Jarrett Way is marketing manager at Mighty Citizen in Austin, Texas.
Associations use online marketing to assist with everything from membership signups to online events registration, but the only way to know what’s working is with analytics. What to track to see if your campaigns are missing the mark or striking gold.
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.
Your association's top goals should be obvious both on your website and in your Google Analytics account, which tracks and reports website traffic. What do you want your visitors to do on your website? If you haven't identified these website goals and tracked them in GA 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?
A GA goal is any action taken on your website that your organization considers a conversion (a win!). Setting up goals in GA gives you insight into your audiences, your website performance, and your performance as a marketer. For associations, the most important and popular goals include:
As an association, you’ll likely want to focus on the following goals (you’ll find them under “destination goals” in GA):
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 goal you track! To track membership sign-ups as a GA goal, all you need is a thank you or confirmation page with a unique URL that people land on after completing a membership application or form submission. Using unique thank-you pages will help you track which activities are the most popular and determine why.
Membership renewals. 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 adjustments that strengthen your user experience. If prospective members take priority, and membership renewals are a secondary call to action 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.
Learning registrations. While COVID-19 has changed the landscape, we recognize that associations typically have robust year-round event schedules. There are conferences, chapter meetings, trainings, advocacy days, and other educational opportunities. Whether you are having traditionally scheduled events or revamped virtual ones, track registrations as goal completions. How else will you determine which marketing campaigns are filling seats?
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.
Things can get tricky here. Often, associations use third-party services for event registration. That means you may not always have direct control over the user experience, and the confirmation page. Fret not! Most third-party services will integrate with GA. This might require reaching out to your third-party event service or searching Google for help.
E-resources. Does your association provide resources online? Whether people pay for these or 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.
Now that you know the four goals to focus on, the greater strategy is to drive every visitor to achieve all four types of goal completions—at least once! That means thinking comprehensively about your goals and website flow. What’s the easy, noncommittal 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:
You don’t need to set up a million different goals. Identify a 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 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.