This post will provide a different approach to your Website and how it can bring value to your business and bottom-line. I always say that a good Website is never finished – being that a good Website is always adapting to new circumstances, growing and living with your business. To be a successful entrepreneur you need to leverage all the tools available to you to make your business standout. The following will hopefully guide you through this lean process of optimizing the performance of your Website.
Step 1 – Setting primary objectives
First let’s talk about objectives. To work on optimizing your Website you first need to produce a goal or objective for all your efforts. Your objectives should be “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Don’t expect a 250% increase in sales right away with minimum budget and resources. For example your new Web objective could be to book 250 haircuts a month via a new online booking system. I would work on one single objective for your small business Website, at least to start with. Some Web objective samples:
- Online Sales (shopping cart system)
- Contact form submissions
- File downloads
- Booking confirmations
- Contact page views
Step 2 – How do you measure your objectives?
To measure if your objectives are being met, you need to identify the critical metrics. How do you measure the success or failure of your new 250 haircut bookings Web objective? An obvious metric would be called “Conversion Rate”. Conversion rate (or CR) is the successful conversion of a Web visitor to paying customer, or following the above example, the CR would be “Online haircut bookings” which could be the thank-you page from the booking/confirmation form. Think about why the Website exists, what does it support and measure its performance based on that. I would also mention to keep the number of metrics to a minimum – no more than 3.
Walk-in traffic goal:
It does get complicated if your Website is strictly built to increase walk-in traffic because there are no easy-to-use metrics available. This is where you get creative. You can possibly align the amount of traffic your Website has with your daily register information and see if there’s a correlation between Website visits and walk-in traffic, building leading indicators based on Web traffic knowing what your soft-conversion rate is. An easy metric for walk-in traffic would be the contact / location page, although not an exact science it can typically be a leading indicator.
Strictly branding goal:
Branding is typically measured by how people search for your Website, if most of your search terms are variations of your business name – it means your branding effort is working. This typically measures your offline branding efforts, to measure your online branding efforts: You need to use social media tools such as Facebook page reports, Klout statistics, referrals and interaction with your Website (comments, message board, forwarding links, etc…)
Action specific goal:
The easiest to measure since you are measuring a viewer’s action on your Website. Typically the thank-you page that’s displayed after the viewer has purchased online, downloaded a file, etc… This conversion goal can be setup in your analytics package within a few seconds.
What to look at to optimize the Website to increase the conversion rate? There are many metrics to choose from such as:
- Unique Visits
- Unique Page views
- Average Visit Duration
- Bounce Rate
- Visitor Recency
- Depth of Visit
- Referrals (inbound links)
- Social Media
- Comments (social engagement)
- Klout score (influence within Twitter)
- Facebook Engagement
Step 3 – Drilling down, fully understanding what is going on
Now that you’re thinking about metrics to apply to your new objective, it’s time to drill down and look at the reason behind its performing or under performing. If you have 1000 visits and 10 online haircut bookings (using the same example) which means you have a conversion rate of 0.01%. What’s fun is finding out why the 99.99% didn’t book haircuts?
Before thinking “I need more traffic” let’s look at increasing the efficiency of the Website, chances are your energy spent increasing the conversion rate will net a better return than increasing traffic. Using the same example you will need 10,000 visits to reach your goal. If you increase the effectiveness of your Website to 0.10% CR you will only need a little more than 2500 visitors to your site which will be a lot easier to do than 10,000. It’s like fixing the hole in your bucket instead of pouring more and more water.
Getting from start to finish and understanding what’s going on is a little trickier and I will try and keep this as lean as possible. The goal here is to map out the viewer’s process of converting on your Website. They reach the conversion goal (haircut booking thank-you page) but let’s find out:
How did they get to the booking page?
What is the average path viewers use on the Website to reach the conversion page. It could look like: Home > Services > Portfolio > Contact > Booking. This information draws the navigation path viewers use (on average). The technical terms used are:
- First Interaction – The first landing page
- Assisting Interactions – Other pages the viewers visited
- Last Interaction – The page containing the action item (buy now, book now)
- Conversion – Once the viewer becomes the client (thank-you page)
Tools used in Analytics:
- Visitor Flow
- Content Drilldown
What page did they land on?
This is where the viewer landed on your Website, they don’t always land on the home page. It depends on how the search engines link to your Website relative to the search terms and how people are referring/linking to your Website. You may find that the search engines are driving traffic to your contact/booking page directly, and this page has no value for someone that does not know your business yet.
Tools used in Analytics:
- Landing pages
- Search Engine Optimization – Landing Pages (Requires Webmaster Tools)
How the viewers got to the Website?
Learning how your traffic reaches the Website is also important. Is it from organic search? If so, what are the keywords or phrases that are most important and how many of these viewers actually convert into paying customers. For example: “Toronto Haircut for Men” has a conversion rate of 0.35% versus “Toronto Haircut places” has a conversion rate of 0.03%. If they reach your Website from referrals, what links bring the most conversions? Does yellowpages.ca convert hire than redflagdeals?
Tools used in Analytics:
- Sources – All Traffic
- Sources – Referrals
- Search – Overview
- Search – Overview
Drilling down will enable you to build the information needed to understand what is going on with your Website. You can build a report or table that looks like this:
From the above table you can see that link 2 and keyword 1 is having clear issues. Link 2, sending viewers to a contact us page directly without knowing what the Website or business is about. The viewer engagement is lost within seconds. Keyword 1 seems to indicate that the Website doesn’t represent what the keyword means. Viewers find the Website but isn’t what they’re looking for. You can fill in a table like this by using Google Analytics, the above is just an idea of how to represent the Website’s performance at-a-glance.
Step 4 – Resolving issues
There’s an entire science and industry for lead generation, user experience and other tools to increase a Websites’ effectiveness. Stay tuned for more posts relating to Landing page optimization.
You can check out more interesting blog articles and consulting services at: http://webhelpforsmallbusiness.com