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7 Google Analytics Tips from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

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WWF wants to grow next year to a group of followers of one million donors and 125,000 friends in social networks. WWF’s online marketing is contributing to this goal. Effective online work begins with good tracking of your web analytics statistics. This article is based on seven practical tips, which explain in detail how the WWF uses Google Analytics to support its online marketing goals. WWF has been working since 2008 with Netprofiler, especially in the field of measuring, testing and site optimization based on insights from Google Analytics. This article is a translation of the Dutch version.

The 7 tips

  • Use the API
  • Measure 404 pages
  • Measure external campaigns
  • Measure internal campaigns
  • Deal with affiliate traffic
  • Deal with social media
  • Link Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer
  • Your tip?

1. Use the api

Analytics App

Since the release of the Google Analytics Data Export API it is possible to export Google Analytics data to all sorts of useful applications. It is for example possible to access your Google Analytics reports from your iPhone, so you can easily access your online statistics anywhere. Also useful is a desktop application such as TrakkBoard, which enables users to compose their own dashboards and enjoy easy desktop access.

Online marketing dashboard WWF

WWF uses the Google Analytics API to export data to their own online marketing dashboard. This dashboard, developed by mine your business, consists of the most important online marketing KPIs, which allow the users to easily monitor online performance. Performance can be benchmarked to the same period one year earlier or with the defined targets. The dashboard is complemented with donation data from the customer database.

2. Measure 404 page

It is valuable to see which pages cannot be found on the site in order to identify where visitors are looking for. This gives you the option to update the referral link or provide alternate content. Google Analytics can also tell if the visitor reached the missing page through an internal or an external link. The WWF has enabled this functionality by adding a customized Google Analytics tracking code to the 404 page.

404 page @ WNF.nl

3. Measure external campaigns

Google Analytics campaign parameters are added to all external campaigns to measure the success of the WWF newsletters, banners and affiliate expressions. This enables the WWF to evaluate which pages were visited by these visitors and how many of them converted to make a donation. The banners even provide the size of the banner to determine which size works best.

4. Measure internal campaigns

A number of blocks with content that varies (see illustration) are located on the WWF homepage. A place in a block on the homepage is obviously very wanted by the content managers. Parameters to measure unique clicks on these blocks are therefore used to determine how successful the content of a block is.


http://www.wnf.nl/nl/happy_end for example becomes http://www.wnf.nl/nl/happy_end?link=blokhome. This solution is not fully search engine friendly, but its negative effects can be reduced by using some workarounds.

An alternative is the use of virtual page views. This however had the disadvantage that IT must be involved, which made it a less flexible solution. Never use the external campaign parameters to measure internal campaigns. This will lead to messing up the source information of your visitors.

The WWF can use the goal and e-commerce tabs to see how the content relatively contributed, if the internal search reports in Google Analytics are also used.

5. Deal with affiliate traffic

Affiliate traffic provides large amounts of traffic to the WWF website. This soon developed a distorted view of the web analytics statistics. Especially the percentages and averages become distorted. The average conversion rate for example, will greatly diminish. In addition, spikes in traffic due to mailings characterize it. This creates confusion in the organization because at first glance it may seem as if the peaks are caused by new content or a new campaign.

It is therefore recommended to exclude this traffic with a filter from your main profile and to include it in a new dedicated profile. André Scholten created a useful additional filter for this purpose. Met dit filter wordt inzichtelijk welke verwijzende sites achter het affiliate verkeer schuil gaan. This filter will provide insight into which sites are behind the affiliate traffic. This enables the WWF to determine which of the affiliate sites are referring the most new donors and what their ROI is.

6. Deal with social media

A new challenge for the WWF is to measure and optimize the investments made in social media. WWF began in early 2009 to develop a social media strategy. From our findings, we launched special interest communities: a photographer’s community and a travellers community. Furthermore, WWF launched a Twitter Team.

The Twitter channel for the WWF is mapped with Klout. This site captures the influence from Twitter with all sorts of statistics. Thus, the WWF for instance can determine what percentage of the tweets are retweeted by followers. Or determine the possible reach from a retweet by an influential follower. Klout also offers an API, which allows Klout statistics to be imported in the online marketing dashboard.

7. Link Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer

Tests are regularly carried out at the WWF website with Google Website Optimizer. For example to determine which donation form works best or which banner achieves the highest CTR. By using Custom Variables from Google Analytics, visitors can be segmented based on the displayed version. This creates the opportunity to do some interesting additional analysis in Google Analytics.

What if the winning variation not only had the most conversions, but also had the highest average donation value? Moreover, were these donors primarily derived from Google Adwords or a referring site? This type of analysis can be validated using a simple confidence calculator.


Google Website Optimizer test of the donation form

8. Your tip?

Online marketing is a means for WWF to effectively spend a maximum amount of money on conservation. If you also want to share an insight with us, please do! You can be sure that we do something for the WWF with your knowledge!

See also the Dutch version: 7 Google Analytics-tips van het Wereld Natuur Fonds.