Your nonprofit website is there to help you get new donors, volunteers, and constituents. In order for it to do that, you have to make sure that your website is working for you.
One of the ways to do that is to track your website analytics data.
If you’ve ever looked at your data in Google Analytics, it can get incredibly overwhelming. So many different numbers. So many different reports.
Even if you know what they all mean, how do you know what’s important and what isn’t? What’s relevant and what isn’t?
A simple framework to help you make sense of all of your analytics data
I felt the same way until I learned a simple, effective framework. I call it the ABC framework. It stands for Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.
Let’s break down what this means:
- Acquisition – how did your visitors find your website?
- Behavior – what did they do while they were there?
- Conversions – did they take the actions that you wanted them to take? In other words, did they convert into donors, mailing list subscribers, or otherwise?
Conversion is simply a fancy marketing term that is defined above.
The ABC framework describes the beginning, the middle, and the end of a website visit.
Now, let’s dive further into each part of the framework.
Acquisition – how your visitors found your website
Google Analytics has reports that show you how your website visitors found you. It shows the different sources and how many visitors came from each source.
Typical sources of traffic are:
1. Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is made up of visitors who went directly to your website in their browser. They did not click a link from another source.
They simply typed in your website address in their browser and went there directly.
2. Search Traffic
Search traffic is made up of visitors who found your website via search engine. It could be the big ones like Google and Bing as well as others.
Within the search traffic category are two sub-categories:
- Organic traffic – visitors who found your website as one of the regular search results
- Paid traffic – visitors who found your website as one of the prominent search results at the top of the page, which is reserved for paid advertising
Your analytics reports will differentiate between organic and paid search traffic. Though if you’re not actively engaging in paid search engine marketing, then you won’t see any paid traffic numbers.
3. Referring Websites
This is basically just a fancy term for “other people’s websites”. If your website is linked on someone else’s website, and other people click that link, then those numbers will show up in your reports.
Those traffic numbers will be called “referrals”.
4. Social Media
If your website is being talked about on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. by you or by others, then any resulting traffic from that is attributable to social media.
Social media traffic may also be labelled as referrals.
5. Email Newsletter
If you are building an email list and sending people newsletters with links to your website, then that traffic will be reflected in your reports.
If you want your analytics reports to explicitly show traffic from the emails that you send, you can always do campaign tagging, such as how it is done with Google Analytics.
Now that you know how people can get to your website, we can move on to the next part of the framework:
Behavior – what your visitors did while on your website
Your website analytics will allow you to easily track what your website visitors did while on your website. There are tons of reports that show this information.
Typical behaviors include:
- Which pages they visited
- How many pages they visited in one session
- How long their website visit was
The most important behavior to look out for is which pages they visited. The other two behaviors above can give a hint to the level of engagement people have with your website.
However, knowing which pages they visited concretely tells you what they are interested in, or at least looking at, on your website.
For example, if hundreds of people are reading a particular blog post that you wrote, then you might want to consider writing more posts on that subject.
Now, for the final part of the framework, and the deciding factor as to whether or not your website is working for you:
Conversions – what actions your visitors ultimately took (or didn’t take)
Your website should have goals. If it doesn’t already, then you should start thinking about them.
Whatever those goals are will be accomplished by the visitors taking certain actions that bring about the desired outcomes.
For example, one of your website goals can be to increase donations. So, one person who makes a donation via a form on your website is considered a conversion.
Another goal of your website can be to increase email list subscribers. In this case, a conversion would be signing up for your email list.
There are several methods you can use in analytics reporting, including Google Analytics goals, to track conversion numbers. If you track those conversion numbers versus how many people are visiting your site, then you can calculate the percentage of people that are converting.
PRO TIP: Don’t expect a high conversion percentage. The majority of people who come to your website will not convert. That’s just the nature of being online. If you’re doing online marketing well and driving a good amount of traffic to your website, then you’ll only need a small percentage to convert anyway.
Bounce rate: the other outcome to track
Conversions aren’t the only outcomes you should track. Another trackable outcome, as well as another fancy marketing term, is called bounce rate. A bounce is when someone visits your website and then leaves without going to any other web pages on your site.
They click in, look around for however long, and then click out.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who bounce in comparison to all of your visitors. You can also simply look at the number of bounces if that works better for you than percentages.
Not all bounces are bad bounces. Usually when you think of a bounce, you may theorize that someone clicked in, looked around, didn’t see what they wanted, and then left.
However, in the age of blogging, people may simply click on a link to your blog post that they found on Twitter. They read your blog post and then leave. You have no idea if they liked it or not.
So, the bounce could mean they’re not interested or they simply got what they wanted. The only thing you do know is that they didn’t convert.
Review of the framework
Acquisition talks about how your website visitors got there. Behavior refers to what they did while they were there. Conversions refers to whether or not they ultimately took the desired actions.
You can look at different reports to put all of this together. You can also build custom reports to see this framework all in one view.
Any questions about all this? Feel free to contact me.