Measuring website metrics (stats) is not an easy task. It’s also a science the very few can do. Unless you have someone who specializes in metrics, you are not going to get reliable data. Below are some steps that may help.
First, understand that you do need reliable data, and it is easy to end up with misleading data.
“How?” you ask.
Here are some pointers (ignored by many as you will soon discover):
Kill your computer’s identity.
Every day you naturally visit your own website several times. So does your staff and others “who don’t count”. Hence, eliminate your computers’ identities (I.P. addresses) as visitors to your own website in your analytics. So, no matter how many times you or your staff “internally” visit your planned giving web pages, you will not be recorded as a visitor.
Do not count hits because hits do not count.
If your current vendor or consultant has not informed you of this, then next time you see him, scream:
H. I. T. S. = How Idiots Track Success, and fire them on the spot.
Hits give one an artificially high “visitor” count, and yet these are not visitors. A hit is any number of small parts on a website (a pixel graphic, a split image, etc.) that is downloaded when someone reads your page. Hits were popular 10 years ago and are a good measure for webmasters, but not for planned giving officers.
What to use? Sessions, visitors, and loyal visitors only.
Take “bounce” rates into account.
A bounce is someone who accidentally arrives to your page through a search engine. Then decides he or she’s on the wrong site, and leaves. Some websites can have bounce rates as high as 90%. Easily.
So, if you have 100 people visit your website and your bounce rate is 90%, you effectively have 10 visitors. Discover your bounce rate.
Take search engine visits into account.
Another figure to eliminate from your visitors list are automated web crawlers that go into your website to see what’s there. These are important and welcomed but should not be included in your internal analytics report.
Do not compare your organization to other non-profits in your metrics/reports.
Common advice is: find a similar non-profit and compare your metrics. Bull.
Even if the “other non-profits” are organizations similar in size and scope, you cannot compare your metrics to theirs. At first it sounds logical to do so, and some vendors recommend this. In reality, organizations of the same size do not always generate the same traffic. Between loyalty, politics, geographic, advertising budgets, and how much effort is behind “pushing” their overall website, there are many variables over which you simply have no control.
Such a comparison would be analogous to comparing one’s wealth with a peer’s just based on the same credentials and age. You have to take into account family issues, how early they began saving, even intangibles like what books they read, weight and health issues that prevented them from work now and then, etc.
Answer? Condition to compete against yourself by setting up measures and progress goals. At my firm, we help you do just that.
The above will help you gather more realistic numbers to develop useful metrics. They are far better than some of the misguided “touchy-feely good” approaches used by many that give you inflated numbers, point you in the wrong direction and hold you back.
A Reality Check
Planned giving is not Entertainment Weekly, and you will not get repeat visitors like you get on commercial sites. For two reasons:
- You have much less prospects than teens looking for Britney Spears
- Planned giving is not on top of their list 24/7
We’ve heard some planned giving vendors promise that your average page visit will last 30 minutes. It’s not true. Perhaps while Mr. Robinson was reading your page on charitable gift annuities, he was asked by Mrs. Robinson to take out the trash and that page remained open. Sorry, this does not count as a page visit.
What we’re trying to say is do not be unrealistically optimistic: planned giving does move slowly and patience, here, is definitely a virtue.
We at VirtualGiving never hide behind unrealistic numbers. If your visits are low, we let you know and give you the real reasons and not inflate them to keep you as a client.
Again, planned giving moves slowly and you need an even-keel, steady approach. The successful non-profits know this, and that’s why leading ones have partnered with VirtualGiving. We’re now working on teaching our knowledge to those who need it the most.
Call my office to receive: 12 Tips to Increase Visitors to Your Website, Your Inbox and Your Phone. No obligation, and mailed to you at no cost. 800-490-7090