By Denise Willms
Question: What is the one thing you want your visitors to do when they arrive at your site?
If you don't know the answer, your visitors don't know either. And that means they're probably doing nothing. Without goals to guide you in developing and monitoring your website, your site is only an online announcement that you are in business.
The success or failure of your website depends greatly on how specifically you define the goals you have for your website. Do you want them to contact you? Purchase your product? Subscribe to your newsletter?
Before you can evaluate your website’s performance, decide what it is you most want visitors to do. Once you know that, keep reading to find out how well you’re meeting that goal and to learn steps you can take to ensure your website is functioning at peak efficiency.
To determine your website’s success rate, you should first take a baseline measurement of your site’s traffic. Find out the number of visitors in a given period of time. A good baseline measurement is a month in which you haven't been doing any unusual offline promotional activities.
It’s important to remember that, even if you have thousands of visitors landing on your pages, this does not necessarily mean your site is successful. Usually, you want those visitors to actually do something while they’re there.
This leads to next step: Monitoring the number of visitors to your site who made a purchase, subscribed to your newsletter, etc. Officially called the “site conversion rate,” this is an essential measurement in evaluating your website’s success.
To find your site conversion rate, take the number of visitors per month and figure out the percentage of them that actually performed the action you intended them to (i.e. buy a product, subscribe, fill out a form). For example, if you had 2 000 unique visitors to your site, but only 25 of them purchased your product, your site conversion rate equals 1.25%. To get this figure, take your number of visitors and divide that figure by the number of visitors who made a purchase. Then divide that result by 100.
If you decide your site could be doing better, and you want to crank up your conversions and your traffic, here are some suggestions to get you started.
Do You Need More Traffic?
If traffic to your site is extremely low, you may want to implement some additional marketing strategies. Consider launching a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign.
An SEO campaign is targeted at increasing your position in search engine results so that consumers can find your pages faster and easier.
You can either research the steps you need to take to improve your search engine rankings, or contract an SEO company to do the work for you. In either case, after your have improved your search engine positions, make sure you keep on top of them by regular monitoring and adjusting of your efforts to maintain high positions.
Is Your Site Easy to Use?
Another factor to examine is how easy it is for a visitor to your website to accomplish the action the site is designed for. Let’s say your goal is for the visitor to fill out a form. Is this form easily accessible or does the visitor have to go through four levels to find it? If it's difficult to get to, the customer may just give up in frustration and click to another site.
Here’s an easy way to find out how usable your site is: Have a friend or family member visit your site and attempt to order a product or fill out your form. Watch them closely and see if they follow the path you intended, or if they find it confusing.
How Well Do Your Words Sell?
Website copy must be specifically geared to your online campaign, not cut and pasted from your company brochure. There are many articles and books that can teach you how to write web copy that sells.
It’s also a good idea to have a professional evaluate the copy on your website. A professional evaluation doesn’t need to be expensive. Many online WAHM forums offer threads for website critiques, where experienced online business owners will look at your site and pass along their feedback.
If You Remember Nothing Else...
And finally, here’s the most important thing to remember if you want to improve the performance of your website. Use what you learn and make changes to your website accordingly. Research, testing and feedback won’t do you or your business any good if you don’t use them.
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