Think of Website Analytics as your most important management tool to understand how your website is performing (or not performing). Free tools are available to track visitor activity and guide changes that improve performance and website results for your practice, hospital or healthcare organization.
There's no such thing as a "set-and-forget" website. We have yet to find a successful healthcare website that performs well on neglect.
We've written several articles that challenge the "If-I-build-it-they-will-come" fantasy of early healthcare websites—and provided practical direction about what to do instead.
But if your investment in a website is still underachieving (or worse, you don't know), here are the basics about traffic, data, and analytics...plus an information dashboard that tirelessly reports on performance.
The simple definition of Web Analytics is the measurement and analysis of website visitor activity in order to understand how well the site fulfills its objectives. Many businesses of all types and sizes use analytics to guide marketing decisions and make site improvements.
You probably don't need daily adjustments, but the value of knowing the good and bad of how your site performs is a valuable tool for several purposes. You can easily tell if visitors to your site:
Web Analytics is not the same as "traffic," which is a catch-all term meaning how many people come to the site and how many pages they viewed. Nor is it the same as "Web Reporting," which simply compiles historic data.
Web Analytics is looking deeper at data to learn what you didn't know—evealing how to create more visits, more page views and more conversions. Here's a simplified example:
Let's say that your website includes an individual page about each of three key services you offer. Analysis reveals that one of these three has far more page views than the other two; that visitors are likely to enter the site on this page (not the Home page); and that most visitors originate from Yahoo using specific keyword searches. Visitor conversions (appointments) from this page are low because contact information is not easily available on this frequently visited page.
Site changes might include more prominent contact info, additional pages about this topic reinforcing the keywords, and fine-tuning the Yahoo Search Marketing tool. Result: Increased traffic to the site, more page views, and-most importantly-more conversions.
Because the Internet has grown to be a principal means for the public to find healthcare services and providers--not to mention your investment in creating a practice website--it's important that you know about and use the available tools to maximize your Return-on-Investment. But if you can't measure, you can't manage.
The good news is that your site might already have a reporting or analysis tool installed. Some Internet Service Providers (ISP), such as Network Solutions, include analytics with hosting service packages. Ask your webmaster or call your ISP customer service representative. Important data about your site could be at your fingertips through WebTrends or AWStats currently connected to your site or hosting service.
Alternatively, you should know about Google Analytics—a full-featured tool that's free from the company that captures over 60 percent of the online search activity (Google). Although it's a robust system, it's not terribly complicated to install and use.
There is a brief registration for the free version that includes an ultra-generous five million page views per month. There are dozens of reports available—likely more than you'll need, but the information is presented in a convenient "dashboard" that is easy to read.
When you discover how people found your site, what pages they explored and other data, you can learn how to improve your site's ROI effectiveness.
If you've been neglecting your healthcare website, it's likely that opportunity has clicked past you and into the office of a competitive practice. Maybe you've outgrown your first-generation website and you need it to be a serious partner in achieving your practice growth goals.
If you don't know how well your website is working for you, call us and we can set you up on Web Analytics. And if you're determined to improve your online results, we can also help you with site design changes, better page content and cost-effective keyword marketing.
Marketing a healthcare organization can be challenging - even painful if you don't approach it with the right knowledge, tools, and guidance. By reading about mistakes and lessons others have learned the hard way, you can boost your marketing effectiveness and take a shortcut to success. Discover how to avoid these "Seven Deadly Sins". Plus, join over 30,000 of your fellow healthcare providers with a free subscription to our Insight Newsletter.