Easy to Understand and Actionable Google Analytics Reports for Associations

Posted by Benji Craig on May 21, 2013 12:13:00 AM

I was recently made fun of for saying "Google Analytics is cool!" I guess I could see someone saying that, but I could easily say the same thing about people who think hockey is cool. People tend be scared, and ridicule, what they don't understand and I don't know a thing about hockey - with the exception that David Beckham is the best player in the league, right?

Understanding your website is not only cool, it’s really smart.

If you're looking for way to uncover value from your association website to meet your membership, communications or revenue goals, having a great comprehension of what your website is doing (or not doing) for you is critical to your success. Google Analytics can assist you with knowing what is actually happening with your website.

We've tapped into some of the best, and most underused, GA reports for you to mine for website insights and that is cool!

Google Analytics Report:

Audience > Demographics > Location

Understaning Google Analtyics Location reports for an Association Website

Where are your website users coming from? Membership-based organizations tend to believe their top website visitor is their membership. By segmenting the data by location, you can see the percentage of local website traffic and this will help you understanding the personas that come to you for information. Additionally, by determining the geographical location of your website traffic can assist you with making smarter offline marketing decisions.

Google Analytics Report:

Audience > Mobile > Overview

We all know the mobile revolution is upon us and you need to get on the train.

Google Analtyics Mobile Trends for Assocation Websites

Viewing your mobile traffic can help you assess your need for a mobile app or perhaps a responsive website. As you can see on this mobile report comparing traffic from 2011 to 2012, the mobile traffic is down, but due to the new responsive website, the average time on site has increased to over 112% and the bounce rate has been reduced by 45%. These metrics are helping increase value to your members and your sponsors/advertisers.

Google Analytics Report:

Traffic Sources > Overview

Knowing how your website visitors found your website is very important to achieving your long-term goals.  It’s also very helpful to determining the goals you can accomplish for gaining new members and making non-dues revenue.

Differences in Source Traffic for Association Websites

Direct traffic is typically membership traffic and you'll see high levels of time on site, but it trends on the low side of number of visits. Since these visitors found you directly from your URL, they know your organization and what information you have for them.  Moving the needle on this type of traffic can be altered by incorporating your domain (and sub-folders) into ALL of your external marketing materials (newsletters, billboards, etc.).

Referral traffic, for most websites, is hard to come by, but for membership-based organizations it should be easy and value in a link is similar to a like or recommendation from someone. According to Google, "The information in this report lets you see which domains are referring traffic to your site..." and getting other websites to go to the trouble of linking back to your website is hard.  The hardest part of any webmaster is starting the conversation with another website owner.  Since you already have that open line of communication with your members, this should be a much simpler process for you.

Search traffic can be the most valuable traffic since these visitors are most likely new to your website.  New eyes mean new business for your members, new business for your sponsors and advertisers and, best of all, new members for your association!

Google Analytics Report:

Traffic Sources > Search > Organic

Another way to get a good sense of who is finding your website via search is removing the "brand" traffic. Branded traffic refers to anyone that knows your name, but doesn't know your website URL so they search for you.  In the following example, you'll see the word "chamber" is being removed from the organic search report.  We've also removed the "not provided" data since there might be branded traffic within that hidden label.

How to Exclude Non-Branded Keywords in Google Analytics

Since you own your own brand in Google searches, the non-Branded traffic can be very actionable data to learn more about what your visits want from your website.  You can see that non-branded traffic produced 40% of the annual traffic for this website with the branded traffic only accounting for 20%.  Additionally, there were 25,000 keywords within the non-branded bucket and those keywords can be a grow opportunity for new content and visitors.

Non-Association Name Website Traffic Trends

Google Analytics Report:

Content > Site Content > Landing Pages

In previous Google Analytics post we talked about what make for a good bounce rate on your website.  We stated that bounce is really a metric to consider at the individual page level, not the global website level.

Understaning Google Analytics Bounce Rate Report on Landing Pages

Our recommendation is to review your top landing pages individually for whether or not they should have a high or low bounce rate.  In the example above, a page that is a map of the local area has nearly a 60% bounce rate.  Since this page isn't really an end of a conversion,  you should ask the question - what other information could be included on this page to further engage the user or are there links to members or membership categories in your directory that a visitor looking for a map might benefit from?

In summary, if you understand your website by diving into Google Analytics, you'll be armed with the knowledge you need to make well-informed decisions about running your association - and that's cool!

Ready to Learn More?

Check out the top questions from our webinar title "Advanced Google Analytics - Top 10 Things Your Association Should be Measuring (But Probably Isn't)."   You can download the presentation and watch a recording of the webinar here.




Topics: User Experience