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James OMalley 7 min read

Defining a Nonprofit Website's Google Analytics KPIs (Part 2)

In part 1 of this series, we discussed how to correctly install your Google Analytics. Now in part 2, we will cover how to establish which key performance indicators (KPI's) you'll be using to measure success. This is the most important part of your web analytics. Which KPI's your nonprofit organization ultimately uses will depend heavily on its goals and the goals of your website (your site does have a purpose, right?!?).

Google Analytics has proven particularly helpful for content-based sites and commerce sites. If you, like most nonprofits, accept donations on your website, then you should consider yourself to be running a "commerce" site, too. If the ultimate goal - or at least one of the most important goals - of your website is to convert visitors to donors, then your KPI's will be very different than if your goal is to prompt visitors to read your organization's latest reports.

Out of the box, Google Analytics provides a lot of useful metrics, such as visitors, pageviews, most popular pages, and a variety of other helpful data. It also gives you some more advanced, calculated metrics like bounce rate, average time on site, and pages/visit. 

As you can imagine, a metric like average time on site is less helpful for a donation site than it is for a content-based one. On a donations-optimized site, you are more concerned with whether or not a visitor gave a donation than with how long they spent reading your PDFs. For this reason, you must tailor your KPI's to your own site and strategy.

Here are some things to consider when selecting which KPI's are important for you site, from Metrics Insider (registration required):

  1. Determine the organization's strategy - What is your organizaion's overall goal? Which metrics will help you achieve it?
  2. Define the site's goals and why the site exists - What is the purpose of the site? Is it to gather donations or content?
  3. Recognize value drivers - What user actions on the site help you achieve your goals? Is it signing up to receive information?
  4. Map organizational roles - What information will decision-makers want to know?
  5. Understand donors and be donor-centric - What do visitors want to do when they come to your site?

Some basic KPI's that would be useful to most nonprofit websites:

  • Visitor-to-donor conversion ratio
  • Unique visitors per day/week/month
  • Cost per visitor
  • Bounce rate
  • Abandonment rate
  • Average time on site

For a more complete listing of KPI's, broken down by type of website, check out this post by analytics guru Bryan Eisenberg.

Once you've determined which KPI's are important for your organization's site, Google Analytics, as of a fairly recent update, actually allows you to create custom reports that include all of the key data you need -- and not the stuff you don't. Eric T. Peterson has a great instructional blog post outlining how you could create a custom report in Google Analytics to track visitor engagement.

Google, as they often do, has created a video outlining how to create your own reports:

In future posts, we'll show you how to define goals within Google Analytics, use Google Website Optimizer to test and optimize your donation pages...and much, much more.

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