September 5, 2018 – Sedona, AZ – SEPI Marketing’s Brian McGuinn was asked to present at the National Association of State Park Director’s annual event held in Sedona, Arizona.
In an age where digital marketing has become a necessity, State Park Directors are constantly working towards giving their system’s customers the best online experience. Brian McGuinn contends that the main way to do that is to utilize certain areas within Google Analytics to troubleshoot for potential weaknesses and to uncover successes that can be built upon.
“There is no doubt that Google Analytics is one of the most comprehensive analytics tools around, but it can be quite confusing to some because there are so many ways to view website traffic data. If you’re as busy as a State Park Director, there just isn’t enough time to go through and learn all of it. The intention of my presentation was to show them certain areas within Google Analytics that can give them a generalized picture of how their online marketing strategy is progressing.”
McGuinn touched upon the importance of benchmarking using year-over-year comparisons located within the audience view of Google Analytics. “Year-over-year comparisons take out the seasonal factor within the data. It’s an accurate assumption that online activity increases for campgrounds during their season and decreases during their off season. So, it is important to look at the year-over-year filter option that will only include data for the same period last year. Variations in traffic should point to positive if you can account for seasonality and special events. Regardless if you are looking at season or off-season numbers, both timeframes need to constantly improve,” says McGuinn.
The presentation also included using benchmarks to see how new guests are being acquired digitally. According to McGuinn, visitors can find websites either directly, organically, through referrals, social media, paid advertising or email marketing. “Usually when you see deviations in traffic from year to year within one of these categories it could be a really good thing or a time for adjusting your current strategy.
“If it is noticed that there is a reduction within organic traffic, perhaps Google changed a component within their algorithm. The same thing might be the case with social media. As we’ve seen over the past year with Facebook, it is constantly adjusting the way content is being served to maximize its revenues. It’s upon discovery of these deviations that you can properly ascertain and prioritize where to allocate your marketing budget. It might be time to install a new configuration of your website to conform to new Google algorithm updates or it could mean you need to adjust your Facebook advertising display dollars.”
McGuinn believes that monitoring user behaviors could quickly tell you if your changes are working. When a benchmark has been established and deviations have been found, it’s important to understand how the users are navigating through your website. Are your sessions bouncing or are less pages being viewed through different devices? Is there a browser where your bounce rate is higher, suggesting that your website isn’t being read well within certain browsers? Behaviors can also highlight potential website speed issues and optimization issues among other things.
McGuinn said, “We manage SEO for over 45 campgrounds and we make it a point to show our customers where to go to quickly analyze their results. This was a great opportunity and forum for SEPI to get this message out to the NASPD who work tirelessly making memories for campers. Our hope is to help our partners succeed which benefits all of the outdoor recreation industry.”