Hammering your site when a screwdriver may be better
It’s 10 o’clock on a Tuesday morning – you are sitting in a management meeting (again) trying to figure out how to generate some more revenue for the business. You know that traffic to your website (website hits) is a good indicator of the volume of leads into the sales funnel – but the web site traffic is a bit slow lately. What to do? Easy – increase the marketing spend on keyword searches, increase the number of hits on the site and improve the lead flow. Job done! Meeting over… or is it?
If the only tool you use is a hammer, then most things will look like nails. If the key measure of lead flow from your website is hits, then the outcome will most certainly be to buy more keywords. Such an approach will certainly have an effect on acquisition – but it denies two key factors – firstly, the diminishing return of investing in more and more keywords and secondly, the opportunities for increasing business flow on the website through better visitor conversion and increased customer retention. There are many more subtle ways to achieve the outcome you are looking for – sort of like using a screwdriver to finesse the problem rather than hitting it hard with a blunt instrument.
Visitor conversion analysis is about finding ways to attract qualified visitors and optimise their experience. A good starting point is to evaluate not only site traffic but also the quality of site visitors. An analysis of top search terms, top referrals, current marketing programs, and landing page activity will help identify the more successful marketing channels. This information will help you take steps to increase qualified traffic and present the right content to the target audience at the right time.
From a return on investment (ROI) perspective, visitor conversion analysis enables online businesses to gain visibility into which marketing campaigns are working and which are underperforming. You can become much more strategic about the placement and positioning of banners, affiliate space (sites/email), search engine placements, list rentals, and optimising the design of landing pages.
Customer retention (sometimes referred to as loyalty conversion) measures how effective you are at drawing customers back to your site for additional purchases or transactions – the old adage that it is nine times easier to sell to an existing customer applies on the web too. To increase repeat visits, you need intelligent and compelling follow-up offers, effective account management tools, and post-purchase follow up. Segmentation reports can help in obtaining email addresses for your most valuable customers for targeted email messages. Direct marketing campaigns foster customer relationships and customer behaviour patterns drive campaign ideas. Customised email messages trigger repeat visits and add value to the overall experience while building brand loyalty.
A few online businesses are taking the next step beyond targeted marketing to personalised marketing. Personalisation requires extensive behavioural data on each customer. Email campaigns are targeted, but individual messages are personalised. For example, the organisation sends a targeted message announcing a particular product to a group of high-value customers.
Marketing Campaign Attribution
We all know that prospects generally visit our website quite a few times before converting – sometimes they will use a search engine, sometimes a link in an email campaign, perhaps a banner ad on a referring site or whichever marketing tool we are using. It is the combination of these visits that leads to the outcome we are looking for.
If you mainly measure hits, and you equate increased hits with increased spend on keywords, then everything looks like coming from the keyword spend – which is clearly not valid and leads to poor marketing decisions.
Using gut feel or partial data on the effectiveness of the various techniques normally leads to too much investment in a less-effective technique, as well as a disproportionate amount of spending on acquisition, conversion, or retention at the risk of not being able to balance spending in all three areas.
It is critical that as marketers we not only obtain clear end-to-end visibility into one campaign, but also get a good view into each visitor’s behaviour across multiple campaigns. Only by looking at responses across all marketing touches can we decide which campaigns are being the most effective in acquiring, converting, and retaining customers. Without an online web analytics solution, any marketer would find it difficult to get all the data points in one place and then look at them in an integrated manner.
Customers are taking control and dramatically changing the way they find what they need on the Internet. Consequently, you have less and less control over and visibility into how people reach your site.
The number of channels continues to increase, with RSS feeds, in-game ads, and blogs joining the list of traditional online channels such as banner ads, paid search, affiliates, and email.
The opportunities to improve the business go way beyond increasing the number of hits on the website. As professional marketers, the next time we are sitting in a meeting exploring opportunities, why not be the one to suggest targeting that segment of visitors who have been to our site before and have a higher potential for conversion, or perhaps an upsell/cross sell campaign to previous clients that turns them into repeat buyers – lets move beyond the simplex hammer approach and take the time and effort to build real, long term and sustainable results from our web channel.