3 Google Analytics features your charity needs to be using

Part 1: Goals

This is a guest post by the excellent Fran Swaine.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool. But all too often, charities don’t make full use of all its great functionality.

In this series of posts, we’ll look at three key features that will make a huge difference to tracking and analysing your marketing activity. In Part 1, we look at goals.

Using Goals

Goals in Google Analytics are used to track something successful happening on your website. Often charities avoid setting these up because they seem too complicated or think they are unnecessary because they don’t have ‘sales’ on their site. But a conversion can be anything you want a supporter to do e.g. completing an online form, downloading an information pack or signing up for a newsletter.

Why are goals useful?

You might be thinking “Why does this matter? We have a database for that!” Aha! But do you know where those conversions came from? No, and that my friend, is why using goals is awesome.

Imagine the scenario. You are promoting a new campaign. You’ve been focusing loads of attention on your Facebook page. When you look at your lovely conversion report you’ve proudly set up, it turns out that you haven’t generated a single conversion from Facebook, whereas your email newsletters have been converting really well.

From simply spending a few minutes looking at the report, you can feed this information into your strategy; that you need to allocate more resource to your newsletter and less to Facebook, as well as thinking about how you can increase sign ups to your newsletter.

Useful eh?

How to set up a goal

Setting up a goal is easy peasy. To keep this blog post reasonably short, we won’t go into every type of goal you can set up because lovely Google does that for you, but here’s one example.

Signing up for a fundraising event

Let’s use Macmillan’s ‘Night In’ event as an example and a fictional supporter named Anna. In order for Anna to receive her Night In kit she needs to complete an online form.

Once Anna has submitted the form she’ll be taken to a thank you page e.g. macmillan.org.uk/night-in/thanks.html

Macmillan could then track this as a conversion and set it up as a goal in Google Analytics. To set this up as a goal:

Step 1: Go to Admin

Step 2: Select Goals

Step 3: Select create a goal

Step 4: Give your goal a meaningful name and select the goal type.

In this instance we are going to use a page so we select Destination:

Step 5: Paste your thank you URL into the destination field and click Create goal.

Essentially this is all you need to do to create this goal. You could also do things like include parts of a URL, assign a monetary value to the goal, or define whether a URL is case sensitive. For more information, see GA’s comprehensive guide on how to set up goals.

Analysing your data

So you’ve set up your goal – now what? Well, this is the fun part – seeing the results!

Open Conversions/Goals/Overview:

Now you can see top level information about your conversions:

If you have multiple goals set up, then you’ll see all of your conversions under goal completions.

On the right hand side, you can see information on each separate goal. In this example, 7 people have completed a quote form and 6 people have completed a contact information page.  For our Macmillan example, this is where we would see that Anna had signed up for the Night In fundraising event.

But where did Anna come from?

It’s great that we can see that Anna signed up, but we also want to know how she got to the Macmillian site in the first place (so we can focus more effort on marketing that way). To do this, select Source/Medium to see which traffic source led to a conversion:

You’ll then see this report:

Notice at the top of the page you are now only looking at one goal, and can choose which one you wish to view:

Now you can see which traffic sources have contributed to conversions on your website. With our Macmillan example, we’d be able to see how many people had signed up for the Night In event and which traffic source they came through. In the report above we can see Google organic search has contributed to two conversions.

If you want to see more detailed information, such as which specific type of social platform generated a conversion, then you can view this in Acquisitions/All Traffic.

But wait – there’s more….

People don’t tend to just click on a newsletter and complete a conversion there and then. Often it takes several points of contact with your charity before they convert.

For example, our supporter Anna might have visited the Macmillan website through a link she saw on Twitter first. A day later (after talking with her friends about the event) she goes to Google and searches for ‘Macmillan Night In’ and signs up for the Macmillan newsletter. Two weeks later, Macmillan send out a e-newsletter which reminds Anna about the event, and then she signs up.

So what? Well – in all of the reports we’ve looked at so far, we’ve only focused on that newsletter. So you might look at your reporting and say “Oh Twitter isn’t doing very well, but the newsletter is doing great!” which as we’ve seen, isn’t quite the full story.

A great way of ensuring you don’t make this mistake is by looking at the Assisted Conversion reports.

This report shows you:

Last clicked conversion: The traffic source that Anna converted from (the e-newsletter, in Anna’s case).

Assisted conversion: Whether a traffic source helped contribute to a conversion or not. In our example, we’d see a conversion attributed to both Twitter and Google organic (GA basically duplicates it here) but not the e-newsletter (as that would be under last clicked).

The Assisted Conversion report is so useful for making sure you’ve really got a handle on where your conversions are coming from. Take a look at this help article for more information on analysis assisted conversions.


PHEW! That was a lot of information – but if you’ve made it this far give yourself a pat on the back. This is the kind of data analysis that really works and makes for successful marketing.

If you found this post useful, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for part 2 and 3 over on my blog!

In part 2, we’ll look at how you can set up goals when things are a bit more complicated such as when you use a tool like Eventbrite (which isn’t on your site and therefore can’t be tracked!) to get supporters to sign up to an event. Don’t panic – it can be tracked, and it’s super clever.

In part 3, we’ll look at what’s called campaign tagging. This allows you to be able to analyse specific content you share on your social platforms. For example, you’ve written a great blog post and shared it on Twitter with some other links. You can see in GA that Twitter has generated some conversions. But which links drove the most conversions ? Campaign tagging allows you to answer that question and see the full picture.

Any questions or thoughts on this post? Drop them below!


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6 Responses to “3 Google Analytics features your charity needs to be using”

  1. Don 02/21/2016 at 8:05 pm #

    I think many per click might show you, for example, if you’re genttig conversions from someone who has visited your site in the past and is now returning to purchase? (as opposed to brand new visitors who buy on first clickthrough?) Just a guess.


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