Google Analytics can seem daunting, especially for the smaller marketing team or the marketer with limited digital chops. Perhaps you’ve avoided the very mention of it, hesitant to dive down the rabbit hole. After all, it’s unfamiliar territory, and you’ve got plenty on your plate as it is.
Or perhaps you’re a seasoned Google Analytics pro who just needs a little validation right now. Maybe it’s been a while since you checked in on your old friend.
Regardless, setting up the right goals in your Google Analytics account will give you insight into your audiences, and your nonprofit website performance.
After all, your website is your biggest body of content. It pulls together so many different elements and assets of your brand, making it the most critical content you own.
The best nonprofit websites show impact. They have a command of storytelling that invites an emotional response, moving the reader to engage with the organization in a few desired ways. Every page has a purpose, designed to drive a certain outcome.
What are the things you want your visitors to do on your website? If you haven’t identified these website goals and tracked them in Google Analytics to determine when, where, and how often they’re occurring, you’ll never know how your website is truly performing.
What are Google Analytics goals?
A Google Analytics goal is any action someone may take on your website that your organization considers a conversion (a win!). For nonprofits, the most important and popular goals include:
- Email sign-ups
- Volunteer sign-ups
- Petition signatures or other advocacy activities
It’s ideal to have between three and five goals set up in your Google Analytics account so you can see how many of your website visitors are completing each of the above actions, and what pages of your website are driving them to do so. That percentage of total users who complete at least one of your specified goals is your website’s conversion rate.
I should note here that there are different types of goals, and each goal type requires specific action for proper setup The three types of Google Analytics goals are duration goals, event goals, and destination goals.
Duration goals (or session goals) measure the percentage of users who stay on your website for a specified amount of time. Pages/Screens per session measures the percentage of users who visited a minimum number of pages on your website.
A high percentage here can indicate that your visitors are engaged with your content, cruising around your site learning more about you.
Event goals are registered every time a user conducts a specific action on your website, such as a video play, file download, or button click.
Duration and event goals are great, but they don’t tell the whole story. What’s missing is the causation—what’s making the user engage? Are your digital marketing efforts actually driving these goal conversions? For more information, we look to destination goals.
Destination goals register a goal completion when your user reaches a certain page. You get to designate these pages based on your business objectives. It’s often a thank you page or confirmation page that the user sees after completing a sign-up, registration, or purchase. For every new goal, the goal tracking will depend on the specific URL of that destination page.
What Google Analytics Goals Should a Nonprofit Track?
As a nonprofit, you’ll likely want to focus on these three big Google Analytics destination goals:
1. Email Sign-ups
In the world of digital marketing, email addresses are currency. Everyone has one, and a healthy email list makes dynamic lead generation—AKA their donations and engagement—yours to lose. The first interaction someone has with your organization doesn’t have to be a donation or volunteer application. If you can just get their email address, you can get your foot in the door. You can (and should) always ask for support later.
Emails can be solicited in a variety of ways, including contact forms, newsletter sign-ups, gated content downloads, and petition signatures. Tracking email sign-ups as a Google Analytics goal is simple; all you need is a thank you page with a unique URL that people land on after signing up.
2. Cause Engagement
Every nonprofit should have a call to action (CTA) that isn’t “donate.” You may even have a few CTAs through various campaigns. At any point, you may be trying to sign up volunteers, secure petition signatures, get the word out about contacting your elected officials, and disseminate a toolkit or other training resource.
No matter what it is, your visitors should be submitting their personal information via a form submission in the process of getting involved. By creating unique thank you pages for users to land on after participating in each unique form of engagement, you can track which activities are the most popular and determine why.
Donations are great, right? Someone was moved enough by your organization that they want to empower you with their hard-earned cash. It’s a nice feeling when the work you do literally pays off and makes someone else believe in your mission, too.
Wouldn’t it also be nice to know which marketing campaigns won your donors over? Which webpage made the difference? Which email drove them to give? For every donor you have, you’ll have an idea of what led them to support your nonprofit. That’s invaluable.
If you collect donations through a third-party platform, there’s a good chance it offers Google Analytics integration. That’s worth doing (and if you can’t do it—hire someone to do it for you).
By the way, it’s important that your donation form is designed properly so you don’t lose potential donors. We’ve designed dozens of donation pages over the years and we’ve learned a thing or two about what works. Poor user experience in your forms could deter goal completions by causing visitors to dip out of your goal funnel before reaching the specific page you’re tracking.
The greater strategy here is to drive every visitor to achieve all three types of goal completions—at least once! That means thinking comprehensively about your goals and your website flow. What’s the easy, non-committal request that can set you up now for the bigger requests later? Lead with that. Aim for consistency across the experience. Your users should feel a certain cohesiveness when advancing from one request to the next.
You don’t need to set up a million different goals. Please don’t! Condense it down to the few that actually show value. The goals you choose should directly ladder up to your business objectives. You can even assign a monetary value to goal completions in Google Analytics to see exactly how much money each webpage, and your website at large, is bringing into your organization. If you can do this, it’s easier to request budgets for website updates or overhauls later.