Like in every other industry, data helps your nonprofit see whether your programs are really achieving what you set out to do. However, many organizations still plug away at online fundraising and marketing without pausing to collect data that can tell them what’s working—and where they’re missing the mark.
- Ever wonder how many times a user visits your website before making a donation?
- Do you know which pages on your site are most likely to turn an interested visitor into a first-time donor?
- Are you still trying to figure out whether those paid social media ads are really converting to dollars donated?
Google Analytics is a free tool that can answer these questions and countless others. Chances are your nonprofit already has Google Analytics linked to its website to collect basic stats, such as your total numbers of visits and where users are coming from online. If yours doesn’t, or you’re not sure, start with learning the basics of Google Analytics.
If you’re ready to move beyond quarterly Analytics checks and start drilling down into your numbers, follow the strategies below to boost those donations.
1. Gather Donor Intel From User Behavior Patterns
If you’re already using Google Analytics to get a better idea of which blog topics and programs users are most interested in, you have a head-start on this strategy. Apply the same principle of user behavior patterns, but sleuth the virtual pathways that led them to making a donation.
Here are three ways to do it:
- Head to the Behavior tab in your analytics dashboard. Here you’ll view the flow of pages a user goes through before arriving on your donation page. Look to see which page most often precedes a click on your donation page. Analyze its content—photos, language, formatting. Reflect on what you think is working well, and try replicating the model on other pages across your site.
- Segment the behavior flow results to narrow down certain populations. For example, maybe you want to focus on people who’ve arrived on your site from clicking a Facebook post. You might check to see how many pages they visited before ending up on your donation page.
- Go to the Acquisition tab to identify sources. Here you can learn how often your donation page was visited directly from sources like social media, your newsletter, or organic searches. If you’ve been sharing your donation page on Facebook throughout the holiday season but have very few actual visits from those posts to show for it, it’s probably time to rethink your strategy.
2. Create a Google Analytics Goal to Hone in on Your Donation Page
You’re working hard to convince people to donate to your nonprofit. Don’t let your donation page scare them off. Take time to explore the typical online donor’s experience so you can improve it.
First, create a Google Analytics Goal. A Goal is an entry you create in Analytics to help you track an event you want to take place on your site, such as a user clicking on your donation page.
You can view specific data related to that Goal easily across your Analytics dashboard. Explore your dashboard through the lens of this new Goal to learn more about users’ experiences with your donation page.
For example, how long do most people spend on your donations page? If it’s a matter of seconds, perhaps your page is not engaging them, or something about the donation form is making them feel less confident in the transaction. If they are using your donation page as a springboard to other pages, maybe it’s too cluttered with distracting links and needs to be streamlined to hold readers’ attention.
There are limits to what Google Analytics Goals can track, so you need to get a little creative to make Goals work for you. For example, while Goals can’t technically track whether or not someone made a donation, you can set up your Goal to track how many hits your “thank you for donating” page received, which only shows up after a donation is made.
3. Set Up Google Analytics eCommerce to Get Inside Donors’ Minds
The volume of new and interesting fundraising data you can glean from steps one and two is extensive. But for those who want to go even deeper and harvest more insights, there is one final method to undertake: Google Analytics’ eCommerce functionality.
While it may sound like something reserved for online boutiques, eCommerce is a powerful tool for increasing your understanding of who your donors are and how they interact with your nonprofit online.
To get started, link eCommerce to your donation page. Depending on which donation platform you use, this could be a seamless integration, or you may have to call your web management company and invest a few hours into the setup. If you learn how to take full advantage of the tool, the up-front setup effort will pay for itself in fundraising insights and subsequent results.
By tracking donations through Google Analytics’ eCommerce function, you can discover all types of new information about your donors. Using eCommerce, you can:
- Find out how many times an individual user visited your website before making their first donation.
- Systematically track the behavior of top-tier donors, such as those who contributed over $100. Do these groups of donors tend to come from your newsletter, or social media? While they might take a bit of custom work to uncover, these insights can help you focus on strategies that attract these pools of people.
- Evaluate paid social media promotion strategies by dividing the actual donation sums received by the amount you spent on a promotion.
Don’t Just Track—React and Adapt
It’s important to use Google Analytics to track and analyze data to increase your donations. However, your investment in learning about donor behavior only pays off when you adapt, test, and refine your digital content. Optimize the channels, formats, and messages that appeal most to your target audience. Plan to spend time implementing tweaks and developing improved marketing products as you mine fascinating donor data through Analytics.
Finally, make sure to share the new insights with your team. Sometimes nonprofits get hung up on outdated approaches or “doing things the way we’ve always done them.” Armed with real data to back up your ideas, you can feel confident in suggesting creative new approaches.
An award-winning social impact storyteller and freelance writer, Lisa Habersack helps nonprofits big and small to inspire, engage, and connect. Say hello at www.lisahabersack.com.