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Analytics to Help You Assess Quality, Relevance, & Usefulness
 

Analytics to Help You Assess Quality, Relevance, & Usefulness

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Strategic use of analytics and monitoring can help you make better sense of your web and social media efforts. By leveraging a range of freely available tools organizations can also gather important ...

Strategic use of analytics and monitoring can help you make better sense of your web and social media efforts. By leveraging a range of freely available tools organizations can also gather important information about the quality, relevance, and usefulness of the information and resources they provide.

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  • Title Slide: Analytics to Help You Assess Quality, Relevance, & Usefulness Stephen D. Luke, Ed.D. Executive Director, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities ( www.NICHCY.org )
  • This presentation addresses 3 main classes of analytics, 1) Web Analytics, which allow you to measure such things as site traffic, popular content, & search terms used by visitors; 2) Email analytics, which allow you to measure such things as number of subscribers as well as viewing and clicking activity; and 3) social media analytics, which allow you to measure user engagement and reach of content beyond your own website.   The tools and techniques do not replace other effective methods of evaluating your work (e.g.: focus groups & surveys with target audiences) but indeed can be leveraged to provide additional layers of information.   Taken together these and other techniques can provide a useful suite of tools for effective “progress monitoring.”
  • So how can we measure the effectiveness of this work? That’s where Web Analytics can help…
  • And what, exactly, do we mean when we say “web analytics?” I find the following definition to be a useful one: “ Measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web site usage.” (from http://www.webanalyticsassociation.org/aboutus/)
  • There are a number of tools, many of them freely available, designed to help you make sense of web site usage. All of those listed here, all offer free services except for Web Trends, which has been at this game from the beginning.
  • As for the our center, we use Google Analytics. Like many of the other tools mentioned in the previous slide, you’re required to place a snippet of code on each of the pages you’re interested in tracking (the code will not show up as visible to users of your site). Here’s a shot of the main dashboard which provides a quick snapshot of site statistics.
  • Google Analytics offers a number of cool features. One of my favorites is their map view of user activity. Here’s a snapshot of usage of www.nichcy.org from around the world. These numbers reflect visits to our site from October 1, 2008 – May, 2010. As you mouse over each country you’ll see usage statistics for each.
  • Another view allows you to see data at the city level.
  • Once you click on a country, you’ll see an additional level of data. In this case, clicking on the United States reveals a map where you can obtain statistics on a state-by-state level. This may be of particular interest to projects working regionally, or with specific states. Such a snapshot could reveal where outreach is working well, or where additional efforts may be needed.
  • A click down to the state level provides a picture of user activity within a given state. In this case, we see the high volume of visits from New York City, as well as visits from other cities and towns across the state, including my own home town of Utica (where many of these hits are no doubt coming from family members who are trying to figure out what it is exactly that I do for a living.
  • Finally, one can click down to the city level to catch a snapshot of activity. In this case we can see that activity from within NYC has been trending upward since the beginning of the project period.
  • Another tool worth a look is the “Keyword” feature which compiles a ranked list of keywords users have entered into search engines like Google and Yahoo and ultimately resulted on a visit to your site. In this case you can see that there were over 60,000 different keywords used to access www.nichcy.org with the most popular being “nichcy,” “nichy,” “children with disabilities,” some permutations of “national dissemination center,” and “national information center for children with disabilities,” “emotional disturbance,” & “intellectual disabilities.” If your site has Search functionality you can also use Google Analytics to similarly track compile a list of terms visitors search for once they are on your site. Taken together, this information can serve as an informative needs analysis.
  • With Google Analytics’ “Overlay” feature you can see exactly where visitors are clicking on each and every page. Here we have our home page and we note that 10%, or a total of 40,489 clicks between October 1, 2008 and May 6, 2010, have been on “Disabilities.”
  • Google Analytics’ “Top Content” Feature ranks your pages in order of most frequently visited or viewed. This information can be informative across a number of levels. For example, you may choose to feature vital content on your site’s most popular pages.
