We invest so much time, money and effort in our websites as they are (quite rightly) a showcase for our business offering. But how well do we measure this investment? Do we make the most of the analytics available and do we really understand the role and value our site has in our customers’ purchasing processes? Is the money we’ve invested generating the stream of quality sales and new business leads we’d hoped for?
What are you measuring?
It’s tempting, when trying to measure our website, to focus too much on traffic volumes and not enough about the next step – the generation of quality business leads and profitable sales. There’s an assumption that one must lead to the other, but that’s not always the case.
Website analytics tools give fabulous insight about our site’s new visitors, repeat visits, which sites referred people to us etc but that’s only part of the puzzle. We also need to track:
a) How many people went on to contact us because of our site and
b) What volume eventually purchased from us
This is easier if we’re selling products over an e-commerce platform, but for those businesses where customers want a more face-to-face sales approach this information is harder to gather.
Are you really using your analytics to their full potential?
Whilst there are numerous website analytics tools out there, most people I talk to use Google Analytics largely because it’s free and easy to use. It gives a mine of valuable insight in how people are coming to your site and using it. For the novices out there, I do recommend spending time getting to grips with the wide range of reports your analytics tool gives.
Beyond your traffic and visitors totals in a given period, delve down deeper to find out where your visitors are coming from. This can help you formulate strategies to attract more of your ‘ideal’ business leads. For example, are there any interesting referral sources that perhaps have a synergy with you and which you can get closer to – perhaps cross-promoting each other?
Make more of search terms
And what search terms are people putting in to get to you? Variations of your business name may well dominate the top section of the ranking, so drill down further to the search terms put in by people who don’t know you. What words have they put in their searches? These prompt two courses of action:
- If the words reflect your business offering, can you make more of them in your site’s content or online promotions to drive more people your way? Remember these keywords guide you, not only on what potential customers are looking for, but how they describe it. So adopt their language and phrases to appeal to them. Can you build in calls to action around the words/terms to motivate the visitor to get in touch and become a tangible business lead?
- If you feel the key words you expected to see aren’t showing in your analytics then question why. Perhaps you need to rethink the content and search engine optimisation of your site? Perhaps you need to opt for other words that customers prefer.
Also, do take stock of which pages in your site are resonating with people and which are not. What is it about the popular pages that work well? Again, can you build in more calls to action on these pages to motivate people to get in touch?
Don’t forget to track your efforts to drive leads to your site
It’s likely you’ll be investing in promotional activity to drive people to your site and it’s important to measure this too. For offline advertising if you can promote a particular offer or page on your site, that will help you assess the interest generated from that campaign. Take a snapshot of the popularity of the page(s) before you run the campaign to make it easier to assess its effectiveness when the ads run.
For e-marketing campaigns then do use something like Google url builder so that when people click on that link to your site, Google Analytics (if you’re using it) is tracking the traffic from that specific source. Remember to also monitor visitors from your social media or blogs too to see how worthwhile all the time and energy has been in that area.
But where are the sales leads?
If you’re not operating an e-commerce operation, you’ll need to find other ways to assess your site’s role in bringing in new sales to your business. Completed ‘Contact us’ forms on your site give one indicator, but not all customers will come via this route. Some will opt to ring using the number shown on your site or send an email to the address promoted there.
A potential customer may experience a number of events which promote you before actually getting in contact – they may have seen your ad in the press, seen your site via a search in Google, heard something good about you etc. When sales staff ask ‘so how did you hear of us?’ the customer often selects the most recent instance in their mind. If you want to see what part your website has played in all this then why not ask a secondary question – ‘have you seen our website?’ and, if they’re amenable, explore what they viewed and even what they thought of that.
What is your site being used for?
This leads us on to another key area of measurement. What are your potential and existing customers using your site for? Is it simply to get your phone number and address? Are they using it to find out more about your products and services? Is it a resource of valuable information and guidance for them post sale? Do they buy from it? Do they use it to refer others to you?
And how does this differ from the purpose you originally intended the site to have?
Each of those customer motives suggests a different emphasis in your site’s content and design. If your site needs to be just a big signpost for your phone number and email address (and your customers are never going to use it beyond that) then create the design of the site around your contact details. Don’t invest loads of money in a multi-page, ‘all singing and dancing’ site where the information that’s really wanted is buried.
Talk to your customers, track the analytics and assess how the site is being used. Explore with your best customers if they think the site should have more functionality and resources. Look at the nature of your product/service offering and assess whether customers would or wouldn’t utilise additional features. Even go so far as to calculate the potential positive or negative impact on sales. Is your investment here likely to pay off?
Is the web delivering the right sort of customer to you?
I know a company who over a period of time found that the customers they generated from the web were very price sensitive and the revenue value from this source was lower than other channels. So don’t lose sight of your business’s best customer profile. Yes there is a bigger market available via the web but if it will demand discounts that aren’t financially viable for you, should you go there? Be careful about moving into a market where your business can’t compete well on price or against the variables being offered by competitors in that arena.
Most businesses accept they have to have a web presence to be visible to their existing and future customers. The trick is to invest time understanding the customers you’re best suited to supplying, both now and in the future. Adapt your site to appeal to them:
- Invest time finding out what other sites they like for products/services similar to yours. Also ask their opinions about what they do and don’t like about your site in comparison.
- Monitor your site’s analytics and your sales leads sources. Keep tweaking and fine-tuning content and campaigns to make the site perform better in this regard.
- Remember your target market’s online activity is unlikely to remain static and you’ll need to move and adapt with them – that is if you want to continue winning their business.