Integrating Google Analytics to your nonprofit’s donation page can be very easy to do and immensely rewarding. The data you collect will offer your organization greater insight and knowledge to make better marketing and fundraising decisions.
In this post, I’m going to share with you how we (Alzheimer Society of Canada) integrated Google Analytics with the donation platform, Artez Interactive. Whether or not your nonprofit is on Artez, this post can help demystify the process of integrating Google Analytics, navigating the tool and what your nonprofit can do with the data you collect.
What is Google Analytics and Why Should I Care?
Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to measure and analyze your website traffic and marketing efforts about your website. By adding a few lines of code to your website you will be able to gain a lot of insight on your website visitors such as how they arrived to your website and how they interact with it. Working for a charity, your advertising budgaet is most likely limited, so knowing where to focus your marketing efforts will help you maximize the effect of each advertising dollar.
How do I start?
Getting started with Google Analytics is easy. Simply create an account, set up your account properties, and add the tracking code to your website. More detailed steps can be found here.
Unfortunately, most implementers are tempted to stop here, but the true value for online marketers comes from adding goals and Ecommerce functionality.
Goals in Google Analytics are a way to measure specific interactions that are of value to you. Before you can measure them, you will need to define your own goals in Google Analytics. The limitation of goals is that you can only measure the number of transactions or assign a fictional value to a goal, but not the actual value of the transaction. Example: each email newsletter signup is worth $2 to you.
Common goals include visiting certain pages (e.g. donation thank you page), form submissions (e.g. newsletter and forum signup), and triggering certain events (e.g. play a video).
Similar to this sample report, after waiting for a month you will be able to see your visits and transactions in Google Analytics. On November 11th, 1,665 visits led to 17 transactions (donations). Just over 1% conversion rate (CR) - not bad! (All data is hypothetical.)
While goals are great, ecommerce tracking is even better as it permits you to see the actual dollar values of these transactions. To use this feature you need to first enable it in your profile settings. Typically you would have to make some additional code changes for Google Analytics to be able to read the transaction values, but at the Alzheimer Society of Canada, we use Artez to enable e-commerce. If you are also using Artez it is already set up for this and all you need to do is add your Google Analytics account information by going to the ‘Events’ tab in Artez and selecting your event, clicking on ‘widgets’ and then on ‘Google Analytics’. Enable it and enter your account number in the field and save it.
In addition to knowing the number of transactions and CR, we now also know our revenue which allows us to go into more details: average transaction value in this sample report was $17.32 on November 11th and each visit was worth $0.18 to us that day! (All data is hypothetical.)
Additional useful reports in Google Analytics
Assisted Conversion is a report in Google analytics that shows you how many conversions were assisted by another medium. Typically the last medium is credited for a conversion, but what if this isn’t the visitor’s first visit? Then should the last medium really be credited for this conversion? For example, if a visitor lands on your website through a paid search ad without converting, but then a few days later the second visit by the same visitor leads to a conversion. ‘Paid search’ would not get credit but you should give ‘paid search’ credit for the conversion as without it the second interaction would have never happened.
You should be able to start seeing transactions in your Google Analytics dashboard in real-time, but sometimes it takes a few hours for the data to show. Should you wish to analyze your Google Analytics behaviour, Fiddler is an excellent and free tool that helps you debug traffic from any browser. To troubleshoot Google Analytics for your website start Fiddler, turn ‘capture traffic’ on, and visit the page you would like to troubleshoot on your browser. Next find the Google Analytics __utm.gif request, navigate to the ‘Inspectors’ and then ‘WebForms’ tab. There you will see the different Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters that were recorded. To help you understand the different values refer to this list of GIF Request parameters. If you do not see the __utm.gif request check that your Google Analytics code is properly installed.
Once you’ve set up Google Analytics, Goals, and Ecommerce tracking you will have access to a wealth of information about your website. You will be able to know what your average website visitor is worth to your organization. Sometimes, however, this information isn’t as detailed as you would want it to be. Imagine the following two scenarios.
- Scenario 1: You sent out a newsletter and noticed a $50 donation had the referrer ‘gmail.com’. While this is valuable information, we know that the person had either received an email from somebody with a link to our website or our newsletter. We would be better off knowing which newsletter lead to a donation and specifically which link was clicked in the email.
- Scenario 2: You are advertising on a website with two different banners. Which banner gave you a better ROI?
Both are two realistic scenarios and UTM parameters allow you to give answers to these types of questions. By appending UTM parameters to your URLs you are essentially passing on specific information every time a click occurs. Using Google’s URL builder we can easily append the UTM parameters to our URL.
If I had a banner in this blog post that linked to the Alzheimer Soceity of Canada homepage in English, instead of linking to http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/ I could link to http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/?utm_source=techsoupcanada&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=google_analytics_post
The UTM parameters would be:
- Source = techsoupcanada_banner
- Medium = banner
- Campaign = google_analytics_post
Google Adwords actually does UTM tagging automatically which is why you can see your Adwords campaigns under ‘Campaigns’ in Google Analytics without having to append the tags to the URLs in your Adwords ads.
- Source = google
- Medium = cpc
- Campaign = ‘campaign name’
Important: UTM parameters are case sensitive and are never used to measure something on your own website.
As you can see integrating Google Analytics and your Artez donation pages is very easy to do! Within hours you can be collecting data that offers your organization greater insight. If you recognize the value of Google Analytics and are eager to learn more about it, head over to http://analytics.blogspot.ca/.
Note: If your donation pages are hosted under a different domain (Artez donation pages are hosted under e2rm.com) you will encounter cross-domain referrals. You can fix this using referral exclusion in Universal Analytics, or if you are using Google Analytics read the Cross Domain Tracking Example under the Common causes and solutions for self-referrals section. A much better setup would be through the recently introduced auto-events feature in Google Tag Manager.
About Alzheimer’s disease
Today, 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, with this number expected to increase to 1.4 million in less than 20 years. Although Canada's aging demographic will continue to fuel these numbers, increasingly people in their 40s and 50s are also being affected. Growing evidence also shows that brain changes resulting in dementia can begin 25 years before symptoms appear.About the Alzheimer Society
The Alzheimer Society is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Active in communities right across Canada, the Society offers help for today through our programs and services, and hope for tomorrow by funding research into the cause, prevention and a cure. For more information visit www.alzheimer.caAbout the Author
Emmanuel Eichler is the Web Operations Coordinator at the Alzheimer Society of Canada since June 2013. His passion lies in online marketing especially using a data driven approach through analytics.