Running your business “by the numbers” is truly the ONLY way to run a business. When it comes to your marketing, there are dollars concealed in the many different marketing lead sources you use and your website is one of the most significant sources of investment dollars. Knowing whether your website is working or not is tantamount. Knowing how to fix it when it stops working is even bigger. When people visit your website and they do not take any action, meaning they do not call you, they don’t chat (if there is chat available), they don’t download anything, opt in to your newsletter—you get the picture—something is wrong and it is up to you to determine what that is.
What IS Conversion Rate Optimization?
Your website is in place to do more than provide your address and phone number. It is a conversion machine. Leads enter your website and your website is meant to churn out prospects. This process does not happen automatically. There is a toolbox full of strategies and tactics that your website may use in this process. Which ones you use and how you use them will affect your conversion rate. Testing and monitoring are your diagnostics to keep this system running. The tweaks and tactics you employ after understanding the analytics to continually improve and renew your rate of converting leads to prospects is called Conversion Rate Optimization.
First Things First – Monitoring and Measuring
There are always two sides to every story. What looks like what’s happening and what actually IS happening. Your website will need an analytics engine to measure your traffic. The information the engine will report will help you decide why people aren’t buying after visiting your website. In fact, the reports will be able to tell a very storied tale. If you do not already have your analytics integrated with your testing engine, this is next on your checklist for post-test analytics and learning.
Talk the Conversion Talk
Learning to understand your metrics means learning the language used to communicate them to you. With Google Analytics being the industry leader, we’ll talk a little bit about how to learn Google Analytics Speak.
Sessions: Session numbers measure the number of times users stayed on your website for a specific amount of time. Google Analytics’ sessions are 30 minutes. If a user times out after 30 minutes, that is one session, but that same user leaves and returns within that 30 minutes, that is two sessions. It is possible then, for a website to have diminished users but increased sessions if the users are returning over and over to the same webpage.
Users: Users are the number of unique visitors to your website. These visitors are responsible for the number of sessions. Also, monitor the numbers of both users and sessions to assure that both are growing in proportion.
New Visitors: This defines a metric that reflects those visitors to your site for the very first time within a selected date range. New visitors’ numbers help tell the story of how your website can reach more users than it had the previous month or in comparison to the number within the same time frame from the previous year.
Returning Visitors: These visitors indicate an affinity to your website. When visitors return again and again within the same month, you can consider them a loyal following. Plus, these visitors are more likely to convert than new visitors. If you track your site and learn a particular blog post or video is attracting a high number of new visitors and returning visitors, it makes sense to analyze that content and repurpose it as it is attracting solid traffic.
Traffic Channels: These are the various means users may use to enter your website. By knowing which are performing best, you can have a healthy view of what is and is not working. When you know the ones working best, you know to promote them more through your campaigns.
Traffic Channels You Should Watch
Are you aware of all your traffic channels? You should know them intimately and be able to determine which are performing and in what way.
Here are some various categories of traffic:
- Organic Traffic: When visitors enter search terms and land on your website because of their search, this is organic traffic. Paying attention to your organic traffic over time tells you a compelling story of when your traffic was high and why. As you work to improve your SEO, these trends will continue to help you move your traffic.
- Paid Traffic: When you pay search engines such as Yahoo and Google to show ads that will direct visitors to your landing pages or website, this is paid traffic. Keeping an eye on areas that are working well can help you budget and better direct your dollars.
- Referral Traffic: When your links are on others’ blogs or other pages and attract traffic, you can see how well the backlinks are working with this data. As you seek affiliate relationships, the information you gather here can help you decide where to seek new affiliates based on how your website is resonating with referral partners.
- Email Traffic: The result of email marketing campaigns, these visitors click links within emails to find you. Once again, the results help you know which emails are converting best. You then know it makes sense to repurpose them.
Visitor Behaviors: How is Your Website Performing?
So now that you have learned a little more about what analytics can show you about getting visitors to your site, how well is your site working to convert the visitors once they arrive? Once again, you can monitor their behavior after they show up. Among the most important metrics are: bounce rate or the number of users who arrive at your home page but do not stay to look at any other pages; exit rate or the percentage of visitors who arrive at your page and leave; average time on page supplies you with the average amount of time visitors remain on your site’s various pages; and page views which tells you how many times each page has been viewed by your visitors. By learning and studying these numbers, you can then arrange your website to be the most efficient for converting the traffic that arrives.
The stories each of these pieces of data tell are powerful for having a good understanding of your website and how it is operating for you. Gaining comfort in this analytics space will help you gain more traffic, more business, and more insight into your online presence and conversion opportunities.