Archive for category Analytics

Conversion Rate Optimization

The term CRO (conversion rate optimization) is relatively a new one – but the idea behind it is not. How do we get more sales from the website? How do we better convert the website traffic we are getting? These are the type questions most website owners will ask at some point along the way.

The thing to realize about CRO is that no one has the exact answer for every website because there are simply too many variables. So a good first step is to study the “best practices” about how to convert website traffic, and then implement them into your website. Doing things like:

  • having a good call to action button (CTA), and good placement
  • having dedicated landing pages
  • having a good offer or incentive
  • good website content
  • adding trust symbols to the page

All of the above will help, no doubt, but it only works so far. At some point you will simply have to test it, whatever “it” is. What do I mean? I mean set your website up to do some A/B testing of the supposed improvement. Google Experiments works pretty good, and is easy enough for anyone to use. Basically you set up 2 webpages, the only difference between the two pages being your hopeful improvement idea.  You let it run for a couple weeks, and you see which version of the page converts best. Presto – we have a winner! Sometimes the improvement might be something as simple as the color of the button being used – and you will see improvement.

A key point is to think long-term about CRO.  You will rarely see large improvements in the conversion rates unless your page really sucked when you started – so you should be shooting for incremental improvement. Try to improve the conversion rate one-tenth of a percent this month – for each month this year – so that by the end of the year you have solid improvement.

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How to Monitor Your SEO

So maybe you have been trying to improve the SEO values of your website, and you now want to check to see if you are being effective.  Or even better maybe you are paying someone else to do your SEO for you, and you want to get an unbiased status of how they are doing. What to do?

Some people simply open Google and do a search using their main keywords, to get a feel for how they are doing. But this is a bad idea since Google is giving you skewed results because your setting say you are living in Idaho. Doh!  So you turn the location setting off, and now you get better search results, but then you can’t remember what your ranking was last time you checked.

So what you really need is a tool that will 1) check the keyword ranking for all the search keywords you need, and 2) keep a history of it all over time, showing you the trend lines.

But wait, there’s more!  You also need to know something about your backlinks coming into your site. 1) How many do you have, 2) what are they, and 3) are the backlinks any good.

Anyways, the point I wanted to make is that you need a good SEO ranking tool – and I just happen to have one. The service is online so you can check your keywords any time of the day. And here is the price list for the service, click to get more information:

ranking-price-list

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Website Analytics

So which website statistics are most important to look at when evaluating the performance of your website? The easy answer is to say the traffic levels – and you would be dead wrong. A high traffic website can still fail if it is not converting the traffic into sales or leads.

So for someone like me who gets hired to improve the performance of a website, the website analytics are crucial to the cause.  Knowing which statistics to look at, understanding what they mean, as well as making them understandable to the client is what it is all about. The first order of business is to get a good snapshot of how the site is performing right now, then second is to figure out how to make things better.

If you are selling stuff, or gathering leads from the site – a good performer is usually pretty easy to spot. With a good performer you don’t need to look at the statistics to know – you look in the cash register (smile).  But wait a second, even with a so-called good performing website – don’t you want to improve it even more, make even more money?  Of course you do!

And you don’t want to just look at the current statistics for the site – what is important is to know the trends. You put the statistics into a spreadsheet if you have to each week, and that way you can tell if you are improving or not. You can take an action on the site and then watch and see if it results in the desired way.

When I first work on a site, I can usually get some significant improvements made because the site is usually missing some fundamental stuff – this is the low hanging fruit. But as you continue, it gets harder and harder to improve things, and at that point you have to look for incremental improvements over time – which is only identified by using trend data.

Anyways, sorry for being so long-winded with this. But with that in mind, here is a breakdown of some stats I tend to watch close. The most important ones are #1 – #3, the others are helpful indicators for your site.

  1. Traffic level breakdown – knowing who it is coming into your site, broken down into 4 main areas.
    1. SEO traffic. Your ‘seo traffic’ is coming in from the search engines, and can be improved by implementing some SEO tactics and strategies. This traffic is highly valued because it is free, and typically represents the level of new customers you are attracting.
    2. Referral traffic. This is traffic coming to you from other websites. Also helps with your SEO efforts because these are the holy backlinks everyone talks about.
    3. Direct traffic. This is the traffic coming from bookmarks, or otherwise from people who already know you.
    4. SEM traffic. This is your paid traffic like PPC, banner ads, or what have you.  A larger company probably has this broken down further by source.
  2. Keyword ranking is important because you will want to increase your SEO traffic into the site. Find a tool that will check the ranking of your desired keywords, and measure them each week.
  3. Goals achieved tells you if the website visitor is doing what you want, buying something, submitting a lead, funneling to certain information, etc.
  4. Bounce rate will show you if people are actually viewing your site, or coming to it by accident.
  5. Pages per visit will show how interested people are in your site and what you are offering.
  6. Unique visitors will tell you how many new visitors are coming into the site, instead of returning visitors.
  7. Top content will give a list of pages that are most visited on your site.
  8. Site navigation will tell you the most often traveled paths thru your site.

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Do you have a successful website?

