Digital metrics are critical for measuring, analyzing, and reporting on the effectiveness of all your digital channels, but do the metrics you currently analyze really best illustrate the impact of your Web, mobile and social media on the mission? If the USDA’s case study is an indicator of how to take monitoring and reporting to the next level, then you’ll want page-tagging as a critical piece of your strategy.
On March 1, 2012, USDA finalized its enterprise-wide implementation of a common web analytics program across all USDA agency and office websites. In accordance with the Digital Government Strategy, requiring agencies to “use analytics and customer satisfaction measurement tools on all .gov websites”; we accomplished one of many milestones enabling us to better understand the interactions of visitors to USDA.gov websites.
Looking at best practices, every agency should have a metrics strategy to measure:
- Customer satisfaction,
- Engagement, and
- Use of the data to make continuous improvements
Google served as a cost-effective and comprehensive approach based on its page-tagging capabilities and large-scale capacity to span across multiple websites. The implementation proved to be an extensive and meticulous process for which we used existing resources within USDA’s Office of Communications to conduct detailed analysis, research, and implementation planning.
In the first stage of implementation, we identified all sub-domains from more than 29 agencies and offices. We worked within our Webmaster community to:
- Assess each website,
- Determine URL structures,
- Discuss coding methods and content management systems used, and
- Address potential risks
We set up a new account as our central point of data collection at the Department level and created profiles for each agency. For us, it was important to have a centrally accessible account that allows our team to look at data across the enterprise and identify any trends or opportunities within agencies.
Agencies using pre-existing analytics tools were allowed to keep them, but were required to remove any obsolete information and ensure all worked concurrently so that data was not lost.
We leveraged Google’s asynchronous code and developed customized code snippets for each agency and office to use on their web site, replacing any existing code on their sites. Once implemented, we verified that the tracking code was placed correctly on each site and that data was being received. Finally, all agencies were given access to their profiles to view the data collected from their site.
This overall effort has proven critical to USDA’s web communications program enabling us to more effectively evaluate our customer preferences and practices in consuming web content, understand how we can best communicate the Department’s mission, and provide excellent customer service through a well-informed digital communications program.
Want to learn more?
Check out future training from DigitalGov University related to metrics and other topics.
By guest contributor, Bernetta Reese, Web Project Manager, USDA.