The latest Tourism Intelligence Scotland webinar, hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, 'Is my Website Working' is designed to help tourism businesses acquire and develop the digital skills that are now so crucial to the sector.
Regular host, Ian Forsyth, is joined by two experts in the field – Dr. Simone Kurtzke, a lecturer at Robert Gordon University specialising in digital marketing, and accommodation provider, Graeme Ambrose, who took up the role of Chief Executive for the Uniqueness Tourism Business Improvement District (BID) in March.
In this informative webinar, Simone and Graeme instantly put viewers at ease by highlighting the trial and error aspect of digital marketing. It then goes on to explore fundamental questions such as: How do you install code from your website on Google Analytics (a free tool to help users collect data on visitors to their website)? For more information on digital terms, see our Decoding Digital – 25 digital terms explained! article) and how do you find inspiration to keep web content fresh.
Audrey MacLennan, Senior Tourism Manager at Highlands & Islands Enterprise, adds to the mix explaining that Google Analytics is an invaluable way to assess how many people are visiting your site, how long they spend there and where they have come from. She adds that establishing what people do on your website can help you decide how to position your online presence going forward.
Indeed, using data such as that provided by Google Analytics is an excellent benchmark no matter what stage you are at in developing a website. Even if you are a novice and the data may be disappointing, knowing your customer’s likes and dislikes is a great starting point.
Graeme Ambrose, who has run a B&B in the past and now combines running self-catering accommodation with his Uniqueness Tourism role, says the data he gathered from Google Analytics effectively allowed him to shape his website – and product – into something for which there was high demand.
Website home pages, he says, should be clearly laid out; allowing customers to find the information and services – such as booking forms – that they need, but sites should also be rich in content that adds value to a visit. He says: “We found that a lot of visitors to our accommodation website were really interested in walking, so set out to give them information on walking in the local area and ultimately provided bookable walking tours.”
Simone Kurtzke adds: “Google Analytics gives you information on ‘bounce rates’ and ‘time on site’, which both point to how successful you are in engaging with visitors. More than 50% bounce backs suggest there is something amiss with your website that customers don’t like.”
In response to questions from operators, Simone also talks about things you can do to improve ‘search engine optimisation’. She explains that Google uses complex formulae to work out how effective a website is and things like regularly posting fresh content affects your website’s ranking in Google’s search engine.
To support the webinar, Simone wrote a blog introducing the Basics of Google Analytics pointing to some other excellent resources, such as a series of videos developed by Google themselves called ‘Digital Analytics Fundamentals’.
The Tourism Intelligence Scotland ‘Shine Online’ guide is also packed with useful practical tips including how to create content by “mashing-up” words, pictures and video sourced from related sites to give your web visitors reasons to return. There’s even advice on how to create your own booking enquiry form through intermediaries such as ‘Super Control’ for self-catering properties and ‘Free to Book’ for B&Bs.
Watch the full 'Is my Website Working' webinar to find out more advice from Simone, Graeme and Audrey.