By Angela Seckinger — Jan 24, 2019 11:00 AM
Many of you have probably built your website for prospective and current students, faculty, family members and the community. Want to know if your website is succeeding and where to improve? Your first step is to benchmark your current website performance. This step will help determine if any changes you make going forward are making it better or negatively impacting your results. Are 1,000 visitors good? Possibly, unless you were getting 5,000 visitors during your benchmark period. Track your website performance using Google Analytics, or anything that captures your progress. Regardless of the tool, you must be tracking your website activity.
Ready to get started?
To truly know how successful your website is, you need to dive into the data and analytics.
To benchmark, you will plot two distinct variables for certain time ranges, metrics and dimensions and use these to deduce conclusions about your website’s momentum. To begin benchmarking your performance, timing and which metrics you choose will be the most important; especially since you will be using this data for comparison later.
Identifying the right time
To avoid eschewing your results, be sure to use your average business performance times for your benchmark period. In other words, try not to use data for your benchmark during your “high” season or during major holidays, as these inflationary times may negatively affect your comparison results.
Identifying the right metrics
With all the metrics out there, selecting the most important ones for your business can seem a bit overwhelming. These questions are a great foundation for making redesign, or update, decisions when compared to your benchmark data.
Get to know the trends on your site
You will find most of these metrics in the Audience section within the dashboard of Google Analytics, along with other metrics that aid you in tracking your website traffic.
There is a lot of data out there
Figuring out which functionality problems are costing your business can be tricky, but it gets a lot easier when you really think of your data from an actionable perspective and look back at the trends. At minimum, you should quickly know that the “A” section of your website is roughly twice as much traffic as “B”, which is about 1/4 of the traffic of “C” and these pages drive this type of visitor behavior. On the other hand, benchmarking is just one piece of the puzzle. Those additional details are for many other blog posts throughout the year. While benchmarking is incredibly effective for identifying trends and projecting, it’s important to know the limits of the process. When determining your comparison ratios be sure to account for any significant changes in your marketing/customer acquisition investments or any other internal changes that might eschew your results as well. You will be making assumptions based on past performances, and performance changes, but overall, these discoveries should be influential in guiding your website decisions. Benchmarking is meant to be a discovery and insight process, not a scientific formula or absolute guarantee. To learn how to conduct a simple forecasting and trend aanalysis, Microsoft offers a forecast function in Excel post, and this trend lines and forecasting tutorial for excel can also be very helpful.
Benchmarking your own performance is only part of the process to identify areas for improvement. The next step is strategizing how to raise your own conversion rate based on what you’ve have learned about your site and what your competitors are doing. Our next blog posts identify specific site performance checks you should focus on and how to analyze the competition. Adjustments made from these insights will help you maximize your conversion potential on your website.