Set goals to achieve the results you want.
I might be addicted to goal setting. I set goals for how many steps I’ll get in each day, how much money I’ll spend each month, how long I can go without eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant (not very long, as it turns out), how many likes I want to get on a Facebook post, how often I should call my parents, and what time I should go to bed by. I find that I do better—live healthier, cheaper, and happier—when I set goals, because then I know what I’m trying to achieve and can make a plan.
One of my big responsibilities in my work is managing websites. Lots of websites. I manage six regularly, and more here and there. And just like everything else in my life, I like to set goals for them. Google Analytics is a key tool that I use to set and monitor those goals.
Google Analytics is a super powerful platform that allows you to learn all kinds of things about your website and the people that visit it. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s free, and Google offers extensive training. In order to get the most out of this powerful tool to optimize your website, though, you’ll want to start setting and tracking goals (and conversions, which are another kind of goal).
A goal or conversion is a trackable action you want a user or group of users to take on your website. There are “hard” conversions and “soft” conversions, and depending on what your big picture goals are, you might set a combination of the two. Hard conversions have really objective outcomes—they’re things like making a donation, registering for an event, or subscribing to your list. With these conversions, you know exactly the benefit you get from each one, and they demonstrate a visitor has a strong intent or interest in your work. Soft conversions have a more secondary value—they’re things like the time a visitor spends on your website, how many pages they visit, or downloading a report.
Each nonprofit’s goals for their website are going to vary widely based on their overall marketing objectives. That also means I can’t write them for you! Here’s what I recommend, though:
- Measure what matters. If it’s not important to you to have a goal for newsletter sign-ups, don’t feel compelled to track it. For many nonprofits, that’s an important metric, but it might not be for you. Spend time thinking about what actions you really care about web visitors taking, and concentrate your goals on those. Your website goals should be tied to your organizational goals.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. I have written a number of goals that I thought were great, only to find that either the results didn’t really tell me what I wanted to know, or I wasn’t as interested in the results as I thought I’d be. It’s okay to guess and test on the goals you set, and it’s okay to delete them if you’re not getting helpful information from them.
- Setting goals doesn’t help you achieve them—they just tell you where you’re aiming. Once you’ve set your goals, you’ll need to monitor them and make changes to your website and marketing in order to achieve your goals. If you’re not getting a lot of donations through your website, maybe you need to change the prominence of your “Donate” button. If your reports aren’t being downloaded, maybe they’re too hard to find or you’re not making them interesting to visitors. Collecting extra data is only useful if you use it to improve.
There are a ton of resources available to explain the mechanics of setting up goals and conversions, so I won’t go into that here, but I encourage you to get started with goal setting today! Then, once you’re hooked on taking your Google Analytics to the next level, start following Occam’s Razor—a blog all about analytics, written by the brilliant (and entertaining) Avinash Kaushik. Happy goal setting!
Almost 3 months after Mobilegeddon, we tackled the topic of mobile/responsive websites.
Mobile/Responsive Web Development: Not your grandmother’s website
Almost 3 months after Mobilegeddon, we tackled the topic of mobile/responsive websites. The July forum focused on three things; 1.) why is being mobile-friendly important 2.) what does it mean to be mobile friendly or responsive 3.) how do nonprofits make sure their sites and campaigns are getting through to the mobile user.
To help us answer those questions we turned to the experts:
Jen Frazier – President, Firefly Partners
Jen brings over ten years of nonprofit online and email strategy and marketing expertise with her to every project at Firefly. Jen has managed and directed hundreds of online campaigns and is a nationally recognized expert in best practices in online engagement. Through her years of working with many of Planned Parenthood’s local offices, Jen has become extremely well versed in the overall needs and realities of smaller nonprofit organizations.
Marisa Porter – Web Architect, Wanna Pixel
Marisa dodges conventional wisdom and buzzwords and tackles code monsters and design ghouls. Her love of languages and words led to her love of WordPress, code, and design. Marisa’s role at Wanna Pixel, Inc. is creating beautiful concepts, coding/implementing web-based solutions, and directing the whole web development process—from creative UX to web architecture and completion. When not dancing with code, she’s doing yoga or dreaming about wide open spaces.
