Skip to content

Simple Lesson in Public Sector/Non-Profit Website Return on Investment (ROI)

I just finished writing an initial draft marketing strategy for a major government department that is still using “outdated” web metrics such as “unique visitors” and “pageviews” to gauge the performance of its website.

One of the key things I try to emphasize is that typical “highly measurable” private sector conversion goals such as “user purchased item under $50”, can be easily adapted to the public sector to help track ROI.

Currently, performance measurement in most departments is limited to very uninformative web analytics which are not tailored to the website’s objectives and as a result are quite meaningless since they do not gauge quality of traffic but rather sheer quantity. The first step of good Performance Measurement is identification of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). In terms of web analytics, these are often referred to as conversion goals. A conversion goal can include measurable items such as reaching a particular page on your site, downloading a file, a particular on-page action or an e-commerce sale (each conversion goal must first be set up manually on Web Analytics Software in order to be tracked–>use Google Analytics it’s FREE).

The first step is looking at your objectives:

Let’s say a key marketing objective is to get citizens more engaged or learn more about your department’s purpose (Remember specific objectives must be SMART). Not just boost the traffic to your site, but rather, increase the level of interaction with them; help them do or learn something useful that your department is ultimately in existence for.

Possible examples of conversion goals for a departmental website could then be as follows:

  1. User booked a “chat with an employee” date
  2. User spent 10 minutes using the embedded application on the site (could be a game, a tax calculator tool, an interactive map, anything “engaging” really…)
  3. User signed up for the departmental newsletter or rss feed

The next step involves assigning quantitative values to these goals. These values can be based on any number of factors such as contribution to departmental objectives, government priority, etc…

  1. User booked a “chat with an employee” date= 4/10
  2. User spent 10 minutes using the embedded application (could be a game, a tax calculator tool, an interactive map, anything “engaging” really…)= 5/1
  3. User signed up for the departmental newsletter or rss feed= 7/10

The assigned values can also be turned into relative proxy monetary values to facilitate the creation of ROI reports. This can be extremely beneficial, especially for justifying additional funding needed for site maintenance or a particular SEM campaign. For simplicity, let’s assume the following values:

  1. User booked a “chat with an employee” date = 4/10 = $0.04
  2. User spent 10 minutes using the embedded application (could be a game, a tax calculator tool, an interactive map, anything “engaging” really…) = 5/10 = $0.05
  3. User signed up for the departmental newsletter or rss feed = 7/10 = $0.07

These proxy measures can now be used to gauge ROI.

Example: If you invested $15,000 in the creation of the embedded application and 40,000 people use it for 10 minutes or more, then the ROI is as follows:

  • 400,000 * $0.05 = $20,000
  • $20,000/$15,000 = 1.3
  • ROI= 1.3 (1.0 would mean you broke even, >1 is a success)

If you follow this step for a each conversion goal and add the ROI numbers together, you will come out with a properly “weighted” overall ROI figure for your web campaign. You can now use this value as a benchmark for subsequent campaigns or website improvements.

Simple enough right?

Not so fast. This is just the beginning (although a good start!). If you’re ready take web metrics to the next stage, beyond the world of conversion, I suggest you immerse yourself in anything to do with Avinash Kaushik (books, blog, podcast comments, etc…). He is the current GURU on the topic.

Cheers gang!

(Visited 438 times, 1 visits today)
Published inAdvice


  1. Mike,

    Very nice post! This is something we’ve been discussing a lot around here as we are hammering out the evaluation portions of our interactive plans. Have you bought Kaushik’s book? I was thinking about getting it, but was curious how other social marketer/social media’s folks thought?


  2. It’s on my Amazon wish list. I’m currently reading: Join the Conversation, Meatball Sundae, The Long Tail and Presentation Zen. Once I get through these I’ll order it.

  3. These are such important concepts for anyone getting into Web Analytics to understand. Proxy conversions break your mass of traffic into discrete segments with definite action. Tracking action is where the real power of analytics becomes apparent.

    And, I can’t agree with you more about reading Avinash’s work. Not only does he get analytics but has a good understanding of the people behind the numbers.

  4. Thanks for the excellent advice and pointer to the excellent book!

    Just wanted to let you know I came across this post and am using it to set up our plan for a blog we are setting up. The focus is on public sector innovation which of course includes the use of Web 2.0.

    I bought the book by Kaushik, and I’m starting to get it a once through…

    Once the plan starts to take a little bit more shape I’d be more than happy to share…

  5. That’s great Jeff! Let me know how it goes.

  6. Having worked in web analytics within the Government for a number of years, I can truly attest to the need to measure the success of our web sites. Thanks for writing about this Mike.

  7. Jon Whitehead

    Hi Mike
    Great post and good to see an approach to this not entirely focussed on ecommerce.
    The guys from ZaaZ, Jason Burby and Shane Atchison have a great tool on Clickz that allows calculation of ROI over time in terms of optimisation. Its useful for non commerce sites as it allows a success event, not just a sale They also authored the excellent Actionable web analytics which details their methods for monetising content, sites etc – always an issue for government sites

  8. Hi, I’ve just now stumbled upon your blog whilst hunting around online as I am looking for some info on debt relief!. It’s a good site so I have bookmarked your site and intend to come back another day to give it a more detailed browse when I can give it more time.

  9. I kind a like this post, i believe its informative to our members. so much things to use and i hope you always write informative stuff on this website. thank you

  10. Hello, great blog post.

  11. Interesting stuff. I’ve played that before and it’s pretty good. What are your favorite games? I’ve been playing a lot of Halo Reach lately.

