Online communities need a steady stream of new members if they are to thrive. Whilst close-knit communities can be successful with just a small number of dedicated, passionate members, if you really want to take your community to the next level you will need to attract new members. This article will show you an effective way of converting visitors into members by offering them exactly what they are looking for.
Online communities need site analytics
If you don’t have comprehensive information about your traffic, you are at a severe disadvantage. For online communities to be successful, they need to cater to the needs of their visitors and members. If you don’t know how people are interacting with your site, you will not really know how to make it more effective at attracting and retaining members.
There really is no excuse not to have a thorough understanding of how visitors use your site. Google Analytics is absolutely free. If you don’t have it installed, go do it now.
How to use Google Analytics to convert visitors into members
A hugely powerful part of Google Analytics is the ability to really drill down into the search terms that people are using to find your site. Once you have logged in, chose a date range depending on the traffic your site receives; if you receive very little traffic at present, select the past 60 or 90 days as your date range. If you receive a lot of traffic, select the past 14 days or the past month.
*Site analytics are a key element of your competitive advantage and should never be shared. Consequently, I have hidden such sensitive information from the screenshots below.*
For this article I’ll be checking out the stats for Just Chat – the site receives around 10,000 visitors per day, so I’ll choose the past month as the reporting period:
Once you have selected the time period, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘view report’ link under ‘Traffic Sources Overview’:
Next, scroll down to ‘Top Traffic Sources’ and click ‘view full report’:
Again, scroll down to the bottom of the page and extend the number of rows to be displayed to the maximum setting:
Now you have a list of all the keywords people have found your site with, along with information on what the visitor did when they got to your site. Because you are looking to cater to the visitors that came to your site but didn’t find what they were looking for, you want to sort the keywords by ‘Bounce Rate’ – so click on the ‘Bounce Rate’ link to sort by this category.
You will then be presented with a list of keywords that people used to find your site but then left – probably because they didn’t find what they were looking for. The bounce rate refers to the number of people that left your site without viewing any additional pages. Of course, it could be the case that the information on that one page was so good, they didn’t need to explore your site any further. Remember though, you are developing an online community – you want to encourage pageviews so visitors can build a relationship with your site and its members.
Now you can scroll down the list and see what keywords people used to find your site but then left because you weren’t catering to their needs. Keywords that only sent one visitor are probably not worth worrying about – you want to scroll down and look for keywords that sent some decent traffic your way, but still had a high bounce rate.
For Just Chat, some interesting results I found were:
“bank error in your favour” – 10 visits – 100% bounce rate
“boris johnstone” – 18 visits – 100% bounce rate
“ideal measurements” – 13 visits – 100% bounce rate
“live footy doctor” – 51 visits – 94.12% bounce rate
“hunks for you” – 22 visits – 90.91% bounce rate
“soap spoilers” – 104 visits – 69.23% bounce rate
Of course, this information only tells me what keywords people have used to find my site – it doesn’t tell me what those that haven’t yet found my site want. However, using the six random examples above I can now create content so that next time such visitors arrive, they will be more inclined to spend more time at the site. Just from those six examples, I lost 218 potential new members.
Perhaps I need to start up more conversations or threads about Boris Johnson. Perhaps I need to write some TV soap spoilers or write about banking errors. Either way, the more I target those visitors that are arriving at the site but leaving, the stickier my community will become, and the more effective it will be at converting visitors into members.
Analysing your bounce rate can offer you a whole heap of information about your visitors and the effectiveness of your site – in this article I’ve only scratched the surface of what can be achieved. If you haven’t installed Google Analytics yet, I hope this article has convinced you to go and get it!
Do you use Google Analytics or similar software to learn about your visitors? What do think is the most important information such software provides? Have your traffic stats ever completely surprised you and resulted in you transforming part of your site? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below.