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!
The truth is there are a lot of ways to use social media to engage with your audience today, how can you choose the best one?
Should we be on Instagram? I’ve heard that Snapchat is the latest, can you get us on that? Is Google+ still relevant? Why aren’t we on YouTube?
If you’re like me, not only have you heard some of these questions before; you’ve even asked them of yourself. The truth is there are a LOT of ways to use social media to engage with your audience today. It seems like I can’t get through a week without hearing about “the latest and greatest” new platform we HAVE to be on. It can definitely feel a little overwhelming at times. So how do you know if your organization should be on a specific social media platform or not?
To help answer this question, I’ve come up with a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help you narrow down which platform(s) might be best for your organization.
The first tip is… Know your audience. It’s an old adage, but, unlike the constantly changing tech environment we live in, it remains consistently true. If your audience doesn’t spend time in a social media space, neither should you. If you don’t know your audience’s social media behaviors well, it can take a great deal of trial and error to learn what platforms they engage in, which leads us to tip two…
Do your research. Not just about the platform itself, but also your audience. Take any information you have about them and turn it into actionable data. Look at where they live, and whether that might give you clues about what some of their interests are. How do they engage with your organization? If you wanted to get really in-depth you could even create a fictional profile (or profiles) of your ideal audience member(s). What are their interests? Likes? Dislikes? Cultural background? Education? Income? An easier track might be to survey those who are already engaged with you to see what social media they’re using (board members, volunteers, donors, etc.).
So now you know your audience, and you’ve done your research, what’s next? That brings us to the third tip… Be aware of your bandwidth. How much time can you realistically devote to this medium? For example, if you’ve determined that a majority of your audience is on Instagram, you should seriously consider being on Instagram, but only if you’re going to put in the time and actually use it to engage regularly with your audience. The last thing you want to do is leave your audience high and dry. Nothing is more disappointing then wanting to connect with an organization on a social media platform only to learn they haven’t posted anything in six months. It’s like when I want to listen to my favorite Podcast only to have them not post for that week – major bummer (but I digress).
Now, at the end of the day, when you’re boss comes to you and asks “should we be on Nextdoor?” at least you have some tools to help you build a recommendation.