We’re all seeing “Analytics” and “Big Data” in headlines and predictions about the future of recruiting, not to mention present-day recruitment.
Getting swept away in the buzzwords and marketing rhetoric surrounding the long list of analytics and data-tracking tools and software out there is easier to do than not. And when I find that happening, it’s always a good idea to step back and ask what the heck everyone is really talking about, and how it applies to me, and you, in reality and on a practical level.
Analytics tends be a bit misleading as a term, because while an analytics tool should take data and format it for you in graphs and charts, none of it means much if you don’t actually analyze that information once you’ve got it.
Data-gathering and information overload is easy, sifting through it to find something you can use, something you can act on to improve your business–that’s the hard part.
INTRO: The purpose of an analytics tool or service is to capture and track information about your website, your visitors and/or users, and their activity over time.
On the first website I built (as a teenager, on Geocities, thank you very much) I installed a stat-counter. It was a little code snippet from some third-party that publicly displayed the number of visits the site received. Of course, it didn’t tell me how many of those visits were the same person visiting more than once, how many were just me checking up on any edits or changes I had made, or which friends of mine were checking it out.
At the time, it didn’t matter. “100 hits! Yay!” was about as far as my thinking went. But of course, that silly little website only had pictures with my friends, links to my favourite joke websites, and the odd angsty song lyric. The website didn’t have much of a point, other than to share things with my friends and to have the fun of playing around with building a website in the first place. (Pre-Facebook life!) Your job board, though, has a point, which makes knowing what you want to learn a whole lot easier.
THE BASICS: While today’s analytics tools are infinitely more robust than the simple hit-counters of old, they’re still just as useless if you don’t have a purpose in mind for how you want to use them. There are some basic types of data that any business should track as a part of their marketing, and they usually include:
- Unique visitors – The number of individual visitors your website gets. This can sometimes be inaccurate, especially when a visitor accesses your site from multiple locations, devices, and IP addresses. However, many analytics providers compensate for this when visitors are registered users.
- Average Visit Length – The duration of time each visitor spends on your site. If they’re spending more time on your site, it’s a good sign that your site is of value to them.
- Sources of Traffic – This can tell you where your visitors are coming from. Did they use a search engine to find you? Did they follow a link from another site? (aka: a referral.) Did they come in through social media? A paid advertisement? Did they type in your URL and go to it directly?
- Organic search terms – For the visitors who used a search engine to reach you, what search terms did they use? Did they search for your business name, or did they search “part time jobs” and find you?
- Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of visitors who leave your website very quickly, possibly because it’s not what they’re looking for or what they thought it would be, or because there is something wrong with your site.
Knowing how many visitors you have is important now, just as it was back in my old Geocities days, but as a business it’s fundamental. The traffic you get on a regular basis is something that you can use to market to your customers, advertisers, and better judge what your marketing needs are.
Knowing how long people spend on your site on each visit can indicate how compelling your content or jobs are: if people stay only a few seconds, they’re not getting what they’re looking for, and contributing to your higher bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high, it means people are confused about your site (you post healthcare jobs, but they somehow came looking for retail jobs), or your job board has some major problems (e.g. they’re on mobile, your site isn’t mobile-ready).
A huge part of understanding why and how people get to your job board, is by examining what paths visitors are travelling to get there. If you find you get the most and best quality traffic from organic search, then you know you should devote more of your efforts to posting relevant content and jobs, using SEO-friendly website structures, and examining what search terms people use to get to your site. If everybody’s searching “part-time technologist jobs”, you can pass that information onto employers and seek more customers posting those kinds of jobs.
FOR JOB BOARDS: There are some specific metrics that are important to track for job boards, and they can tell you more about how your business is doing. Here are some vital ones:
- View Rate: how many views does each job get?
- Application Rate: how many applications does each job get through your board?
- Job Posts: How many paid job posts are on your board?
- Revenue: Track how much money you are bring in from your job board.
- Transactions: How many money-making events actually occur? If your monthly revenue is $10,000, but your number of transactions is 80, you’ve now learned that your typical customer spends $125 at your board.
View rate and application rates are particularly important when it comes to being accountable to your customers. They’re paying you to advertise their job openings because of the candidates your site will expose them to, and you both should know how many views and applications a job post receives. For example, if a job post gets very few of either, and it’s a drastic departure from what most jobs get, it’s probably an opportunity for you to offer some advice and coaching on how to write an appealing job post. According to the Job Board Doctor’s latest Job Board Trends survey, over 30% of job boards still aren’t tracking the number of applications each job gets on their websites.
Tracking the number of paid job posts, your total revenue, and your total number of transactions can tell you a lot about your customers’ behaviour. Do they pay for multiple jobs but spread out actually posting them? Are people more likely to advertise more than one job if they get a better deal on multiple jobs than single job posts? The transaction rate helps you gauge what spending limits your customers have. And of course, tracking revenue means you know how much money you’re making through your eCommerce.
KEY TAKE-AWAYS: Analytics and data, big or small, can seem overwhelming, but stick to these three ideas and you won’t get lost.
- Analytics aren’t scary. Figure out what you need to know to help you understand and grow your business. Track those things, and don’t sweat it if you’re not a complete master of Big Data.
- Know your purpose. If you’re a non-profit and your goal is to assist certain people find employment, the metrics you care about may focus on those people accessing your job board, and how many applications they submit. If you’re a business, you’re likely focused on revenue, paid posts, and how many applications are sent per job.
- Understand your users. This goes for both job seekers and employers. Find out where they’re coming from, how they’re using your job board, and what you can do to serve them better or reach more of them.