC (generally a higher income demographic). Analytics provides a series of metrics on the constituency of your visitors. What device they are using, what web browser, what city they are coming from, whether they are a first time visitor or a repeat are a subset of the data points collected. Raw data alone is simply news; however your task should be to take these data points and to correlate them to what is important for your nonprofit’s mission.
How did they find us?
‘Even if it is not good news, it’s good news to know’ is a widely disseminated web advertisement from Google Analytics. Your nonprofit may invest in keywords, it may pay for banners on other sites, or perhaps you may send email newsletters. Analytics can tell you the direct referral source, be it a website, another page, this e-zine, or an advertisement. If the source was in fact a search engine it can further provide details such as the search keyword(s) used or whether it came organically (from a search results page) or from a paid advertisement. Google Analytics also helps you track external events, such as a 5K race or TV/Radio interview. By telling google when these events happen it maybe able to provide some correlation with a spike in visits that would otherwise seem all but completely random. Armed with this data you can see what is working, adjust, and make an effective outreach strategy to get visitors inbound.
What are they viewing?
What is the mission of your nonprofit? Is it to provide community outreach? Is it to disseminate journalistic information? Is it to bring awareness to a cause? Perhaps certain areas of your site are browser more frequently, and these areas may not address the main goals of your organization. Analytics provides these details including the page a user entered your site at, what pages and what path the took as they browser your site, how long they spent on each page, and their last page visited before moving on to another site. Analytics lets you set up a tracking path to see monitor events such to signing up for a newsletter to capture areas where visitors may decide to abandon the process. Seeing what people are viewing and how they engage your site can help further optimize it to better reach your target audience.
How are they furthering the conversation for us?
The paradigm of Web 2.0 shifted the broadcast model of the Internet and all media from a one-way transmission to a full, open and engaging discussion. Social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Stumble Upon pioneered the way for the social networking power houses of Facebook and Twitter. All of these popular services provide action-oriented analytics systems. Analytics can help sift out the relative value of a particular visitor. For example a person visiting your content after visiting a Facebook page may be satisfactory, however the visitor that finds your content, and then shares it with his or her contacts in the social networking world would be significantly more desirable. Analytics help identify which content is being syndicated. Using this data you can identify trends and possibly develop a formula on how to increase your nonprofit’s reach.
What are the next steps?
All NonprofitCMS customers have access to Google Analytics. If you are not a customer of our content management system we recommend you request your vendor to install Google Analytics or Yahoo! Web Analytics immediately. Analytics remain virtually invisible to the end user of the site and do not impact the layout. The services can be configured to send automatic email reports on a periodic basis. For the power users, you can log in at any time to drill down and view heavily filtered information to further your research efforts.