One of the most important things to set up for your nonprofit website is a “Goal” in Google Analytics. So many nonprofits miss this and lose out on some powerful tracking data that you can use to determine or even prove your website, email marketing, or online marketing campaign effectiveness.
So what is a “Goal”?
Google says to ”Use goals to measure how often users complete specific actions.”
Google defines a goal this way…
Goals measure how well your site or app fulfills your target objectives. A goal represents a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business. Examples of goals include making a purchase (for an ecommerce site), completing a game level (for a mobile gaming app), or submitting a contact information form (for a marketing or lead generation site).
Set up a Goal
It is really easy to set up in Google Analytics but first you need to determine a user action that you want to track on your website. This should be an important action that will have an impact on your growth. For example: make a donation, register for an event, subscribe to your newsletter.
Assuming you have a form set up on your website for the action, you just need to make sure you have a confirmation or thank you page that is presented to the user after the action has been completed. If you create a thank you page in your website CMS make sure you prevent Google and other search engines from indexing this page. Here are 2 options:
- Add a noindex meta tag in the header of the page (<meta name="robots" content="noindex">. Drupal tip: You can find this under the meta tag section when editing your node if the Metatag module is installed and configured properly. If you don’t, you will need to set one up. You may need to contact us to help you do that. WordPress tip: If you have the Yoast SEO plugin installed and configured, you should see an option when editing the page.
- If you have a sitemap that you are submitting to Google then make sure to exclude this page from your sitemap.
So now you will define your goal to use the confirmation or thank you page as a trigger for the conversion.
Steps to set up Goal in Google Analytics:
- Login to Google Analytics and go to the Admin (bottom left corner) settings. You should see Goals under the View settings.
- Click New Goal (red button).
- Select Custom (or you can use a template if you see one that matches the goal you are setting up) and Continue (blue button).
- Enter Goal Description Name, Select Destination, and then Continue (blue button).
- Under Goal Details, enter Destination or URL for the thank you or confirmation page. Just include the part after your domain like “/thank-you”.
- You can just leave the 2 switches off: Value and Funnel. They are more advanced optional features for another future post.
- Click Save.
Congratulations, you have just created a Goal for one of your nonprofit organization's Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Tracking and reporting on this conversion will provide you with the data you need to make informed decisions around adjusting your website to improve this KPI.
It will take a couple hours to see any data in Google Analytics but go ahead and do a test and check back later. You should see data reported under Conversions > Goals > Overview.
So now Google Analytics is tracking and counting every time a visitor completes the defined action you set up. These are called conversions.
You can generate a report on these conversions to give you insight on how to increase conversions. Here are some examples:
- Conversions > Goals > Overview - This report will show your conversion trend over a defined time period.
- Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path - This will show you the URL of the 3 pages a user visited before converting.
Let us know if you need any help thinking through your Google Analytics strategy for your nonprofit. We have helped nonprofits all over the United States assess their technology and define strategies for tracking and measuring their online marketing efforts.