Local, Web Design

How Critical Are Your Web Stats To Your Online Success?

In today’s marketplace, web site statistics are a very important tool to help us when making decisions about our web site. In case you are unaware, if you have a website on the Internet, there is a good chance that your web server is collecting information on the visitors to your web site. For example, if you called me and told me you visited my site at 4:00pm on a Friday afternoon, I would be able to look into my stats, find that time, and be able to tell you what pages you looked at while visiting my site, how you came to my site, which page you left on and how long you were visiting.

The reality of web site statistics is that almost everything is tracked. The information collected from visitors is truly amazing. However, more importantly than the statistics is how we use them to make business decisions and ultimately more money.

The last thing anybody business person wants to do is waste time piling through a load of statistics and get no action items as a result. Not all the stats collected will be important; the key is determining what you want from your web site, match which stats measure your objectives, then finally to determine how the information will be used.

stats combined with business strategy = growth

Here is a summary of the 4-steps:

1) Determine your objectives
2) Determine which stats directly affect your objective
3) Agree on how the information will be used to make business decisions
4) Make your decisions, track results, review results, make more decisions

If you are a owner or manager reading this, you probably use a similar formula when evaluating staff. Your web site is no different. The only difference between your web site and real-life staff is the website cannot lie about its performance numbers.

So here is one example of how I use key indicators with clients:

Conversion Tracking
Stats needed – # of visitors during a given timeframe, # of page views of specific call to action pages

A client who has an online form that allows users to complete to request a price list. Once a user completes the form, they are directly to a page that allows them to download a price sheet.

Here is an example of how we might use the information. The numbers below all represent the timeframe on the same site.

# of visitors = 100
# of visitors completing the form request = 3
Conversion Rate = 3%

# of page views for form request page = 20
# of page views for price list page = 3
Conversion Rate = 15%

Why 2 sets of numbers? If you simply look at the number of visitors, this would be the same as counting the number of people walking into a store and then matching the number of inquires (in this case the form completions). This gives you an aggregate view of conversion rate. However, this alone does not paint a completely accurate picture. This is why we also need to look at the number of page views.

The second set of numbers are the page views of the price list page. In most cases we should see a 1 to 1 visitor/page view ratio as this is a results landing page. However, if we go back to the page where the form is actually located on, we can track the number of times people looked at the form relative to the number of times they completed it. In a real-life example, this would be watching all the people who walked through the store and who actually talking to a person regarding prices.

So, how do we use this information?

Once we have some starting data, it create a baseline for the performance of a clients web site. As we continue to change either the web site, or the marketing efforts of the web site, we can actually measure end results.

their web site was designed by a graphics person not a conversion specialist

For example, if we did nothing but slightly improve the form request page, to make it more user friendly for example, we might be able to increase the number of leads from 3 to 6? This would increase our conversion rate to 30% on the page views and 6% on the entire site traffic. By working on site structure, we have increased conversion rate on existing traffic instead of spending more money on new traffic. This is one area that most businesses completely overlook – their web site was designed by a graphics person not a conversion specialist.

Another example would be actually spending more money to drive more visitors. If we deem we cannot increase conversion rate anymore, then we switch to marketing. The client purchases an advertising campaign that contains a call to action to their web site. We track the number of increased visitors, compared to our baseline and compare that to the resulting price list requests. If we drove another 100 visitors from an ad campaign that resulted in no increase in price list requests, maybe we are advertising in the wrong location. Conversely maybe our requests went through the roof, thus proving this form of advertising to be very effective.

When working with clients I would take this one step further and track the resulting 3 price list requests to the actual sales calls and the results from that. For example,

# of price list requests = 3
# of sales person follow-ups = 3
# of sales generated = 1
Dollar value of sales generated = $1000

All this information was collected on 2 pieces of web site stats. If there is one thing to remember; stats alone are useless, stats combined with business strategy = growth.

Start using your web stats to help grow your business. To recap, the 4 steps are as follows:

1) Determine your objectives
2) Determine which stats directly affect your objective
3) Agree on how the information will be used to make business decisions
4) Make your decisions, track results, review results, make more decisions