Website Analytics Tracking for Online Educators

Tracking course analytics is one thing. But what about before your visitors register?

In order to provide the best user experience for your visitors, improve your site, and sell more online courses, you need to know how people are engaging with your website. It’s not enough to wait until someone has signed up for your course to begin tracking their behavior. You need to know what they’re doing so that you can sell your course in the first place.

To do that, you need to understand some basic analytics tools, what the numbers they’re telling you mean, and how you can use that information to provide a better service. Here are some of the top analytics tools for online educators, and what they can tell you about visitors to your website.

Google Analytics

Probably the most important analytics tool available, GoogleAnalytics provides some of the key big-picture analytics information you need to understand your site performance. It’s also one of the most popular plugins for LearnDash users. While some platforms can provide some of this data, Google can give a more detailed look at some of the most essential numbers you need to understand how visitors use your site.

How many visitors have been to my site?

Before you know what visitors are doing, you should know how many there are. Google’s data about visitor volume can tell you how many people are coming to your site, as well as when they arrive. Knowing if your peak visitor traffic comes at 7:00pm on a Wednesday or 9am on a Saturday can help you adjust your marketing and communication strategy.

How long did they stay?

Do your visitors come for a few minutes? Or do they leave almost immediately? Obviously, you want your visitors to spend time on your website. If most of them leave quickly after only visiting one page (this is known as your “bounce rate”), then it’s an indication that there may be something wrong with your page—or with the audience you’re attracting.

How many pages did they visit?

If your visitors didn’t bounce, what did they do? Visitor tracking can show you what pages they visited, and in what order. This can help you understand how to better guide your visitors through your site.

What page did they leave after visiting?

The exit page lets you know what the last page was your visitor saw. Some pages are almost always exit pages (a “contact us” form, or a thank you page). But if you have a high-value page that you designed hoping it would convince your visitors to engage more deeply with the site and instead they’re leaving, that’s something you need to know.

Visitor Session Tracking

Imagine you own a brick-and-mortar store, or that you’re running an in-person classroom. In each case, you can look around you and see how visitors to your store (or students in your classroom). Visitor session tracking allows for much the same thing, but for your website. There are a number of solutions out there, such as Inspectlet. Find one that works for you, then look for these metrics.

Where did they click on the page?

A click map can show you what buttons are most popular, but it can also inform your design. It’s easy to create page elements that look like they should be clickable but aren’t—or, conversely, to create something that no one realizes they can click on. Click maps can clear up some of the confusion and help you create a better experience.

How far down the page did they scroll?

If your visitors are engaged with your content, they’ll scroll to the end. If not, they’ll move on quickly. If you have a heat map on your page showing that your visitors only ever scroll halfway down, it might help to include more images, break up your paragraphs, or use more headers in your copy.

What parts of the page are they looking at?

No, your tracking software can’t actually follow eye movement. But it can follow cursor movement, and as it turns out, those two things are related. Many of us tend to hover our cursor over areas we’re looking at, and as the site owner, this can help you gauge user interest.

Email Tracking

You may not have landed a sale yet, but if you’ve convinced someone to sign up for your email newsletter, there’s a lot you can learn from their email behavior. Most importantly, you can learn if your emails are reaching an engaged audience or falling on deaf ears. If no one’s looking at your emails, it’s time to either send better emails, or invest your marketing time elsewhere. Most email marketing tools such as MailChimp will let you look at the following metrics.

How many emails go undelivered?

Emails go bad all the time. People move jobs, close an email account they no longer use, or submit bogus email addresses to avoid spam. When you get a lot of undelivered emails (“hard bounces”), it can be a sign to your email client that you’re sending spam. Do yourself (and your mailing lists) a favor by only sending emails to people who have signed up to receive them.

How many emails are opened?

Your emails may be delivered, but that’s not proof that they were read. (Of course, open rates don’t prove that either, but they’re a better indication.) People get busy, and there are many reasons your emails may go unread—even from people who usually want them. But if you’re struggling to get anyone to open your emails, try updating your email subject lines, update your template, or consider a different email strategy.

What links do readers click on?

Did you include a CTA in your email? More than one? What did your visitors click on? Like click tracking on website analytics, knowing how your recipients interact with your emails can help you improve them and deliver more worthwhile messaging.

Are you being reported for spam?

Sometimes your recipients open your email just to unsubscribe. This can be discouraging, but try not to take it to heart. We’ve all subscribed and unsubscribed from things at one point or another. It’s not necessarily a sign that you’re doing anything bad.

A spam report, however, is. Being reported for spam is a bad sign, but it can happen if you’ve added people to your list who never asked to be on it, or if you send too many marketing emails, or if the emails you send weren’t want you said you would be sending. Sometimes people hit the spam button because they’re too lazy to unsubscribe, but if you’re getting flagged a lot, it’s probably because you’re doing something that needs to be fixed.

Learner analytics are just as important once your visitors sign up for your course.

Once your visitors sign up for a course, your LMS should provide ample tools for tracking course progress and completion rates. In fact, ProPanel on LearnDash can teach you a lot about learner behavior through its real-time monitoring of user activity.

Take a look at what ProPanel can tell you about your learner behavior, and contact us if you have any questions!

Author

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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