Topics discussed / In this video:
01:32 – Learn more about Web Analytics and improving your performance
03:12 – How to boost your website’s performance through Web Analytics
04:46 – How to know if the numbers are weak, average or strong?
06:15 – How to fine-tune the content of your website
14:23 – Types of Content
15:43 – How to get positive results with your online marketing
16:49 – Things you can do with Web Analytics to boost website’s performance
22:53 – Surprising discoveries from Web Analytics
25:12 – Interesting things about Web Analytics
39:00 – The importance of Web Analytics
Links to Previous Episodes Mentioned In This Episode:
02 – Funeral Home Websites Built With SEO From The Ground Up
Hi! Robin Heppell here together with Brian Young. And on today’s show we’re going to be talking about how to use Website Analytics to Boost Your Website Performance.
[00:00:53] Well, great Brian. And you know today we’re going to turn the tables. Last week we talked about Search Engine Optimization and onsite SEO. And so hopefully with the Funeral Homes websites showing up higher in the search results they’re going to receive more visitors.
And now I’m going to turn things over to you where you can talk about improving their performance, especially looking at those web analytics. I know you have a lot of experience in this area and maybe just talk about a little bit about your experience and then what web analytics are.
[00:01:32] Yeah, sure Rob, thanks. So, over the last seven, eight years in particular, I helped a lot of funeral homes or cremation businesses answer the questions what are shoppers doing on my website. Do they like what they’re seeing on my website. What don’t they like. And also some of the more savvy business owners are asking questions like what kind of behaviors should we be finding and what do I want to see shoppers doing that would advantage us. Where are their opportunities. Where are their threats or weaknesses. You know what else can I learn. And that’s why Google Analytics or excuse me, I should say Website Analytics are such a powerful tool. And we’ll talk about what Google Analytics are in just a minute but Website Analytics are a set of tools that allow you to track, analyze and report website data.
And when you know how to use Website Analytics correctly that lets you measure the website traffic to some extent the effectiveness of your search engine optimization, how strong your website’s engagement is of shoppers ad revenue spend. You can even get a strong idea of the activity that’s happening on social media. I mentioned Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks reports this type of website data. And Google launched the service back in November of 2005. And today Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet. So you’ll hear me talk about that a lot.
[00:03:12] Great, Brian. Now maybe if you could explain how exactly you can boost your website’s performance using these Web analytics.
[00:03:21] Sure. And I guess there’s probably a lot of different ways to explain it. It’s a huge dynamic tool that does so much to take us hours to talk about. But fundamentally it shows us two key things or two key areas. First it shows us how the website is currently being used and responded to by shoppers and visitors as well as how it’s not being used to respond to by shoppers or visitors and we’ll get specific about that in a little bit.
And second, as we make changes to things like content pictures how the contents are arranged so pages will then we can see whether shoppers and visitors are responding in a more or less advantageous way. Ultimately owners are asking “is my phone ringing more?”. But there’s other types of advantageous ways shoppers can respond that lead to phone calls.
So, those are the two things that the analytics let us do. And as far as how can we boost the website’s performance using analytics, specifically we can see where the numbers are a week average or strong regarding some type of performance metric and then we can start making changes that drive improvements where those are needed.
[00:04:40] Okay, so then, how do you know then if the numbers are weak or average or strong?
[00:04:46] That’s a good question and I think that’s probably where experience comes in to a large extent because having access to a lot of data to compare against is not something most people have. You know, I know you and I have seen this data for years. What I guess it is a lot like being a website doctor. The more patients you examined the faster you can recognize the signs and also the faster you can identify the variables.
But even if you don’t have that kind of experience or even if you don’t have datasets from other funeral homes or cremation websites to compare against. You can still clearly see if the numbers are improving or weakening after you make changes. And the goal is to get people to see more of your website just more of your website be more impressed by your website and take an action that’s good for you whether to buy something on the website or calling you on the phone and setting up arrangements.
[00:05:55] Okay, great! but you know this probably is going to generate a lot more questions, Brian. Maybe let’s get into some of the specifics so the listener can better understand what you’re describing. Besides hearing the phone ring more what other kind of behavior changes are we looking for and what do those look like?
