So you have a web site. It’s been live for months, maybe years, and it doesn’t do too much. You think it looks great (or maybe you think it looks OK), but it’s not bringing in the hordes of customers that you thought it would. So what’s wrong?
Let’s start with the most basic of questions. What is the goal of your web site? What is it meant to accomplish? Who is it trying to reach? If you don’t know the answers, it may explain why your web site isn’t performing.
Your web site needs to have clear goals and a detailed plan about where it is going and what it is expected to do. Your web site needs a web strategy. A written plan (like a business plan) that details your objectives, audience, competitors, sources of traffic, strategies, and metrics. Let’s take a look at how each of these areas impact your overall web strategy.
What are your objectives? Do you want to grow your online sales by 35% by the end of the year? Do you want to obtain 1,000 new customers in the first quarter? Whatever your objectives are, they should be written down, well defined, and clearly communicated to everyone in your organization.
Who is your audience? The next important step is knowing who your site was built for. It wasn’t built for you or the CEO, it was built for your customers. If you’re site doesn’t address your customers’ questions, isn’t easy to navigate, and doesn’t convey trust, then you might have an answer to why your site isn’t converting. Make a list of all the potential audiences that you want your web site to reach. Then create a list of all the questions that your site needs to answer for those visitors. Does your site effectively answer what your company does, what your product or service does, how much your product or service costs, how to order, if there are any sales currently running, how to get more information or talk to a real person? Your web site not only needs to answer these questions, but needs to show visitors the path to find these answers within the first 10 seconds of landing on your site.
Who are your competitors? You should know your top 5 competitors online. Look at their web sites. Print off screen shots of their important pages. What calls to action are they using? Evaluate each competitor’s site and compare that evaluation to your own web site. But don’t copy the competition! Remember that what works for one company may not work for yours. And, by the way…just because the competitors are using it, doesn’t mean its working for them either.
Where is your traffic coming from? List all the sources of traffic to your web site. Are visitors coming from pay per click campaigns with Google Adwords, search engines, affiliates, email campaigns, social media? If you don’t know, put Google Analytics on your site. Today!
What are your strategies to reach your objectives? Write a detailed explanation of how you are going to achieve your objectives including what forms of online marketing you are going to use and what kind of budget is being allocated to these efforts.
What metrics are you going to use and how will you track these metrics? You can have the best web strategy in the world, but if you can’t measure and track your efforts, you are wasting your time and your money. Measure the numbers that really effect your bottom line: conversion rate, cost per acquisition (what does it cost you to acquire a new customer), lifetime value of a customer, average sale, and product cost vs. margin. You should also be looking at the gross revenue, gross profit, and net growth of your online sales vs. your offline sales.
Remember that while your web site is for your customers, it’s important to treat it like a business. Write a web strategy for it. Have clear goals. Measure your success.
For more information on successfully managing web sites for optimal return on investment, I highly suggest Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads. You’ll find you have a greater chance to accomplish your web site goals when your strategy is established and communicated.