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Analytics Made Simple. Four Things. Really.

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Animated laptop with a red zigzag arrow coming out of the screenThere’s nothing trivial about website analytics. And it’s not our intent to oversimplify an important (if sometimes confusing) subject. But, among the pages-and-pages-and-pages of available site performance metrics, there are four indicators should always be top-of-mind.

Some tech-minded and numbers-driven people in marketing immerse themselves deeply in website performance statistics. These are the potentially daunting charts, graphs, tables and numbers that measure, analyze and report the use and relative effectiveness of a website.

Any website. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume your site has Google Analytics, or similar, installed on your site pages. (Google Analytics is free. Read more here: The Free “Performance Dashboard” For Your Healthcare Marketing Website.)

The trouble is, every active online presence—being the product of sophisticated computer technology—generates far more data (analytics) than most people routinely need. IT people love all of it. Marketing people need and want specific slices. And the boss…well, the boss (most of the time) just wants a meaningful, but fast, snapshot.

So, for anyone who needs a “first look” pulse rate about how online visitors are interacting with your website, here’s where to begin. Call them your website performance “vital signs” or basics.

Trouble and opportunity often show up here first. And you can always drill deeper into the mountain of data if the “vitals” are out of whack.

Most of the time you should be tracking these data points first:

UNIQUE VISITORS: The number of people that came to your website in a selected date range. Is the number going up or down; how does it compare to a similar time period; what is the trend; did it change during an advertising or promotional period?

SOURCE or TRAFFIC SOURCE: Did the visitor arrive at your site via a search engine (google), from a referring website (Facebook perhaps), from a direct entry of your URL, or from some other point of origination, such as an email or your newsletter. You can adjust the basic categories of organic/search, referral and direct visitor traffic. Which ones can you leverage? It’s often a matter of keywords.

KEYWORDS: A keyword is any word or short phrase that describes a website topic or page. And it is the word or term that visitors used to find your site via a search engine. Keywords reveal what people are thinking about or looking for when they search. Did your site or initial page deliver an answer for their need? If not, they will “bounce.”

BOUNCE RATE: The percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site. If this happens often (a high bounce rate), it’s a red flag that visitors are not finding what they want and don’t investigate beyond the first page they see. Conversely, a low bounce rate page has an audience-appealing content. This is an opportunity to leverage what works, and devise effective landing pages with a low bounce rate.

Of course, there’s a great deal more to understanding and using analytics. What’s more, the overall performance of a website will consider many variables including conversions (new prospects, new patients, new business), and ultimately, Return-on-Investment.

The analytics numbers can be daunting, and there will be times when experienced help is needed. But keeping your finger on your websites “performance pulse” is an early indicator of what’s working, what’s not working, and where adjustments can drive greater success. (And the “short story” to explain things to the boss.)

RELATED: A Clear and Sensible Business Case for SEO and Healthcare Marketing Analytics.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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