Adding heatmapping to your website

If you know me even just a little, you know that I love data.  Especially in the field of arts marketing because we tend to have our own preconceived notions as arts marketers on what “our people” like, what they want, and how they behave.  Good data can either back that up or contradict it and put you on the right path.

This is so true with websites.  In my travels, I find that most arts organizations are very concerned with how their website looks which is understandable because we are so visual.  However, what if that visually stunning website actually hurts your conversion rate or is hard for people to navigate?

I hope that everyone reading this has Google Analytics installed on their site and that you regularly look at the data.  If you don’t, install it IMMEDIATELY.  If you do, go and look at the data right now.  RIGHT NOW.  If you aren’t sure how to read the data, Google has lots of free resources to help you.

Another way to see how people are interacting with your site is through heatmapping.  I’ve had heatmapping installed on the Palm Beach Opera website for the past few years and, I’ve got to say, that I love it.  It gives you a different take on the data because you can see not just what content people are viewing, but where they are looking on each page of your site.

Here’s a sample heatmap:

CrazyEgg Landing Page


You don’t have to be some sort of tech genius to see that the Buy Tickets button is performing pretty well here.

You can set up any number of what they call “snapshots” which are really just pages for them to track.  Let them fun for a few weeks to see what people are looking at most, or what might be more useful, what people aren’t looking at.

They offer a nonprofit rate and I end up paying about $100 for the entire year which is affordable for even a small nonprofit.

Technology Integration at Palm Beach Opera

This post was originally written for the Culture Builds Florida Blog.

You may think that opera and technology don’t go together, but the arts are quite perfect for integration with all things digital.  Here are 5 things that we use regularly that enable Palm Beach Opera to get the word out about what we do and further engage our audience.

1. Website – Everyone knows that having a website is imperative to any arts organization.  However, a website is only as good as how well it is managed and the quality of information contained within. A few years ago, Palm Beach Opera switched from a traditional CMS (content management system) to WordPress, an open-source CMS.  This small change has revolutionized how we are able to manage our website.  You may have heard of which is a free web-based blogging platform but WordPress can also be used to create and manage a website on your own server.   Any website is a kinetic entity that should be updated often to reflect upcoming events and using a web-based open-source CMS like WordPress allows us to do that quickly and easily from any computer or device with an internet connection.


2. Website Analytics – Website analytics are nothing new, with most people utilizing the powerful platform of Google Analytics to monitor website activity.  (If you don’t look at your website stats at least a couple times per week, I highly recommend that you do.  What you see will most likely be quite eye-opening.)  In addition to the standard analytics, we use two other sites that give incredibly useful information: Chartbeat and Crazy Egg.  Chartbeat shows real-time analytics so that we can see how many people are on our site at any given time and their activity as it happens.  This ability can be especially useful to track traffic after an enewsletter or other email communication has gone out to ensure visitors are visiting the intended pages.  It also is great for monitoring traffic during any kind of web promotion or contest.  You will be able to immediately see if conversions aren’t occurring as intended and make the necessary changes.


CrazyEgg is a fantastic site that gives you heatmap data for any page on your website.  In the past, heatmaps were available to only large for-profit companies because of the high cost.  With Crazy Egg, heatmaps are now available to all and the cost is very minimal.  Studies have shown that there is a very high correlation between eye movement and mouse movement and that is how Crazy Egg is able to give this sort of data.  Heatmaps will show you where people are looking (and clicking) on any page of your website.  This is especially useful in optimizing your homepage and landing pages throughout the site.  When used in conjunction with an easily-updatable website, necessary updates can be made quickly and easily to improve performance.


3. Social Media Management – At Palm Beach Opera, we use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube as our main social media platforms.  (It is important to remember to only be on the social media platforms that work for your organization.  Don’t feel pressured to be on too many if they don’t make sense or you don’t have time to manage them all.) It can be tough to keep up with multiple platforms especially if your organization has a small staff or the responsibility falls to one person only.  To help with this, we use Sprout Social to manage social media activity.  Sprout Social aggregates the activity on our social media profiles so that it can be seen in one place making it much easier to manage.  It also gives stats and data so that you can have useful demographic information about your friends and followers as well as statistics about activity and engagement levels.  Sprout Social is very nonprofit friendly as they offer a $9/month plan that will fit most organizations’ needs plus a 50% nonprofit discount.


4. Mobile – When we debuted our iPhone app a few years ago, Palm Beach Opera was one of the first arts organizations to have an app but now being mobile-friendly is becoming more and more important.  We were able to build our app using InstantEncore’s platform and it is very cost-effective.  It may not make sense for every organization to have an app but you do need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.  More and more people are surfing the web using a mobile device and, whether it is on a phone or with a tablet, arts organizations need to be ready and keep up with the trend. If you happen to be using open-source CMS to run your website, there are a variety of plugins that will create a mobile version of your site quickly and easily.


