Just about every behavior change initiative today needs some kind of online presence. Many organizations build websites as a matter of course. But unfortunately, many websites are missed opportunities. Organizations that approach their website as an end product –– something you build and then it’s done –– are missing out on a chance to use web analytics to boost their behavioral bottom line.
In commercial marketing, metrics are a matter of course. Website success is measured in revenue earned or items sold. But in behavior change marketing, choosing which metrics to track online can be a little more tricky. If your end goal is reduce the spread of the flu, and your target behavior is to get people to sneeze into their arm instead of their hand, how do you measure that behavior online?
Defining the success of a website as the achievement of an offline behavioral objective is a huge limitation. The link between what users do on the website and whether or not they adopt the target behavior is often too disconnected to measure. As a result, web analytics measurement strategies often get put on the backburner, which is easy to understand if you’re only focused on the number of people flossing their teeth or fertilizing their lawn (unless there happens to be an app for that).
Key moments in the measurement process are also missed, and events like a website's launch become a finish line instead of a starting point, since there’s no plan to leverage user insights over time. While establishing an operationalized approach to ongoing website improvements may seem obvious from a commercial marketing standpoint, it can get lost when the bottom line is behavior change. But without an ongoing measurement plan for your website, it becomes difficult to shift into the iterative process of data collection, reporting, analysis, and optimization once a website is launched or redesigned.
One way to overcome this dilemma is to take a service based view of your website, rather than seeing it as simply a tool or end product. This can allow for a clearer focus on the ongoing user experience, and how that can support the target behavior. This begins by defining website success and establishing a clear web analytics measurement plan that flows from your behavior change strategy and narrows down to tangible goals, conversions and website metrics.
Some good questions to start with this process include:
- Who is the target audience?
- What do you want them to do?
- Why should they do it?
- What target behavior do you want your audience to take?
- How does your website help complete the target behavior?
- What website actions allow users to move towards the target behavior?
In some ways, this is what makes web analytics planning slightly different for behavior change marketing. We have to develop a website measurement plan where behavior is the bottom line, which can require us to translate offline behavioral objectives into tangible website goals, metrics and conversions that provide insight into the success of the behavioral objective.
Taking this extra step to link website performance to online behavioral goals that support your overarching behavioral objective can make website measurement less of an afterthought. And it also can mean the difference between having a website that functions as a mere online brochure that people want to visit once at most, versus launching and maintaining a dynamic and continually improving web platform that supercharges your outreach, engagement and impact.