Understanding Your Audience Using Google Analytics

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Who are your website visitors? Where are coming from? What pages do they visit? Then what do they do? The answers to these questions can help you strategically craft content, make content hierarchy decisions, and be more informed about where and how to buy ads for maximum impact.

Last week, Foundation Center San Francisco hosted Crispin Bailey, User Experience (UX) Lead of Oakland-based Kalamuna; a firm that “make(s) the Internet for rabble-rousing organizations driven to tinker, critique, and change the way things are.”

The discussion centered on how to read and interpret the Google Analytics for your organization’s website. Although he couldn’t dedicate too much time to a discussion about setting up Google Analytics for your website, Crispin referred to the lengthy documentation Google makes available online.

The event was livestreamed, and what follows are some of the highlights from the stream, already available on YouTube.

At the beginning of the workshop, Crispin provides a brief overview of what Google Analytics is and what it does. He briefly defined conversion-rate, which is whatever you decide is a conversion, and gave a few examples. The bulk of the workshop was spent exploring the Google Analytics Dashboard. Crispin addressed many different features, including a discussion of browser optimization and why it’s important to know the preferred browser of your users.

There was a lot of discussion about how imperfect this data can be. Crispin reminded us to be mindful of how we’re using this data because it can be skewed due to a number of factors, such as the fact that more detailed data is only collected on people who are logged into Google+ at the time they are browsing and the growing trend of using incognito or private browsing.

Have you ever wondered why your organization’s site has such a high bounce-rate among certain users? The reason may not be what you think.

If the data found here is actually skewed, then why is all of this important? To start, the information found in your Google Analytics is of interest to key stakeholders within your organization. Pro tip: Crispin mentioned that you can take screenshots for your Google Analytics dashboard to use in reports.  

A few other highlights include:

  • Behaviors and what they mean, such as returning visitors vs. level of engagement. Hint: the time spent on a page depends on how long you want them there. There are times where it’s not useful for someone to spend a lot of time finding something on your website.
     
  • How people interact with your site including where they enter your site and where they travel to next.
     
  • Crispin summarized the session with some Key Takeaways at the end of his presentation.

This is just a snippet of what Crispin covered during this workshop. Feel free to view the video in its entirety in the YouTube window below or on Foundation Center’s YouTube channel. Crispin and the folks at Kalamuna were kind enough to provide a link to the slide presentation as well.

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NATASHA ISAJLOVIC, Lead of Foundation Center West, is responsible for public services and programming in the San Francisco office. Prior to joining the San Francisco team, Natasha worked for Fine Arts Museums San Francisco, Stanford Health Library, and Golden Gate University. Both her Master's degree in Library and Information Science and Bachelor's degree in Visual Arts and English Language and Literature were acquired at Western University. Natasha spends her time away from Foundation Center cooking, travelling, reading, and trying to surf.