January 6, 2015

Use Analytics to Improve Your Nonprofit Website

For this month’s Connect theme, a number of speakers are previewing the great breakout sessions they are preparing for the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin, TX March 4-6. Following is a preview of one of over 100 breakout sessions.

Stop spinning your wheels trying to improve your nonprofit’s website! There is a treasure chest of information in your website’s analytics — and you can learn how to unlock it.

In this preview of an upcoming Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) session, you’ll learn about the six (6) most important website analytics data points and what they’re telling you about your nonprofit’s website.

At the NTC, you’ll have the opportunity to dive deeper into each of the terms. You’ll also get useful tips to help you improve the specific area where your site needs the most help.

Is your organization’s outreach effective?
If your organization’s outreach is effective, you should see an overall increase in sessions and pageviews. For example, if your Executive Director is interviewed on the radio and the interview was effective, your website should experience an increase in sessions and pageviews. Or, if you run a series of advertisements and they’re effective, your website should experience an increase in sessions and pageviews.

Sessions (formerly known as a Visit)
A session represents one person browsing your site, regardless of how many pages they visit. Google Analytics considers a session to be closed once your visitor has been inactive for more than 30 minutes.

A pageview represents one person browsing one page, one time. Pageviews are usually your biggest analytics number because they’re counted all the time, such as when a visitor refreshes the page.

Is your website’s content effective?
If your website’s content is effective, you should see an overall decrease in bounce rate and an overall increase in average time on site.

Bounce Rate
A bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who came to your site, loaded one page, and left the site without loading any other pages. I regularly observe bounce rates above 70% on many nonprofit sites and pages. I recommend you revamp sites or pages that have a bounce rate of 80% or higher, as those sites/pages need immediate improvement.

Average Time on Site
The time on site represents the length of time between when a visitor loaded their first page on your site and their last page on your site. I’ve seen average times on nonprofit websites that were anywhere between 30 seconds and 30 minutes.

How is your website’s audience changing?
Together, top landing pages and top exit pages help you understand the changing interests of your audience. For example, in December, your top landing page might include an article about keeping pets safe in the winter cold; in June, your top landing page might include an article about keeping kids safe in the summer sun.

Landing Pages
A landing page is the first page that a visitor loads during their visit (session). The same visitor may have multiple landing pages throughout their relationship with your nonprofit. Perhaps the first time they visit, their landing page is your homepage. Then, a month later, when you send your enewsletter, they may click on an article link in your email message.

Exit Pages
An exit page is the last page that a visitor loads during their visit (session). As with landing pages, the same visitor may have multiple exit pages throughout their relationship with your nonprofit. Exit pages may also represent areas of your site that caused a visitor to feel frustrated, causing them to leave the site altogether.

Finish unlocking the power of your website’s analytics at the 15NTC
Bring your questions and your notebook, because the “Use Analytics to Improve Your Nonprofit Website” workshop is your opportunity to get real answers.

You’ll learn where to find this information in your Google Analytics account and helpful tips that you can use to improve each of these key analytics for your site’s unique needs.

(You’ll also receive a handy dashboard template that you can “save as” and use directly in your own Analytics account.)

Bonus Resources
If you’re not yet set up on Google Analytics, or if you’d like a training video that shows you exactly where to find these six key data points in your own Google Analytics account, download this free analytics training video.

Until we see each other in Austin in March, here’s a handy reference image to help you remember the six most important analytics terms for your nonprofit’s website:

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Yesenia Sotelo
Yesenia Sotelo is a web developer and nonprofit nerd. She has been building and growing nonprofit websites since 2001. As the founder of SmartCause Digital, she serves as an approachable, expert resource that can answer all your questions about web technology, strategies for online fundraising, data security and anything that could affect your organization’s online presence. Find her on twitter as @silverbell or at smartcausedigital.com.
Interest Categories: Data, Websites
Tags: 15NTC, analytics, website strategy