Also, sites utilizing responsive design capabilities will do this automatically for you.  The first step is to view your site using a smartphone or tablet to see what it looks like.  Is all of your content visible?  Does the navigation function?  Is it easy to move around the site?  If the answer to any of these is “no,” you will want to put a plan in place to improve the mobile viewing experience as soon as possible. You never know, your next ticket purchase may come from someone viewing your site on an iPad or Kindle Fire!


5. Tweet Seats  – There has been a lot of attention on tweeting during performances recently giving cases both for and against it.  There is no one way to do tweet seats, and they might not be appropriate for your organization depending on your venue or programming.  We decided to try it out this past season not for our regular performances, but rather for our final dress rehearsals.  We offered a small amount of seats to the dress rehearsal to people who signed up on our website who are active on Twitter with the understanding that they would tweet about what they were experiencing during the show.  They were encouraged to be honest and use their own voice in their tweets and to give any thoughts or feelings that they had.  The first event went very well and word started to spread and soon we had a great number of ticket requests for subsequent dress rehearsals.  We were lucky to attract people who wouldn’t be considered “opera-goers” and many of those who came to tweet had never been to an opera before.  Coincidentally, we also attracted some members of the media at local TV stations, which resulted in additional media coverage for the opera.  Based on the success of the events this season, we plan on continuing to offer tweet seats in future seasons to bring opera to members of the community at large.

Using Sprout Social To Monitor Social Media

I recently began using Sprout Social to monitor and manage the social media account at Palm Beach Opera and I’ve got one thing to say about it: I LOVE IT!

There are many social media monitoring sites out there but many of them are just too darn expensive for the average nonprofit organization.  Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak knows that I prefer to do things that are free and only spend money on social media and web projects when it is really worth it.  Well, this is worth it indeed.  The Professional account is only $9.00 per month and they give a 50% discount for nonprofits.  In my mind, $4.50 per month is totally worth it for this product!

1. You can monitor Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
It is super easy to get set up and connect your Twitter and Facebook pages to be monitored.  If you have more than one Facebook page (and perhaps even a Facebook place page) it will handle that as well.

2. The Reports Tab helps you to stay on track.
Anyone who has heard me speak about social media knows about my 80/20 rule for nonprofits. 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting leads to successful use of social media.  Well, the Reports Tab tells you exactly how well you are doing with that.

(OOPS!  Looks like I’m at 72/28 at the moment…I better work on engaging more!)

3. It alerts you when there is new activity.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the Inbox Tab.  It tells you when someone has followed you, posts on a Facebook wall, mentions you on Facebook, or @replies you on Twitter.  Taking this one step further, you can reply to that person directly from there without having to log into Twitter or Facebook separately.

Those of you who still have an email alert set up on Twitter that will email you when you have a new follower won’t have to worry about the email deluge anymore!  This one feature has simplified my workflow more than I can say.

4. You can monitor keywords and search terms across different social media platforms and the web.
You may ask me, “But I use HootSuite or TweetDeck to do these things.  Why do I need something else?”  Well, I am an avid TweetDeck user and I continue to use it even now to stay on top of the conversation that is happening on Twitter.  However, it never worked quite how I wanted it regarding search terms for Palm Beach Opera.

Well, that is my quick tour of Sprout Social.  I suggest anyone managing social media at a nonprofit organization check it out to see if it works for you.


Don’t be Junk Mail: Understanding and Improving your Email Campaigns

jpeg-1Nearly 20% of email marketers don’t track their email marketing campaigns, meaning they have no way of knowing how effective they are. Just a little time reviewing and analyzing the metrics of your email or e-newsletter campaigns will help you to see if you’re reaching your clients effectively.

Here are a few basic terms you should know:

  • Delivery Rate: The delivery rate is the total number of emails delivered to an inbox. Delivery rate percentages are determined by comparing the total number of emails that bounced (undeliverable) with the number of emails sent.  For example, spam filters or an out of date email address can cause an email to be bounced. You can reduce the chances of having your email bounce by asking subscribers to white-list your email.
  • Open rate: The open rate is the percentage of total delivered emails that were actually opened.  It’s an important number to be aware of, as you might suddenly find that your open rate has been going down without jpeg-2your knowledge. Industry research estimates the average open rate to be 30%. If your rate is lower than this, you may want to evaluate the effectiveness and content of  your emails.
  • Click-Through Rate: The click-through rate tracks the number of times a link in your email was actually clicked on by a subscriber. JupiterResearch estimates that the average click-through rate is about 12%. If you keep your content relevant, direct and targeted, you should manage to keep a good number of people interested.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: This is the number people who choose to unsubscribe from your email or e-newsletter. This rate is determined by dividing the total number of unsubscribes by the total number of delivered emails. Your unsubscribe rate is  often an overall indicator of email list health or freshness. If you are using a list of emails older than six months, then you may experience a high unsubscribe rate because the list is out of date. If the list is fresh and full of recent email subscribers and you are still experiencing a high unsubscribe rate, then you should review the relevancy of your content.

