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Data and ROI5 min read Healthcare website metrics you need to know

What healthcare marketing analytics really mean.

January 6, 2020Jennifer Garza, Digital Content Analyst, GAIC

You may not have thought you were signing up to be an analyst when you first became a healthcare marketer. But being fluent in Google Analytics is now a standard part of the job description. If you feel behind the curve, getting familiar with a few basic reports and metrics is a great resolution to add to your 2020 workplace goals.

Why bother with healthcare website analytics?

Understanding how to interpret and use these metrics and reports helps you know what's really going on with your website. That gives you the information you need to continually improve your marketing plan and make real, noticeable improvements to your campaign efforts.

This will put you in the best possible position to make recommendations for future development and to be able to report and explain your site's performance to your C-suite.

Let's dig in to five areas that really matter to marketers:

1. Audience Overview metrics

What they mean:

  • Sessions: Visits to your site—specifically, the number of times a user opened a browser to a page on your site. A new session can also be triggered by renewed activity after 30 minutes of inactivity on your site.
  • Users: The number of unique individuals who opened pages on your site and engaged in at least one session.
  • Pageviews: The number of times a page was viewed by a user during a session. Because people often view the same page more than once while browsing, it's not uncommon for pageviews to be higher than sessions. Unique Pageviews (which you may see in other reports) filters out those repeat visits.
  • Pages/Session: The average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeat visits to the same page are counted separately.
  • Avg. Session Duration: The average length of each session. An important note: This metric doesn't count time spent on the last page of a user's session or bounces (when someone visits one page and then leaves your site)—even if they spent 10 minutes on that page! This doesn't mean you shouldn't look at this metric, but it's critical to understand how it's calculated and exactly what isn't included.

Why they matter: The Audience Overview report gives you a snapshot of how your site's big-picture metrics are performing overall. Understanding the meanings of the metrics above will help you make sense of almost any other report in Google Analytics.

One of the most important places you can apply that knowledge is when looking at your top-performing pages (under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages). While the Audience Overview area can give you valuable insight into your site as a whole, metrics like Pageviews and Avg. Session Duration are even more essential to understanding how individual pages are performing.

2. Traffic sources

What they mean:

  • Channel: High-level categories that show where users came from, like Email, Social or Paid Search. (See more below.)
  • Source: The specific origin of your traffic, like Google or another URL.
  • Medium: The category of a specific source. These are similar to channels but more granular. For instance, Facebook traffic from mobile and desktop apps are reported as different mediums here, rather than lumped together under the Social channel.

Some key channels to understand are:

  • Direct: Traffic with no source. This usually means someone typed in your URL directly.
  • Referral: Traffic that came from a link on another website.
  • Email: Traffic from a link in an email.
  • Social: Traffic that came from social media channels (yours or someone else's).
  • Organic Search: Traffic from an unpaid search engine result.
  • Paid Search: Traffic from search-engine advertising, like cost-per-click links.
  • Display: Traffic from display advertising, such as Google Ads.
  • Other Advertising: Traffic that came from a paid source other than a display or paid search.

Why they matter: Throughout your reports, you'll see information about where your site's traffic is coming from. Knowing how users reach your site is crucial to a good marketing plan. You can have a great campaign, but if you target it to a source that isn't how users find or interact with your site, it could be a wasted opportunity.

3. Bounce rate

What it means: The percentage of people who land on one page of your website and then leave without clicking to anywhere else on your site (i.e., single-page visitors).

Why it matters: We've talked about bounce rate before, and it's worth saying again: We believe this metric gets a bad rap. Yes, a high bounce rate can be bad, but there are times (especially on a hospital website) where a high bounce rate can also be a measure of success. Read more about it in the link above, but for now, just remember that the bounce rates for individual pages might be a lot more meaningful to look at than your site's overall bounce rate.

4. Landing page

What it means: The page through which a visitor entered your site.

Why it matters: This one is often a case of mistaken identity. Here's what a landing page isn't: It's not the page you created to go along with a specific campaign. It's the first page a visitor actually came to, whatever that is. While that could sometimes be your campaign page, more often it's one of the standard pages on your website.

Understanding that distinction can be especially useful in conjunction with your channel metrics. The pages through which users enter your site can be drastically different if they are coming from social media versus organic search versus referrals. Being able to separate and analyze this traffic can help drive your marketing efforts to be more effective across your various channels.

5. Event

What it means: Any interaction with your website, beyond simply visiting a page. That might be playing a video, clicking through an interactive infographic or submitting a form, for example.

Why it matters: Events can help you track a myriad of things on your site that are not tracked by standard Google Analytics. That includes video plays, scroll depth, PDF downloads and link clicks that lead to outside websites, just to name a few.

An important note about events: Since they require additional code snippets to be implemented, they aren't retroactive. In other words, you can't decide today that you need to know the number of people who downloaded a PDF last week. You need to set up the correct event tracking on the link first. So it's good to give some careful thought to what kind of data will be most useful to you when you're creating a page or uploading a new asset.

In a metrics muddle?

We can help. Coffey provides ongoing analysis for healthcare websites and social media platforms. Call 888.805.9101 or email us to learn how we can demystify your digital performance.