Google Analytics has a section called Affinity Categories.
Based on the websites that people visit before and after they visit your website, along with other information Google collects, Google Analytics categorizes the kinds of content that interest your website visitors. Here is an example from one of my nonprofit client’s websites.
What does the data show?
In the example to the right, taken from 2018 data, you can see the top five categories that Google assigns to the visitors of this website. They list category and a subcategory. For this nonprofit, the top category is a Media & Entertainment category – Book Lovers. So what does it tell us if our website visitors are book lovers? How might this knowledge help guide us in the types of content we produce?
It just so happens that a few months before reviewing this data, this nonprofit had posted a “Summer Reading List” post that was one of the most popular pieces of content in their enewsletter and on the website. If you find that this category is popular with your website visitors, consider doing something similar with staff reading suggestions.
What might we infer based on the categories?
We might guess that the Book Lover category points to those people in our online community who are well educated, literate and love books. A quick online search helped us find the answer to the logical follow-up question – Who loves and buys books?
A study from Bowker Market Research in 2013 showed that the majority of book buyers are female. We can infer that a majority of those Book Lovers visiting our website are women, and if we look at the Demographics section of Analytics, we see that is accurate. So we have an insight into our online community that the biggest group is people who identify as female, many of whom are book lovers.
How might this knowledge guide our content beyond reading suggestions?
We could look and see what the top selling books are in our country. Do any of them relate to our mission? Have our staff read any of them and could relate to our community the connections they observed to your mission or program work?
Category number two is not just about Food & Dining, but the subcategory of Cooking Enthusiasts and 30 Minutes Chefs. This might point to working parents who are looking for quick meal ideas. Do any of our programs involve serving food and we could talk about food preparation? As with the staff reading list, might we share some of our staff’s favorite 30 minute meal recipes?
These are ways for you to connect what the Affinity Categories data tells you to the content you will produce for your online presence. The excellent practice for that is to craft the content, find or produce appropriate images and post them onto your website. You can then share them multiple times on social media, via your enewsletter and even reference them at in-person events.
Get informed about the interests of your community
If your website does not have Google Analytics or a similar program, talk to the folks who built your website, or ask nonprofit website experts how to get those working. Give it time to collect some data, then (in Google Analytics) look under Audience, then Interests to find Affinity Categories. Review the top 10-20 interests and see what ideas they give you for content. Look under Demographics to see what age groups and gender groups your community self-identifies. Book lovers that are Millennials might be interested in different topics than Baby Boomers who are book lovers, so give some thought to what is appropriate for different groups. Try experiments, measure the engagement you get and let that guide you to what you produce.
The more appropriate to your audience’s interests your content is, the more success you will have engaging and growing your online audience. A larger audience, treated correctly, will mean a larger email list, more social media followers and hopefully more donors to support the work of your nonprofit’s mission.