Reviewing and understanding these numbers is an integral part of determining the effectiveness of your campaign. Tracking your email campaign will help improve your business and keep you out of the spam box.

Getting the Most From Your Analytics Data: Are You Reaching Your Target Audience?

jpeg-4Collecting data and gathering information is only valuable if you match this data with tangible outcomes and goals. Identify key goals for your website, then use your analytics data to determine if these goals are being met. Common goals might include:

>> Increasing the number of registrations or member sign-ups

>> Increasing the number of downloads for free or paid products

>> Increasing the number of views for key pages

>> Increasing the number of returning visitors

One of Google Analytics’ best features is that it allows you to run a variety of reports that are relevant to your website. You can filter reports for any number of variables to cross-analyze your data. For example, you can compare how much time a new visitor is spending on your site compared to a returning visitor.

Once you have settled in on your goals, you can work on optimizing your site for those goals and use your analytics data to see if your efforts are bringing you closer to the desired result. Often your website is one of the biggest connections to your target audience, and its only logical to check up on its health and progress.

If you need a little kickstart with Google Analytics, try reading the Google Analytics User Guide. You also might want to check out Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics blog. Kaushik wrote the bestselling book “Web Analytics – An Hour a Day” and maintains an up to date blog with useful analytics information.

Occam’s Razor: Web Analytics Blog

How Well is Your Website Working for You? Understanding Google Analytics Data

jpeg-3You already know that Google Analytics is an invaluable tool for helping you work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google Analytics allows you to track trends over time.

For example, if you make a major change to the content of your website, then you will be able to use Google Analytics to compare visitor behavior before and after the change. Knowing how the change effects your visitors will help you determine whether or not the change you made is effective.

In this post, we’ll go over the different types of data Google Analytics provides you and what that means for your website. Here are a few of the most important kinds of data Google Analytics will show you:

  • Bounce rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a page on your site and then immediately leave without penetrating your site any further. A high bounce rate (over 50%) might mean visitors didn’t find the content of that page compelling enough to keep them exploring the site. Keep in mind that a bounce rate can vary depending on what type of site you have or what type of content is included on the landing page. For example, many people visit a blog just to quickly read the most recent post. This isn’t necessarily bad.
  • How people reached your site: Your analytics data will tell you which visitors found you directly by typing in your URL, which were referred to you by another site, and which found you through a search engine.
  • Direct traffic, or default traffic, includes visitors who typed in your web address or who used a bookmark.
  • Referral traffic consists of visitors who came to your site from an outside link: an affiliate link, a directory, or maybe from a link you posted on your Twitter or LinkedIn. Google Analytics will tell you what site the referral visitor came from so you can know which sites are giving you the most traffic.
  • Search engine visitors are those who used a major search engine to find your site or who clicked through a linked post as part of a paid search campaign. As Google Analytics will tell you which search engine the visitor used, then you are able to analyze this data along with the keywords used in their search to find out which search engines are working best for you and why.
  • Traffic from Keywords: Analyzing the keywords visitors used to find your site and looking at your bounce rate can give you some idea of what your visitors were expecting to find on your site. A high bounce rate can indicate that you have not met their expectations for the keywords they used in the search engine. Knowing this would help you to find new keywords for your website and to optimize your site better to meet visitor expectations.

Using the data from Google Analytics will help you to better understand your visitors and ensure that they’re getting what they want from your site.

Google Analytics: The Free Key to Better Search Engine Optimization

jpegIf you’re trying to bring more traffic to your website (and who isn’t?), then you’ve begun to dabble in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While daunting at first, SEO can be made much easier with Google Analytics, a free tool that allows you to learn more about your website visitors.

Google Analytics is a handy program that allows you to learn more about your website visitors. You can use Google Analytics to find out where your website visitors came from, the keywords they used to search for you, how long they were on your site (to the second!), how many pages they visited and more. This invaluable and easy to use tool will help you streamline your SEO and online marketing strategies.

To install Google Analytics onto your website, go to the Google Analytics website and open a free account. You will receive an html code to put on your website – it’ll just take your web designer a few minutes to insert the code. Data will become available to you in 24 hours or less once the code has been put on your site.

You may already be getting statistics from your web designer or hosting company, but with Google Analytics you can see in depth data for yourself in just seconds. Google Analytics will give you charts and graphs which will enable you to view the statistics of your website traffic.

You can begin optimizing your website within weeks of installing analytics. If you pay careful attention to the data you receive, you can make smart, efficient changes that will increase traffic to your site.

If you’re using multiple SEO techniques, chances are you don’t really know which ones are effective and which ones aren’t. With Google Analytics you can see exactly which of your online efforts are bringing in the best results, allowing you to focus your energy on the methods that work. If you are ready to try out Google Analytics or just want to see an example of how it works, visit their website here.