Measuring the Success of Your Website
When you are building a new website or giving your old one a facelift, it’s important to ask yourself, “what am I trying to accomplish with this investment?” Since I deal with small businesses, clients are usually looking to do one of the following:
1. Create or Increase sales revenue
2. Obtain contacts or potential clients
3. Provide information for users, possibly generating ad revenue
4. Create a sales or information hub for multiple contributors
Create or increase sales revenue: If you are starting to sell your products online, or looking to jumpstart existing sales, what are your expectations? How will you know if your investment in your website is paying off? Here are some ways to determine what is reasonable and gauge progress:
- Know your existing revenue and research to see what might be viable, via online sales, in your market.
- Consider your operational capacity and determine what order load you can reasonably handle.
- Analyze your marketing plans and determine what changes and investments will be required to connect with your customers.
- Implement website analytics that provides information on website activities, sales by channel, cart abandonment, and more. Monitor this information regularly and make appropriate tweaks to your site to move towards your goals.
Obtain contacts and potential clients: Perhaps your website is a place where you highlight your expertise and/or a portfolio, working to get interested customers to contact you. How will you know if an adequate percentage of users are actually contacting you?
- Research your industry and area to determine a target contact rate.
- Research your marketing plans and determine what changes and investments may be required to connect with your customers.
- Implement website analytics that provides information on the number of users accessing your site, pages accessed, contact buttons pressed, or other action taken. Continue to refine your site so that information is enticing and your call-to-action areas are effective.
Provide information for users, possibly generating ad revenue: Some sites exist to provide information to existing teams and customers, making it easy to access schedules, policies, newsletters, third-party applications, FAQs, and more. But there are also sites that provide free content, like videos, blog posts, weather forecasts, etc., that reach a broader audience and have such a good following that they generate revenue by selling ad space. Consider the following if you are providing content:
- Is this information for a select group and your main goal is to make it easy for users to consume content? if so, determine your measure(s) of success, i.e. less support phone calls, or fewer support emails (translate everything into dollars). Periodically obtain feedback from your users to enable you to improve your site.
- If the information you share has high value to a large group of users, consider making some content free and charging for other content. Research your content area to see what is reasonable. Also, consider creating relationships with other vendors offering content, products, or services that would be useful to your target users, or consider selling space on your site to these types of vendors.
- Implement analytics that shows you what content is accessed, enabling you to refine your site, providing what most resonates with your users.
Create a sales or information hub for multiple contributors: Some sites act as a hub for many other contributors and/or vendors in the same business, or area of interest, e.g. homemade goods (Etsy), guitar players, working moms, etc. While Facebook groups and other social media offerings can also bring these types of users together, websites are also an option. If you are taking on the management and maintenance of a hub site, consider:
- What are your revenue expectations as the hub owner? Are there other similar types of websites for other interest groups that you can research?
- As your site becomes more active, do you want to implement a fee structure for contributors/vendors? For users? Do you want to sell ad space? Again, do some research into similar endeavors to see what is feasible.
- Implement analytics to show you what content is accessed the most, enabling you to refine your site and its offerings.
Perhaps your site is a hybrid of the above, or you are trying to accomplish something else. No matter what you are trying to accomplish with your website, take time to think through your measures of success and analyze your site’s analytics to see if you are moving in the right direction, taking action as appropriate. Your website is a living thing – give it some regular care and feeding and you’ll be surprised how much it will pay off.