In part one of Analytic Trends in Associations, we shared the results of a case study we performed by pulling analytics from 24 associations to capture general analytic trends . From the data, we acquired three key takeaways regarding associations:
- The average web visitor is new and not as likely to return to the site again after visiting once or twice;
- Associations have higher bounce rates due to heavy CTAs marketed on their sites; and
- Those who stay do on the site have high levels of engagement as indicated by their multiple page views per session and longer timestamps of web activity.
During the year, it’s important you also understand the trends of analytics during conference season. From the time the conference attendee registration launches to the day after the conference, we expect web traffic and engagement to increase substantially due to the heavy amount of information provided on the sites such as online registration, travel accommodations and the conference schedule.
We conducted another case study to analyze associations’ web analytics two months prior to conference as well as two months after. Data was pulled from a sample of 40 associations from July 2017 to August 2018. We analyzed the overall number of visitors, sessions, pageviews, average session duration, average time on page, and bounce rates to roughly gauge user interaction.
Here is what we discovered:
Total Users, Sessions, Pageviews
Average Session Duration, Average Time on Page
The case study proved that web traffic and engagement improve leading up to the event. However, the overall average of increase wasn’t substantially large as initially thought. We may have seen a more substantial difference if we extended our data back farther and compared analytics to the main “off-season” month of each association. These associations have at least some sort of marketing plan that advertises the save the date well in advance before the official two-month launch date.
The post-event web analytics are where we started to see drastic decreases in web traffic. It’s important to note that this is not a bad thing , it just means less people are visiting the site because the main event of interest has passed. As long as the bounce rates and average session durations are decent, the website can still be viewed as performing well. In measuring association analytics, it is not about the quantity (i.e. the number of visitors, sessions, pageviews), it’s about the quality of engagement (i.e. the avg. time on page, avg. session duration, bounce rate).
So what’s the takeaway from this study? These analytics prove that these associations’ annual events are the main driving force to the websites. While this is certainly not a negative, it helps us examine how we can improve our marketing strategy.
Associations need to be communicating with the membership on a regular basis. Annual networking and educational events should not be the only reason to send emails. Occasional newsletters, topical industry posts on social, and member campaigns are all ways you can engage the membership outside of conference without being overbearing. It keeps the association in the back of their mind and shows that you put effort into staying relevant.
Major event analytics are also a great reminder to make sure you are aware of your association’s analytics year-round. When you see anomalies in your data, you can account it for the annual conference or another large networking or education event. It’s when those anomalies aren’t accounted for by an event or campaign when you should start investigating on what is and is not working.