December 9, 2011

Best Web analytics tools for nonprofits

Web analytics
Image by NAN728 for Big Stock

How to choose the right analytics tools to measure your nonprofit’s success

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, businesses, brands, administrators, consultants, social media managers, individuals.

By Laura S. Quinn and Kyle Andrei
Techsoup article courtesy of Idealware

Web analytics tools help you track your site’s statistics, which let you see how many people are looking at each page, what sites they came from, and other information to help develop a picture of who your audience is. But which Web analytics tool should you use? Data-tracking needs are similar for all organizations, including nonprofits, libraries, small businesses, and corporations. But given the vast array of analytics tools out there, selecting the right package can be overwhelming.

Idealware talked to six nonprofit experts about the Web analytics tools they’ve seen work well. We also consulted postings on a number of nonprofit listserves and scoured reports on the topic. In this article, we summarize what we’ve learned to help you understand what to consider when choosing an analytics package and identify free tools and applications to help you better monitor your site’s visitors.

Which data should you analyze?

There’s no point in looking for a tool unless you have a sense of what information you want to track. Needs can vary from simple traffic-monitoring to complex analysis on the behavior of specific user groups, support for multivariate testing, and more.

What important metrics and figures should you keep in mind when selecting a Web analytics package? We’ve broken them down into three overarching areas to track. The first thing you want to track is an accurate measure of how many people are using your site, which is neither as easy nor as clear-cut as you might think. Metrics that address this include hits, visits, unique visitors, and page views. Next, you’ll want to track who the visitors to your site are, in broad terms, and what they’re doing when they visit – in other words, what site features and pages engage them? Which ones go ignored? Last, it can be beneficial to track where visitors to your site are coming from. This can help you find similar sites or better understand the types of things that lead people to you.

These areas should be enough to get you started, but powerful Web analytics tools support even more sophisticated analysis. There are people who make a living analyzing Web statistics – if you have a large site and the desire for deep usage analysis, you may want to consult with one of them.

The world of analytics is complicated by the fact that not every software tool handles metrics in the same way. Determining what sequence of Web actions to interpret as a “visit” or a “unique visitor” is complex, and somewhat subjective. Different tools calculate these figures differently. Some types of software – called “log analytics” software – look at traffic based on a log of what pages your web server provides, while others rely on what’s reported back by “cookies” – pieces of information sent back by each user’s browser. Don’t be surprised if your metrics vary somewhat among tools. Continue reading

November 17, 2011

How nonprofits should be using data

 

Why embracing data should be an important part of your leadership strategy

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, businesses, social media managers, marketing professionals, individuals.

Debra AskanaseI recently presented a workshop titled “Data Driven Leadership” at the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network/AGM annual conference along with colleagues Marc Baizman and Steve Backman. The question we addressed in the workshop was: What online data can help a leader make informed decisions around programming, advocacy and fundraising? Marc, Steve and I have expertise in Google Analytics, in understanding customer segmentation and databases, and in identifying social media metrics, respectively. Each of us thought about how the data from our respective areas of expertise could shed light on an answer. The hardest part was choosing what to eliminate from our presentation, as we only had one hour to cover this enormous topic!

Getting started with gathering data

We created a DIY worksheet for the session titled, “Make Your Data Work for You.” It offers sample questions to get you started thinking in the areas of marketing, programs and services, development, and volunteers and advocacy. For every sample question, it asks you to set the priority level, consider what data you’ll need to answer that question, and where you can find the answer. There are a lot of spaces for you to customize the worksheet to your needs. You can read and download the worksheet.

DIY-Data-worksheet

For every leader, thinking about the real organizational questions that the data could offer is the place to begin.

Below are summaries of our segments of the presentation, written individually by each of us. You can also view the SlideShare presentation above for the complete takeaways. Continue reading

January 12, 2010

How to optimize your most visited blog pages

Group of business people on a chart

Welcome to the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Today guest contributor Michael Martine will offer tips on how to optimize your most visited blog pages.

Guest post by Michael Martine
remarkablogger

Are you leaving money and opportunity on the table? You might be if you haven’t optimized your blog’s most visited pages. You should know what the most popular pages are on your blog and look for opportunities to optimize them for better reader engagement and conversion.

This is what web analytics is really for — not just visitor counts. What is working on your site? What isn’t? Analytics will tell you by revealing patterns of visitor behavior so you can make better content and conversion decisions. One thing nearly any analytics program, such as the free Google Analytics, will tell you is what your blog’s most visited pages are.

Take a look at your blog’s “top 10.” Are you surprised by which pages are the most popular? I hope not, because that means you’re having trouble matching your blog’s content to your goals (expect a couple of surprises in there, though). For example, my analytics told me that one of the most popular pages on my blog is the post How to Add a Blog to a Website.

Because of this post, that exact phrase and its derivatives are common searches that land people on that exact page. This was deliberate: it’s what search engine optimization (SEO) is for and why you should learn about it. Without the content there, no searches about this topic would ever reach me. Continue reading