[00:06:15] Well, Google Analytics lets us see so many of the decisions that people are making regarding your website’s content. We can see exactly what pages they visit on your website. How much time they spend there. Which means they either like the content or they don’t.
We can see whether they go on to the more pages or leave after just one page like your home page when they first land there or if they land on a different internal page whether or not they look around more or just leave your site. We can also see what page they exited the website from. And these are just some of the most basic items.
Now in practical terms. Here’s some examples of how we could go about making changes or improvements that would boost your website. So scenario number one, ABC Funeral Homes website has 3000 visits to the homepage the bounce rate from that page is 68 percent. Question, What does that tell us. Answer, probably that the homepage is failing to engage people and that’s a fancy way of saying that either A, they don’t like what they’re seeing or B, they can’t find what they think they’re looking for.
So, what’s the solution to that problem usually with just a little bit of looking the page you can realize whether the content is shallow or maybe you’ve got three, four, five, six paragraphs on your homepage and they’re talking about things like “our funeral home started in 1912 and we serve the communities of such and such”.
And really it’s a bunch of history that should be on a page entitled history in the About Us section. So, when a consumer sees a lot of content on the homepage that doesn’t match typical homepage experiences, They’ll bounce which means to see one page and leave you know in that case we could shorten the content, make it short snappy to the point and let the shopper know what they want to know when they get to the home page.
Am I in the right place? And what do you have to offer that matches my needs which in the case of a funeral home is you know we have full services. We have to be direct cremation services and then it might also be thing shoppers haven’t heard of that you want them to know like we specialize in celebrations, goodbyes and even casual so long farewells. You know just to talk outside the box.
Anyway that’s an example of how you could adjust the content. And then over the next month or two we look at the traffic we expect that the traffic won’t go down or up that much. But how much will the time on Page increase and will the bounce rate decrease. If those things happen you made a good change and that’s really all there is to it.
[00:09:31] Ok, scenario number two, ABC funeral home has one page about cremation Frequently Asked Questions. The page is averaging a read time of two minutes and 20 seconds. So we can expect that shoppers in this funeral homes market are hungry for useful information regarding cremation. By adding some more cremation pages, we have a good chance to A, keep them on the website longer. B, convince them that ABC funeral home is a cremation expert and specialist and C, hopefully generate awareness of special things that ABC funeral home offers in conjunction with cremation.
So, now that starts to give us differentiation and that’s advantageous because as you know, a lot of cases more and more shoppers are starting to use cremation brand or cremation society instead of a funeral home.
And of course, we work with both brands. But, in this scenario for a funeral home, they’re trying to strengthen their competitive position and differentiation from the low cost businesses and they want to interest the shopper and things that make them seem more attractive than increase the value perception of having a full service cremation and all along with us also we can talk about specific pages like the Staff page, the History page, the About Us page.
You’ll be shocked how in some parts of the country shoppers really want to know these things. For example in Virginia, shoppers are very interested in all the pages in the About Us section. They’re even very willing to read pages entitled things like “Why choose us”, “What makes us different”, “What you should consider along with the staff history” and “about us” pages. By contrast you know we go up to Massachusetts and especially in the Boston market those shoppers don’t care about that stuff and it’s very hard to get them to look at that type of information. We have to get very creative in our page layout.
And some people say well it just seems like too much work to me. But if you’re a funeral home owner and we’re talking about your bottom line an extra five or ten or fifteen funerals in a year what’s that worth to you. So that’s why looking at what information shoppers are viewing and realizing if we need more related information is a valuable thing. And I’ve had plenty of experiences with firms. This is a real scenario. They only have one cremation related page. It had a high retimed.
[00:12:17] We added more pages about relevant topics like Cremation Scattering, Things You Need to know, What You Can Do With the Remains, except a number of different topics. The read Time went up the number of pages it went up and the phone rang more. So that’s a really common scenario around the country.
Here’s a third scenario. ABC funeral home has four pages in their services menu. Maybe there are funeral service options, personalization, included benefits and questions you should ask. If the personalization page is never getting read while the other three are. That title is failing to engage in your market. And the reason I picked that specific example is I’ve seen it all over the country. Now all four of those pages were getting looked at a fair bit but the read time on all is low and the phone doesn’t ring. Then the content is probably generic and unengaging.
