The Internet, as a medium of communication, has risen in importance at a breathtaking rate. Regardless of your industry, it has become a key element of the marketing channels which are used to reach consumers of products or services. It is hardly imaginable that an organisation would exist without a website, so the general assumption is that your company has one and that you can be found on the web, but how do you measure the performance of this important resource?
Conventional wisdom tells us that our business needs a website but when meeting potential new clients one of my questions is, “What is the purpose of your website?” This more often than not gets me a look which says, “Are you serious?” or “Whose idea was it to pay this madman to talk to us?!”
The problem I find is that most of the time the answer is vague, because nobody has really thought about this. When the website designer got the phone call asking him to create a website for you, he wasn’t about to talk himself out of a job by asking questions like these!
Before we undertake any marketing activity we first need to decide the objectives and measurable results that can demonstrate whether or not this activity made any contribution to our revenue and profits. The lack of this approach to marketing is the source of many the frustration, disillusionment and lack of faith in marketing. Therefore asking website owners to communicate their expectations from a website is perfectly natural and logical question.
The general expectation from commercial websites is that they should generate revenue or leads, yet I am amazed by how often this ‘sales’ channel is neglected. So the next question I ask is, “Can you show me your last quarter website statistics?”
Normally this is when I really see the “Get this madman out of my office!” look. Yet it is a perfectly reasonable question. If I asked you to give me the same information on the performance of your sales people or your telesales agents, you would be able to produce it in a flash, and most of you can probably recite it from memory! So why don’t you have the same information available on your most hardworking ‘salesman’? After all, unlike your sales team, your website doesn’t have holidays, take a lunch break, get stuck in traffic or go off sick – and it never goes home at night or for the weekend!
Let’s talk some specifics…
- Hits on your website = Cold calls. How many did he make?
- Visitors to your website = Appointments. How many did he attend?
- Bounce rate = ‘No thanks, you’re not for us’ responses. How many did he get?
- Website visit length = Appointment length. How much time did he spend in prospect meetings?
- Referring sites = Referrals. Where did his sales leads come from?
Now you can see why this is not the ranting of a madman, but is instead a perfectly rational question. If you don’t know the answers, then you may have just found the leak in your marketing budget.
You need this data in order to ensure that your website is working for you, and that the money you’re spending to promote and manage the site is being used effectively. For example, by tracking your conversion rate, you can even identify which lead generation campaign is working most effectively. You wouldn’t spend money on other marketing activities without a detailed understanding of their impact and a clear measurement of their effectiveness, so why let your website get away with it?