If there is one thing that gets me excited more than anything about this business, it's using my knowledge to create success for clients online. So how do you define and measure success when it comes to a website?
In general business terms key performance indicators are used to measure success. These KPI's, as they are affectionately known, might include things such as:
- sales figures
- number of new clients
- market share
- growth, or
- new products
The internet is a very competitive market place and the consumers you are trying to reach are a tough crowd. However, it is this very audience that are generally forgotten about when devising KPI's for online success.
Our general process when we first engage with a client is to define the business objectives as well as the target market objectives for a website. Some of these business objectives are usually things like:
- increase brand awareness
- free up time spent on phone enquiries
- automate event bookings
Some of the target audience needs we frequently come across are:
- get answers to question
- purchase a product
- learn about services on offer
The beauty about measuring performance online is the myriad of tools available that give you a 360º snapshot of your business and allow you to drill down to a granular view of each objective.
My two favourite analytics come form Google's free analytics report that can be plugged into any website. They are the Bounce Rate and Average Time On Site.
The Bounce Rate indicates the percentage of users that leave a website from the same page they arrived on, without clicking through to any other pages. What does this tell us? It tells us what portion of our traffic arrives on our site and decides within a few seconds that we do not have what they are looking for, therefore they hit the back button and invariably end up back at the Google search results page from whence they came. The lower the bounce rate, the better our site is performing.
For example, we knew that the vast majority of people arriving on the Jessica Watson website were not arriving by accident. Her bounce rate averages out around 17%, meaning that 83 out of every 100 people that arrive on her site stick around.
Which is a nice segue into the Average Time On Site analytic. This figure simply states the average time your visitors are spending on your site. From our experience, if you have an average time on site of over 2 minutes, you're doing well. We liken it to having a retail shop in a busy shopping mall or strip. There might be lots of foot traffic but how many people walk in, take a quick look at your merchandise and leave without even saying hello?
How do you get people to stay in your shop longer? Give them reasons too. Some folk in our industry refer to this as sticky content. I just call it giving your customers what they want. Blog posts with really useful information like the one you're reading right now are always a good place to start. White papers about a specific matter in your industry, podcasts and video are great as are “tips and tricks” pages and FAQ's (frequently asked questions).
To use Jessica Watson as the example again, the photos, blog posts and video content that was posted on her website throughout her voyage around the world gave her an average time on site of over 4 minutes 30. That's a fair amount of time to make a conversion.
The more time someone spends with your brand the more likely you are to build trust with them and the more likely they are to come back again. It may take several visits for them to convert to a customer, or they may just tell some of their friends and colleagues about your great website that is full of useful content.
So in a nutshell, if you want to succeed online, you need to define the objectives of your business and your target market, give your audience what they want and use some simple KPI's to measure your performance.
My two cents.