  • With a bit of tweaking to the Google Analytics code, we can leverage the tool to give us a sense of how many times visitors click on PDF’s, PPT’s, Word Documents, etc. Here we can see that visitors viewed 4,651 different PDF’s from across the TA&D Network a total of 145,548 times in the time period from December 9, 2008 to May 6, 2010.
  • We can also use Google Analytics to provide insight into how well we are doing in raising the visibility of the TA&D Network and pointing visitors to sites across the network. The same snippet of code that is used to track document downloads can also be leveraged to track the number of times visitors clicked off our site to visit other TA&D sites. In the example above we can search for “nectac.org” to find that visitors to our website were sent to 944 different pages on the NECTAC site a total of 10,440 times in the period from December 9, 2008 to May 6, 2010.
  • All totaled from Dec 9, 2008 – June 16, 2010, visitors to nichcy.org have been referred to other pages across the TA&D Network a total of 58,097 times.
  • So, it’s one thing to sit there and count web visits and pageviews and the like, but if you’re strategic in your approach, you can also use Google Analytics to drill down deeper into your site content and obtain clear and detailed information about your site’s utility. In our case, every content page on our site has an associated print-friendly page that visitors can invoke by clicking on the “Print This Page” link. Having the ability to count the number of times users load a “Print-Friendly” page will provide important insight into the quality, relevance, and usefulness of the page content. Note that every print-friendly page on our site ends with the string “PrintMode=true” – we can plug this string into Google Analytics to give a rough approximation of how many times users have printed content from our website.
  • Here we can use Google Analytics to search specifically for pages containing “PrintMode=true.” Results indicate that between October 1. 2008 – June 16, 2010 pages on our site were printed a total of 73,097 times.
  • In addition to tracking the use of “print-friendly” pages we use additional tools to help us better understand how our site visitors value our content. Two tools that are easily to implement are user feedback ratings and social sharing tools. Feedback ratings allow visitors to rate your content which can tell you what content is really hitting the mark with users and what content really isn’t. Providing visitors with an opportunity to leave a comment with their ratings not only gives you the chance to capture favorable comments from visitors who are pleased, but also supplies unsatisfied visitors with an efficient mechanism to let you know why they may not have rated a page very highly. For example, perhaps they had difficulty locating information they were hoping to find. If the information did indeed exist on your site, then this sends a message that you may need to make it more prominent or accessible. If the information does not exist on your site, such feedback, when taken together with other feedback, may suggest that you include it. Social sharing tools, like print-friendly pages, provide an additional layer of information over raw usage metrics. In our case we use a tool that allows visitors to share content they have deemed valuable with others. In fact, the tool we use (available from sharethis.com) allows users to share content in a variety of ways including: Sharing via popular social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious Posting directly to their blog or to Twitter Sending a link via email, instant message, and even text. The ShareThis service allows you to create an account where you can login to see which of your pages have been shared, how many times they’ve been shared, and how they’ve been shared. Social sharing has the added advantage of making your content portable. With such tools you also effectively enable faithful and satisfied users to conduct outreach on your behalf, spreading news of your site and content to friends and colleagues. And any peek inside an intro marketing book will tell you that word-of-mouth marketing is among the most valuable! We’ll cover social media more in a bit, but first….
  • A list of additional resources relating to web analytics.
  • Email analytics.
  • Here’s a screenshot of the National Dissemination Center’s electronic newsletter we call “News You Can Use.”
  • Just as in Web Analytics, there are a variety of different tools, some commercial, some freely available, for your project to manage and track newsletter use. In our case we use the commercial solution Constant Contact. Prior to using this tool we tried to manage our newsletter subscriptions in house and over time, as the number of subscribers grew, it became more and more difficult for us to manage effectively. The beauty of Constant Contact and these other mailing list tools is that they manage your subscribers for you, allowing users to subscribe and update subscription information themselves as well as unsubscribe if they no longer wish to receive your transmissions. These systems also do a nice job of alerting you when messages bounce back to you (e.g.; when an email address is no longer valid for example) which can be a major headache when trying to manage subscriptions manually. Most of these services allow for the easy creation of either html or plain newsletters, complete with templates that you can modify to give you a personalized look.
