These days internet use is so prevalent that it is no longer good enough to build a nice site and wait for visitors. Even optimising it for search engines and paying for online advertising to drive traffic to your site isn’t quite enough to succeed in the online world.
Here are a few simple yet vitally important steps that you can take to ensuring the ongoing success of your website. Firstly, employ a web analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, which will enable you to analyse your website data analytics. Secondly, identify and set up some website goals to quantify your success and identify potential opportunities. Taking these first steps towards optimising your website for online success will allow you to identify areas for improvement and enhancement, and to know when something is not working for you and is no longer worth your efforts.
Understand your business objectives
In order to set your website goals you must first understand your business objectives and align your website to these. Ask yourself why you have a website and how it will help you achieve your business objectives. In order to be successful online and drive that success back to your business your website should exist for better reasons than “everyone else has one” or “it’s the right thing to do”. Your website objectives should be strong, business-driven and tangible, such as selling goods online, directing customers to your bricks-and-mortar stores or capturing contact information of interested visitors.
Align your website to your objectives
Whatever your website objectives are, identify them and write them down. Next, ensure that your website is aligned to those objectives. If you want to sell goods, do you have an online store set up? If you’re directing customers to a physical location make sure to have a store locator on your website. And for that all important lead capturing you’re going to need a decent web capture form and confirmation page.
The next step is to identify Key Performance Indicators. In other words how will you know that your website is achieving your business objectives. How, and with what, are you going to measure that success. To return to the example of an online store there are a number of KPIs that could determine the success of your site, including conversion rate and average order value. Conversion rate is a great metric that is also applicable to non-ecommerce sites. It tells you, as a percentage, how many of the visitors to your site are completing those objectives that you have set up as goals. Average order value tells you on average how much those converting customers are spending.
Don’t just look at metrics in isolation; for example, a low conversion rate may be acceptable if the average order value is high. If your site is heavy on content then you may find average time on site and bounce rate good metrics for measuring customer engagement, as might be the number of returning customers – are people sufficiently interested to want to come back again or are they leaving as soon as your page has loaded? Conversely, if you have launched a PPC campaign you might look at the number of new visitors it is driving to your site. Your specific KPIs will depend very much on your industry, product or service, and the overall performance of your business.
Take each objective and associated KPI and turn them into Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely goals. An example of a SMART goal might be to increase your conversion rate by 20% within a 3 month period. Once you have identified your goals you can then determine how best to measure them. If you’re using Google Analytics there are many reporting options that will enable you to evaluate your KPIs but the easiest way is going to be to set up goals. There are four types of goals that you can use:
- Time On Site shows your how long your visitors spend on your website. For example, you can set a goal to convert whenever a visitor spends more than 5 minutes on your website. This gives an indication of how engaged your audience is with your content.
- URL Destination triggers whenever a visitor lands on a particular page, or pages of your site. This is often used for lead generation, with the goal being the URL of the confirmation page or thank you page. You can also set up a goal funnel to look at the previous page to determine whether the form is successful or are people being put off filling it in for some reason.
- Event goals trigger whenever a visitor performs a specific action within your site, such as playing a video, or downloading a file.
- Page/Visit is the amount of pages your visitor goes through before leaving the website. Similarly to Time On Site this measures customer engagement. How you set up this goal will depend upon whether you run a content-heavy site where your goal is to keep visitors interested, or a customer support site where you want them to find what they need as quickly as possible.
For ecommerce goals be sure to set up Google Analytics ecommerce tracking for access to many useful metrics that will allow you to track your ecommerce KPIs and goals.
You are now on track to measure, optimise and be awesome.
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