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Want to know more about how your people use your SharePoint intranet? This eBook is packed full of useful information to help you get the most out of your intranet’s analytics.
It simply doesn’t matter how good your intranet looks. Without well-organised, useful and easily accessible content, your employees will quickly drift away after the initial hurrah.
So, how can you tell if your content does what your users need? Crafting compelling communications and resources is just the start. Knowing how – and whether – they are being consumed is more of a challenge.
There are a host of analytical tools at your disposal. But which should you choose? If you’ve built your intranet using SharePoint, you’ll be benefiting from fantastic features – but you may need to look beyond SharePoint for the juiciest insights into what your users need.
In this guide we’ll walk you through your options, including the built-in analytics in SharePoint and Microsoft 365, the powerful capabilities of Google Analytics, and the possibilities within another Microsoft solution: Azure Application Insights. At Fresh, we can help you figure out what’s best for your team.
With the right tools in place, you’ll be able to get a real understanding of whether your employees are using your intranet, learn what content they prefer and how usable it is, and gain many other useful and actionable insights that will help you keep your intranet engaging and ‘fresh’.
What do we mean by ‘analytics’?
Analytics. It’s a word you hear a lot these days. But what does it mean?
Today, the majority of businesses are using data and analytics to understand the impact of their products and services for their customers. They’re essential for providing valuable insights for anyone working in the marketing, digital, content, PR and advertising space.
Why you need analytics for your intranet
If you have a SharePoint-based intranet, you’ll already have access to built-in analytics. But do you use them or know why you should?
Let’s take a look at the different things you may want to know about how employees are using your intranet. Based on our conversations with clients, it’s usually pretty simple.
They want to know three key things:
- Are employees are actually using the intranet – and if so, how many
- What content do users and user groups access the most and the least? How do they find the content they want?
- What’s working and what’s not?
You could simply ask your employees these questions. The trouble with that is, they may not be honest in their responses (or too honest!). Not everyone will give you feedback, and when they do, it may not uncover the underlying issues.
What analytics tell you about your intranet site
With analytics, you have a single point of truth when it comes to your intranet usage. Using analytics puts cold, hard facts at your fingertips so you can make data-driven decisions, updates and improvements.
Get a view of how your intranet is being used by combining all the insights from our most requested metrics, you can build a comprehensive picture on how well your intranet is serving your workforce.
Total number of visits
Called ‘sessions’ in analytics-speak, this measures the total number of times your intranet was visited by all users.
Number of individual users
This tells you how many people used your site. You can look at sessions per user to see who your most avid users are.
Number of return visits
The number of return visits per user indicates how useful your intranet is to all your employees.
Average time spent on site
This can be calculated by session or by user and, like the return visits metric, shows how engaging your content is.
Learning journey or journey map
This shows where your users enter and leave the intranet, the journey they take, and the most commonly visited content.
Analytics by user group, location, business unit, department or team
All these metrics can be looked at from a demographic point of view, highlighting which teams or groups are or are not using your intranet.
Drilling down into the detail
So, now you know how top level analytics data can give you an overview of how your intranet is performing. What about the detail?
Analytics give you the insights you can act upon to make your intranet as user-friendly and successful as possible. Understanding exactly what your users are consuming, when, and for how long can reveal the consumptibility of your intranet’s content. Likes, shares and comments show how engaging your content is, showing whether the effort you’re putting into your intranet and its content is valuable or missing the mark.
With the data to hand, you can:
- Establish the best day and time to post content by reviewing the historical data of when your users are most active
- Take into account if users are on a desktop or mobile device, and design content that best suits the device
- Determine which teams in the business could be your super users or your intranet ambassadors
Complete the picture with qualitative data
If you want to add some context to the data, there are also ‘softer’ metric options to help you gather feedback on how well your intranet is being used. Within SharePoint intranets, there is a user feedback button for both the site as a whole and specific pages. You can also undertake more traditional research, such as:
- Focus groups with different users to get valuable insights into what your users really think, how easy they find your intranet to use and what you could do to improve it.
- Anonymous feedback surveys to encourage direct and open input.
The tools for analysing your SharePoint intranet
Now you understand what analytics can do for you, how do you get started?
Buying an off-the-shelf intranet solution can feel like a good option to accelerate its deployment, but with so many options available, just picking the right one can feel like an overwhelming task. Building an intranet in SharePoint might be desirable but with so many complexities in one platform, where do you get started?
Some out-of-the-box analytics capabilities for SharePoint are already available with Microsoft 365, but the site-wide overview won’t be useful in giving you true insights into the success of your intranet. The good news is that there are other options available for intranet owners and managers.
