Photo courtesy of Siteimprove.

2017 AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference Recap

In this digital and data driven world of marketing, it’s not easy to determine what metrics should be ranked higher over others. One of the most important beacons of brand identity is your organization’s website. To gain important knowledge of user engagement and key demographics you should be marketing towards, sometimes the answer is right there in your website’s analytics.

But what’s most important? Pageviews? Bounce rate? New vs. Returning visitors? It can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you aren’t well-versed in the language of analytics. According to Josh Ditthardt of Siteimprove at the AMA 2017 Conference, deciding what’s most important to look at depends on what you’d like to achieve with your website.

Let’s break this down to look at what analytics and data you SHOULD be analyzing, data you’re spending too much time analyzing, and underutilized metrics tools that can help shape your organization’s analytics strategy.

Organize and Sort Data

Does your organization already create monthly/quarterly/annual analytics reports? Take a look at all of them and find the emphasis on certain data points. Is there enough easy-to-understand information from these specific data points and analytics? If not, consider doing monthly comparative charts. Do you have a heat map showing where your most important leads or users are coming from geographically? Create one! This is essential to know where to focus your digital marketing efforts. Try tools such as Crazy Egg. Data visualization is the best way to make analytics easy to sort through and understand which can also be used to share information on your outward-facing digital platforms.

Overrated Metrics

Sure, every organization sets goals to keep moving the benchmark of success. But what matters most? Or more importantly, what doesn’t matter as much? Personally, I like the rule of the three As when it comes to measuring analytics: Are they Actionable? (Can you take action with the data?) Are they Applicable? (Does this data matter to the brand/organization’s goals and needs?) And are they Answerable? (Can you draw direct correlation between the data and digital marketing efforts?)

In any circumstance, there are a few analytics that you can stop sweating over:

  • Pageviews. Pageviews have always been the ‘golden’ child of metrics. But why? Pageviews are highly regarded simply because they have been used since the dawn of the internet. According to Ditthardt, there’s no understanding of intent from page views, no understanding of quality or engagement, and no real further context. What do you really get from the pageview metric? A page loaded. Period.
    • Alternative analytics to look at to value quality over quantity: New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors. How fresh are the eyeballs on your website? Those who are ‘loyal’ and keep returning, is there a conclusion to be drawn from continued returns to the website that could help your brand? Where are users coming from elsewhere on the internet? (referral traffic). Have you made sure with your website developer that the IP addresses connected within the organization are ruled out of your metrics so they are more accurate? New vs. Returning visitors are helpful to create a more contextual strategy in meeting your analytics goals.
  • Bounce Rate. When it comes to the average as a whole for all websites, a ‘healthy’ bounce rate is considered between 41% – 55%. For nonprofit websites, the industry average bounce rate is between 60% – 70%. Panic shouldn’t set in until the BR hits about 80%. But nonetheless, why do we care so much that people are coming to our website and ‘bouncing off’ so fast? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a website essential, but when it comes to bounce rate, nonprofits should connect it to other data that truly matters.
    • Alternative analytics to look at to determine quality of website pages: Time on site. When users visit your organization’s website, which page has the lowest bounce rate and is there a connection between that and time spent on the website? This could be helpful in determining how you can improve other website pages that may have particularly high bounce rates to make them more like the page that does well and retains engagement. Connecting bounce rate to a certain engagement factor you desire will give you the context you need.

Underutilized Analytics Tools

Do you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that pulls all of your metrics in one place to analyze with accurate comparison? When it comes to price, many cringe at the thought of budgeting in a tool that will bring all this important information in one place. But for nonprofits, it’s crucial to house your information in a data power tool for you to separate and compare your website activity, social media, marketing campaigns, donation history, volunteer information, etc. Google Analytics is a great start, but platforms such as HubSpot or Siteimprove will hone in on your organization’s specific efforts and create a bigger picture report that you can access with a few clicks.

Want to pick one and get started? Determine the functions you need for a tool, set a budget, research the best options for your organization’s size, and setup demos to see how they work. How easy is this tool to use? Do they have 24/7 online support? Are there hidden costs attached? Can it integrate with systems you already have in place? How well does it meet the needs of your organizational goals? Some favorite platforms that were discussed by those in the nonprofit industry at the AMA Conference included Infusionsoft, Insightly, Sprout Social, Network for Good, Salesforce for Nonprofits, and Marketo.

With these tips and tools, you’re now on your way to extracting actionable analytics to use to your organization’s advantage.

Catherine McClary enjoys using creative strategies and best practices to enhance the digital presence of clients.