What are your website analytics, like Google Analytics, telling you?  What’s happening with your email?  All of the online communications tools have built in metrics.

They give you more data than you need, and often don’t give you the information you really want without requiring a lot of data crunching on your part.

Which website analytics you pay most attention to depends on your goals, but common numbers to track include:

  • Unique Visitors v. Return Visitors. Unique visitors is one measure of the size of your reach. Return visitors can be a measure of engagement, e.g. they like your stuff so come back for more.
  • Time on Site (including Time on Site, Pages per Visit, and Bounce Rate). These measures tell you how long or how deeply people are using your site.
  • This tells you where your site visitors are coming from. For example, is your activity on social media sites driving traffic to certain pages on your site?
  • Conversion Rates. This tells you how many people are following through on calls to action on your site.

The same applies to email metrics. Pick the numbers that help you measure against your goals. Some frequently tracked email metrics include:

  • List Growth. Is the overall size of your list growing?
  • Open Rates. Are you improving the percentage of people who open your emails?
  • Click-Through Rates. Are you improving the percentage of people who click over to your website?
  • Conversion Rates. Which emails lead to completion of certain activities on your website?
  • What’s Getting Clicked. Which topics are most popular?

In social media, you might track:

  • The number or percentage of people who like, share, or comment on your content.
  • The attitude expressed by people who are interacting with your content.

Track these measurements over time and you’ll begin to see certain trends in your communications.

Here’s a way to make measurement a little more fun: Time capsule your intuition (write it down somewhere and don’t look at it for a few weeks or months) and then track the data and see what happened. How good was your intuition? How have you changed your mind based on what you’ve seen in the data?

This originally appeared in my book Content Marketing for Nonprofits.