So, the solution would be since my titles are generating page views but the content is unengaging. I need to rework that content and that’s one of the challenges a lot of funeral homes face because the large majority whether they use a template provider or custom web site provider if it’s a death care industry website provider, they offer a library of content pages and by its very nature is generic and general engaging.
So, you pay for what you get and good quality content engages. That’s why you know firms like Nike and Microsoft and Apple they pay a fortune every year to outstanding quality content and copywriters for their advertising. And the same principles work on website pages better quality content tracks where conversions.
[00:14:23] You know, that’s great Brian. And it’s really interesting you know, to have both you and I have observed of you know, what gets read and as you mentioned to where and know just for the listener. Content can be and it’s just not text that can be in the form of video. It can be in the form of infographics and and also in text so we want to be able to engage people into their chosen modality.
So, having a good mix of content video multimedia and even images is a great way to look at this moving forward. And with you, and with the benefit of Google Analytics you’re going to see the results sets that are actually happening. From those efforts.
[00:15:21] Yes that’s right. And I think you guys talk about a change there regarding differences between two markets. But yes we’ve seen a lot of change and shift regarding the types of content that are getting digested and what people want to interact with first.
[00:15:39] You know, bringing it in particular that’s huge these days.
[00:15:43] Was his excellent brand and I know we’re going to continue on our conversation about analytics and conversions and you know conversion doesn’t need to be a sale on your website. It could be as as little as someone filling out a contact us form, you know, ask the funeral director form, or ask the cremation expert form or even a printed lead. You know those little conversions are you know are yours are your steps to getting positive results with your online marketing.
And as our name says, Funeral Results Marketing that’s what we want to help you with is to make sure that these efforts that you’re putting forward on line are going to be measurable results. So make sure you stick around for our future episodes as we dig into these various parts individually and where you can then take them and apply them to your to your online presence. So that said Brian, What are some of the other things you can do with web analytics to boost the website’s performance?
[00:16:49] Well we can also measure things in relation to search engine optimization or advertising. And I know you’re going to delve into parts of this question yourself Rob in an upcoming podcast or two but for example having pages optimized for key topics. So, let’s say you’re at a funeral home and you’re trying to get more visits from the cremation shoppers in your market. Maybe you’re also trying to boost the Web site’s ranking for searches having to do with cremation.
And so, you have increased the volume of content. Related to cremation and analytics as I kind of discussed above are going to show whether or not you’re getting more visits to these pages. How much time is being spent on these pages and whether or not people are interacting with other options on the page.
So, if you have a let’s say call to action boxes or if you have you know a video box they could push the button or if there’s a form they could download a brochure guidelines for scattering in your city those types of things you know we’re able to track how well people are interacting with that and give us a better understanding of how your particular market is interacting with that.
Also you know in terms of advertising this is really common. In fact I think you did this Rob a lot when you’re helping people and they’re running some kind of advertising campaign as part of their larger marketing effort. Well let’s say they did a piece of direct mail and the link that’s recommended in that piece of direct mail whether it’s the sort of pointer domain so maybe you’re ABC in your home.com. And you have a pointer there just like Preplannedfunerals.com it takes them to the website. Or more likely you have ABCFuneralHome.com/plan. We’re able to see how many people actually land on that page. It’s a page you can’t get to using the navigation on the website.
You can only access that page using ABCFuneralHome.com/plan. So now we’re able to see. Out of the 5000 pieces of direct mail you send. How many people actually came to this page from there. How much time did they spend there. How many people clicked on a couple calls to action you had there specifically and that gives us a better idea how advertising is working and you might follow the same principle let’s say you’re in a market where people still do long commutes.
Maybe you are in north eastern Pennsylvania and people are traveling all across Jersey to New York to work you know crazy long commutes or same thing on the West Coast in Los Angeles area. So, really, advertising might still work or you’re doing billboards and you’ve got some kind of website address listed there. That goes specifically to a several page with analytics. We can see what kind of performance that page is having.
So, it’s a powerful measurement tool. And if you don’t have Google Analytics on your website I strongly advocate for calling your website provider and saying “hey, I want to have this it’s free and it takes you not very long at all to install, put it on my site.”, If you’re one of those folks who has an unfortunate vote of having the largest website provider in the death care industry that does not allow the analytics and you’ll find out very quickly that you, maybe if you if more of you lean on that website provider you can get them to start installing it. And because it’s free it’s easy. It’ll help you make better use of your tool.