  • Most of the tools listed also generate some useful analytics including the number of subscribers who were sent a mailing (our subscriber list is at 8,600 subscribers and growing), the number who actually opened the message, and of those how many actually clicked on a link. Here we have a screen shot that includes some a partial list of links included in a recent issue of “News You Can Use.” You can see that we like to pass along information and resources form our own site as well as sites across the TA&D Network and beyond. Taking a look at user activity provides a nice snapshot for us as to the type of content that is of interest to our target audiences. It is also possible with some of these tools to do a targeted follow-up via integrated survey tools. For example, if we find that subscribers have clicked on a link to a particular product, (e.g.; “IDEA Training Curriculum”) we can follow-up with those subscribers directly with a survey.
  • Social Media Analytics is a young but rapidly emerging field.
  • http://www.facebook.com/nichcy NDC/NICHCY maintains a fan page on Facebook and it has served us well in a number of important ways: By establishing a presence on the world’s largest social network, we increase our exposure to people who may not have known about our website and services – we’ve gone to where the users and potential users are already living and communicating with their networks of friends and colleagues. People can choose to become a “fan,” which allows them to show their appreciation and allegiance your work. When someone becomes a fan others in their network will be alerted to our work. In fact when we ask how people found our site in Facebook, a growing percentage mention that they had noticed a friend had first become a fan. While we’ve been able to track the volume of users to our website over the years, we never really have had the chance to interact with them or even see their faces! When we post content to our Facebook page, it automatically shows up on each of our fan’s page which means our information automatically goes to them, they don’t have to come to our page to see if there have been any updates. One Web 2.0 mantra to note: “Live where your users live.” True people are still visiting websites, and using Google to find information of interest, but considering the staggering popularity of these social networking sites, it may makes sense to establish a presence on each. The details of how to do so and engage users are beyond the scope of this presentation, but our center will be providing some of the how-to’s in the near future. In this slide we see the National Dissemination Center’s Facebook page. According to Google Analytics, can receive upwards of 14,000 pageviews/day. So we know there are many, many people benefitting from the long hours we put in…but it’s something else altogether to see the smiling faces of those who have, of their own volition, chosen to become fans of our page on Facebook.
  • You can use Google Analytics to compare two periods of time…
  • http://twitter.com/DrNICHCY NDC/NICHCY is also actively involved in the “Twittersphere” and has integrated this highly effective tool into its dissemination repertoire. A comprehensive review of Twitter is beyond the scope of this presentation (look for a dedicated Twitter tutorial in the near future), but there are a few important points worth noting – with Twitter it is: Extremely quick and easy to pass along information and resources – simply compose a message within the 140 character limit and submit. No need to spend a lot of time writing a lengthy article or blog. In fact, many refer to Twitter as a “microblogging” platform. Possible to discover, connect, and communicate directly with others holding similar needs and interests. Share or “retweet” information you discover from others with the click of a button.
  • Here’s a tweet I posted to Twitter on October 22, 2009. A few things to note: The “#” or “hashtag” as it’s referred to, is a Twitter convention that allows you to assign a topic to your post. Other users in the Twitterverse interested in specialed can simply click on the term and all other tweets marked with the same hashtag will be displayed. This is a great way to discover related information and connect with others interested in the same topic. The funny looking url is the product of a url shortening service that transforms long urls into short ones (very important when you’re limited to 140 characters!) Once tweeted, this post shows up in the stream of the 1,149 people following DrNICHCY.
  • Here’s a tweet I posted to Twitter on October 22, 2009. A few things to note: The “#” or “hashtag” as it’s referred to, is a Twitter convention that allows you to assign a topic to your post. Other users in the Twitterverse interested in specialed can simply click on the term and all other tweets marked with the same hashtag will be displayed. This is a great way to discover related information and connect with others interested in the same topic. The funny looking url is the product of a url shortening service that transforms long urls into short ones (very important when you’re limited to 140 characters!) Once tweeted, this post shows up in the stream of the 1,149 people following DrNICHCY.
  • The following series of slides depict individual Twitter users who retweeted this specific post. Highlighted on each profile is the number of followers that particular user has.
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Here you begin to recognize the power of the platform
  • Hopefully you can begin to recognize the power of the platform to reach others and extend your message!
