Using Google Analytics to Boost Website Performance
Websites play an important role in helping volunteer organizations stay in touch with current members—and attract new ones. Google Analytics is a great tool for not-for-profits to analyze their website’s effectiveness—but too few know how to use it correctly to boost their website performance.
One Website with Many Owners
That was the challenge facing Lions Clubs International, with 1.3 million members in more than 206 countries. As the world’s largest service organization, its website was particularly complex. The main site was managed by more than 20 people at the Chicago headquarters. Each person was responsible for a portion of the site, including membership, service activities, public relations, leadership training, meetings and conventions, the foundation, and the online store.
In addition, this website linked to a number of interdependent sites with other content managers. Some of the staff were proficient in using technology and dedicated to online functions. Others knew very little about the Web, and managing their part of the site was just one of many responsibilities.
Ken G Kabira, Group Manager at Lions Clubs, understood the value of Google Analytics for improving the website. To make this happen, he needed to have key staff trained on how to use the tool and then effectively analyze the data. So Kabira called on Massa & Company.
Pulling the Pieces Together
President Bonnie Massa quickly went to work. She evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of each area of each site. She also learned about the different missions, as well as the desires and requirements, for each. Then Massa listened carefully to uncover the abilities and job responsibilities of the 28 people to be trained, so she could develop an approach that fit a wide range of needs.
In the process, she discovered that Google Analytics was not set up correctly, and that various Lions sites weren’t properly connected. So Massa worked side-by-side with the IT staff, personally combing through the coding, until these problems were solved.
Creating Tangible Results
While the project started with Google Analytics and training, in the end it was really about results. A trained staff, using functional site analytics, meant decisions on changes to the web site now were based on hard data—rather than conjecture and internal debate. This led to a number of positive changes:
- Every page was upgraded with better keywords. One page, for example, had a very low conversion rate. A simple rewrite with more effective keywords boosted conversions from barely 12% to more than 40%—a 300% improvement.
- An improved SEO (search engine optimization) strategy increased relevant traffic. This eliminated “about lions” searches—those interested in African lions, the Detroit Lions, etc.— to focus only on those specifically seeking Lions Clubs.
- Site navigation and internal links were strengthened. This improved the experience for site visitors. It raised their engagement while reducing the “bounce” rate, increasing the time they spend on the site, and boosting the number of pages they viewed.
- A testing program was put in place. The performance of proposed site changes now were tracked for performance, so an informed decision could be made before making them permanent.
Kabira summarized the experience, saying, “Bonnie knew this wasn’t about collecting numbers, but giving people of all levels of ability insight they could act on. She was able to translate complex technology ideas into concepts that everyone—regardless of technical aptitude—could grasp. And it was a real bonus that Bonnie has a great interpersonal style that really fit our culture.”