One of the greatest challenges a web analyst faces in the field is gaining full visibility into all facets of an organization’s online presence. As analysts, we are curious creatures by nature with an unquenchable thirst for data and knowledge. We want to know where traffic is coming from, how these visitors are using the website, and where they are going. Discovering a missing piece to a data collection puzzle can be a double-edged sword: It means we aren’t getting the complete picture, but it also serves as motivation to always be on the lookout for new sources of analytical data.
In the past year, we were approached by a client in the financial services industry that wanted to track their website’s organic performance on search engines as well as receive monthly analytical reporting and recommendations. A few weeks after initial implementation, however, we noticed a consistently high bounce rate to the website. These bounces were primarily happening from the Home page of the website, which is a major red flag to even the most inexperienced of analysts. After some additional analysis and a look at the navigational summary of visitors, we were able to determine that most of these bounces weren’t leaving the website: They were proceeding to the separate secure Online Banking portion of the website. Due to internal security policies of this particular bank, we were unable to implement any direct tracking of this platform beyond the Home page of the website. A new solution to alleviate the high bounce rate needed to be identified.
That’s where event tracking came in. With Google Analytics, event tracking is a method traditionally used to track actions visitors can perform on a website that aren’t captured by the standard analytics script. This often takes the form of a PDF or document download. Since we could not place any sort of tracking code on the Online Banking platform itself, we decided to place the event tracking code on all links on the bank’s website that pointed towards it. The change in the skewed bounce rate for the website was noticeable almost immediately:
Not only did this help alleviate the high bounce rate, but it also provided more insight into how the bank’s customers used the site and where the entered the Online Banking platform from.
There are never perfect circumstances when it comes to web analytics. More often than not, internal policies, procedures and security will stand in the way of getting the complete picture of an organization’s web presence. Learning these policies from the start and identifying alternative solutions will help in overcoming these obstacles.