Over the past few years I’ve read countless articles on all of the amazing ways there are to increase traffic to your website. Pay per click advertising, search engine optimization, blogging, in-bound links from other sites etc. All of this is great and without any doubt with a bit of effort, you too can increase the amount of traffic to your website. Many people get very excited about driving new traffic. Many executives, marketers too, consider their website traffic to be their key metric in determining the success of their online efforts. Unfortunately, while increasing traffic to your web site is generally a good thing, it is rarely a true measure of the success of your website and online marketing efforts. What really matter is your conversions.
Most marketing managers running online stores are extremely familiar with the concept of conversions. In their world, a conversion occurs when someone that visits their website takes action by buying something through their store – be it online or at one of their offline locations. Website conversions however, have tremendous relevance, not only to those running retail outlets, but also people selling complex products with long sales cycles.
Take for example a business to business organization that sells consulting services to large multi-national corporations. Their product offering is extremely complicated, usually quite expensive and their sales cycles can range up to several years from start to finish. For these organizations, they are most certainly not going to sell their products online or even offline as a result of a website visit. The website visit is just one of hundreds of steps their prospects will follow before deciding to buy. Maybe this is why so many of these organizations struggle to focus on conversions from their site – because the end sale seems so so far away.
But conversions matter for them a great deal too. Conversions for these organizations come in a different form. Maybe their conversion is that their prospect downloads a piece of thought leadership, signs up for a newsletter or even picks up the phone to discuss something they read with a representative of the company. Each of those actions would help propel the target deeper into the sales funnel of the consulting organization. In the case of someone signing up for the newsletter, it has now provided the consulting firm with the ability to regularly communicate with that prospect, to build their brand and hopefully a little further down the road to invite the prospect to an event or other initiative further down the sales funnel. The point it, the conversion matters for them too.
My point is simple – almost every website these days uses Google Analytics to track a huge array of metrics. You can measure the number of visits, average time per visit, most popular pages, typical exit pages etc. Yet, with this wealth of information, it is easy to lose sight of what you are really trying to achieve – to help drive your prospects and customers ever so much closer to buying your product or service. Try taking a step back and give some thought to your website. How does your site fit into your overall sales and marketing strategy? How can you use your site to propel your customers and prospect closer to a buy decision. Now set your metrics and measure away.