Let’s take a look at the tools available and how you can use them to improve the intranet experience for your users:
- SharePoint site usage analytics
- Google Analytics
- Azure Application Insights
SharePoint site usage analytics
SharePoint’s in-built analytics can give you useful insights for your sites and pages, but are limited when it comes to your intranet. Intranets are typically made up of many SharePoint sites. Each SharePoint site has an option to look at the site usage data from within the site settings menu.
Over pre-defined timeframes such as 7, 30 or 90 days and export all this information into an Excel spreadsheet. You can also get stats about individual pages within the SharePoint site you’re in.
- how many users are on your site;
- how long they spend there;
- how many pages they visit;
- the most popular content on the site and more
The information you can see is useful but it’s only relevant to the site or page you’re currently on. You can of course aggregate data from different sites and pages, combining the exports into one Excel sheet, but it’s a manual and cumbersome way of getting the insights you want.
SharePoint analytics are not going to give you an overall picture of your intranet’s success and adoption within your organisation.
If you’ve worked in external communications or marketing, you may already be familiar with Google Analytics (GA). This free tool enables you to see the performance of an entire website.
You can see:
- how many people are visiting your site;
- how often they are coming back;
- whether they are finding the content relevant and interesting;
- where and when they are accessing the site;
- demographic data and more
While typically GA is used to identify issues and areas for improvement on public-facing websites, it can also be used for internal intranets, whether a single site or one made up of multiple SharePoint sites.
GA gives you similar insights to SharePoint analytics, such as when users are most likely to visit, where they are and what devices they’re using. Other features allow you to have rolling, custom or ‘all time’ date ranges, giving you insights into trends. Some of the most useful features include:
- Instant insights on number of users, and what pages they’re looking at and how long for, in almost real time
- Metrics such as number of sessions per user, bounce rate and average session length tell the story of how popular your site is
- Ability to drill down into the various sites that comprise your intranet, telling you which sites or sections are most used or relevant
- Digestible data through exportable spreadsheets and customisable reports that can integrate with Google Data Studio or Microsoft Power BI
One of the key barriers people find with GA is knowing where to start. It can be beneficial to have training or the support of a knowledgeable colleague or partner to set up GA and get the most from it.
A well thought-out site structure is also a prerequisite if you’re to get the right information about how your site is working. In addition, there may be valid reasons why your organisation is unable to let a third-party solution have access to data about your users.
GA has long been the go-to tool for website insights – and it works just as well for intranet sites. At Fresh we can help you get started with GA and use it to continually track and optimise your SharePoint intranet’s usability.
Azure Application Insights
If there are reasons why you cannot use Google Analytics for your SharePoint intranet, Azure Application Insights may be the right solution for you
You can see:
- user numbers over periods of time;
- retention (sessions per user and returning users);
- geographical data and more.
As you can see, the features in Azure Applications Insights are similar in many ways to Google Analytics (GA). And just like in GA, you can see the journey and timeline of individual users, and view this information in an aggregated form so you can see the trends of your user journeys.
While there are plenty of similarities in terms of what you can see, the information available in Azure Application Insights is not as consumable as GA. Nor are either of them very easy to integrate into your intranet site, unless you’re using Fresh!
Azure Application Insights is a great choice for your SharePoint intranet analytics if GA is not an option. But be prepared for some hurdles!
Which analytics option is right for your intranet?
So now you’ve looked at the options, which analytics tool is best for your SharePoint intranet?
Let’s quickly recap:
- SharePoint analytics is included in every SharePoint site and page, but the reporting isn’t very detailed, and aggregating and customising data outputs isn’t easy.
- Google Analytics is easiest to use, offering greatest bandwidth and depth of data, but you might be left on your own without support from your IT team. It might take some time to get familiar with the platform, too.
- Azure Application Insights has a similar level of reporting to Google Analytics, but it isn’t the easiest option to set up or use. And while it is very extensible, your IT team might prefer you stick with out-of-the-box SharePoint data.
Get a Fresh perspective on your intranet data
Talk to our team at Fresh to discuss your next steps.
Because we know how important it is to be able to understand the value your intranet brings to your organisation, we have developed a Fresh Analytics Module just for that purpose. You don’t need to be using a Fresh intranet.
The Fresh Analytics Module will work on any SharePoint Online site (or sites), taking away the hassle of a technical implementation with Google Analytics or Azure Application Insights.
If you would like to know more about our intranet analytics module get in touch today.