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Google Analytics for Associations: The 4 Analytics Goals Every Association Must Track

Note: On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will sunset and move entirely to Google Analytics 4. GA4 uses a completely different data model (event- vs. session-based) and UX platform to create custom goals and events, making the information in this article less relevant. Keep an eye on our Insights for upcoming articles and tools to help you make the transition, and proceed here with caution knowing that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with this new platform coming down the line.

Every marketing team has an objective. You’re trying to draw your visitor’s attention somewhere to do something, be it a membership sign-up, an event, an online training, or otherwise. There are many different types of goals.

Setting up goals in Google Analytics gives you insight into your audiences, your website performance, and your performance as a marketer. And tracking the right goals? Well, now you’re just showing off.

Associations balance conferences, event planning, member recruitment and retention, education, and advocacy, and the best association websites handle it all. Every association’s mission is different; your association’s top goals should be obvious both on your website and in your Google Analytics account.

What are the things you want your visitors to do on your website? If you haven’t identified these website goals and tracked them in Google Analytics to determine when, where, by whom, and how often they’re occurring, you’ll never know how your website is truly performing.

What are Google Analytics goals?

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A Google Analytics goal is any action someone takes on your website that your organization considers a conversion (a win!). For associations, the most important and popular goals include:

  • Membership signups
  • Membership renewals
  • Learning registrations (in-person and virtual conferences)
  • Use of e-learning resources

It’s ideal to have between three and five goals set up in your Google Analytics account so you can see how many of your website visitors are completing each of the above actions, and what pages of your website are driving them to do so. That percentage of total users who complete at least one of your specified goals is your website’s conversion rate.

If you’re ready to go ahead and set these up now, here’s how to set up destination goals in Google Analytics.

What Google Analytics Goals Should an Association Track?

As an association, you’ll likely want to focus on some or all of these Google Analytics destination goals:

1. Membership Sign-ups

    Members are the lifeblood of associations. If you don’t know how many members are signing up and where they’re coming from, you’re missing a huge opportunity to attract more. This may be the most important destination goal you track! To track membership sign-ups as a Google Analytics goal is simple; all you need is a thank you page or confirmation page with a unique URL that people land on after completing a membership application or form submission. By creating unique thank you pages for users to land on after participating in each unique form of engagement, you can track which activities are the most popular and determine why.

    2. Membership Renewal

      Associations have two major audiences: prospective members and existing ones. Your website can’t prioritize both. Existing members often take a backseat, but it’s just as important to track your goal completions for that audience so you can make the adjustments that strengthen user experience. If prospective members take priority, and membership renewals are a secondary call to action (CTA) to new member sign-ups, you need to understand what’s driving renewals to create a well-oiled machine.

      Again, to set this up as a destination goal, your visitors will have to complete the specific action of renewing before visiting the goal URL.

      3. Learning Registrations (in-person and virtual conferences)

        Typically, associations have robust year-round event schedules. There are conferences, chapter meetings, trainings, advocacy days, and other educational opportunities. If your organization puts on even one of these event types, you should be tracking registrations as goal completions. How else will you determine which marketing campaigns are filling seats?

        Now, this is where things can get tricky. Often, associations use third-party services for event registration. That means you may not always have direct control over the user experience, and most importantly, the confirmation page. Fret not! Most of the third-party services will integrate with Google Analytics (so you have no excuse!). This might require either reaching out to your third-party event service or searching Google for help.

        4. E-Learning

          Does your association provide resources online? Whether people pay for these or they’re able to download them for free, you should consider gating your content (requiring an email address in exchange for the content). This not only allows you to track who is accessing your content but also gain their email address so you can work to build a relationship with them.

          The greater strategy here is to drive every visitor to achieve all four types of goal completions—at least once! That means thinking comprehensively about your goals and your website flow. What’s the easy, non-committal request that can set you up now for the bigger requests later? Lead with that. Aim for consistency across the experience. Your users should feel a certain cohesiveness when advancing from one request to the next. Example:

          1. Sign up for our webinar about what it means to be a member of the National Silly Dance Moves Association.
          2. Submit your best silly dance move using our online form for a chance to win free membership for life!
          3. You didn’t win the contest, but you should still become a member.
          4. Your membership is set to expire. Time to renew, you dancing machine!

          You don’t need to set up a million different goals. Please don’t! Condense it down to the few that actually show value. The goals you choose should directly ladder up to your business objectives. You can even assign a monetary value to goal completions in Google Analytics to see exactly how much money each webpage, and your website at large, is bringing into your organization. If you can do this, it’s easier to request a budget increase for website updates and more marketing later.

          Feeling ready to jump in? Here’s how to set up destination goals in Google Analytics.

          This article was originally published for ASAE.

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