Understanding Your Audience Through Google Analytics

Today we have a guest post by Alissa Ruehl, a User Researcher for our friends at Convio.

Now is the perfect time to focus on a user-centered strategy for your website. How well do you currently understand your users? Google Analytics can show you a lot you might not have realized about your visitors.

Use these five audience insights available through Google Analytics as you develop and adjust your web strategy.

Who Are They?

Google Analytics won’t tell you the names and email addresses of site visitors, but it will tell you about their technological profile.

What to do with this information

  • Create technical requirements for your site based on screen resolution, browser versions, connection speed and mobile devices so that your site displays well for the majority of your users. Revise yearly. (This should be in addition to accessibility requirements.)

Where Are They?

Another important thing you can learn about your visitors is their physical location. Regional organizations may be surprised to see traffic from another part of the country, and national or international organizations may find areas with fairly few visitors.

What to do with this information

  • Know the geographic concentration of your visitors. If this is surprising, consider adjusting your marketing and events strategy accordingly. Look at this at least quarterly.

Why Did They Come to Your Site?

Google Analytics can show you what search terms people used to get to your site, and what links they followed in your emails or on other sites (if you have set up tracking properly).

If you set up site search tracking in your Google Analytics, you can see what people searched for once they arrived. This can help you decide what to focus on in your homepage.

What to do with this information

  • Investigate what people are looking for when they come to your site. Design your homepage to focus at least 50% on what your visitors are already looking for (with the other 50% showing them new things they might not yet be aware of).

Where Do They Go on Your Site?

Google Analytics can also show you which pages are popular. This shows both what people are interested in and what the architecture of your site leads them to. If two pages are equally promoted on the homepage or in emails, but one receives significantly more traffic than the other, you can tell something about your audience’s interests.

What to do with this information

  • Find links or topics that are prominent on your homepage, but do not get traffic, and remove them from your homepage to make room for the items that people are looking for.

How Frequently Do People Come to Your Site?

Do your visitors stop by weekly to read updates, or do they come by once a year to sign up for an event or donate? Google Analytics can tell you how many people come at which frequency.

What to do with this information

  • If visitors come infrequently, ask yourself if that makes sense for your organization. Sometimes it is fine to have constituents who visit infrequently but donate or participate in events. If you think people would be interested in frequent engagement, brainstorm ways to create unique content on a regular basis and use social media to engage people daily or weekly.

It’s important to keep focused on details that involve your audience and in turn give your constituents the best service in all areas, including online. Harnessing the power of Google Analytics to be a more data driven organization will benefit you, your constituents and your community.

(This post was first released in the Georgia Center for Nonprofits March newsletter)

Alissa Ruehl is a User Researcher for Convio, a leading provider of constituent engagement solutions for nonprofits. Through Convio’s Connection Café blog, Alissa helps nonprofit professionals more effectively use Google Analytics to enhance their online marketing efforts. To start learning more about Google Analytics, read her first post “Google Analytics for Nonprofits.”

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