As a communications professional, you already understand the importance of having a responsive website for your school. You've read the posts we've written portraying the dreadful scenario of not adopting responsive web design: the dismal user experience, the dwindling priority in search engine results, the threat of losing applicants to more technically-advanced competitors.
This is everything you work so hard to avoid. But what if, after all of the outside research and anecdotal evidence, your administration still doesn't see the return on investment?
It's time to turn to analytics.
Here we share a step-by-step guide that shows which reports you should pull from Google Analytics that will convince your colleagues, board, and key decision makers to embrace a responsive website.
Go to Audience > Mobile > Overview in the left menu bar in your Google Analytics account and view the report showing "general mobile usage."
This example shows that over a third of sessions on this school's web site are coming from mobile devices – that's a good amount of traffic! And these sessions aren't all returning users – 40% are seeing your site for the first time — which is in line with the average desktop viewers — so you want them to have a great first [mobile] impression.
Looking at the bounce rate, you see that two-thirds of phone users are leaving the site after their first page view. This is a high percentage, especially when compared to desktop and tablet users. You don't want such a high number of users leaving your site so soon.
In this case, the high bounce rate on mobile versus desktop is due to a few issues:
- A slow load time because content is not optimized for mobile
- Lack of mobile-friendly design
- Difficulty identifying desired content from mobile home page's navigation
You can also see in this report that mobile viewers are also visiting fewer pages than average and spending a lot less time on the site – about half the amount as desktop. There certainly could be other reasons for these lower numbers – after all, the nature of mobile is quick – but it's definitely something to consider and use to support your case, especially with such a high percentage of new sessions.
This report provides great overall information but let's dig deeper. We are going to isolate a particular segment of your site – admissions, for instance – and see how engaged this segment specifically is with mobile.
SEO for Schools: What's in Store in 2017 Webinar Download
Above the graph in this report, there is a field that says +Add Segment.
Click this and you'll see a list of pre-populated segments appear, but you will want to create your own. To do this, you need to be familiar with your site's structure and how the URLs are set up.
Go to your web site and click on your Admissions section and note how the URL is structured. Most will be set up like www.school.com/admissions or www.school.com/pages/admissions or a similar variation. You just need the URL extension (everything following the backslash) for the main landing page of this section and not any sub-pages, since those will be automatically included in our segment.
NOTE: If you use Finalsite's Page Manager, sites will be the navigation breadcrumb for the Admissions section, not the page.cfm URL you see in a browser address bar.
Going back into the +Add Segment Screen, click on the orange + NEW SEGMENT button.
Click on Advanced > Conditions and in the drop down that appears, look for the Behavior section and select Page.
In the blank field, start typing the URL extension you just found from your site (i.e., /admissions, etc.) – you will see the options appear as you type so select the one you want.
The Summary pane on the right gives you an estimate of how many users and sessions will be included in the segment. In this case, 23% of all users is a sizable amount, considering all the pages most schools have in their sites. Give this segment a name (we choose 'Admissions Visits') and click save.
You will then be taken back to the same mobile overview report as before, but now it's filtered for just those users who set foot in the admissions section of the site.
The volume numbers are, of course, smaller since it's a subset of what we saw before. But, the accompanying stats are even more compelling. In this report, you can see that users who visited the Admissions section of the site did so via mobile 25% of the time, just slightly less than overall visits (one-third of overall visitors used a mobile device).
However, Admissions visitors browsing on phones are leaving more frequently without visiting a second page (bounce rate), and in general viewing much fewer pages and spending much less time on the site.
This is most likely due to a poor mobile experience.
Since most of these sessions are new (67%) you definitely want their experience on your school's admissions page to exceed — or at least meet — their expectations.
If you're having a hard time getting your administration to go mobile, give them the hard sell with these simple stats. It's hard to argue with numbers.
And, for those of you who already have a responsive site, it's a good idea to run this report for different segments of your site to see how effective your responsiveness might be. Stats such as those above might indicate that although your site is technically set up to be responsive, there are some design tweaks that could be made to make the experience even better!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle has over 10 years of digital marketing experience including positions at Advertising.com/AOL, Weber Shandwick and 906 Creative. She holds a B.A. from Colgate University and an M.B.A from the University of Maryland and currently resides in Maryland with her husband and two children.