By Nancy Rausman
Web analytics are a powerful tool for fine-tuning your digital marketing for profitability. Here’s how to use analytics to put more patients in your exam chair.
Most ODs with a web site have probably at least heard of web analytics, but many of you probably don’t know exactly what the term means. Web analytics give data to your web presence and are designed to help you see exactly how people are interacting with your web site in order to quantify and measure the success of your efforts in online marketing. If you do not measure, you will have no concrete knowledge of whether your web site is having a positive impact on your practice. Here are some key facts and tips on utilizing web analytics to better your practice’s online marketing strategy.
Questions Analytics Help You Answer
Analytics will help you answer questions about the activity on your site, which in turn, tells you if you are succeeding in bringing in new patients. You will be able to answer questions such as: How many people are coming to your site on a monthly basis? How are they getting there? How long have they stayed on the site and what have they looked at? With a more advanced tracking setup you can also see whether or not they booked an appointment through the site or completed patient forms. This data is all valuable in knowing what is working and what isn’t with your online presence.
Without tracking you’ll never now how effective your site is, if anyone is finding the site, if it is generating revenue or if it is referring patients effectively. By measuring your metrics, you can determine how successful your web site is and decide what areas of your web site need improvement.
For example, if you see that not many visitors are landing on and filling in the appointment form on your site, perhaps you need to move it to a more prominent location on your homepage. If many visitors are coming to your web site and quickly leaving, this may mean they are not finding the information they are looking for. In this case you would want to improve the content on your homepage to better reflect your services, include more relevant key phrases and make your design more inviting.
Getting Started on Google Analytics: How-To
Here are the initial steps needed to launch Google Analytics, but note that most doctors will need assistance from their webmaster to complete it as there is a small step that involves pasting HTML code onto the site.
1. Go to: www.google.com/analytics/ and follow the instructions to create an account.
The doctor will either need to sign in with an existing Google Account or Gmail address or create a new one. Follow the steps including adding the URL of the web site you want to track, and fill in the account details, general information and contact information.
2. The doctor will then have to accept the user agreement terms and conditions.
3. After these steps are complete, Google will provide an HTML tracking code to paste onto each page of the web site that the doctor wants to track. This is where most doctors will need help. Once the code is pasted onto the web site, you save and finish. It could take a little while until the Google spiders are able to recognize the analytics, but once they do, the doctor can log in and see all of the metrics for free.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is an extremely powerful and insightful tool and the most common analytics platform that is used today. It will provide you with the information you need to assess your web traffic, and best of all, it’s free and fairly easy to set up. An OD should not have to pay for these metrics on another platform as Google Analytics provides more than enough of the information you would want to know. It also can be shared across multiple Google accounts, giving different people access to the information.
While there is a learning curve to use Google Analytics effectively, because it is so widely used, you can easily find information online on how to set it up and how to take advantage of its more advanced applications. We see no reason for anyone to try any other web analytics system at this point.
Which Analytics Are Most Important to Pay Attention To?
There are a plethora of metrics that you can assess through Google Analytics, but you need to decide which of those are most important for you to be able to determine whether you are achieving your bottom line goals and focus on those statistics. Most people want to see how many visitors came to their site and where those visitors are coming from, especially if they are paying for search engine optimization services or doing a coupon campaign, like Living Social, to see what effect these type of initiatives are having.
While it is always nice to see where you rank and how much traffic you are getting, it is important to focus on results rather than numbers. Conversion metrics are incredibly valuable because they show how many people “took action” on the site by making an appointment, ordering contacts or otherwise impacting the practice’s business. Time on site may not be a good indication of success because people may be coming to the site just to find an address, phone number or office hours.
In addition, you’ll want to see which web site pages are getting the most views (so you know what content is most popular) and which queries brought visitors to the site (i.e. what people who came to your site wanted to find). Using those statistics you’ll know which pages to feature prominently and you’ll have ideas for future articles and site content.
Bounce rate is also an important indicator, particularly for the homepage. If many of your visitors are bouncing away immediately, it may be worth determining what searches brought them there in the first place and redesign the landing pages to better serve those searchers. Further, a high bounce rate on the homepage may indicate that you need to take a long hard look at your site design and see if it is user friendly and if the homepage copy gives users a compelling reason to stop and look around.
How Often Do I Need to Check these Analytics?
If you recently launched a new site, it is a good idea to monitor your analytics often, at least once a week, to make sure the numbers are increasing. Once your web presence is more established, the average OD only needs a few hours at the end of each month to get a general assessment and get a good amount of data to see trends.
Those who want to use analytics more strategically to determine how to best grow their digital presence and optimize their efforts are going to need to check it on a weekly basis.
Making Use of Analytics
Correlation does not imply causation. Just because your page views are down one week doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with your web site. Some weeks, and in fact, some months, are going to be slower than others. Just as there are times of the year with less foot traffic in the office, there are times when visits (and page views) will slump.
However, if you see that you are just not getting consistent traffic or page views, then it is time to audit the site. See if there is any content that is dated or no longer relevant. Make sure that all the content on the site is well written and engaging. If you can’t create compelling content, then it is critical to find someone who can. A sudden, sharp drop in traffic may indicate that Google has made an update to their algorithm which has affected your site ranking. If you suspect that this is the case, search online for news about Google updates or check in with an expert on SEO.
How Are Analytics Tied to Search Engine Optimization?
SEO will impact most of the data you see in analytics. However, in terms of determining whether SEO is working, you’d want to see increasing overall visits, a rise in search engine position (SERP’s), higher numbers of organic visits (as opposed to paid search traffic), and a higher percentage of new visitors.
Further, keeping track of the number of visitors reaching your site by searching for certain keywords gives you an idea on how you rank for those keywords. If you get a lot of “optometrist”- related searches, you likely rank high for those keywords. This is where you can play around and see which keywords your visitors are searching for, and therefore, adjust your content accordingly.
Determining How Many Patients Travel from Your Web Site to Your Exam Chair
Asking patients how they found out about your practice is one of the best ways to assess how many patients you are getting from your web site, but if you track appointments made through the site and the number of new patient forms completed, you’ll start to get an idea of the efficacy of the site. However, many patients will browse the site and then phone the practice, so just because they didn’t book online, doesn’t mean the site didn’t play a part in their decision-making process.
Regardless, doctors should ALWAYS Ask New Patients Two Questions:
How did the patient find the doctor (i.e. was it a referral, an ad, etc)? This will tell the doctor where new patients are coming from and where she should be focusing her efforts.
Did the patient look at any of the doctor’s online assets when deciding whether to come to the office (i.e. web site, Facebook page, Yelp listing, Google reviews, etc…)? It is this second question that will give a doctor a full picture of how her locations on the web are helping new patients find her.
Web Analytics: Key Questions for Your Practice
Analyze: How much general and Goggle-driven traffic came to the site last month?
Track: Howdoes this compare tothe same month last year?
Conjecture: What are possible reasons for the spike or drop off of site traffic? Brainstorm with staff the cause of over-spikes and drop-offs. For instance, did you just launch a practice blog or Facebook page, or did your staff let Facebook page postings slide?
Assess effectiveness: Assess bounce rate (how many patients immediately “bounced” away from the site after reaching the homepage) and determine which pages and keywords are bringing the most traffic or enticing visitors to stay online.
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Nancy Rausman is the managing editor at EyeCarePro. Nancy is responsible for providing ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing. EyeCarePro is one of the leading providers of online marketing and practice improvement services in the industry. EyeCarePro serves both industry and practices and is the only company of its kind solely focused on the optometric space. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org