Have a SharePoint intranet? What analytics you need to measure and why

You have an intranet site using SharePoint, you have users (employees). So what are they using your intranet for? What are they looking at? What are they searching for? What are they downloading? What are they watching? What task are they trying to do? When are they doing all this? Who’s reading the CEO’s monthly message to the troops? That’s the job of web analytics of course.

But listen. It is not all about the metrics or the numbers or magical page views. It is about looking at the outcomes, the trends and the behaviour of users over a period of time. The whole point of analytics is that you get the figures, you analyse them and you act on the output. As for SharePoint analytics, well, it’s not great. OK, honestly, it’s dreadful as it just clunks all the figures together and asks you to try and figure out what they are. Never mind trying to get some meaningful information and trends from it. You might pick up a nugget or two but you will have to extract it out into Excel and do quite a bit of work to get a decent report out of it.

So, we can rule SharePoint analytics out.

Fortunately, there are specific analytics solutions available for giving you a fantastic picture of how your SharePoint intranet (and web site) is performing and what users are using the site for. One of those solutions is CardioLog Analytics from Intlock and we will see how that can be used on a SharePoint intranet. I had a demo of this solution recently and it provides valuable insights for a SharePoint/intranet manager or administrator.

CardioLog Analytics is designed for SharePoint and works seamlessly with it on premises. It also works with Yammer. It has extensive reporting, custom dashboards, Active Directory integration and real time reporting integrated into SharePoint itself. It also integrates with SharePoint FAST search for even deeper analysis.

So what do you need to look for with intranet metrics?

One of the main uses for any intranet is tasks. Fill in a form, apply for something, download or read a document, read the CEO’s blog and so on. These tasks must be measured for their value to employees and how they can find and do these tasks. And this is where you start. These are the outcomes and main purpose of your intranet. It’s not all about saying how wonderful the organisation is and filling the home page with glossy news stories of the CEO’s latest wise words. Have a look at all these articles from intranet consultants, Step Two to get some ideas on how to improve your intranet.

Bear in mind too that as far as searching an intranet goes, some of the main elements of search engine optimisation (SEO) come into the mix too. But that’s another topic in itself.

Page views

Eyeballs on pages are usually the first one metric to be chased after. And it’s fair enough. You need to see what pages are popular (or not), what sections get traffic, what content appeals to users and so on. The important thing is to look for trends to see increases or drop-offs, to note any changes. Say you have a top 10 of pages. This could be published on the home page for instance.

cardiolog_pageviews1

Bounce rate & exit pages

Your intranet home page should in theory have the highest bounce rate and exit metrics. Google describes bounce rate as: “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”

cardiolog_bouncerate1

Exit pages are little bit more interesting and have to examined. Are there common pages or areas where exits are high? From an intranet point of view, exits are where people find their information or have completed their tasks. But you have to know that the bounce or exit page has a function or a purpose. It can mean that someone can’t find the information they want. It can also show that a link or a search result highlights a particular page incorrectly. You need to look at this in more detail.

cardiolog_exitpages

Search terms

Now this is a valuable one. What are people looking for and can they find it easily? This is a critical one in any organisation and for any intranet. Even a metric like when they search for something specific can tell you a lot.

I already mentioned about SEO and finding the right content. It has been described as ‘findability’ where content has to created and managed so that is findable from search and is a natural part of the information architecture of an intranet. So if people want HR information it should be in the HR section. With CardioLog Analytics’ integration with FAST search, there is a wealth of valuable information that be taken from search results in SharePoint.

Downloads

Always, always useful. HR forms or policy documents would be examples but you can a whole lot more. In CardioLog Analytics, the page views report shows clicks on downloads or the opening of file (Office, PDF, etc.).

Time of day

Many intranets peak around mid-morning, Tuesday to Thursday. But it can be important for scheduling updates or communications so that people see the latest updates and in the most optimum time frames. I used to have a running battle with HR and senior management about sending out important communications on a Friday. It is simply the wrong time for any key messages.

Communications activities

As mentioned already, communications plays a key part in any intranet. Be it company announcements, blogs, employee updates, it all matters. And it all must be measured.

I used to publish a weekly email newsletter with links to recent articles on our intranet and this was very successful in driving traffic to the site. Using coded links was a great way of tracking which links got more clicks. I also used to do it for CEO messages. Previously the entire message was sent by email but we had no way to measure that. So I showed how to put the first paragraph in the email and link to the rest of the article on the intranet. Then we got some useful metrics on that.

All about value

Ultimately though it’s all about value. I mentioned tasks earlier. Any intranet has to have a purpose, it has to have clear tasks for its users. And it has to have a value for its users, i.e. employees. And of course, it has to have value for the organisation. Web analytics helps you be very clear on what those values are and CardioLog Analytics goes a very long way in helping you find that out on any SharePoint intranet or web site.

More information on CardioLog Analytics can be found here.