This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide titled “Analytics Now: Effective Use of Government Data Today.” Download the full guide here.
Visitors to a government website are on a mission to complete a task and not there to browse or shop, so your site should offer visitors a tailored experience that suits them. With proper use of website analytics you can!
To understand how government can use website analytics to create better citizen experiences, GovLoop sat down with Martin Lind, Vice President at Vision Internet by Granicus, a company that provides digital solutions to improve governments online services, web presence, and communications strategies.
Lind referenced this year’s Granicus Benchmark Report, including top metrics for email, social media, and web. Among the many findings, three website metrics stood out as critical to monitor: entrance pages, bounce rates, and time spent on page. Each can dispel common myths about government websites.
Myth #1: Most people land on my homepage first.
Your homepage should be well branded and easily navigable, but it’s infrequently the first page your visitors are landing on. In fact, the study showed that only 35 percent of visitors enter a website through the homepage – and that percentage is even lower (21 percent) for those coming to your website via mobile.
Because most of your traffic likely enters through your interior pages, it’s critically important to focus on them when looking at your analytics.
You can start by identifying your top 50 most trafficked pages and determine which ones serve as entrance pages. Consider these top entrance pages as “mini-homepages” for people who come directly to these pages from a search engine to complete a specific task. Then, determine if these pages are performing as well as you’d like them to: “How do these pages look? Is navigation intuitive? Is the content relevant? Are tasks self-contained within the page so customers can quickly complete an action?” Lind asked.
Myth #2: A high bounce rate is bad.
Bounce rates are defined as single-page visits: your customer enters and exits from the same page without visiting any other pages. But not all bounce rates are created equal. A high bounce rate can mean the page is performing perfectly: you answered the question that brought them to that page.
“Local government websites typically see higher bounce rates since content tends to be more task-oriented like paying bills,” Lind said. “In fact, pages on local government websites typically see bounce rates in the 40 to 60 percent range. In this case, a higher bounce rate means that customers are finding what they need immediately, completing their task and leaving without having to visit any other pages. Alternatively, if the task is spread out over many pages, you’ll hopefully see a very low bounce rate.”
Myth #3: More time on a page means higher engagement.
More time spent on a webpage is not necessarily a good thing for a government website, cautions Lind. For example, if the page is for a task that should only take a few minutes, but your analytics show that it averages ten minutes, it likely means that your customers do not understand the content you created.
To improve the usefulness of interior pages for your visitors, Lind advised spending time seeing if there are particular interior pages that seem to have a higher-than-average time spent. If so, ask yourself: does this page make it easy to find what a citizen may be looking for? If not, determine how those pages can be improved to help your citizens more efficiently complete tasks.
Granicus offers a CMS tool for government websites that makes it easy for citizens to stay informed, find popular services, complete transactions, engage and get involved – from any device, anytime, anywhere.
“The websites we build for government agencies are data-driven, collaborative, efficient and measured,” Lind said.
Government communications leaders know that creating positive relationships with customers and improving the experience of website visitors begins with good content. By properly using data and analytics to better understand what parts of your website need improving, you can better inform your citizens and maintain your agency’s brand through targeted and relevant content.