Measure Your Website — Start with a Plan
This article is all about helping you measure your website. Below are 5 steps to help you build a plan to measure your website.
You may be familiar with the phrase “What gets measured gets managed”. I first heard it years ago from a friend of mine over drinks in Denver CO. The topic of our conversation was monthly budgets, and he was dismayed that I only loosely adhered to the idea of a budget.
Sure I knew how much I spent on the big items like Mortgage, Utilities and food, but I didn’t drill into each Starbuck receipt or codify entertainment into subset topics like cinema, bowling and the arcade.
Of course my friend is an accountant by trade and therefore a much more detailed gentleman when it comes to balancing a ledger and paying attention to budgets. However, I won’t forget his shock nor will I forget his advice — “what gets measured gets managed”.
I often find myself mumbling his words as I stare at my web data and for good reason. His advice ultimately helped shape my career path!
As I mentioned in my last post about building a simple traffic strategy for your website, strategies help guide success online. Without a clear and simple strategy many small businesses never experience any modicum of success.
The reason is this: often times the leading cause for a lack of success online isn’t the fault of poor graphics, bad copy or outdated design structure — it is because there is no strategy or game plan to bring traffic to the site.
The point of this article is to discuss why measuring your traffic will help to reshape your traffic strategy but also improve your website. Simply put:
What gets measured — gets managed.
If you cannot answer simple questions about your traffic — how can you improve your website. If you haven’t “measured” your site how can you “manage” your site.
How do I begin measuring my site? Great question! Before you bustle off to download and install the Google Analytics tracking code I suggest you begin with a plan. In my opinion there are 5 major steps to fulfil before you are truly prepared to begin measuring and managing your Website.
Step 1 — What is the point of your Website
This is the easiest step. Are you a real estate agent? Then you probably intend to sell homes. Let’s assume your objective is to meet prospective buyers and help them buy a home using your website.
Are you a coffee shop? Perhaps the whole point of your website is to show your location and contact info so people can visit your shop. Websites can be that simple.
The point of your Website is the broadest stroke of the whole process. There may be more than one point and that is okay, but each point should be at the 30,000 ft view. Remember these objectives should be achievable, clear, manageable and valuable.
At this stage don’t worry about the details. We’ll get to those further on in the process. For right now think wholistically.
Why is this website important?
When boiled down to simple terms what does success look like?
Answering these simple questions sets up the ability to drill into the details. Which is exactly the point of the following steps.
Step 2 — Provide Goals
Each business objective you came up with in step one needs its own set of goals. Again, if you are a real estate agent with a realty website your objective is to sell homes by engaging with new home buyers.
Your goal may be to have new home buyers request a meeting with you through a contact us web-form. In other words your goal is to receive web-form submissions. Goals should be clear and actionable and be specific to the objectives established in step one.
Where in step one you thought of ideas and generalities now you are thinking of the details. Remember a goal is actually a pointed and measurable thing. To Keep the with the realty theme if the point is to sell homes by making connections with new home buyers your goal would be to receive web-form submissions.
Step 3 — Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Now we are getting into how you’ll actually measure your website. KPIs are the data level moments within your website. Using KPIs will help you not only measure your website but also manage it!
For example: if you have a real estate website your objective from step one may to attract potential buyers. Your goal from step 2 could be to generate leads with web-forms. Now your KPI would be conversions — how many people filled out the form vs how many people saw the form.
Pretty great right! KPIs are aptly named because they really are Key Performance Indicators!
Put another way, KPIs show us if the website is working or not. Again to the real estate example, if you are receiving web-forms your goal is being accomplished, obviously. However the KPI adds insight to what the traffic is actually doing.
If you have received 2 web-forms you may be depressed. Sure my goal is being met but I wanted to receive 10 web-forms. However if you look at the KPI of conversion meaning submissions vs traffic you may find out wonderful things. Imagine your 2 submissions came from a total of just 10 vistors. That is a conversion of 20%!
On the flip-side looking at the KPI of conversion may offer a harsh reality. If the web-form had traffic of 200 visitors but only 2 submissions that is a conversion of just 1%.
Conversion is just one KPI. Others include time on the website, bounce rate, exit page, landing page. There are a ton of ways to measure your goals. This may seem overwhelming but once you’ve created the simple structure to your KPIs everything gets easier.
Let’s dig into this a little deeper in step 4.
Step 4 — Take Aim at your Target
Often times this is the step where we fall short. We get so excited that we have Objectives, Goals and KPIs that we forget to set up a target.
Why do I need a target if I know my KPI?
That is a fair question. To equate it to archery — KPIs are the hay bail and Targets are the bullseye. Targets allow you to improve on your work and not rest on your laurels.
Back to the real estate example. Knowing we are looking at a conversion rate of total traffic on a targeted web-form vs actual submissions we can see a percentage rate for conversion. 2 submissions out of 200 visitors is a conversion rate of 1%.
Now that we are looking at the data we can “aim” for a desired number of web-form submissions. We can try and improve our aim by going after more traffic, or we can improve the design and language on the website so that our traffic converts at a higher rate.
This is where the benefits of measuring and managing your website really begin to pile up. In step 5 we get even more granular. In a good way.
Step 5 — Focus on Specific Segments of your Data
The amount of data you’ll have at your fingertips once you begin measuring your website can be astounding even with your target set. Knowing what segment is the most important segment of your traffic allows you to focus on them and work to improve.
For example if your best customers are single men in their 30’s and you’ve consistently met the targeted 10% conversion on lead capture for your site you’ll be pretty sad to discover the majority of your traffic happens to be married men in their 50’s.
The same can be said of traffic sources. While measuring your conversions you may find that social media traffic converts at higher percentage in general but that traffic from Instagram is the real reason social media traffic converts higher because your Facebook traffic hardly converts.
Segmentation allows you to examine all kinds of data sets as they relate to your KPIs, Goals and Objectives. Understanding the segments of your data, be it traffic source, language or geography, are all important to help you manage what it is that you have measured.
Putting it all Together
Once you’ve gone through these 5 steps you’ll be ready to begin reaping the benefits of managing a measured website. But remember it is always important to reassess your measurement plan. Customers change and business objectives evolve; so to must your plan.
If you find yourself digging into you data and mumbling “what gets measured gets managed” I hope you smile like I do.
Need additional assistance?
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