I am a User Researcher in the Convio Engineering department. My work entails testing mockups of new tools on users to make sure they are user-friendly, surveying users to better serve their needs, runing the Usability Lab at Summit and generally trying to help our tools provide a better experience for our users.
Prior to this role I worked at an agency helping clients with website effectiveness, online marketing & web analytics. I've taught people how to effectively use free tools like Google Analytics through sessions at national conferences, day-long workshops, and one-on-one consulting. I'm excited to bring this knowledge to Convio clients through a series of blog posts on basics & advanced techniques for using Google Analytics.
Posted by Alissa Ruehl at May 23, 2012 06:17 AM CDT
Categories: Content Management, Fundraising, NPtech, Productivity
Last month I pointed out a few of the ways you can use Google analytics, or other web analytics tools, to gain a better understanding of your audience. The next step is to keep track of changes to audience and audience behavior. Your audience can change over time, or change behaviors as they adapt to new technology. Adjustments to your website can affect your visitor behavior as well.
You will always want to focus on more than KPI, because one data point will never tell you the whole picture. However, too many will just be overwhelming. Typically, you’ll want to get started with 4-6 KPIs.
For each data point you will want to ask yourself “How does this affect my organization’s success?” If there is a clear connection, for example “an increase in visitors means more people are reading about this issue we want to generate awareness around”, then you have found a good metric. Sometimes you might find your answer references another data point, like “more visitors means more people will sign up for our event.” In that case you should skip straight to the important metric and use event signups as a KPI instead.
Finally, create a process to track your KPIs, starting with your initial benchmark and then focusing on any movements up and down over time. Monthly reporting is sufficient for most organizations, although some prefer weekly. Another alternative is to track before and after snapshots when any major events happen, such as changes to the website, an acquisition campaign, or a direct mail drop intended to drive traffic to the website.
Industry benchmarks around your KPIs can be helpful for understanding what you need to improve, but the best insight comes from looking at the changes over time of your own KPIs, both in the short term and over quarters and years.
Posted by Alissa Ruehl at Mar 16, 2012 06:00 AM CDT
Categories: Nonprofit Trends, NPtech, Technology, Usability
The start of a new year 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 instance, 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 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.
Posted by Alissa Ruehl at Oct 24, 2011 02:25 PM CDT
Categories: Email Marketing, NPtech, Social Media
This post is the sixth in an ongoing series about Google
Analytics. As we proceed, I’ll share tips on how you can use this tool
to gain more insight into your online marketing.
If you’ve been following these Google Analytics posts, you’ve probably come to see website analysis as a sort of sleuthing. You look at a report, notice a pattern or anomaly & try to understand why that is occurring & what you can do about it.
Sometimes you’ll see something out of the ordinary that seems surprising at first, but then makes sense once you use your detective skills to figure out the cause. Sometimes the cause is obvious, or sometimes it takes a bit of digging around into internal operations like marketing or events, external influences like news articles, or historical website changes. Things like:
Whether the answer was obvious or a tough case to crack, it’s likely that it will become a mystery again in another year or two (or maybe in a matter of months).
Did you know that you can make notes right on the graphs in Google Analytics?
Just go into any graph, hover over a date, and click “add new annotation”.
You'll see a short form
You can make your note private, or make it available to anyone with access to your organization’s analytics account. This can be really helpful if multiple people at your organization are using Google analytics. The marketing person can make notes about campaigns and the web person can make notes about website changes, stopping confusion before it even happens.
Even if you’re the only person at your organization, annotations are often a lot easier than searching through old emails to see why that weird spike happened this time last year.
The annotation is tied to the date, not the graph or metric. Once you put an annotation on a date, you will see it on all graphs that cover that date. So no matter what graph you are looking at, you will be aware of important events that might have affected the data.
Leave a comment if you have an interesting way that annotations could help you in your work!
Are you going to Convio's 2011 Summit in October?
Do you want to share your opinions so that we can make Convio more user-friendly?
The Convio Usability Lab will be back for its 4th year. No white coats or mad scientists here, just a team of user experience professionals who will be waiting to hear your opinions so we can make Convio software easier to use.
The process is simple. When you get to Summit, stop by the Usability Lab and sign up for a 30 minute time slot on one of the subjects we’re researching. At your appointment time, you’ll sit down at a computer with a User Experience professional who will walk you through mock-ups of potential changes, or let you interact with a prototype or existing functionality and give feedback.
We want to make sure any changes we’re making to our software improve the user experience, but the only way for us to know is to get feedback from you, the users. Your participation in our research will help us make Convio software better for you. Even better, by participating you’ll be entered in a drawing for an iPod touch!
Even if you’re pressed for time, stop by the Usability Lab to take our super-short Usability Survey. The first 50 people who take the survey will receive a $5 Starbucks gift card!
The Usability lab is open at the following times
This post is the fifth in an ongoing series about Google
Analytics. As we proceed, I’ll share tips on how you can use this tool
to gain more insight into your online marketing. I’ll start off with the
basics, but then we’ll get into some advanced techniques.
When you think of search engines, you probably think of Google, but maybe not Google Analytics. Your site probably has search functionality, so use Google analytics to track it.
Why should be interested? If you find things that people are searching for, maybe they need to be promoted more heavily on your site. People often browse individual websites and only search as a last resort (ecommerce sites are notable exceptions to this rule). Or maybe you use a different term for something than users do. If your site talked about a "put yourself on the pathway towards victory" program, but users often search for "buy a brick", then you maybe you need to add user-centered language to your promotions.
Most popular website search widgets are pretty easy to track through Google Analytics. To set up site search tracking, first, find your search parameters:
Next, go to your profile and click "Edit". In the top area, turn on site search, and enter your search parameters.
Now your profile will start collecting data on searches. Wait a few days or a few weeks, and then look at the site search report under the content heading. You'll now be able to see what percentage of visitors use search. Depending on the nature of your site, that might be a high or low number, but pay attention if it changes significantly over time.
Results page views per search is the number of pages people sort through before finding an appropriate link. The example below shows people view 2.65 pages before finding the right link. How many pages to you sort through on Google or Bing before you get frustrated? This report also tells you that 30% of people exit after searching and 9% refine their searches. A search refinement is when someone does a second search from the search page, as you tested when discovering your search parameters.
This data below shows that visitors might not be having a good experience with the search functionality. To see where the problem lies, look at what search terms visitors used on your site by clicking on "which search terms did visitors use" on the right of this page.
When you get to the report on individual search terms, you can see that some search terms seem to give more successful results than others. Item 4 in the list below has only a 7% search exit rate, while item #5 has a 67% search exit rate. Look at the search results for keywords like item 5 and try to figure out what they were looking for. This might be a case where people are searching for "buy a brick" and your page only refers to the program in other terms. Just adding a sentence with the words "buy a brick" to your program page could make those search results instantly more relevant.
Also pay attention to items like search term #1. What might those visitors be looking for and finding on page 4 or 5? If you use Google's enterprise search tool, you can manually adjust results for your most popular keywords. If not, try guessing at what pages would be relevant and adding the keyword to that page and perhaps even page title.
Yes, that's a lot of work, but doing that for the top 10 search terms with poor results might create enough benefit to be worthwhile, especially if some of the failed searches are around donation programs
Post a reply if you have seen anything interested through looking at your website's site search data! I'll be back next month with more exciting tips on Google Analytics!
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