Illinois Legal Aid Online

Google Analytics Strengthens a Nonprofit’s Website

It’s just as important to measure the effectiveness of a not-for-profit’s website as it is for a commercial enterprise. Google Analytics is the most widely used website statistics service—and is free. Many non-profits believe this is just for businesses. But it generates detailed information about a site’s traffic, where visitors come from, and what they do when they are there. That means not-for-profits can reap a wealth of knowledge from it.

This is what Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) was hoping to do when it set up a Google Analytics account. The organization’s website was recognized as one of the nation’s best in delivering legal information to the public. However, it was hard for the staff to tell if the site was actually supporting the ILAO’s mission: to use innovative technology to increase access to justice for lower income and vulnerable Illinois residents.

Taking a Valuable First Look

That’s when the agency turned to Massa & Company for Google Analytics Optimization. “Until then, we didn’t know what could be measured, let alone what information we should get,” says ILAO Program Director Teri Ross. “So starting with a low cost take-a-look package was a good idea.”

Ross and her team were impressed by the scope of the report. It shared a number of items: 1) the mix of new and returning visitors, 2) the top landing pages, 3) which social media channels most often sent visitors to the site, and 4) a list of actionable insights—to improve the site’s value for visitors. One key finding was that the ILAO’s tracking codes were unnecessarily complex. This meant the staff needed to scroll through 50+ profiles to find information.

Moving from “Interesting” to “Strategic”

“We saw how much work we needed to do,” Ross recalls. “That made us decide not only to optimize the site but learn how to best use this information.” After requesting proposals from several organizations, Ross decided to work with Massa & Company again. “Bonnie already understood the ILAO’s needs and is an expert on Google Analytics. In addition, her proposal detailed how she would be able to make it useful for a not-for-profit.”

This began with optimizing the data that was being collected. One important action was creating a master Google Analytics account for all websites—one place where people could discover everything they needed to know. “Bonnie helped us to outline our KPIs (key performance indicators), showed us which metrics would best track our progress, and then made it easy to find them,” Ross explains.

That was followed by working with the staff on how to access and interpret the information. “Bonnie led several different training sessions—customized to what each group of people needed to know,” says Ross.

After six months of data, Ross and the ILAO staff are identifying trends and looking at gaps. This will be important as the organization develops its next generation website. “We wanted to know who was using the site, how they were using it, rank our pages from most to least helpful, and learn how to better engage our visitors,” Ross explains. “Bonnie helped us move this process from being reactive to strategic—and she did it in a warm and responsive way.”