The question in the title “Is Your Website Working For You?” is too general. What exactly is it supposed to do? You have to know what success plan it was designed to fulfill before you can answer this question. Of course you didn’t plan to fail. So, you wrote out your success plan for the web site and made it a part of your business plan, right? At this question a lot of people become defensive. From first hand experience, most small businesses don’t have a current business plan. In fact most NEVER had one in writing.
So, you’re not alone and I’m not going to tell you that you need to stop and write your business plan before you go any further. The concepts and information here are important to the success of your business. So, read on. But allow me to encourage you to create a business plan that includes the planning of your web presence. And please, do it soon.
Now, it should be obvious that most websites are designed to be some type of marketing tool. Marketing tools produce something measurable. Let me say that again, marketing tools produce something measurable. A website that doesn’t produce something, has failed as a marketing tool.
Now that something could be sales, votes, followers, a more informed public, etc. If your site was planned out to do that, then the first step toward that goal is getting enough visitors to your site so you can begin to measure.
A Working Website Has People Coming to It.
The easiest way to find out if people are coming to your website is to understand your web statistics. That’s the measurement of events on and off of your web site. Things like; how many unique visitors in a week? what’s your site’s bounce rate? did the average visitor stay more than 2 minutes? how did the visitor find your site? how many pages did they visit? were certain pages showing a high abandon rate? and so many, many more.
All web statistics tell you a little something about your visitors, your design, your products or services, etc. To answer the first question, look at how many unique visitors are arriving at your site.
- 100 – 2000 unique visitors/year – “Friends and family plan”
- 2000 or so unique visitors/month – “Barely alive/treading water plan”
- 2000/week or more – Now we’re beginning to engage our community of fans.
- Remember the advertising rule of thumb, 1-2% of those that see your ad once, will convert.
This does not tell you if the website is able to fulfill the goal in your plan. This only tells you that people ARE visiting your website.
So what else should be measured? To answer this you’ll need to do a little role-playing. Pretend that while you’re looking for that ‘something’ you arrive at the website. What you find (at the website) should answer a number of questions for you , the site visitor, if you are going to stay very long.
- Did I find what I was looking for? Is the text and imagery clear and descriptive enough to confirm the destination I’m seeking? Does it send a confused or conflicting message that encourages me to leave the site?
- Is the information I need here? Are the most commonly sought details easy to identify and bring to my screen? Things like business name, address, phone number, product name and description, etc.
- Is it easy to contact the person or business? Many websites assume that putting up a contact page is “more than enough” but this isn’t true. A website must have easy to use contact methods. Like a clickable phone number that’s large enough to be used from a mobile phone.
If your visitor can answer yes to all three questions, you should show increased traffic.
A Website Working for You, Gives a Return on Your Investment.
All businesses are about making a profit. Some money is spent and some return should happen as a result. A business cannot stay solvent if it is spending more than it takes in. So how do you calculate the ROI of your website?
- Add up all the sales income that came to you because of your website, whether the sale came via shopping cart or the visitor called you after finding your phone number on the site.
- Taxes collected for web sales.
- Add up all the expenses that a website cost the business (domain registry, hosting, design and advertising, social media, the labor of your employees and yourself to support the website, etc.) that’s web expenses.
- Add up all costs to produce and deliver the products or services you sell, that’s cost of goods.
In a very simple form:
$Sales – ($Web + $Goods + $Taxes) = $ROI
If your $RIO is positive then you have income and are not loosing money.
So that’s one way of measuring a very popular type of website. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of ways to analyze the measurements to give you answers to different questions about what’s happening at your website.
Is There A Written Plan?
Write out a plan describing what your website is supposed to measurably produce. Is it supposed to attract a lot of fans for your writing? Is it supposed to offer a place for a lot of repeat sales or one sale and you’re done? Is it supposed to teach? Become a platform for change?
Do yourself a big favor and write out what your website is supposed to do. Then write a detailed description of what to measure so you can tell what it’s doing.
How do I Find Out if My Website is Working?
Every website records the tinniest of events in an event log. The exact time an inquiry came from an IP address and maybe who made the request. The exact time of that person’s next request for another page at your site. Record enough of these and you can tell how long the person spent looking through your website and what pages they looked at. Did they post a comment? Did they subscribe to your newsletter? What page were they on when they left your website? How many visitors bounced away from a particular page? Are there any broken links?
To find out if your website is really working for you, you have to answer a few questions:
- Is anyone coming to the site? Make sure you’re counting ‘real people’ and not ‘bots or yourself visiting your own site.
- Are they staying long enough to create a connection to your website’s offering? How long is long enough?
- Are they connecting to your website’s offering? How will you measure it?
- Can you count the number of sales? Subscriptions? Posts viewed? Posts shared?
- And there are probably several more you can think of.
Is you website accomplishing the work you want? Are you measuring it? Without a defined website goal, you cannot have measurable success.