Do you know if your site is a success?
Websites are something of a marketing oddity. Typically attracting a large chunk of the marketing budget, most businesses have a website; even if it is just because ‘everyone has a website’. But unlike other areas of marketing, websites are rarely exposed to the same return on investment (ROI) scrutiny or given such defined targets.
Indeed when asking clients how they measure the success of their website we don’t think we’ve ever heard the same answer twice!
Which leads to the assumption that too many business invest in a web presence without ever agreeing what it should be achieving/delivering.
Have you ever asked yourself what the purpose of your website is? Would there be a consensus if you asked everyone at the next Board meeting or management meeting? Surely until you know what your website is meant to be doing how can you measure, and therefore define, success?
Quality or Quantity? Or both?
Quality and quantity do not have to be mutually exclusive. A properly targeted, well promoted website should deliver both but you need to understand your visitor profile to determine if it is delivering what you expect it to. Are you attracting a lot of short stay ‘butterflies’ or are you engaging ‘honeybees’, sufficiently that they are compelled to act, enquire or buy?
If your website is purely about brand awareness or disseminating information then you may determine that quantity is fine. But if you view your site as a sales tool then you must ensure that people are able to find you, and arrive on the site quickly and easily and then stay – until such time as you have gained your value from them.
What role does your website play in marketing and is it budgeted for success?
I recently spoke to a company whose primary product is a website portal and yet the site is tired and no longer reflective of the audience it needs to attract. They plan to rebuild the site, putting the client at the heart of the product, but this takes time and money so in the meantime I proposed a series of minor amendments to ‘refurbish’ the current site – based on analytics data which identifies the aspects that turn visitors off. The client has questioned whether the changes will be ‘money down the drain’, especially with a new site round the corner. Our advice has been that the website is their sole product, their source of revenue and their most visible form of marketing and on this basis why would you not want it to be successful and budget accordingly?
Do you use website analytics tools – and if so, do you understand them?
Once you have determined what success looks like – how do you measure it? When was the last time you looked at your analytics? Do you even understand what they mean?
To accurately measure success or improvement you need to understand what you are looking for. Google Analytics – one of the leading free-to-use tools – will provide everything the amateur website manager needs to monitor engagement and visitor profile – but again all results need to be set in context to the purpose of the site and reviewed – REGULARLY!
If you are providing a what’s on guide with snippets of info, signposted from social media, a high bounce rate and short engagement time should be expected. The visitors take what they need and leave again – so success – you have fulfilled their need!
But if you are providing a highly specific portal designed to be a one stop shop for people, whereby you want them to keep coming back – a low bounce rate, an even split between returning and new visitors and multi-page visits, each visit lasting several minutes is ideal.
If you are an ecommerce site – well this one is easy – people should be buying…!
Finally – managing the results
Are you making the most of the successes your website delivers i.e. sales and leads?
Just because the sale was faceless or contactless, that doesn’t mean the delivery needs to be. Equally, if people are bothering to visit your site and willing to enquire, are you handling these with the same vigour as you would an inbound query? Do you even know who is visiting your website and how they arrived there and have you thought about using this as a source of leads – even though they didn’t actually enquire?
Every site will have a different view of success, as it should, but before you invest in a new website or another re-design be sure you are asking the same questions of its purpose and targets as you would any other aspect of your marketing spend.