[00:20:52] And Brian, I know if they want that where they could go and be easily implemented for them that’s one thing before we move on to the landing page is with the you as you said forward slash plan. If we, you know, strategically pick that extension it can also invoke some curiosity. So, one of the the suggestions that I have is if you’re advertising like in a in church bulletins and you’re advertising at the Catholic Church if you are referring to you know for more information visit HeppellFuneral.com.
[00:21:40] OK. You know, there’s nothing there that’s interesting to you know, to them nor are we going to be able to track that because they’re just going to land on the home page and we won’t know where they came from. But by creating a link such as a HeppellFuneral.com/Catholic and then we can actually create, add some code to that redirect so that lands on your you know, Catholic funeral services page.
We would know though anyone who entered that into their into their browser would come directly to that page. But out of curiosity if they’re Catholic and they all of a sudden see the the extension for /Catholic there’s going to be curiosity there for them to to check that out. So you know it in itself can help boost the interactions of your ad as well as track that on the back end.
[00:22:43] That’s very true.
[00:22:44] So, Brian now what have been some of your most surprising discoveries from web analytics?
[00:22:53] Brian: I’ve had several. Some of them humorous some of them scary. The first one that comes to mind happened 10 years ago during my first year in the industry and I thought you know who would ever read the staff page. And I was trying to find some way to increase my value to the company I was working for. And thankfully I had journalism training back in college which is proven before you say it. So I did a little study and I quickly grab Google Analytics from 15 different funeral homes at different sizes in different market types and I discovered that the staff page almost always ranks between number two and number four of the most viewed pages.
I should give a call for it. That’s after we take out the home page in the obits. Those are always top two. But then after that, so, I’ve actually been number three, three number, it says that six. But anyway you get the idea it’s right at the top. That also means that if you don’t have a staff page the About Us page can get more traffic but consumers love to read the Staff Page.
And I think the reason so many owners find that shocking is they forget that the death care industry is a male dominated industry whereas death care shoppers are statistically 72 percent female and as everybody here should know female selection criteria and male selection criteria are about as different as men and women. Women might not be that quite different but there’s a lot to it.
So, that was probably one of my most surprising discoveries with website analytics and leveraging that knowledge can make a funeral home a lot more appealing because if all you have is a picture of straight faced unsmiling funeral directors and their name has a bunch of clubs they belong to that the average people don’t like Elks Club and Rotary Club and those kinds of things. You’re not resonating as strongly as if there’s a smiling face and a short story about a real person. So that’s what I say to that.
[00:25:12] Well that’s great. Hey now what do you think are some of the most interesting things our listeners could look for when looking at their web analytics?
[00:25:22] Well there’s a lot of interesting things for web analytics. I think first you have to make sure you have Google analytics set up on your website. As I mentioned it’s free to get but as far as some specific stats they can look at really important is volume of traffic and I’d recommend quarter over quarter rather than month over month. And this should be visible upon logging in at the top right corner you can change your dates from a one month period to whatever period you want it to be.
So, seeing what kind of traffic you’re getting almost across the board. We’ve seen funeral homes and cremation businesses get more and more traffic year after year and there’s a few tiny exceptions. But generally speaking, we’re seeing that and you also should stop and look at whether or not your traffic is still mostly computer based or if you’re seen a lot of smartphone users because around the country depending on the market and death care could have been a little slower than the rest of the industries.
We’re still seeing on average I think it’s safe to say 35 percent but it’s not uncommon at all to see well into the 40s. I mentioned Boston earlier in Boston it’s not uncommon to see over 50 percent of the website visitors using smartphones. And that’s not just the view Obits anymore. So that can be an important step to track because if your website is not optimized for small screen viewing smartphone viewing, you’re in trouble. And I think as you mentioned in a different podcast, Rob that Google has even started penalizing for that started back in 2015 and then they are tightening the screws again in 2016.
