Tracking lifetime value in Google Analytics

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List member Jim Thornton replied to yesterday’s email about tracking revenue from phone calls in Google Analytics (shared with permission):

Have you used callrail? Basically you get a bunch of routing numbers and dynamically show them based on source of traffic or even keyword. So you can fill in the gaps between campaigns and desktop conversions.

I had not heard of CallRail, but I know there are some list members who do business by phone. Thibut I know there are some list members who do business by phone — you might want to check out CallRail. Among plenty of other things, for those running Google Ads, CallRail can help you better understand what keywords to target. Thanks, Jim!

I was thinking more about Google Analytics for museums yesterday and found myself wondering if there many museums that have calculated the lifetime value (LTV) of a museum member. Based on the conversations I’ve had, I don’t think that many museums are thinking in these terms, but I could be wrong.

For list members who work at a museum: Has your museum calculated the average value of various types of members in terms of revenue?

(I imagine some of you may be reluctant to think in terms of the economic value of a member. I often notice that when I start speaking in these kinds of terms, museum folks are eager to point out that members are more than simply sources of revenue for the museum. That’s true — but it’s also true that they provide financial support, and I don’t think that a better understanding of the economics at play is necessarily negative or reductive. It’s just another dimension in understanding an audience’s impact on the organization.)

If you were setting up a goal in Google Analytics for each time someone purchased a membership through your website, you’d want to enter the LTV of a member into Google Analytics — not the value of that transaction. So, if the average value of an individual member is $320, when someone signed up for a $40 individual membership on your website your analytics wouldn’t assign a value of $40 — it would assign of a value of $320 for that transaction.

To calculate LTV, you’d want to create segments — a single average is way too general. Think of individual members, families, business supporters who may attend fundraising events … In Google Analytics, you’d want to assign different values to each of these conversions based on LTV, which you would calculate with the help of your CRM.

Ideally, you’d set up the goal as an “event” in Google Analytics, but that largely depends on how well your payment system or CRM integrates with Google Analytics.

Short of that, you can set up the goals as a “destination” in Google Analytics. In that case, you’re tracking how many people visit a particular page on the site. If someone purchases a family membership, create a unique landing page for that type of transaction and send people to that page upon completing the transaction. Google Analytics will count that page view as a goal completion. The problem with using a destination as the triggering event is that you can trigger completions by visiting the page yourself (if you don’t have proper filters set up in Google Analytics) or if someone who just completed a purchase reloads the page that would count as two goal completions, which would screw up your results. So, go with a custom event wherever possible.

But it all starts with understanding lifetime values. That’s my question for you, today — is your organization thinking in terms of LTV? Is It a metric you’ve considered using as a basis for improvement?

Hit reply and let me know.

Thanks for reading,


Kyle Bowen