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The value of a page of information

The working outs in this post are really just experimental to see what numbers come out, I am interested to see if anyone has any suggestions / methods they think may make this a more robust analysis of the costs involved.

For e-commerce sites the value of the site ‘can’ be relatively easy to calculate, the cost of the development, maintenance, hosting can all be directly related to the volume of sales the site brings in. However for information and services sites, especially in the public sector these calculations are very difficult.

In a little experiment I have decided to look at the information to hand and see if I can calculate the value of a page on a site, and see if it has any relevance to the way we think about the cost of information based websites.

Assumptions

For these quick and dirty calculations I am assuming the following:

The cost of a call to the SOCITM value of £2.83 [source]

Instead of trying to calculate the cost of the information, I am going to look at the cost if the information was removed. The assumption here is:

If we remove content, people will attempt to find it another way, and some of that will be by phoning in and that costs money.

Test Case: Liverpool Aquatics Centre

The Liverpool aquatics centre is the most popular pool/gym on Liverpool city council’s website, and the fitness section is the most popular section. To that end the Aquatics Centre page is the most popular page beyond the homepage of the site.

The page contains the basic information for the centre: opening times, swimming times, gym times, class information, and some service related info. It also points off to things like membership and costs but for this experiment we are just concerned with the basics.

Again the assumption is: if we remove this page, a percentage of people will choose to contact the council another way. So to work out what that figure may be, we first need to understand how many people look at that page now and then come up with a figure that might contact us.

For one month this page gets 14,687 unique visits.

Contact numbers are more difficult, because we don’t know what percentage of contact would actually happen if we removed the page.

What we do have however is information from when we last ran exit surveys on the site; and they showed that around 45% of people said they would contact the council in another way if they didn’t find the information online.

Now this number is very generic and cuts across all services and was from a relatively low sample size but it is a number that is based on information we have gathered.

So for some comparison of values I am running the calculation for different ranges of contact from 10% through to 50% just to see what the numbers look like:

Contact Rate

Unique Visits/Month

10%

20%

30%

40%

45%

50%

14,687

1,468

2,937

4,406

5,874

6,609

7,343

Savings Month:

£4,156

£8,312

£12,469

£16,625

£18,703

£20,782

Savings Year:

£49,877

£99,754

£149,631

£199,508

£224,446

£249,385

As you can see even with our low ball estimate, we are looking at £50,000 per year just for one page of the site, and if we take the 45% number we have £225,000 per year saved in the cost of calls alone, for one page. 

That number is quite staggering, but it’s not outrageous and does make sense when you consider the cost of a large call centre.

What does this tell us?

While this is by no means the most statistically robust analysis, it does give us an indication of the sorts of values we could be talking about with the website. When we calculated this for all of the fitness centre pages we got a range of £150,000 to £700,000 even the low cost far outweighs the cost of those 16 pages to the organisation.

Further reducing contact

It also shows us the value of small changes, using analytics we can actually measure the contact rate from this page, reducing that contact rate by just 1% will save around £5,000 per year in calls. This helps us to equate the cost of a change with some potential savings.

Taking it further

Now there are many many more factors that are not measured here, this is just a cold call costs sum, obviously depending on the nature of the pages you might want to consider many more factors, but this can be a good way of conveying the value of a site to an organisation.

I have also experimented with pages with a more discernible outcome such as bin collection date pages. There you can start to measure success and failure and put contact values on them. This again helps when you need to justify investment in the site, you can point to the cost savings of reduced contact.