By Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO
Google Analytics offers a free set of tools that enable you to track the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts. Apply the information it provides to take your online marketing to a higher level.
I once heard a lecturer say a social media campaign without monitoring analytics is like running a business without accounting—you can’t do it and expect to be successful. Web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, allow you to view a broad swath of your e-marketing efforts, understand what works and what doesn’t work and benchmark efforts. They allow you to make adjustments in your strategy to draw more eyes while hopefully helping you save time and increase efficiency. Analytics can also help you understand how effective your paid advertising campaigns are. Analytic tools exist that can tell you how effective your social media and search engine optimization campaigns are. It’s also the place to look to determine whether your blog or web site is an effective marketing machine or a dinosaur that’s rarely visited, except by you.
Who Will Manage Your Web Site–You or Someone Else?
As practice leader, you must decide whether you have the ability and time to manage your site, including tracking the site’s metrics. Whether you do it yourself or have a staffer or third-party developer do it for you, you need to be aware of these measures and understand how to interpret what they mean to your marketing efforts.
According to a survey by the Management& Business Academy, sponsored by Alcon and Essilor, 54 percent of independent ODs have their web sites managed externally—but that figure rises to 67 percent among the largest practices. There were 452 responses to the survey, which was conducted in August.
This research found that nine out of 10 independent optometric practices have web sites, and these web sites are a significant source of new patients to those practices. On average, 81 new patients were attracted to a practice via the web site in the past year. The figure rises to 113 new patients among the largest practices, as measured by numbers of exams conducted. Appointment scheduling is offered by 41 percent of practice web sites. –ROB Editors
Here is how to get started in three easy steps:
1. Sign up for Google Analytics
Go to the Google Analytics homepage at http://www.google.com/analytics/ and click towards the upper right-hand corner of the homepage where it says “New to Google Analytics, Sign Up Now.” You will be allowed to sign up entirely for free. You will be provided with an HTML code that you or your developer must input into your web site code. After that, your results are stored and scored on your analytics dashboard, which can be accessed from the same Google Analytics homepage you visited to sign up.
2. Familiarize Yourself with Google Tools
Google Analytics Dashboard
The dashboard breaks down site usage, traffic sources, visitor overview and page views for particular content pages on your site. With Google Analytics, you can determine what percentage of visitors are new visitors (first time at your site), returning visitors, visitors who arrived via paid advertising and several other options.
Google “Overview (All Visitors)” Tab
This tab provides metrics across all visitors to your web site, both new and old. The graph will usually show steep peaks and deep valleys; the valleys usually occur as you head into the weekend, when most web traffic slows down, and the peaks rise from Mondays through Wednesdays, usually with a downturn starting sometime mid- to-end of the week.
Within the “All Visitors” tab, you can find the following useful information
• How many total visits for the time period requested
• How many pages were viewed
• Pages/Visit, which indicates the average number of pages a visitor clicked on
• Bounce Rate—the percentage of visitors who “bounce” away to another site rather than digging deeper in yours (a VERY important statistic – the lower the number the better)
• Average time on the site
• Percent who are new visitors—i.e., hadn’t visited before
3. Use Google Analytics Tools to Track Your Web Site’s Traffic
Traffic Sources Overview
The “Traffic sources overview” function breaks down where traffic is coming from (e.g., people finding you through search engines, links from other sites [referring sites], or directly, as in typing your URL right into their browser or from a bookmark).
Your top traffic source will usually be from Google, which probably will be responsible for more than 55 percent of visits to your web site. If this number is lower, you should check to make sure you are indexed correctly within Google, or that you are indexed at all. Your biggest site of referral should be somewhere on that list too—for me it is my blog, as I put a link from each blog post onto my practice’s web page. This helps me see how effective my blog is at driving traffic to my web site and enables me to make strategic decisions to try and improve those cross links.
“Visitors” is a different statistic than “visits.” One visitor can come back to your site numerous times and is only counted as one person toward the visits statistics. Your visitors number should ideally be smaller than your visits numbers. The visitors overview is located at the bottom left of the homepage and can provide data on number of visits, number of unique visits, number of pages viewed (pageviews), time people spend on your site, bounce rate and new visitors. There are also ways to delve deeper and break down visitors by browser, global location, etc., so you know how to target your web site’s marketing messages to appeal to the majority of visitors to your site.
“Content overview” shows you how many pages were viewed on your site (PageViews), how many of those views were unique visitors (never been to your site before), and again, what the bounce rate for this group was. A helpful statistic is “top content.” It allows you to see which pages on your web site received the most views.
Google Analytics helps to ensure the efforts you are making to market online are successful. It enables you to see where the time you are spending with your efforts is paying off and where adjustments need to be made. Using this free tool set effectively will allow you to sharpen your marketing message to attract more patients and jumpstart revenues.
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Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO, is owner of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care in Rockville, Md. He also is author of “Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search Optimization in Web 3.0.” To contact him: AGlazier@youreyesite.com.