Diving into Google Analytics with the Analysis Exchange

One of the main things the New Zealand Drug Foundation is trying to do with the DrugHelp and MethHelp websites is tailor content for the main audience we’re trying to reach.

This audience isn’t people merely interested in drugs in an academic sense, for school projects or with moral agendas. The websites are primarily for people using drugs who want to change. Reaching family members, friends, whanau and others supporting about a drug user is also very important.

If you visit the websites you’ll find the emphasis is on creating empathy and connection, rather than bald facts and figures.

Communicating with people in a convincing way takes way more than a one off effort. The website contents were informed by around 20 interviews with drug users and others. Pre-launch we ran a series of user tests, and our door is open to feedback. Early next year we’ll run a structured process to obtain feedback from people visiting the website.

So, we’ve got a a few ways of feeding into our refinement/ enhancement cycles.

The one area that remains untapped is using web analytics. We’re garnering useful information about visit numbers and frequency, length of stay, popular pages, and loads more. But we’re not yet finding out much about what particular groups of visitors are doing.

The sprawling and deep Google Analytics package offers many options but it is not immediately clear how to match what is offered to our particular needs.

As well as reading Google’s online help, Justin Cutroni’s new book (“Google Analytics: Understanding Visitor Behaviour)”, and blog posts on Occam’s Razor by analytics expert Avinash Kaushik, I participated in NTEN’s Analytics Extravanganza.

After hearing Eric T Peterson (founder of Web Analytics Demystified) simplify the analytics tangle, and show case the Analysis Exchange, I was emboldened to ask the Exchange for help.

NGOs are invited to submit web analytics challenges to the Analysis Exchange. After a vetting process, students and mentors volunteer to help.

As a result I’m now working with Michael D Healy from San Francisco as mentor and Pandu Truhandito from Jakarta as a student. Kicking off next Tuesday, Pandu will be looking into what we can learn from Google Analytics about how key audiences are using DrugHelp and MethHelp.

I’m a bit overwhelmed by the support available from the Analysis Exchange: it’s very organised with highly qualified, motivated people offering to help. Already I’m enjoying the interaction with the two team members.

When I next write about this, I’ll share some of what we’ve learned. It may not be possible to answer my challenge, but I know we’ll definitely learn a lot.


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