This post was written by Dave Lavinsky, President of Growthink.
Most small business owners are dissatisfied with the results their website produces. And in fact, they should be. Because most websites fail dramatically in living up to their potential.
In order to improve your results, the first question you need to answer is this: What is the primary goal of your website? For example, is your goal to initiate online sales? Is it to get visitors to call you? Is it to get them to visit your physical showroom? Is it to capture their contact information (e.g., name, email address, phone number, etc.)? If you don’t know precisely what you are trying to accomplish (also known as your conversion goal or conversion rate), you can’t optimize your performance. And when optimizing or improving anything, measuring is key. The old saying, “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” is very true here.
Fortunately, on the web, measurement is very easy. Using tools like Google Analytics (which is free), you can tell precisely how many web visitors completed a desired action, such as buying a product from your website, or filling out a form. And more advanced tools like ifbyphon tell you precisely how many of your website visitors subsequently called your business (it does this by dynamically inserting phone numbers on your web pages which forward to your business).
So, the first two steps in quadrupling your website’s results are to 1) identify your goals and 2) measure your results. Then you can start testing and tweaking your website pages to increase your results. For example, you can change the colors of a page to see how that impacts conversions (defined as the percentage of customers who take a desired action). Or you can change other specific things, such as your prices, headlines, or images on the page.
Each of your web pages has many such variables that you can change. And fortunately, Google has an optimization tool within Google Analytics that lets you “split test” these variables. So, for example, half of your website’s visitors will see Image A when they visit your website and half will see Image B. After a certain period of time (depending upon the amount of visitors you get in order to ensure a statistically significant sample size), Google will tell you which variation resulted in the most conversions.
This is known as “split testing,” and importantly, the most sophisticated website owners are always split testing. Once they determine the winning split test, they make that the “control” (i.e., the new base web page they use for additional testing) and find new variables to test in order to continuously optimize their pages.
The final way to dramatically improve your website’s results is to capture and nurture leads. Most small business owners think that all visitors to their website come ready to buy. And as a result, they position their pages with the sole goal of getting sales. The reality is that most website visitors are not ready to buy; rather, they are merely researching. For example, if you decide to purchase a digital camera, unless you know a ton about digital cameras already, your initial web searches will be research-based. You will seek to learn about the different types of digital cameras, the different features, and various brands. At some point, you will have educated yourself enough so that you’re ready to buy. But not at the start.
Savvy website owners understand and cater to this. How? By having not only pages that allow the visitor to buy their product or service, but also pages that allow visitors to “opt-in” (i.e., give their contact information) to get more information. For example, a website might have an “opt-in” form that promises to email you a free report on “How to Choose the Right Digital Camera.” Such an offer would appeal to the vast majority of digital camera searchers; in fact more than 10 times as many visitors would opt-in to receive the report as would buy the camera.
Once the visitor opts-in to the offer and gives you their contact information such as their email address, then you should nurture them. An ideal way to nurture them is to send them a series of pre-written emails over a set period of time (known as an “autoresponder”). These emails would educate the prospect, build trust in you and your business, and by the time they are ready to buy, position you and your company as the ideal vendor.
By understanding what you would like your website to accomplish, measuring your conversions, optimizing your web pages, and capturing and nurturing select visitors, you can quadruple your website’s results…and leave your competition in the dust.