Updating your website should be part of your 2019 digital marketing plans. Whether that means simple updates, adding strategic calls-to-action elements, modifying your mobile display, or building a whole new site, your website needs to adjust to your changing online audience.
Many practices have opinions about what they think should be changed, but have no data to substantiate those decisions. Thus, they do nothing; or wait for their webmaster to provide recommendations and suggestions that never come.
If you are looking to make updates for 2019, but need more than just a gut feeling, here are 4 easy-to-do steps to leverage Google Analytics and actual user data. Use them to gain insights and guide your website updates to ensure they have a positive impact on your ROI in the coming year.
Access your website’s Google Analytics. You can’t make user-driven updates to your website if you do not know how your visitors are engaging with your website and target “destination” pages. Relying solely on hunches and your own personal preferences isn’t the most accurate way to improve results. Google Analytics data is essential.
One thing to also keep in mind; the analytics reports webmasters typically provide are intended to justify your continued payment, not to diagnosis issues or uncover new opportunities. If you do not have direct access to your website’s Google Analytics, ask your webmaster to invite you. This is your website and your practice needs to have an active role in it success. And gaining access is a very simple process that only requires an email address. You can be viewing your website data the same day.
Understand the basics. There are foundational data points that can quickly determine how your website is performing and point to areas of improvement.
Google Analytics typically defaults to last 7 days of data, but I would suggest you set a date range of at least 6 months; 12 months if you want to incorporate seasonal trends. Some of the most common data you need to consider is Users, Bounce Rate and Session Duration.
Users: If you are located in a major metropolitan market and you have been marketing your website for a substantial number of years, it is common to attract well over a 1,000 users each month, depending on the type of services and audiences you are targeting. In some cases, our clients’ websites attract more 5K-10K users or more each month. However, the goal is not to establish some random target of what it “should be.” Rather, use your GA data to identify trends and establish a baseline, upon which to build your goals.
Bounce Rate: First off, let’s clarify what “bounce rate” actually means. A bounce is simply a single-page session where a visitor exits the site from the same page it entered. Many digital marketers or practices feel that the bounce rate is a major reflection of how well your website is designed. They assume a low bounce rate means your website is engaging and a high bounce rate means your website is not designed well. However, bounce rates may also reflect the type of visitors you are driving to your website. If you are attracting higher quality traffic that is already familiar with your brand, or clients of record, they may simply be looking for your phone number or to submit a request. In that case you may have a high bounce rate, but convert a high rate into telephone calls, emails, chats or text messages and converting visitors into leads is certainly more important than bounce rates. Generally speaking, bounce rate is less of an issue, unless it is extremely high (75% or higher).
Session Duration: This is the average length of time a user spends on your site or given page (during a particular time frame). If visitors are spending more than 2-3 minutes on your website or on a given page on average, then the substance of the website is likely engaging visitors. If your sessions are very short and abbreviated, then you may need to determine if your content is old, superficial, gimmicky, or “thin.” This is particularly important when you look at the session duration of key practice area pages.
However, like bounce rate, if visitors are turning into leads at a high rate, then visit duration may be less of an issue. So what would be considered a high conversion rate? Of course that can vary by industry, but generally, our average websites convert more than 5 percent of visitors into leads.
Identify mobile visitors vs. desktop visitors. Many times I speak to practices that are considering updating their website. They point out competitors and other websites they feel are well designed, referring largely to the desktop design. Yet, when we look at their website traffic, the majority of visitors are viewing their site through smartphones, not desktops. Conversely, there are times when markets and niche services attract more desktop visitors, yet they are directed by everyone to focus on mobile. Before you make design or call-to-action changes, make sure you are viewing your website like the majority of your visitors.
Ideally, you want the website to perform on both mobile and desktop. However, understanding where the majority your leads are coming from is an important part to making good update decisions.
Timing is everything. This is especially true when it comes to generating your highest quality lead types; phone calls.
We can probably all agree that phone call leads convert into new clients at a much higher rate than email form submissions and even live chat and text message leads. So how can you use Google Analytics to help identify website opportunities to generate more of these all-important phone call leads?
First, understand that consumers are more likely to call during times when your office is open. Website visitors that come after business hours or on weekends and assume your office is closed (unless you aggressively promote 24/7 availability) are less likely to call your practice compared to those that visit during weekday business hours. This is increasingly true when you consider lunchtime hours when visitors have an even greater opportunity to speak with your office.
Google Analytics can identify your highest traffic days of the week, as well as your most popular hours of the day. This is an actual client’s Google Analytics traffic chart by day and hour (darker times indicate higher volume)
So how can you use this type of information to improve your website? Here is an example. Taking your most popular day/hour traffic data (step #4) and combining it with the device type (step #3), you may uncover hidden signals that point to “eureka” opportunities. The following is Google Analytics data for the same client when we combine these two steps to show the most popular hours and the device that visitors use to visit the website.
In this case, it is visually apparent that the biggest opportunity to generate more telephone leads is to make strategic updates to the desktop view, which may be contrary to what most assume for a practice in an upscale metropolitan market. I have also seen GA statistics for other practices that are completely opposite, where most visits occur after hours using a smartphone. Thus, it is essential to research your own analytics data to find the greatest opportunities for your unique situation.
These are only a small sample of opportunities that Google Analytics can uncover for your practice. There are a lot more! If you would like us to help you access and evaluate your Google Analytics data, feel free to call us at 800-368-9910. Or send us an email.