As the pathway for fundraising continues to shift to the digital world (the recent Charity Digital Study shows an even split in preference between giving online and in-person, with the majority of younger donors preferring online), it becomes increasingly complicated for charities to understand what efforts produce results.
While the term ‘results’ has a different meaning depending on organisational goals, one that is pretty consistent across charities is the goal to raise more money. So steps are taken to increase digital presence, to grow an audience and to spread a message as far and wide as possible. Minds are searched and then fingers are crossed for the next illusive viral campaign. And if you do hit Internet Gold (or even if you don’t), it is vital that you know what marketing efforts had the biggest impact for your campaign. This way you can repeat the process in the future, and know where to spend your ever-stretched time and effort.
These tips are to help you set up and track those digital marketing efforts, specifically around the goal of getting more online donations. And while some may be obvious or basic (sorry for any experts out there!) I hope these tips help those charities that perhaps don’t know where to start.
- Set up Google Analytics (GA)
Obvious? For most, yes. Easy? Maybe. It really depends on your website or CMS that you use for taking online donations. Most have the ability to drop Google Analytics tracking scripts in them, so that’s what we’ll assume here in this blog. To set up GA, you’ll need a Google account and it is easy enough to set one up.
Once you create your Google account, sign in go to analytics.google.com. Visit the Admin tab, and in the ACCOUNT column, use the dropdown menu to select ‘Create new account’. Click ‘Web site’ and enter an Account Name under the Setting up your Account section. Follow the steps in the process (enter your website URL, etc.) and finally under Property > Tracking Info > Tracking Code section click to grab your tracking code script.
Drop this script into the analytics section on your website or CMS, and you’re set up and ready to start tracking!
- Track Your Email & Social Media Links
The next tip is to start tracking your digital links back to your website or donation form(s). This is key because otherwise your organisation won’t know what acquisition channel provides the best progress on your goal of raising more!
The first step in this is to utilise Google’s URL builder. [Don’t worry that the link is in the Support Centre – it’s the real URL!] For every link in your emails, social media accounts, or web pages on third-party websites that direct back to your website/donation form(s), use this tool to create consistent tracking scripts that you will be able to measure and monitor in your Google Analytics account.
The key pieces here are your Source (the place someone is before they come to your website, for example newsletter), the Medium (how users arrived at your website, for example email), and the Campaign (for example, January).
Behind actually using this tool, the most important aspect of this is consistency in naming. If you are consistent with your naming conventions, then when you view your Google Analytics you can see the traffic that newsletters overall have had, your January newsletter in particular, or all emails versus newsletters in particular.
Do this with consistency and rigid discipline and now you’ll know what digital efforts bring the most people to your site!
- Set up Goals in Google Analytics
The last tip has to do with the reporting side of Google Analytics, and it comes down to setting your goals. A goal, in terms of Google Analytics, is when something important happens on your website. For example, you might want your goal to be when someone visits your donation page. Or, more appropriately, when someone hits the “thank you” page after they have given a donation.
Under your Admin section, go to View > Goals and select New Goal. Create a name for your goal, and select Destination as the type. Click Continue and select Begins with and add the end of your thank you page URL. For example, if your thank you page is www.charity.org/donate/thank-you, then make your Goal ‘Begins with /thank-you’.
Feel free to set up multiple goals, and if you want to track funnels (specific pages before they hit this /thank-you page, if you maybe are tracking specific pathways to making a gift) then go ahead! Once you set it up, verify it to make sure it’s going to work.
After you set up your goal(s), head over to your Reporting tab. Under Conversions > Goals > Overview is where you’ll start to see the stats coming through. Make a habit of coming back here every week once you’ve had these goals set up for a little while. And the beauty of tracking your email and social links is that now you’ll be able to start seeing which digital communications paths, which newsletters, which email campaigns, or which social messages actually drive the most donations on your website!
We hope these tips help in making sure you’re tracking your digital marketing efforts so you can make data-based decisions on where to spend your time to have the most impact for your organisation!