Google Analytics is a powerful tool — but just because it’s tracking your nonprofit analytics doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out it. In her talk at the Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit, Annie Cushing of annielytics.com revealed 5 Google Analytics reports that are essential for nonprofits to optimize their online fundraising.
I’m going to break these 5 reports down for you here. But if you’d like, you can watch her full talk on “How to Mine for Gold in Google Analytics” below. And if you’d like to join the next NIO Summit to catch more sessions like this in person, you can check out more at https://www.niosummit.com
Optimizing donor conversions is all about making better decisions — and you can only make better decisions when you’ve got the best data available to you in an easy-to-understand format.
Google Analytics will track much of the data you need, but the tricky part is knowing what nonprofit analytics data is valuable, and how to get that data into a format that you can understand and make decisions with.
To get your online fundraising data in a format that’s helpful, you need these 5 google analytics reports.
5 Missing Custom Google Analytics Reports
Unfortunately, Google seems to think that all you need are the reports they provide out of the box.
But as smart and perfect as we like to think the folks at Google are, you have to tweak their reporting to get to the nonprofit analytics data that you really need to optimize your fundraising.
To do that, you’ll need to get familiar with Google Analytics’ Custom Reports.
Paid Social Report
By default, all of your paid social media advertising is going to go into the “other” channel, assuming you’re using standard utm tracking. But tracking your paid social media marketing separately is important because… well, you’re paying for it!
To track the performance of your paid social ads separately, you have to tell Google that you want it broken out. Now, changing your Google Analytics settings may sound daunting to some of you. But this part is really easy.
Annie has a quick youtube video on how to set-up “Paid Social” as a new traffic channel in your reports:
If you don’t set up this custom traffic channel, Google is going to lump your paid social media into the “Other” channel along with anything else marked as “CPV” or “Cost-Per-View.” And in our experience, Facebook Ads perform very differently than traffic sources that typically get lumped into the “Other” bucket.
If you need help making sure all your online fundraising campaigns are tracked properly, check out the free UTM Maker tool. You type in a few details about your campaign, and it will generate a perfectly tracked URL for you.
*We tend to tag our Facebook Advertising with the UTM Medium of “newsfeed”, since the Facebook Newsfeed is the primary location we place our ads. So in your custom traffic channel, you would just set the Paid Social UTM Medium to “newsfeed.”
Another channel that’s missing in Google Analytics, but helpful in monitoring your nonprofit analytics, is a retargeting report. This is a little bizarre since Google offers retargeting as an important marketing feature for their product.
Instead of providing a retargeting report, Google recommends tracking display traffic. Display ads are the little ads on the side of sites like huffingtonpost.com pointing to other sites.
Unlike most display traffic, retargeting ads can be as specific as you want.
For example, you can set up retargeting ads to appear later for users who come to your site, look at the donation page, and then they leave.
Retargeting is like if you hired someone to identify anyone leaving your store without a bag and chase them down. But in a nice, unobtrusive way.
“Excuse me! Did you not find what you were looking for?” That’s retargeting.
Annie highly recommends creating a custom channel for retargeting.
To do that, set up another medium in your Google Analytics report to “retargeting.” You’ll just have to remember to use “retargeting” as your UTM Medium when you set up your ads.
Press Release Report
The press release report is for nonprofits that are actively sending out press releases. If this is you, this report will help you track the activity generated by your press releases with ease.
To set up your press release report, create a new custom report and select “Source” as your first rule. Then, set your rule to match “regex” as you see below.
Match the source to field to the various source sites that you’re sending press releases out through. That way, you’ll be able to track all website traffic coming from one of the releases your sent out.
If you are tagging your campaigns as Annie recommends (Get her guide to Google campaign tagging here!), set your medium to match “press+release.”
If you have a website and have another sister site, you could use a partner channel report.
For us at NextAfter, this type of report is helpful in seeing who is coming to our main website (nextafter.com) from our Online Courses website, or our nonprofit conference website.
Some organizations may have a separate sites where they publish blogs, news, articles, or other types of media. A partner report will help you see who is coming to your site from the other sites you oversee.
To set up your custom partner report, you’ll need to set up the source as “regex” and then enter the various partner sites that could be sending you traffic.
You can also use this report to measure the traffic you get from bigger publishers that you allow to republish your posts. Having bigger publishing sites republish your content gives you wider exposure and you’ll want to track this traffic in a custom channel.
Guest Blogging Report
The last report you need to set up in Google Analytics to get your nonprofit analytics in order is the guest blogging report.
Many organizations (and companies) will have blog posts, articles, and other media types that are posted other organization’s websites.
If you’re doing any kind of guest blogging or publishing like this, you can set up this guest blogging report to easily track and monitor what traffic you’re getting back from those guest posts.
For example, if you are nonprofit serving environmental causes, you might write guest posts for websites such as Huffpost Green. Your posts on their online magazine can bring your site an incredible stream of traffic that you’d never reach on your own platform.
To track your guest post traffic, set your source to “regex” and then enter the various sites where you post guest content.
Getting Your Nonprofit Analytics Tracking Right
Tracking nonprofit analytics such as traffic data is an extremely important part of making informed decisions to optimize your online fundraising. We often find that different traffic sources have different motivations. And if you can’t differentiate between your different sources, you could be missing opportunity.
If this post was too “in the weeds” for you, but you want help getting your tracking set up properly, just contact us and let us know. We’ll see if we can help, or at least point you to some additional resources that can help.
And if you want more expert ideas and strategies for your fundraising, every speaker session from the Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit is available to you watch for free. Each speaker has tips and ideas related to search, analytics, data, copywriting, recurring giving, advertising, and much more.
This article and Annie’s talk were super interesting, thank you! Does the move to GA4 change any of this?