  • The metrics for analyzing and assessing use are, like metrics for other social media, are still emerging. Bit if you’ve already dipped your toe into Twitter’s waters, or are considering it, here are a few places to begin…
  • NDC/NICHCY has a presence on Wikipedia as well. According to TechCrunch’s August 4, 2009 article, Wikipedia is the 5 th most popular web site in the world. It’s no wonder that Wikipedia consistently ranks in the top 10 of all www.nichcy.org site referrals.
  • NDC/NICHCY has a presence on Wikipedia as well. According to TechCrunch’s August 4, 2009 article, Wikipedia is the 5 th most popular web site in the world. It’s no wonder that Wikipedia consistently ranks in the top 10 of all www.nichcy.org site referrals.
  • What do we mean when we say “social media?” Well, many people can relate to viewing videos on various blogs and websites. In many cases (if not most) the video being viewed is an “embedded” video whose root origin is actually at YouTube. Note here, I’ve included a couple easy-to-use tools to help you caption videos for the purpose of making them accessible to those with visual impairments.
  • For example, here’s a video on Early Recognition of Child Development Problems developed by CDC which they posted to YouTube. We determined that the video would be of value to members of our target audience so we grabbed the code provided right here on the page and in turn…
  • … posted to our Facebook page and our Twitter account (you can also see the video embedded on CDC’s own page). Think about the implications of this for a second…we’ve become a cog in CDC’s dissemination of this content. They’ve not asked us to. We simply deemed the content valuable for our users, and because it is in a form that makes it portable, we can grab it and share it with them. When you hear people speaking of social media or Web 2.0, this is part of whet they are talking about – social sharing and portability of web content. No longer do users even need to know about your website to view your content! And talk about leveraging resources, we didn’t have to invest time and resources into producing a similar video…
  • In case you might be doubting the potential of social media note the case here of a video originally designed for and presented to a high school faculty meeting in Centennial, CO….
  • So how to measure such use? If you have a YouTube account you can use YouTube’s “Insight” feature to help with this, but I recommend checking out TubeMogul.com which will help you upload videos to a variety of popular video-sharing sites, including YouTube, and then help you track viewing and sharing behavior across the internet.
  • Blogging has emerged as yet another popular tool that leverages the ability of content to be both social and portable. Blogging takes a static web page and transforms it into content that is much more engaging in that readers are typically able to provide comments, sharing additional information, resources, and points of view. Readers also have the option of coming to your page to read your blog, or subscribing to it via RSS to receive it where they prefer, including embedding it in their own website.
  • Another way to apply “portability” to your content is to deliver information in the form of RSS feeds. You’ve probably all noticed this seemingly ubiquitous orange symbol out there on the internet. As mentioned here it’s best used for frequently updated content such as news and blog entries.
  • A clever and informative video from commoncraft explaining “RSS in Plain English.”
  • By way of illustration, here’s an example of news content that we publish on our site that users are also able to subscribe to via RSS. There are many types of readers individuals can use including email applications such as Outlook, browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, as well as web-based services users can customize receive feeds of their choosing. In this example we see that the news content can be read in personalized views of Google and Yahoo news aggregators.
  • The measurement of RSS is an emerging science, but here are several tools and resources to help you measure their reach and effectiveness.
  • The metrics for analyzing and assessing use are, like metrics for other social media, are still emerging. Bit if you’ve already dipped your toe into Twitter’s waters, or are considering it, here are a few places to begin…
  • Due to reductions in funding for our current 5 year project period, NDC/NICHCY has had to operate with a significantly reduced staff. Nonetheless, due to improvements in our website and our implementation of a broad-based social media approach, we’ve been able to increase visits to our site by 87% over the first year of the project. These tools have allowed us to work much more efficiently and have extended our reach to new communities of users.
  • I want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of an incredibly dedicated staff, who I’ve somehow managed to convince that these tools could be of value. Without them none of this would be possible.
  • Thank you!!

Analytics to Help You Assess Quality, Relevance, & Usefulness Analytics to Help You Assess Quality, Relevance, & Usefulness Presentation Transcript