This post is part of our series, Digital Analytics 101 for Healthcare Marketers, where we provide short briefs on the Whats, Whys, and Hows of digital marketing best practices for the healthcare industry. In this installment, we’re tackling website traffic, performance evaluation, and ways to better engage site visitors.
Previously, we discussed how Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can target specific demographics and successfully channel them to your website. Executed well, SEM campaigns grant you a host of new, qualified leads through a surge in website traffic.
But once prospects reach your site, what’s the next step? In order to capitalize on this influx of potential customers, it’s important to understand the following:
- What a surge in traffic actually means
- How healthcare consumers are engaging with your site
- Where your clicks actually come from
- How to turn these page views into new customers
Mastering these areas is crucial to digital marketing success — having a website without a solid performance tracking strategy is like trying to find buried treasure without a map.
Checking Your Online Pulse
Effective website tracking boils down to managing metrics. Most website-hosting platforms come equipped with a variety of readymade benchmarks, including “visitors” to your site, which you should be paying close attention to in order to gain a better understanding of your site’s overall performance.
One crucial metric is the “bounce rate,” or the number of visitors who leave after only viewing one page. “Time on site,” “pages viewed,” and “time on page” tell you how long visitors stay and where they’re spending the majority of their time. Especially important is the “repeat visitor ratio,” or the number of people who come back to your site within a given period.
You also need to track customer “events” — viewing a page or service, buying a product, form filling, etc. — and the people who trigger them. Pixels, also known as tags, may be embedded in your site to trigger “cookies” (information sent to the user’s browser to track their activity) after an event.
Send cookie-embedded users targeted advertisements, offers, or even direct them to certain pages when they visit your site. This allows for more personalized engagement, which in turn maximizes your chances of converting a visit into a new lead.
Breaking Down Website Traffic
However, not all site traffic is created equal, and users tend to visit your site for different reasons. In general, as Small Business Computing describes, there are four kinds of traffic:
- Direct: users who input your web URL directly into their browser. No click-through, no Google search — they discovered your site via offline marketing or word-of-mouth. Although these users have a high chance of converting, it’s hard to identify where they came from, which makes scaling this kind of traffic difficult. (Take care, as other traffic can sometimes be classified as 'Direct' in error.)
- Referral: users who have clicked a link to your site from somewhere else online, such as a press release, publication, blog, or social media post. Build referral traffic by publishing high-quality content around the web, but don’t overdo it — if you “link spam,” Google will lower your search rankings.
- Organic Search: users who found your site via online search (Google, or less frequently, Bing and Yahoo). This traffic is easily scalable by boosting Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns (see our last post on SEM and PPC) or posting high-quality site content.
- Social: users who arrived via social media posts. By frequently posting to social media (and gaining followers), marketers can dramatically increase social traffic, (which we will be talking about in our next series installment: Social Media Analytics).
Armed with these fundamental principles of website analytics, you’ll have a better understanding of how healthcare consumers are using your site. This will help you identify areas of your site that are working, and which areas need to be improved. By improving your website’s content in a highly-targeted, data-driven way, you can increase traffic from qualified leads and improve the return on your digital marketing investments.