I talked in a previous blog about identifying the purpose(s) of your charity website and ways of measuring its success. Today let’s build upon that with a practical tool to help you do just that.
Google Analytics = Information overload
Google Analytics is a brilliant, free tool. But most website owners rarely make use of it because there’s just too much data there – too many measurements and reports to look through. And even if you understand exactly what they’re measuring, they usually don’t come with any useful context or insight. You know the measurement of everything but the importance of nothing.
What makes a good dashboard?
To me there’s a couple of elements:
- First – it should pick out the most important data and present it in a nice, easily digestible way.
- But more importantly, it should help you answer important questions about your digital activity, and provide meaningful insights into the action you can take in order to do things better.
Without that second element, you’ve just got yourself some pretty graphs to look at every month. At best they’ll give you an important overview of how you’re performing and help you identify any trends. But if you can’t look at it and think ‘OK – we clearly need to focus on doing this as that’s the best way achieving that‘ then it’s not a useful, practical tool.
Introducing our charity digital dashboards
These pipe data from services like Google Analytics, Search Console, Mailchimp etc into a Google tool called Data Studio. The example one we’re sharing here uses sample data from Google’s online shop so it’s not a perfect representation of the kind of metrics and data that a charity might measure, but it gives you a good idea of the format.
Because each charity is different, the dashboards are customised to reflect the data sources and the key objectives of your charity. And importantly, they’re annotated so that pretty much anyone in the organisation can understand them and get a good understanding of what your charity’s website and digital objectives are, and the steps required to help meet them.
What kind of questions can your digital dashboard help you answer?
As an example, here’s just a small list off the top of my head:
- Are we over-reliant on one or two sources of traffic to our site? That implies there’s opportunities to strengthen other sources like SEO or email marketing.
- What’s the conversion rate of our donation page? Can we optimise it so we continually nudge it upwards?
- What’s the average online donation? If that seems a bit low (i.e. under £50) then what can we do to nudge it higher?
- Where to the most or ‘best’ (in terms of average donation value) come from? Google searches, social media, email newsletters etc.
- Which sections of our site are most popular? Is it About Us / Get Involved / What We Do etc? (You might be surprised how relatively popular your Jobs page is!). If lots of people are reading the What We Do type content but very few are reading the Get Involved stuff, or vice-versa then maybe you could do a better job of cross-pollinating the content so visitors to most pages can get a snapshot of what the problem is and how they fit as part of the solution.
- Which of our blog posts are the most-read? Which topics seem to drive interest and interaction? Do new visitors tend to stick around and read more blog posts or do they leave straight away?
- Which of our ‘case studies’ seems to be the most compelling? – i.e. which ones drive the most traffic to the fundraising or donation pages.
- Which keywords / search terms do we appear prominently in the Google search rankings for? Can we focus on one or two to get them into the all important top 3 search results? (Read more about charity site SEO here).
- Are we making good use of our Google Grant? Is it driving useful traffic that ‘converts’ into real-life actions like donating, volunteering, signing up for emails etc?
- Which channels contributed best to our big Christmas appeal? Was it our emails, banner ads, social media, corporate partners etc?
- How many people downloaded our new report? Does changing its location/prominence on the site have an effect? Could we offer it in return for signing up to our newsletter instead?
- What return are we getting on the time invested in our Twitter and Facebook channels? They’re good for brand-building and supporter-relations, but are our social media followers really engaged donors/fundraisers or are they click-tivists who are happy to see and perhaps share your content, but largely ignore your Calls to Action?
- Is any of this working? Graphs showing long-term trends don’t help drive any particular action, but they’re a good overview of the bigger picture. Hopefully you’ll begin to see that your efforts are paying off, even though with projects like SEO improvement can take months to show tangible benefits. The trend graphs are useful for CEOs, Directors, Trustees etc to see because they often only need to see a snapshot. The other graphs give an insight into the day-to-day tactics that can help to drive the long-term improvement.
Insights should prompt Actions
Putting aside the trend graphs, the other questions here not only provide useful insight into an aspect of your digital activity that you didn’t have before, but they also prompt specific actions that I can take today or store for the future. So armed with some answers to the questions above I might be thinking:
‘Let’s try increasing the middle suggested donation prompt on our donation page, or changing the examples to something more tangible’.
‘Let’s blog more about this subject as it drives more engagement’.
‘Let’s make the sections of our site a bit less like isolated silos’.
‘Let’s put our advertising budget into Facebook ads not banner ads next time as they drove more donations’.
‘Let’s get more links to this important page on our site from these relevant third-party sites’.
‘Let’s spend less time on Twitter and more on our email marketing’.
‘Let’s create content that helps us get more Google traffic from people asking this question or searching for that information’.
Get in touch and we’ll help you build your custom charity digital dashboard
You can find our contact details and information about our digital marketing support for charities.