Use of Analytics Essential to Web-based Outreach

March 27, 2014

A note from Carol Murray, MSS, MLSP, CIRP@CHOP training manager: Today we are pleased to welcome a guest blog post from Tyler Chance, a junior Marketing major at Drexel University, who shares his insights about his time as a Drexel co-op student at our Center.

I joined the CIRP@CHOP organization on my third and final co-op at Drexel University. Although I was attracted to the world-renowned work the CHOP team was doing, it was the “Digital Communications” job title that reeled me in. In my previous job experience I worked in a small marketing agency in Center City. Nearly all of our clients stuck to traditional media strategies, such as brochures and other printed materials, to get their message out. What little online work we did was never accompanied by a strong metrics-driven review. After that experience, I wanted to look to the future. My time at CIRP@CHOP has shown me that web-based analytics tools like Google Analytics enhance an organization’s website traffic and overall marketing effort. 

While I had worked briefly with Google Analytics previously, my experience at CIRP brought my understanding of its importance to a different level. One of the biggest takeaways from spending hours digging through data is: Back up your digital communications decisions with data. The internet and its users are constantly changing and evolving. Tools like Analytics can help you to monitor site traffic to make adjustments to content and strategies to ensure your site is reaching its maximum potential.

Set Goals and Benchmark with Google Analytics

CIRP@CHOP sets goals for its websites that can be measured and tracked using Analytics. While Analytics data are not always precise, they do show trends in how people find and use content. To help CIRP@CHOP measure its reach, we track and benchmark the number of visits, page views, average time users spend on our sites and how many pages they visit. In aggregate, we can see how users land on our web pages. Do they come to the sites from an organic keyword search? Do they come from an inbound link from a different website? Do they come from an e-blast campaign? The Outreach team can gauge whether various strategies are working and if they are in touch with their audiences. After considering “reach,” the team tracks user engagement with the content. The sites are programmed to report in Analytics about “events,” such as downloads of resources, clicking on links, and sharing pages. These actions indicate that users are using our resources themselves, as well as to educate others. With this data I was able to produce a list of low traffic web pages and downloadable resources to consider for updates or removal from teendriversource.org.

Experiment and Troubleshoot Using Google Analytics

There were times when our team would meet to discuss a shift in traffic patterns, such as a significant decline in visits and page views. Using Analytics data, we could come up with possible reasons for this drop and brainstorm solutions. Often there isn’t a concrete answer to our questions from the data, but they suggest options and new paths to try. In my time here, I have found that it’s very important to experiment with new ideas. If something isn’t working, use the data to reevaluate and come up with a new strategy. It can be extremely frustrating, and you will not always find the perfect fit on your first attempt. But that's okay: Digital marketing and communications takes a whole lot of trial and error.

In addition to using Google Analytics, I also worked with Google’s Keyword Planner, Google AdWords, MailChimp (an email marketing service provider with its own analytics), YouTube Analytics, and Facebook Insights, as well as learned various content management systems to edit content on a number of CHOP affiliated websites.

One of the best things about Drexel’s co-op program is getting real work experience and figuring out what you enjoy doing the most. I’m a person that thinks in a quantifiable fashion; strategies always have to be informed by data. When I say that my position at CIRP was the perfect fit, I'm not exaggerating. With this advanced research and analytics experience at CHOP, I am confident that this is the type of work I want to pursue when the time comes to transition from full-time student to marketing professional.