One of the things I seem to do a lot is figuring out how to make a particular website more successful – which first begs the question of how do you define success?  Then more importantly is the question of what you do to get things turned around.  There are tons of helpful articles online that will help you get started (see below), I also have some other marketing articles posted that will help, and you will quickly notice that many are saying contradictory things to the point that you will get confused on how to proceed. No worries – remember that no single solution is right for everyone, and definitely not right for every website. Because if there was one single “best design” for a website, then they would all look the same.

Here is a basic list of things to get you going.

  1. First of all look at the level of web traffic – you may simply not be getting enough traffic to do anything with. If that is the problem, this needs fixed first.
  2. If you are getting web traffic, but no one is converting, then do a little detective work on what is ailing you and then take action:
    1. What is your bounce rate? If it is really high, then people are either coming to your site by mistake or your web design sucks.  Fix it!
    2. What is the page views per visit? If it is very low, then your web content needs fixed (assuming your website is set up with multiple webpages). If you have lots of people moving round your site but no one is converting, then your offer may need to be tweaked.
    3. What is the fall-off rate in your sign up form, or shopping cart?  If people are looking like they want to convert by clicking the sign up button, but no one converts, take a close look at your form or cart first. In my experience that will have the greatest impact on increasing CR.
  3. Basically you need to figure out what is going on – there are lots of statistics available to give you hints, so just narrow it down to the likely issues, and then address them!  Take action!  Usually it means for you do some of the things that the experts say you should, so take a look at some other articles in this blog, or do a little research online.  Below are some links that will help with ideas.  I would not take any single article from anyone and think it is gospel (even this one) – instead you want to find the “golden nuggets” in each.
  4. Lastly I would urge everyone to have some sort of testing program for their website.  If you put two different versions of your webpage up – the normal one you have (the control) and another different design – it will definitely give you improvement. Let the two run side by side and see which is better.  Once you have a winning design in the test – immediately take the winner and run it against a new alternative one, and just make it a continual process of improvement.  Something as simple as the button that gets clicked on the form can make a difference – you just need to keep testing.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

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Increasing Conversion Rates

As I always say, it is much easier to increase your website conversion rates, than to get more traffic to your site. So I get asked how to best go about it – how do you increase your CR? First thing is that you need to know what your current CR is – duh.

I would recommend going back to the basics – reduce your form fields, place your offer up top and overt, etc. After making these initial revisions for improvement, you are likely to see dramatic improvements too. But what specifically are the “basics” you need to go back to?  A good place to give you lots of ideas is Conversion Critic.  Basically they ask you lots of questions about your website, then “score” you on your answers.  They don’t actually evaluate your website for you – they make you look at it yourself, which is what I like about it.  Also, the Conversion Critic website is ran by people who offer these type services, so beware that you may get a call from them about your site. But even so, it is one good way to go over the basic setup of your site and look for opportunities for improvement.

Now if you have already done all the basic stuff, then your site has already picked all the low-hanging fruit. What you need to do is set up a testing program, either A/B or multivariate, to find out what works best for the type customer you have coming to your site.  Google offers both types for free, as usual, and are not bad to get you started.

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The Importance of Conversion Rates

Of all the things to worry about on a website, the one at the very top of anyone’s list should be their conversion rate (CR). The conversion rate can be defined as the percentage of website visi tors that do what you want them to do. How many are buying your product, how many are giving you a leads, etc.  The CR determines how successful your website is, at least in regards to how well it contributes to your bottom line.  I usually calculate mine using like this: (Number of Sales) ÷ (Number of Unique Visitors) = Conversion Rate

And sure, some websites are meant just to be pretty, not necessarily to actually contribute to a company’s bottom line, but that is an exception to the rule. So here are my no-nonsense reasons why you should be aware of your conversion rate:

  1. The CR is the most efficient statistic to try to improve upon. If you look at the costs involved of your different options, increasing your CR is the easiest and least expensive thing you can do. It might mean something as simple as revising your web lead form by removing some of the fields on it (fewer fields on a form automatically increase the completion rate), or revising your web content. There is lots of help on the web to give you pointers – or of course, you can also hire a professional to do it (smile).
  2. The CR is the least expensive alternative.  Your problem is how to make your website more profitable, and this basically means doing one of two things: increasing the web traffic to your website, or increasing the conversion rates of the traffic you are already getting. The two things are not exclusive of each other – you should actually try to do both – I’m just saying that the efforts toward your CR give more bang for the buck. 
    1. For a real-world example consider this: you can take $1,000 dollars and try to get more web traffic like with increasing your Pay Per Click traffic in Google Adwords.  Say it doubles your traffic for the one month, and doubles your sales as well.  Great – a 100% improvement over last month!  But next month your traffic falls back to where it was and you are in the same boat you were before.
    2. Or you can take that $1,000 dollars and increase your CR. Say it increases your sales by 25% for the month (getting a %100 improvement is not unheard of).  25% is not as great a result for the month as the spend with Google, but it is actually much better if you look at the results at the end of the year. For the year you get a 23% improvement – while for increasing your PPC for one month only means an 8% increase for the year.

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