Question: Why fiddle with the back end of your website when you could be putting your energy into drumming up more business with activities like blogging, networking, social media and advertising?
Some companies can fly by the seat of their pants and still do well. If you’re selling something for which demand greatly exceeds supply, such as beachfront property in the Florida Keys, you hardly have to do any marketing at all. But in competitive markets, business owners who fail to think things through will lose out to those who do.
You need to work out your target audiences as well as your strategies for reaching them. Analytics can help you understand both.
Yes, analytics takes time, something business owners are continually running short of, but you back-burner it at your own risk. If you have Google Analytics installed but you’re not monitoring it, you can only guess where your online sales cycle is breaking down.
The typical issues in the “sales funnel” are:
Not Enough Traffic
Let’s say everyone who visits your site hires you or buys your product. That’s a 100 percent “conversion rate.” Sounds terrific, but what if only five people came last month? That could be the case if you don’t market your site and nobody knows it’s there until you tell them, probably by giving them the address. A combination of social media strategy, content strategy and basic SEO can help.
Not Enough Leads
People land on your site but aren’t staying (bouncing, in industry parlance). Maybe your content is unengaging or is hard to understand. You can have a beautiful site that people admire but still not sell a thing.
Do people understand exactly how you can help them? If I have to spend time figuring out what a site is about, I’m not sticking around. Are you attracting the wrong traffic that’s not your target audience? Are you using black hat SEO or bait and switch sales techniques that land people there who promptly bail when they see you’re offering something they don’t want?
Do you have any offers, such as a free subscription, that don’t make visitors feel like they’re marrying you? People visiting a website for the first time are commitment phobic. If you ask for their personal information in your forms, they’re likely to resist until they’re sure they like you. Wouldn’t you?
Not Enough Customers
This is a tough one but better to find out now. What if people are visiting and even downloading your free offers and sharing your content, but nobody’s buying? You may be targeting the wrong market. Your pricing or your product may need rethinking. For whatever reason, people may like your site, but if they’re not buying, your conversion rate suffers. You may need to revisit your business model.
You may have problems with more than one part of the funnel. Getting more traffic is typically the challenge for small business owners and the key area for growth. Without a big enough pool from which to draw customers, a strong conversion rate is nice, but not good enough.
Assess Your Weaknesses Before Writing Another Facebook Post!
You can’t focus on everything at once, so you need to know where you’ll get the biggest payoff. In inbound marketing this is known as understanding the “shape of the conversion funnel.” Analytics can help you do this, which is revolutionary. In the past, acquiring this volume of data required enormous marketing resources.
Google Analytics is not the only analytics platform, but is free of charge to the vast majority of website owners (those with very heavy traffic have to pay for the premium service). You can and should look beyond the surface with your analysis, not just looking at the totals, but segmenting by things such as geography, where visitors are referred from (social media, email, etc.), which pages they read, and so on.
Then you can work on the weakest link by developing a strategy, with appropriate tactics, to strengthen it. This strategy will be based on evidence, not hunches.
So the answer to the question posed earlier is simple: in the long run, analytics will repay the time and money you spend by giving you insight into where your current strategy isn’t working and suggesting ways to solve your specific problems.
Read our article “7 Key Website Analytics And What They Can Teach You About Your Marketing” for details on helpful metrics, and read “Does Your Marketing Resemble Gardening Or Fishing? How Your Approach Can Make Or Break You” for how to grow your business for the long haul.