In this article, we’ll discuss how we find out if our previous hard work was worth it, and how we should measure the success of our website, and what we need to look out for. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read the first four parts of this series: step 1, step 2, step 3 and step 4.
Now we’ve made lots of changes to your current site, or launched a brand new website, how do we know if the website is working, and what metrics should we use to keep an eye on our success?
Measuring website traffic
Most web companies or hosting providers include some form of website statistics package, however one of the best we’ve found is not only comprehensive, and it’s also free.
Google Analytics is a very detailed systems, and can be set up to send automated email reports or allow you to log in from anywhere to see near real-time statistics on how many visitors are coming to your website, where they are going within your website, and where they are from.
Installation is as simple as adding some code to your website, and there’s a great guide to how to use over at A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics.
Google Analytics can even show you a world map view, and allow you to understand where your traffic is coming from. It’s pointless to gloat over 1 million website views, if 70% of those are coming from geographic areas that are not your target.
Many of us have increase enquiries as a goal. It’s great if you’ve doubled your website visitors over the last two years, yet unless the users are reaching the goals you have set out for them, then the time and effort has been wasted.
Measuring enquiries could be as simple as keeping a running tally of enquiries from your website in an Excel sheet, or could mean reviewing this data in some enrolments software or customer contact software. In any case, enquiries are a great measurement of success.
Measuring other goals
Depending on the goals we’ve created in the first chapter, we can measure some and others may be a little harder. For example, to increase payments online is easier to measure (simply by counting transactions or getting a bank report) than say, provide information on class activities, where there is no tangible results such as a form completion or a link click.
In cases that you find it hard to measure a desired outcome, you may want to consider running an online survey or including a request for website feedback in your printed or email newsletter.
A/B Split testing
We encourage many of our clients who have clearly defined goals, to consider running split tests to see which pages work better. For example, say you wish to increase enquiries for enrolments. You could run two identical pages, which feature only slight changes in headline or content.
A/B split testing is where we utilise software to determine which page gets better outcomes. We’ll send the same amount of users to both pages, and the one which generates more enquires wins. Then, in many cases, we’ll refine this page further and test it again.
There are many different packages out there to achieve this, and in an automated way. A good start is to read An Introduction to Website Split Testing.
More advanced methods to determine success, is to start tracking what parts of a page are actually being clicked on. This really helps web designers in determining what parts of a page need more emphasis, and look for ways to reduce issues, such as sections of a page which are driving traffic, but don’t add any value.
We call these ‘heat maps’. Most packages require a small bit of code to be added, and then they literally track where users click on the page. Heat maps are a great way to ensure your website isn’t causing any issues for users. For example, we had a client who had a lot of clicks on an image that didn’t actually link anywhere. Unfortunately, this image looked like it should be linked and therefore created frustration with their website visitors.
Reading this article should help empower you to be confident that you understand how to measure the success of your website, and what to look for with the basics of understanding website statistics. We have covered the further advanced ways of measuring user behaviour, such as measuring enquiries and goals, as well as optimizing the website by using A/B split testing and heat maps.
Miles Burke is an Author, Public Speaker and Managing Director of Perth-based digital agency, Bam Creative. His team has created websites and digital marketing campaigns for dozens of schools, and their work has been featured in the media, won plenty of awards and most of all, helped schools demystify the digital marketing space to attract enrolments and better communicate to their communities.