If you’re a business owner in today’s ever-changing and fast-paced marketplace, then you most likely have an online presence (if you don’t know what that is, then I feel that you must sincerely question how you stumbled across this blog). Having an online presence can mean quite a few things including having a website, having a social media presence, or even having Google+ classifying your business for you. The bottom line is: the ubiquity of the Internet has made it nearly impossible to compete in today’s marketplace without having some sort of online presence.
Since having an online presence is no longer a new trend and has become the predominant standard for businesses worldwide, simply having a website isn’t going to cut it. To stay competitive and profitable, which is the objective for any business, you will need to venture out of your comfort zone and implement strategies that best convert the web traffic you currently generate into sales. This is known as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and can aptly be described as having more people do what you want them to do on your website.
Unfortunately, measuring the CRO, and subsequently the Return on Investment (ROI), for online marketing exertions can sometimes be a very elusive task mired with false positives and unreliable information. Knowing exactly what made a certain user perform a certain action can be nearly impossible; however, there are certain metrics that can be analyzed that allow you to make certain logical assumptions about which tactics work, and which tactics don’t.
Let us briefly describe certain tools and metrics that should be in every online marketer’s toolbox:
Google Analytics- At Tribute Media, we rave about the computing and analytical power of Google’s all-encompassing metric tool, and for good reason. Google Analytics allows you to track how a user finds your website, how they interact with the site, and how long they stay on the site. An especially useful tool for CRO is their Flow Visualization: a metric that allows you to see what path a user takes after landing on a certain page on your website. This will allow you to see how many steps a user must take to fill out a contact form or at what point they lose interest and leave the site.
Tracking Online Advertising- Whether you’re running an online ad campaign using Google AdWords or Facebook Ads, both options have a pretty good way of tracking impressions, reach, click-through rates, and conversions (depending on which goals you set). Both systems allow you to readjust your daily budget and Facebook has the option of either paying by the “click” or by impressions. If you’re running an ad campaign and not tracking your progress, you’re doing it wrong.
Web Forms- A web form is a simple tool that allows you to track where leads are being generated. The most common type of web form is your contact form on your website’s Contact Page. Instead of having your email address listed, make it easy for the user and allow them to fill out your web form. This will send an email directly to your inbox and solidify the fact that a certain lead came directly from your website. If the lead happens to turn into a sale, then you know that your website can be an effective tool in terms of conversion.
Offline Tactics- If the Interwebs scare you, then there are still some old-fashioned “How did you hear about us?” ways that you can track the effectiveness of your online presence. This is generally less formal and may include just asking a new customer how they heard about you or having them fill out a comment card with different options. Be sure to be more specific than “The Internet” and ask about specific search engines, what they searched for, and what they thought about your website.
A general rule of thumb is that if you can’t track it, don’t do it. The reason for this is that you have no way of knowing if your tactics are effective and if they happen turn into a useful lead or sale. Also, if you don’t know what you did wrong, then there’s no way of knowing how you can improve your strategy.