Meg Delagrange – Creative Director, Wanna Pixel
With over 22 moves between New York and Tokyo, Meg finally found her home with Wanna Pixel. Meg takes the ideas and mismatched puzzle pieces of information from clients and turns them into beautiful, interactive, accessible, and modern user experiences. Her role is to understand the brand and values that you need to communicate and put that into a visual language your clients will understand. After hours, you may find her painting in her studio or Instagramming inspirational scribbles. She currently lives in the always-beautiful Denver, Colorado.
At the July forum, we introduced dashboards and the idea of data visualization.
Dashboards: Monitor Progress to Achieve Results
At the July forum, we introduced dashboards and the idea of data visualization. Jen Shephard and April Hendrickson from OMNI Institute walked us through what a dashboard is, what some key features and benefits of dashboards are and, perhaps most importantly, how to determine if your organization needs a dashboard. They were also kind enough to share their presentation with us and it can be found here:OMNI Presentation
In the second half of our forum, we met Walt Ogilvie from Compassion. Walt provided case studies from his work that demonstrated the power of dashboards and data visualization to inspire change and motivate teams. His presentation also provided examples of different dashboard layouts and suggestions for how to measure progress and assess a dashboard’s efficacy. He also generously shared his presentation here: Compassion Presentation
In May, we focused on Content Management Systems (CMS). Specifically we investigated website management tools, their components, and how to pick the right one depending on organizational needs and goals.
In May, we focused on Content Management Systems (CMS). Specifically we investigated website management tools, their components, and how to pick the right one depending on organizational needs and goals. Nicci Shaw and Pete Tell from rabble + rouser provided a wide-angle look at what a CMS is, how they work, and what options are available. Bethany Siegler from UniqueThink followed that up with an in-depth look at WordPress.
Following the presentations, attendees split into one of three groups depending on the reason for their attendance. One group addressed how to choose a CMS and what functionality to look for; the second group dealt with more advanced WordPress questions; and the third group covered questions on other CMSs like Drupal, Joomla, and Sharepoint.
Our March forum took a look at Web Analytics at a 201 level for intermediate users.
Web Analytics 201:
Our March forum took a look at Web Analytics at a 201 level for intermediate users. Our speakers walked us through both the theory and strategy behind using your web analytics data to improve your online presence, as well as demonstrated how to put those ideas into action.
Our expert from Big Footprint, Nick, walked us through the kinds of goals or conversions that can be tracked, and why it’s important to do so. We then learned about core metrics, setting up dashboards, and how to identify your most valuable channels and build on them. Our second speaker was Adrienne, representing a local nonprofit. She shared some lessons she’s learned about what’s actually being measured (“time on site” doesn’t mean what you might think!) and the importance of setting alerts and understanding site search.
There were some great questions, as well:
Q: What’s a channel?
A: An inbound traffic source to your site. Examples include paid search, organic search, referral.
Q: When you’re looking at referral sources, what’s a plain slash mean?
A: It’s your homepage.
Q: How do we track downloads?
A: Can you configure a thank you page after the download? If so, that would be the easiest thing to track. There’s also a snippet of code that can surround an href to track.
Q: What is the difference between goals and events?
A: Goal tracks going to a page. Event tracks clicking a button that takes you to a new site.
Q: What is bounce rate?
A: Someone comes to our site and leaves from the page they landed on. Or if they leave within 10 seconds (even after clicking on more than one page).
Q: Bounce rate: Does it matter how visitors leave?
A: It’s really up to you how you’d like to interpret it. If it’s a blog that visitors land on, read, and then leave, sure, that tracks a bounce, but is that a bad thing? Or perhaps they bounce to a different site you own. Still a “good” bounce, but you may want to track that using an Event.
Tech4Good took a look at how to take a website from good to great by making it more user-friendly.
Tech4Good took a look at how to take a website from good to great by making it more user-friendly. Our speakers walked us through what “usability” is and why it’s important, and gave us some best practice examples that anyone can implement right away. We also had a hands-on part of the forum so attendees could learn how to test a website in quick and easy (and cheap!) way.
- Julie Johnston, rabble + rouser
- Sean Hudson, Vermillion
- Tim Whalin, Consultant
- rabble + rouser: We do advertising—and a whole lot more. And we do it all for the same purpose: to make your brand more compelling to people. From strategy, ad campaigns, and hardworking collateral materials to immersive web experiences and mobile applications, we create the stuff that connects people to the brands they buy and ultimately grow to love.