[00:27:15] Another important basic you can look at is the audience section and I guess I just mentioned that to the mobile (inaudible)…, you’ve got audience. Click on mobile overview. And you’re able to see what type of devices are being used. And that last one I’ll give here is in the behavior section and if these terms don’t mean anything to you you’ll see them listed down the left side of the screen.
The first time you log into Google Analytics and the behavior section you click on site content and all pages that’s where you can see the most viewed pages on your website and you probably want to click on advanced and screen up the obits. And that way you can get down to the website pages that shoppers are looking at. And that’s really where the rubber meets the road because once we can see what website shoppers are doing or in too many cases, we just don’t see website shoppers doing much of anything at the homepage.
They go to the facilities page and that’s what you’re getting judged on. What I’d like better odds than that. If I was the designer. So, those are three things that I think everybody should look at when they’re trying to evaluate how their website is performing and gauge its improvement or holding steady or weakening over time.
One important thing to remember is that due to having obituary pages the funeral home industries websites have a far higher bounce rate than probably any other businesses or industries websites. And the reason for that is many of the death care industries obituary pages are all on one web site page experience.
[00:29:08] So, you read the obituary. You read condolences. You leave condolences you pictures of you the video tributes It’s all there in one page. So what happens is if that’s my experience and whether or not I googled the deceased person’s name and landed on the obit page or whether I clicked on a link and Facebook from a relative or friend which is a very common scenario. In fact, probably seen it will be the dominant scenario in either case I land on that obit page, read the content, watch the video, leave a condolence and then I leave the website.
So, Google saw that as a one page visit and that’s going to count as bounce. So if you go talk to some search engine optimization or marketing expert outside of a death care industry and he takes a look at your numbers he’s going to wave the red alert flag and say this is terrible. There’s something really wrong here and he doesn’t understand that in the death care industry, there’s actually two halves to how the websites are working. You have the obit visitors and everybody else. In fact I leave you one other (inaudible) …
There’s four primary audiences to the death care website as I have been saying for a decade. You have your obituary visitors, your at need shoppers, your premium shoppers and then people look at phone numbers or directions. Those are the four primary target audiences and again Google Analytics and you start thinking in those terms. We’re able to see how the website is serving each of those primary audiences and what kind of opportunities you’re creating for yourself or missing based on what the numbers show us.
[00:30:53] You know what Brian, you’re absolutely right. One of the things that I’ve noticed over the course of time of helping funeral homes with their websites is as we we’re going to be talking about this in our next episode about promoting your online obituaries.
[00:31:14] And when Funeral Homes grasp the strategy of driving way more traffic to the website you know they’re going to go there. So the number of sessions or visits are going to increase. And if the funeral homes follow the strategy properly they’re going to be sharing the obituary link with family and the family can email it and share it on Facebook and things like that. The number of visits are going to increase rapidly but also the bounce rate is going to increase rapidly because people are going to go directly to the and they’re going to read it.
They’re going to read our condolences they could even leave their own condolences on that same page. And you know, they may then as you say, bounce off that page because they did what they came to do. And so, if again, if you looked at that stat in isolation it’s not going to look good.
But you know what. What I believe what Brian has been trying to teach you today in our episode is for you to become a student of you know, of these analytics and understand what they mean. And sometimes you have to drill down a little bit and really see what the numbers are so just taking the global stats from say your dashboard may not. It might be a good snapshot but it is probably not telling the whole story.
[00:32:43] We’ve also had one of the things that we found and we do this when we’re going through the process of helping clients with their Cremation Arrangement website and you know first we might look at the analytics of their funeral home website if they already have an existing funeral home. And we see if their market seems to be more mobile friendly than other markets.
And I know we have some clients who have seek like two thirds of their traffic or mobile friendly. When we drill down though into if we’re looking at a cremation website when we drill down into the arrangement process and when they where do they get to check out those pages are flipped because maybe they’ve done supplementary research on their phone but when they’re are going to make decisions and go through a whole process they may feel more comfortable.
And I’m the same when I go to buy something I rarely buy it off my phone I might do some initial research on my phone but I’m going to sit down either with you on my tablet or laptop or desktop to complete that. So, again, we don’t want to look at these as just the one overall snapshot but the great thing is it gives us such insight as we drill down to that.
