It was great to see so many of you again at last week’s conference in North Conway. During our break-out vendor session on Tuesday, the presentation and discussion focused almost exclusively on online tax bill presentment, payment, and paperless billing. For those of you who are not online yet, or are online in a limited capacity, we will be posting videos in the coming weeks to help you and/or your selectmen understand the process better. As we discussed in North Conway, in order for both current and prospective users to get a sense of the usage we’ve seen thus far for various towns, we wanted to provide you all with some snapshots and statistics.
There are a few items to keep in mind when reviewing the following charts and graphs:
- Statistics presented below are for September 1, 2011, through August 31, 2012, a period during which many of the towns listed first went online and/or first began accepting payments. By the end of the reporting period, there were approximately 40 towns online, roughly half of which were accepting online payments.
- First a few terms related to the statistics for the entire nhtaxkiosk site (i.e. all towns in aggregate):
- Visits: Someone viewing the site for a session. If I went everyday for five days I would account for five visits.
- Unique Visitor: In the above scenario I would account for one unique visitor (provided I visited each day from the same computer), with five visits.
- Pageviews: If I were to enter a search parameter, press search, and then click on one of the results to display the taxpayer’s invoices that would be two pageviews. If I clicked Home to do another search that would be another pageview. It’s a fairly good measure of how much clicking around visitors do.
- Avg. Visit Duration: Simply the amount of time the typical visitor spends on the site. The longer the duration, presumably the more information they’re able to glean.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of users that arrive at the site, immediately determine it’s not what they want, and leave.
- % New Visits: This is the percentage of users who first visited the site during the reporting period versus those who first visited the site prior to the reporting period. Ideally, a site will grow by attracting new users while at the same time retaining repeat traffic.
Okay, now that we know what we’re talking about, take a look at the aggregate weekly usage statistics for the entire nhtaxkiosk.com site for the year ending August 31, 2012. (You should be able to click on the image for a larger/clearer view, especially if you’re viewing this in an email.)
A few things worth noting in the above graph:
- There’s consistent growth (due to both new towns coming online and existing towns increasing their traffic).
- Pretty even split of new versus returning visitors.
- Notice the relative peaks around November/December and again around June/July as people were receiving their tax bills. Also notice how the June/July billing peak was significantly higher in absolute visits compared to the previous November/December billing peak. Both more towns and more visits within each town as more people learn about the site.
- Despite the peaks around tax warrant times, it worth noting that even from February to April the number of visits across all towns was still averaging 1,500 visits per week, suggesting that a significant percentage of visits may be coming from banks, realtors, and closing companies and not just taxpayers.
- Pages per visit and average visit duration would indicate that people are finding the information they need. If we were a newspaper or a social networking site we’d no doubt want to increase that time. But we’re not selling ads, we’re helping taxpayers quickly find the information they need.
- Reasonably low bounce rate which is good.
So that was the entire site taken as a whole. But we also can chart visits by individual municipality and combine that with payment information where applicable.
First the disclaimers:
- Again, towns came online and/or began accepting payments at different times, so the numbers aren’t exactly apples to apples. We’ve tried to indicate the approximate dates when towns began online or began accepting payments. In some cases these dates represent estimates based on our best (but admittedly spotty) recollections and records.
- We’ve included approximate parcel counts as the municipalities listed cover the spectrum in terms of numbers of parcels and taxpayers.
Now for the numbers. (Again, click on the image for a larger/clearer view.)
A few things worth noting in the above chart:
- Regardless of the size of the town or how long they’ve been accepting payments, the number of visits dwarfs the number of payments. No doubt more people will pay online as it becomes more ubiquitous, but what it indicates is there’s real value, regardless of whether you accept payments online or not, in simply making the balance and payment information available online.
- Obviously, some of those visits are just nosy neighbors. But if even a significant percentage of those visits were serious users that were able to find the information they needed without calling the tax collector then it’s a win/win in terms of efficiency, for both the tax collector and the tax payer.
- Clearly there’s a fairly significant relationship between the number of parcels in town and the number of visits. But that doesn’t explain all of it. In future posts we will be highlighting strategies for increasing your kiosk traffic, and thereby decreasing phone calls and office visits.
Let us know if you have additional questions on this topic or if you wish to explore adding either the basic tax kiosk or online payment capabilities for your town.