In this article, we’ll take a look at why you need to be measuring your website’s successes and failures, ways of doing so, and how you can make improvements based on this information.
For most businesses, investing in a new website or having an existing website improved represents a big commitment of time, resources and money. So it stands to reason that it would be essential for the website to meet the goals you set with your web designer. You did set goals, right?
If you didn’t, that’s the starting point in measuring the success of your website: having a point in the distance to aim for. That might include a target number of visitors, number of enquires/online purchases or number of article views. It depends entirely on your business and why you decided you needed a website in the first place, but whatever it is, make sure you set them!
Next, write them down. Whether the well-known ‘Harvard Goal Setting’ study of 1953 is mythical or not, it has been proven in several studies since then that one is more likely to achieve specific, written goals than verbalised or merely idealised goals. Website goals are no different to personal ones in that whatever we set our mind to and concentrate our efforts on will be the most likely area to see improvement. And if you’re working with your web designer on a long term basis, they can help you set achievable goals and be held accountable for playing their part in helping you to meet them.
How to measure your website’s performance
The next stage in measuring your website’s vitals lies with the technical systems behind it. There are many statistics and analytics packages available online, from simple, free systems to advanced options which might set you back a couple of pounds a month. The exception to this, and my recommendation, is Google Analytics – a tool offering advanced website statistics, automatic e-mail reporting and campaign management with no charge. Google’s offering has become something of an industry standard, making it difficult to justify paying for a complex analytics package when arguably the best option is free. You might like to seek the help of a geek to set this up. It’s not the most difficult of tasks, but it’s important to have it setup correctly to make sure you’re seeing accurate statistics.
What should I be measuring?
This depends entirely in your business, and so it’s important to think carefully about what’s important to you. The goals you set from the beginning will help you to decide on short-term objectives. For example, if you decided that you wanted to make £5000 in website sales over the first year, you might break this down into 12 months, making £300 in sales in Month 1, £500 in Month 2… etc. Take into account that your website may not instantly bring in the millions of visitors you’re looking for, search engine optimisation and efficient marketing (both online and offline) will bring your audience to you.
However, here is some food for thought on what you might want to measure:
- The number of visitors you get per month
- The average number of pages those visitors view
- Your bounce rate: How many visitors come to your website and then disappear before viewing anything else?
- The average time spent on your website, and each page – these stats should give you an interesting view of how well your website is converting visitors into ‘engaged visitors’ and how valuable, or how rubbish, your content is
- The most popular pages – if you’ve spent valuable time and money on a new advertising campaign for your new range of swimwear, why are more people viewing your exclusive line of rubber ducks?
- THE BIG ONE: How many of these visitors actually do what you want them to? That might be to buy, contact you for more information, click specific links, or anything else. How many are doing it?
Measuring these vital statistics should give you valuable information that helps you to make decisions. If you did spend money on that new advertising campaign for your new range of swimwear, and it’s not getting the results you wanted, you should be looking at how effective the campaign is or how easy it is to find those products on your website.