Somewhere in their first few months of working with a professional online marketing team, most clients start to notice something interesting: there are a lot of numbers and metrics when it comes to measuring the success of your company’s website. But contrary to popular belief, that’s not just because those of us in the industry love working with spreadsheets, or simply want to justify the amounts we get paid.
The fact of the matter is, your web analytics can probably tell you a lot more than you realize – including how well your company is doing online, where new orders are coming from, and even what your future is likely to be like. Aren’t those things you want to keep a close eye on?
Translating Numbers Into Cold Hard Facts
Here are a handful of tips for translating the hard numbers from your web analytics into real-time business data and making your company as profitable as it possibly can be:
Traffic isn’t everything
Lots of small business owners like to concentrate on the number of “hits” or “visitors” their website receives a certain month, and certainly those are important benchmarks. But just as critical are the traffic sources, what pages they are arriving on, the amount of time spent on your website, where you rank for certain keywords on the major search engines, and other important details that are often hidden in analytics reports. If you can’t find these statistics displayed prominently, ask your Internet marketing team to find and explain them.
You should count more than sales.
Obviously, the amount of new accounts, revenue, online sales, and so on generated by your website are important figures. But like the number of hits you’re seeing, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees by concentrating solely on new sales. Pay attention to other factors as well, such as the number of people signing up for your online newsletter, or the traffic coming to you from unpaid sources. They could be strong indicators of how your website will be doing in the near future.
Some things are hard to measure in the short term
Speaking of the future, it’s worth mentioning that not every online marketing campaign or tactic is going to bear fruit immediately. Some tools, especially search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing are notorious for taking a bit of time to get going. Lose your patience and pull the plug too soon, and you could miss out on a flood of new orders later.
Customers often come from the places you’d least expect
Very frequently, new clients (or even online marketing teams themselves) come into the process with preconceived notions about the best ways to reach customers online. Sometimes these are accurate, but sometimes they aren’t. Keep an open mind and commit to trying anything that seems to make sense, or has the potential to be cost-effective; every once in a while you can stumble upon something that ends up being a lot more profitable than you imagined it would be.
There’s one number you should never ignore… and it’s not the one on your online marketing invoice.
The most important figure you can keep your eye on, once you’re online marketing campaigns is running for a few months, is your return on investment. That is, what are you getting out of your different activities compared to what you’re putting in? This sounds like common sense, but it’s frequently overlooked by business owners who fail to see the benefit of an activity that’s working gradually, or just as often, someone who’s too excited about a particular tactic or promotion to realize that it’s costing them more than it’s worth.
Capturing contact information isn’t just important… it’s all important.
When looking at your website metrics, keep things in perspective. It would be nice to have a customer list that’s growing from day one, but even more important is bringing new leads and potential buyers into your contact list. Why is that? Because there are lots of potential customers who aren’t going to buy the first time they hear from you no matter how strong your marketing campaign is. It could be that they’re not ready, that they have another company they are used to buying from, don’t have money at the moment, or any of 100 other reasons. If you have their name in a way to reach them, however, the chances that they’ll eventually buy from you go up exponentially.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the constant flow of data and statistics coming from your small business website. Rather than becoming frustrated and ignoring them, to make a point of looking for the truth and trends behind the numbers you see on the screen – it might take a little bit of time, but it’s also going to make your business stronger and stronger with every new spreadsheet that comes in.