February 24, 2017
Web Metrics in Higher Education Pt. 3: Behavior

We've come to our final analytics concept: Behavior. In this post we'll focus on understanding what site visitors are doing on our website and why. 

What Did They Do?

Metric #7: Continually evaluate Goals and Conversions.

If you haven't been active with goals, 2017 is your year. The learning curve is not steep, but it typically takes a team to evaluate and set up goals for major events - events like the three main CTA's we mentioned earlier in this series (Request Information, Schedule Campus Visit, Submit Application).

One way to approach this is to work backwards. Set goals on the "Thank You" page of a landing page form or download. This will tell you when the form was submitted, rather than just the traffic to the form page.

To understand the decision path of site visitors, you may also add value to pages visited on the site. For instance, a visit to the Accounting Academic Programs page on your website may not drive direct action, but could be a vital step in the decision-making process. You can add values, especially when tied to the number of pages visited.

A newer option that could make life easier is setting up Smart Goals with your Google AdWords account. This will allow you to conduct a campaign and determine what keywords, channels, and audience segments are leading to conversions.

Overall: Determine your significant, trackable actions. Then identify how to determine success. Add indirect goals. Finally, set up your segments to see these goals based on unique audiences. 

Metric #8: Use data to identify usability issues around goal completion

We know that every form that's started is not necessarily submitted. We know every page visit doesn't result in a completed action. Not all site visitors are ready to buy what you are selling on the first (or second, or third) visit.

But if we're not hitting our numbers, Google Analytics can help identify the problem that is keeping us from doing so.  

Two goals we did not discuss above were Events and Visit Duration. Both of these goals allow us to see where a usability issue may need to be addressed.

I see this with downloads frequently. A user visits a page hoping to download more information or an infographic, but the CTA isn't clear enough for them. If we aren't seeing the clicks, either we haven't convinced the user to click or the action isn't obvious. Events in Google Analytics track "in-page" actions. If you have content in tabs or a download button, the URL doesn't change, but we need to know if the action was taken. Set up Event Goals on all actions, including video plays, hidden content, and downloads. Google Tag Manager makes this easy by automating "like actions."

For multi-page forms or long forms, Events and Visit Duration may be applied to identify if a form is too long (which it usually is) or if the navigation is difficult. If a form takes 5-10 minutes to complete and users are leaving it one minute in, we might want to try to cut the form down by just gathering the information that is essential. 

Wrapping It Up

You don't have to be Google Analytics Certified to improve the analysis and reporting power that's at your fingertips with tools like Google Analytics and other platforms.

Projects come and go, but we can help ensure the success of these projects by creating a foundation of a sound analytics strategy. To do this, we must establish metrics - like the 8 listed above - that regularly provide us with a good set of data. This is what gets us working smarter.

If you enjoyed this blog series, you might also be interested in the following resources:

Posted by Dave Hillis
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