If your company is embarking on a new website project, you’ve probably put some thought into the business result you’re hoping to achieve from the new project. Results may be top of mind at the initial idea stages of the project, but are often overlooked during the actual scoping, build-out and follow-up.
If your website project is being funded in order to produce a business result, it is crucial to include measurement of the website’s business result as a primary feature of the deliverable.
Many clients initially assume that simply dropping Google Analytics into their site will give them all the answers, but it’s rarely that simple. How results are measured depends on the specific results desired and how features have been implemented within the site. Without a well-planned Analytics integration defined as part of the initial project planning, the results delivered by your project and valuable improvement feedback will get left behind at go live.
Let’s take a look at four typical website redesign goals and consider how a website should be built to measure its success at delivering each.
1. Measuring Increased Conversions
Review the conversion metrics for your current site and set reasonable goals for improving them. Beyond the simple number of conversions, consider the current visitor engagement (time on site, pages viewed) and other metrics that can be improved. Setting a bar for improvement based on existing site metrics provides another way to show the relative success and ROI of the redesign project.
When planning your project, be sure to define the conversions that will be tracked, which metrics will be used to define conversion and a goal increase of these metrics and conversion rate.
2. Measuring Traffic and Visitor Engagement Improvements
If yours is a content site or your business has a very long sales cycle, an improvement of qualified traffic to your site may be the key to project ROI. Look at traffic and engagement separately.
For traffic, first collect metrics on direct, organic, paid and referral traffic to your existing site. Use these numbers to prioritize each type of traffic and set attainable goals for improvement.
Be sure that any ROI goals set around traffic and engagement are backed by some strategic planning and ongoing implementation as part of the project. For example, a busy editorial calendar and social media strategy are likely to have more impact on improving these metrics than a pretty new design.
3. Measuring Improved Customer Support
If customer support is important to your project ROI, be sure to address the need with some customer support features as part of your project plan. These might include a knowledgebase, training videos, live chat and issue submission form. Features like this are often integrated from third party sites, requiring some technical implementation for proper analytics integration. Some third party integrations may make analytics integration impossible, so consider this when selecting vendors.
Customer satisfaction and reduced reliance on customer support staff are the usual justifications for an ROI based on customer support. There may be creative ways to measure these with analytics. For example, you might use Analytics Events to track responses to a one-question customer satisfaction survey shown on the various support-related features of your site. But don’t limit yourself to Google Analytics – ask your support department how they can help track a change in support load in concert with the new website. Consider creative ways to reverse engineer an analystics-based approach to measuring business metrics outside of the website.
4. Measuring Empowerment of Partners and Affiliates
Partners and affiliates are a lot like customers and the points in #3 above also apply here. But as an additional visitor type, consider establishing Segments within Google Analytics to tag visitors as Customers, Partners or Affiliates. Doing so can provide valuable reports about the engagement and patterns of each group.
Your project may include a private portal area with downloads to support partners and affiliates. A user login should definitely be established as an Analytics Goal, and can also be used in segmenting visitors. Direct file downloads, while often critical to measuring engagement, bypass Google Analytics without some specific technical integration on your site.
Make it Part of the Project
After planning out your Analytics ROI tracking strategy, make sure it is documented as part of the project plan and that implementation is included in the project scope.
Analytics can be somewhat of a waiting game. You won’t get meaningful data from your site’s first week in the wild, so set realistic expectations for when to check in. It will take at least 3 weeks for Google to crawl your new site a few times and adjust enough to show some positive improvement generated by a redesign. And it can take 3-6 months for the new site’s traffic patterns to be fully established.
Finally, plan for pivots. If any of your ROI goals aren’t making the grade after site launch, the data is still valuable in terms of pointing to problem areas and suggesting areas of focus for improvement. When setting ROI goals, always consider what you can learn from failure. Doing so up front can help you design analytics tracking that assists in measuring strategic changes for the purpose of meeting ROI goals.