So you have a website. Your organization has been doing a decent job of posting new content such as events, news and blog posts. You’ve set up analytics so you can review the data from visitors to your site. But now what? How do metrics translate to measuring the effectiveness of your web efforts?
Analytics are like an X-ray of your website—they can be very informative if you know how to read them. The problem is that many people set up analytics and never go back to analyze them after some time passes. Or they may take an occasional peek at the number of page views, but do not gather any insight as to how to improve the organization’s digital efforts to increase session time and engagement.
Know Your Goals—Define Success
When we say “goals” we’re asking, “What do you want visitors to do on your website?” The answer needs to be more specific than “have people read my website and view every page.” Are you gauging success based on the number of visitors to a key page or section of your site? Are you trying to increase the number of repeat visitors? Are you trying to achieve something more specific, such as converting a prospect through a form? When you have clearly defined goals, you will be able to sift through the mountain of data from your website’s metrics and pluck out the information you need.
Revisit Your Website’s Marketing Plan—The Means to Achieve Success
After you’ve defined your goals, you need to revisit the plan laid out to accomplish those goals. Your plan should answer the question “How do we drive visitors through our website to the desired sections?” Also, “How will we get the interaction we want from the visitor?” This is done in a number of ways—funneling your web traffic to key areas of the site, speaking to the right target audience with the right keywords and terminology, building repeat visitors with a content creation strategy, and/or converting prospects through capturing data via forms. A good plan will consist of a balance between well-thought-out content, strategic design, and a few other factors to achieve optimal user interaction.
But What Do I Do with This Data?—Measuring Success
Website analytics can cover a broad spectrum of information. With clear goals and a working plan, you can begin to pull out the metrics that pertain to the traffic you’re looking for. For instance, knowing whether to look at traffic sources as a means of updating your online paid marketing efforts or at your bounce rate to improve areas for website visitor retention are keys to making the right updates to your website marketing plan. In all likelihood, it will consist of a mix of these things—identifying the right ones and the hierarchy of their importance will help your organization concentrate efforts.
Below are a few examples of the types of data you can find in website analytics:
- User Information including data on sessions, demographics, behavior (new vs. returning, pages per visit, etc.), and the device being used (mobile vs. desktop, etc.)
- Traffic Acquisition including data on what sources are driving visitors to your site, referral websites, search queries, and landing pages
- Traffic Behavior including data on page views, average time on pages, bounce rates, top visited pages, and website performance statistics
- Heatmaps showing data on visitors’ interactions and click trends on specific pages of your site
- Visitor Traffic Recordings showing visitor cursor tracking through an entire session
- Form Analysis including data on the performance of your website forms such as time spent on each field and conversion rate
If this is your first time digging into the numbers, this initial data will likely serve as a baseline from which you will measure your ongoing efforts. It’s important to check analytics regularly and keep up with the progress to see which changes are effective and which areas could use further improvement. And keep in mind with any change, some trial and error is expected.
One thing that will be clear is that DMO website traffic will have its highs and lows, just like physical traffic. These cycles need to be treated in a similar manner to normal traffic. It’s important to recognize the patterns and try to understand what factors attribute to the peaks and low points of traffic and adjust the website marketing plan accordingly.
Where Do You Go from Here?—Improving Chances to Succeed
Analytics are no more “automatic” than your car’s cruise control is an autopilot.
In your car, you’re still steering and monitoring things so you can safely arrive at your destination. Likewise, website metrics are the dashboard of your DMO website, helping you see if you’re doing the right things—using the right content, steering visitor traffic properly, getting conversions—to get you where you want to be. Make sure you are in control by understanding analytics yourself and/or having an effective digital partner who will help guide you.