Understanding how users interact with the alumni and donors website

Stephen Evans
Thursday 16 November 2017

The new alumni and donors website was launched in June 2017. The new site is a lot slicker and hopefully easier to use than the previous website.

A number of blog posts have been written explaining how Google Tag Manager (GTM) can be used to understand visitor behaviour better. For example, finding out whether users click on a particular link so we can determine if the link needs to be moved to a more prominent position.

This blog post summarises the use of GTM on the alumni and donors website from 15 September to 28 September 2017.

Hero banner buttons

The new website uses ‘hero banners’ on the home page and the landing pages for the three main sections: information alumni, support St Andrews and completed projects. There are one or two buttons on the hero banners, providing calls to action. The aim is to anticipate the most common tasks of the user visiting the site, as well as promoting certain features.

We are interested in seeing which buttons are being clicked, to see if visitors use them to access information. To do this with GTM is quite straightforward. We create a trigger that fires on any element that has a class of ‘btn btn-primary btn-lg’. As this class is only used on the buttons, we can easily determine if someone has clicked on them. When the button is clicked, it passes the text of the button and the page it was on to Google Analytics by using a label of ‘{{Click Text}} : {{Page URL}}’.

Alumni and donors home page

We are already getting some interesting data even though it has only been in place for the past two weeks. For example, on the alumni and donors home page the button for ‘total so far’ is more popular than the ‘fundraising priorities’ with 35 and 22 clicks respectively. The ‘total so far’ also appears on the support St Andrews landing page – this had 4 clicks.

As the ‘total so far’ can only be accessed via the buttons on the hero banner on the home page of alumni and donors and the page for ‘support St Andrews’ we can easily see how users are accessing the information. The analytics show that the page has had 92 page views, of which the majority have been via Google search (55 page views), the remainder are via the buttons on the hero banners. At the moment, this suggests that if users want to find out the total so far, Google search is the preferred method. Given that the home page for alumni and donors received a total of 4,762 pages views, the traffic to total so far is very small (0.02% of traffic).

Family programme link

The family programme is organised for parents of current undergraduate students. It enables families to be part of the St Andrews community. At the moment, the only way to find this information is via a link in the footer of each page on the site.

Alumni and donors footer

Google Tag Manager is configured to trigger when the URL that is clicked on contains ‘family-programme’.  It then passes the URL of the page on which the link was clicked.

The analytics show that there have been 78 clicks on a link with a URL of ‘family-programme’ in it – 17 were on the home page of alumni. There were 53 clicks on the ‘family-programme’ page itself, which indicates that the tag needs a bit more configuration to give us the insight we need. It has now been modified to send the text of the link along with the page by using {{Page URL}} :{{Click Text}}. It will be interesting to see what insight will be gained.

The family programme page has had 195 page views, of which the majority have come via Google search. This indicates that visitors are not using the link at the bottom of the page to access it.

Future plans

It would be interesting to see if changing one of the calls to action from ‘total so far’ to ‘family programme’ on the hero banner increased the number of page views. At the moment, it would appear that the link in the footer is not being used to access the information.

There are plans to use GTM to track whether the news and event tiles are being clicked on the home page. It would also be interesting to use GTM to conduct A/B testing. For example, does the colour of the buttons in the hero banner affect whether it is clicked or not?

It still early days for GTM on the alumni and donors website, but the early insights have already proved to be very useful.

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