  12. Great info, thank you for making this available on your blog.

  13. joyous New Year!

  14. Excellent luck. I doubt any lenders are looking to give more debt to someone who has to enter a financial debt management plan to resolve what they already have.

  15. Hi, I can¡¯t realize how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Support me, please

  16. Hi there, I found your blog via Google while looking for a related topic for my study. Finally i found site talking this topic, It’s actually a cool and very helpful little bit of information. I’m glad that you choose to shown this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Appreciate your sharing.

  17. Great blog it goes to my bookmarks! I am studing marketing and it is always nice to check out your posts.

  18. Le 3 Février, il a écrit sur sa page Twitter que sa mère Joyce était décédé la veille, en ajoutant: “RIP mumxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.” alexander mcqueen outlet

  19. More Help Outstanding Stratagies For Sucessful Online Marketing
    Activities There is absolutely no a single formulation that will make your Internet advertising and marketing its content has aspects of science in addition to
    art work. Last but not least, understand that concentrate
    is important to Web marketing. As you can tell at this point, shelling out enough time
    into correct forms of Online marketing will probably pay off of in a major way.
    Implement what you’ve just figured out, and revel in a increase in visitors to your blog. These details will provide you with some efficient and intelligent ideas on how to manage an mlm enterprise. Keep close track of the competition, and produce your own personal ideas from what you’ve learned from
    their store. If you find that you are interested in their items, then they are making use of great marketing techniques, which you should
    integrate in your personal advertising promotions. Generate an Frequently asked questions in your Website marketing ventures.
    For just about any concern or worry, supply loving replies, and point out goods that you sell like a remedy when correct.
    Web marketing is definitely an at any time-shifting occurrence
    and study. A number of these same individuals who are amply trained in internet marketing
    provide totally free services or providers to get a payment.
    You need to choose a marketing strategy that suits you one which
    you can expect to stick with on the long run.
    Though final results can come slowly and gradually at first, the best payoff makes it worth while.
    Regular blogging really can infuse your web marketing campaign.

    Your blog is one a lot more way to communicate with customers.

    Additionally Read More , you will ultimately have more visitors to your web page since you are, which expands your
    presence to find engines, which in the end leads to far more site targeted
    traffic. Generally record what your competitors
    as a web marketer. It isn’t difficult to view your competitor’s sites and evaluate their
    functions. You can even examine their visitors is similar to and compare them for
    your own website is carrying out. Usually do not use AJAX or Flash.
    Despite the fact that it may help performances on your site,
    it doesn’t support search engines like google discover your blog in any way. Apply it sparingly and utilize abundant articles and back links as the very same webpage. This will aid these to recall you. This will help you can sell. Don’t
    forget about straight advertising in tandem with the Online marketing.
    You could contact, e mail and fax. Search engines with a lot less listed
    webpages will be more apt to list your website, it is essential to construct your site with important info and broadened it weekly
    with at least one weblog entrance. Website marketing should beget Online Marketing.
    It may sound strange, but what you really are undertaking is driving
    a car clients in your site to purchase your items, getting anything
    and practicing the pattern. You have to keep reliable
    information on your own website to ensure that people can remain up-to-date.
    In case you are great at making an Ezine, it can
    be a wonderful resource to obtain clients and advertise your
    organization.You are able to show your individuality by together with a personnel picture.

    You can also add simple antidotes about relationships along with your lifestyle or workers.
    If you can show the strength of your product or service by way of video tutorials or customer feedback, your potential customers will detect some fishy business back
    your statements. This helps display that you employ your self.
    Be sure to consumption of main focus tools when you develop
    text in your web site. You may boost the awareness and need for words and
    phrases by making them strong, underlining them, or italicizing the words.
    This will increase clarity and help show your potential customers what your small
    business is about. Keep your web site relevant and recent.

    A highly-acquired and present website will motivate viewers to keep.

    Talk up how easy it is to find the item, or how quickly it would give final
    results once they already have it. An excellent Website marketing tip is usually to turn out to be
    an authority in anything you happen to be giving
    on your own internet site. It is frequent knowledge that individuals usually value
    those who maintain jobs of power position in a enterprise provides admiration.

    Permit individuals know that you carry a ranked place within your firm.
    You may make reference to on your own since the “Leader”
    or Chief executive officer. It may appear beneficial to have 256 various social websites profiles, but if you
    can’t let them have each and every plenty of time to appear to be lively, they can grow to be liabilities. Profiles who have not been updated recently are often viewed as no better than junk. This is often a unusual different for the recommend about not mixing private daily life with company. This is certainly due to the fact this kind of effort is low-stress and is much like a pastime that simply takes place to help you be funds. Get the spouse concerned and accomplish this collectively. Try and have fun and enjoy Web marketing, particularly when you are just starting out. Should you realize this can be anything you happen to be good at you may consider this as a job, then continue on only do so once you are persuaded it can grow to be successful. Do not give up jobs that failed to initially productive. A thing that did not catch on nicely just before may function now. The World Wide Web is obviously transforming and people locate new utilizes on a regular basis. Do not spend money and time on things that do not actually work but keep them for later on. Always keep tabs on the most common terms employed in your area of interest, and incorporate the language employed in all those conversations into the very own advertising strategies. Utilizing the terminology your people are previously at ease with can make people feel as if anyone to achieve them on a far more familiarized levels. click for source

  20. For most recent information you have to visit web and on world-wide-web I found this site as a
    best web site for most recent updates.

Comments are closed.