[00:34:04] One of the things that we’re going to be introducing as one of our offerings is our war room report and you’ll win when you go to battle you want to know what’s going on. You want to get all your intelligence and with our reports they’re going to bring in all of your pertinent and we’re going to decide we’ll segment the good information out from the not so useful information for you. But, plus also bring in other signals for from competitive how your competitors are doing online.
All of your social signals heard how are your social networks doing for you what kind of results they may be getting for you or not. And at least you can you can track them. So look forward to the war report before we in the next to in the next few months on the FuneralResultsMarketing.com website.
Hey, Brian this has been you know, this has been great. And what I want to challenge you, the listener today, is to first of all double check to make sure that you are subscribed to Google Analytics. It’s really important that you make sure that it’s in your account that it’s not in your web developers account. So if you don’t have a gmail account or a Google account you’ll need one of those to start. And then you can just give them your your code or your account number. It starts with the letter U and the letter A and then a dash and you give them that number and then they can set that up so that you can share the information with them.
[00:35:45] But if you ever change you can then you will keep that the historical information. So that’s really, really important.
And we have a couple of things to to pass on today for you. First of all as Brian was talking about how important and how people spend time on the reading up on the staff pages. We have a template our staff by a worksheet that you can use to fill out have your staff just fill it out in point form. And what it does is it will it ask the same questions for everyone. So they don’t have to write a bio about themselves. They can just answer a few questions.
Then, whoever is the most proficient at cobbling information together they can put that together and that would be not only a very rich content page for your website but you know people want to know who they’re doing business with and the when I was working at Bacall’s in the 1990s I had people come in and start talking to me about Ontario and I was thinking why are they talking to me about Ontario. And you know these people and this was before you know many people had even internet access and they said oh we were on the website and we were reading up on your on your little bio and see that your mom was from Ontario you know we’re from two towns over.
[00:37:16] And so it. And now it’s even more so that people want to just check up on everyone and get a sense of who they’re dealing with. So we’ve got that for you.
[00:37:27] And one other thing that we have for you is there’ll be a link in the in the show notes and what it’ll do is as long as you’re logged into your Google Analytics account and you click on this link it’s a link to Google and what it allows you to do is it allows you to add a custom dashboard report feature that we’ve created and you then just accept it to into your account now don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that we have access to it at all. It’s in your account.
But, Google you know, Google continually changes what they have on your dashboard. We’ve what we’ve done is we’ve kind of highlighted some of the biggest or the most important items just so as you’re checking your either monthly or quarterly reports you can just get a snapshot. So look for that as well.
For the Funeral Results Marketing client analytics dashboard and you can just click on that and then you disapprove it and it will appear in your in your account. Again we do not have access to it you can just use that as a template to get a report for you like on a snapshot basis. So Brian just in closing here. Can you maybe just wrap up for the folks you know the key points of web analytics and web performance.
[00:38:59] Sure, Rob.
[00:39:00] Web Analytics is a tool that lets you measure and analyze your website traffic, the effectiveness of your search engine optimization, how strong your website’s engagement is of its shoppers and also can measure things like ad revenue spend and even social media activity. So it’s a tremendously important measuring tool for a business owner to understand what kind of a rely he is getting from his website or she is getting from her website.
Sometimes you have to do a little thinking and connect a couple of thoughts. A Website Analytics lets you figure out how the website is working and where there’s opportunity to increase interest among shoppers. I could go on and on about it but hopefully that gives a good overview. There’s a lot of wonderful things a business can do with Google Analytics and if you need help with that or if you want to talk more about it of course we always be happy to explain some of these things or field your questions.
[00:40:04] Well, that’s great Brian and thank you Brian for sharing that wealth of information. It’s always great to see how other people come out the same information so I learned a lot as well and for you I’d like to thank you for spending time with us today. At Funeral Results Marketing, our goal for you to serve more families and provide them with more funeral services and that’s why we make this information available to you for free. Make sure you check back soon for another episode of strategy talks by Funeral Results Marketing. This has been Brian Young and Robin Heppell.
[00:40:38] This has been another episode of Strategy Talks with Robin Heppell and Brian Young. To ask a question or leave a comment visit FuneralResultsMarketing.com/talks to make sure that you never miss an episode. You can subscribe to this podcast for free on iTunes Google Play and Stitcher.