Commentary: 6 ways to improve how your company tracks online sales, donations

Erik Gensler of Capacity Interactive, Technology in the Arts blog, 9/19/11

If you sell tickets or accept donations on your website, you are, at least in part, an ecommerce company. And like ecommerce companies do, you must pay attention to your web analytics. This becomes even more important as the percentage of overall ticket sales and donations on your website grows. How can you improve your website if you do not measure? Or if your measurement is not accurate or complete? Most performing arts organizations have a Google Analytics account. For many orgs, it was probably set up by the vendor who built your website. Often the Google Analytics code was added as an afterthought to the site and not really integrated into the site build. You have a powerful tool at your fingertips, so why not make the most of it and set it up to provide you with the most useful and accurate information? Here are six ways to improve how you use Google Analytics:

1.) Configure Goals to track important pages and user behavior. For most arts orgs, goals include: selling tickets, raising money, engaging patrons, and providing information about programming and services. You can configure Google Analytics (hereafter, "GA") to measure these goals for you. See here for more details on setting up Goals.

2.) Tag all emails and promotions with GA Tracking Code. Many orgs still do not know how much money each email they send generates in sales and donations. In order for GA to track your emails you must tag each link in the email with a GA tracking code. Use this handy tool here. In addition to tagging emails, you should tag all promotions and ads on third-party sites.

3.) Set up ecommerce tracking if you accept donations or sell tickets online. Once set up, any other metric that GA measures can be tied to resulting sales, so you can see, for example, which traffic sources are sending you users that purchase tickets or donate. You can also see what pages of your site are most valuable, what geographies are most valuable, and how much money your last email, promotion, or ad generated. See here for more details.

4.) Set up automatic reports to send to key stakeholders. You can configure GA to send custom reports to stakeholders at any duration (daily, weekly, monthly). You can send different reports to various stakeholders depending on their role within the organization and interests. This tool can be found under "Custom Reports" on the left margin of your GA dashboard on the current version, or on the top menu of the new GA interface.

5.) Schedule regular meetings to review site performance. Develop a "culture of analytics" at your organization. Create a cross-departmental committee that meets regularly to discuss your site's performance. The more streamlined GA information you can provide to the committee the more useful these meetings will become. As more and more sales and donations move to your site, these meetings will become even more important.

6.) Filter out your internal IP addresses. No doubt the staff of your organization visits your website many times during a typical work day. You can filter this traffic out. Within the analytics settings, go to "Filter Manager" and enter your IP address or IP range. (Find your IP address at This will block all internal traffic, which would otherwise skew your data.


Dublin theatre uses Google Analytics, AdWords for 16% increase in visits

Derek Kelly, Box Office Manager of the Gate Theatre,, 3/7/11

In February 2009, the Gate re-launched its website with a new design. Google Analytics had been enabled on our site since the re-launch, but was only used in a limited way. Using existing data, Google were able to advise us on how our website was performing, and what keywords were triggered to reach our site. We realized that our venue (rather than the productions) had the greatest awareness among potential customers. We tailored the website more towards the Gate as an experience and used less pages for the programme. Our Google Adword campaigns are similarly weighted. We continue to monitor Analytics daily, in particular the Visitors Overview, Content Overview and Traffic Sources Overview reports. We get direct feedback on every e-marketing campaign and can calculate the revenue return of each type of campaign. One immediate application of the data is that we now always send our e-mail campaigns to hit our target's inbox early on Monday mornings. Using GA, we found our busiest period of online activity is consistently Monday lunchtime to late afternoon. We also saw by comparing other arts venues via Analytics that this holds through for theatres in general. The net result... we have seen a 16% increase in visits since implementing the changes to the website and beginning our Adwords campaigns.


What London's leading dance venue learned from its Google Analytics

Hannah Rudman, Rudman Consulting website, 6/21/11

Recently, I had the chance to hear how London dance champions Sadler's Wells' digital strategy was going. Kingsley Jeyasekera (previously Director of Marketing and Communications) is now Director of Communications and Digital Strategy - a subtle change that significantly affected the way the organisation considers digital. It's now an explicit part of Sadler's Wells' senior management responsibilities. is a website doing well. 75% of their ticket sales are online. Kingsley reported that multi-buy does encourage multiple booking, and that giving website users the opportunity to pick their own seat does encourage people to book online. Kingsley's team keep a close eye on their Google Analytics, and track and archive the results. This tells them, for instance, interesting things like: the referrals to their website from Facebook have increased 450% in the last 2 years. This data provides a great case for investing in further Facebook page and campaign development, and the new consideration of setting up social selling (coupons) via Facebook and possibly even direct selling via Facebook. Sadler's Wells take time to create good quality video content - typically, any video created by them is watched 8,000 times. The 180,000 strong e-mailing list is communicated with twice a month, with a 45-50% open rate. Again Google Analytics can tell the team what links are clicked, and they've noticed a pattern that a link to a video is far more likely to be clicked than a link to information.


Commentary: "Google Analytics For Poets"

Ilana Rabinowitz, Marketing Without A Net blog, 5/23/11

There's a course taught at Columbia University called "Physics For Poets"....a physics course for non-science students. [What] I like about the name is that it introduces a subject to people who might not otherwise have ever gotten to know it. It takes the fear out it. If you want to get better at blogging, Facebook, email or any digital marketing efforts, you have to understand the numberscoming out of Google Analytics. But you don't have to be afraid if you don't consider yourself a numbers person. The most important quality of a good analyst is not exclusive to math wizards -- it's curiosity. In looking at numbers you are looking at the "what" but you won't get anywhere unless you ask "why?" Understanding why something you did took off or bombed is an art. You need to be able to connect seemingly unrelated data and come up with a conclusion that at least makes sense and is ideally, enlightening. This is virtually the definition of creativity. If you are accepting the surface information and not passionately pursuing what happened to get you those results, you're going to get a lot of data and no information. Recognizing that a variety of factors determine the success of your marketing efforts is important. Your curiosity will lead you to ask the right questions. What are you asking when you look at your results? 

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