What do you measure on your web site? Do you measure the number of hits? The number of unique visitors? The number of visits from search engines?
All of those might be useful to you. The key is to take in the big picture. It would be a shame to be ranked number 1 in the search engines for your key phrase and drive hundreds or thousands of visitors to your site but not get any business from it.
After all, aren’t we all in business to make money?
So when you measure, make sure that you measure throughout the funnel. How many calls or sales or submissions do you get through your web site? These are measurables that create direct contact with a potential customer. Once the web site has accomplished that, then it is up to you and your processes to close the deal.
So if you see that your web site traffic has doubled or tripled, or perhaps had a 20% increase, that should translate into an increased amount of direct contact measurables. If it hasn’t, it’s time to re-examine your site.
Now you will want to measure things like bounce rate and time on site to see what is and is not working. If your home page has a really high bounce rate, for example, then you need to look at what isn’t working on the home page. Is it difficult to navigate? Is it unclear what the next step is?
By evaluating what you’re measuring, you get the big picture and can make meaningful changes that will positively affect your bottom line.
During the cold war, the key US phrase was “Trust but Verify”. When it comes to your web site, the phrase should be “Measure but Evaluate”.
During a meeting with a potential client this week I made a casual inquiry, asking which payment processor they currently used for the ecommerce web site.
“Oh, we do it manually” they said. It turns out they use an antiquated system that sends them the customer’s credit card information via email. They then take that information and run it through their Point of Sale software to charge the account.
Oops. That is a dangerous if not illegal procedure.
Emails, by their very nature, travel from computer to computer across the internet. There are ample opportunities for one of these relaying computers to cache a copy of the email, with the customer credit card information. This then creates an opportunity for the information to not be secure. If this data is encrypted, it is reasonably secure. If not, it is a ticking time bomb. I don’t want to be there when the ticking stops.
Once the email has arrived, a host of other security issues arise:
- Is the network secure?
- Is the computer secure?
- What happens with the email after the transaction has been processed?
- Was it printed out?
- If it was printed out, what is done with the print out after the transaction has processed?
In Colorado it is, to my understanding, illegal to store a hard copy of the complete credit card number of a customer.
If you are a merchant and aren’t sure if your system is compliant, a good place to get started is https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/merchants/.
Another valuable source is EduCyber Endorsed SGP Services. Give Sean a call at 303-697-7799.
Would you build the foundation for your house and then begin to ponder what rooms you should put in the house and where the walls should go?
Of course not.
Yet when it comes to building a web site this is precisely the model that most businesses follow. First they build the site and they begin to think about Internet marketing. “What should we try to accomplish?” “Should we do a search campaign?” “What should the call to action be on this page?” All of these questions are best answered BEFORE you design your site.
You don’t want to have brick walls if you’re planning on stucco. Before you start you need to determine what your goals are for your site. These can be marketing goals – “We want to generate 25 new leads a month through the site” or they can be customer-relationship goals “We want customers to be able to download their portfolio without needing to call us” or a myriad of others. The important thing is to understand the goals as you begin to design the site.
Recently I met with a business owner who thought she had nearly completed her complex membership site. She wanted my help with “the last little piece” of managing the logins. What she had, in fact, was very much like the old western movie sets. Walk down main street and you think you’re really in the old west. Then you open a door to look inside and instead you just see the desert stretching off into the distance.
Facade – What’s behind your web site?
She had cobbled together a few pieces that really looked enticing but there was no backend to manage the processes that she wanted. While that is an extreme case of not having a firm foundation, we see again and again how the design and development of a site do not support the goals of the site owner.
Once you have your goals established, you can then envision how they will be attained through the site and this will lead to a site that actually helps your business grow.
There are lots of places on the Internet you can go to get a web site designed for less than $100. You get what you pay for however. There are also web sites that will help you with Search Engine Optimization for only $25 or some such nonsense. Again you get what you pay for which in this case can actually be counterproductive to your site. Finally there are some excellent graphic designers out there that learn how to convert their work into html and declare themselves to be web designers. For a modest sum, they will build you a web site. Be very careful in this case also.
There are three main elements to web design that you need to make sure you’ve got covered:
1) Good design
Building a good web site means that it needs to be designed to fit YOUR needs. The problem with most do-it-yourself template sites is that you have to customize your needs to the template rather than having the design customized to your needs. Your site should be visually engaging and should be customized to help you get your message across to your customers.
2) Search Engine Friendliness
We won’t lie to you. SEO is very competitive and can get quite expensive. But a key part of web design is an architecture that is friendly to search engines. Some key elements to include in the design: using key words in file names and in image tags; naming sub-directories well; and the obvious – using keywords in the written content – but then also placing that written content in the best place on the page. None of these are included in your super-cheap online SEO services but more importantly, many web designers don’t use or understand these principles.
I’ve seen some really beautiful web sites but have had no clue what the next step is. Often graphic designers that hang up their web design shingle are the culprits. They design visually engaging graphics that don’t point the user to the next step. A term often used with web sites is “intuitive”. An intuitive web site is one where the user can easily figure out (without having to do any “figuring”) what to do. Navigation, for example, isn’t hidden or difficult to figure out – instead the menu items are clearly menu items and you can click on them to move to the next page.
Having good fresh content for your site is vital for keeping people coming back to your site and to make your site relevant. Google gets this pretty well. So know they have Google Web Elements. Essentially web elements lets you take different content from Google and display it on your site.
Since Google excels at search, I decided to see how difficult it would be to integrate Web Elements into a page at Educyber.com. Our Social Media Marketing Page hasn’t been updated in more than a month so at the Web Elements home page I clicked on News. Choose the size I wanted typed in Social Media in the Create one field, copied the code, pasted it into www.educyber.com/web/educyber-social-media-marketing.php, uploaded it and “Ta Dah” I was done. (Go ahead and check it out – scroll to the bottom of the page)
Now I don’t really like this kind of integration because if anyone clicks the link that Google displays, they go away from my site and off to someone else’s. That can’t be good for business, can it?
But there are some useful features that can work for your site. For example, you can embed a Google Calendar onto your site. So, say for example you hold regular events, meetings or seminars. You can create a Google Calendar, make it public and then pull your calendar onto whichever page(s) on your site you want.
Or if you have a powerpoint presentation that would be beneficial to share with your web visitors, choose Presentations, upload your presentation (or link to someone else’s), then copy the code and paste into your web page – Presto! You have a web presentation.
All in all, Web Elements is a useful application – one of those “Why didn’t I think of this?” kind of tools that can help you engage your web visitors.
What does it take to build a better web site? Do you need to be flashier? Do you need to have bells and whistles? Should it have music playing? Do you need to cram it full of links?
Actually the best web sites are often the simplest. And the simplest thing to do is help people quickly find the information or product they want so they can move on to something else. With that in mind, when we talk to folks looking for a web site, the first question we ask is “What are the goals for your site?”
More customers is NOT a good answer to that question. Convert five web site visitors to customers each month IS a good answer. With that kind of clearly defined goal you can begin to look at what is the most effective way to convert a visitor to a customer and design around that.
The second question I usually ask is “Who is your target market?” And no, everyone, is not a good answer. The more clearly you can build an image of who the target market is, the more focused your site can be. If a Tuxedo shop, for example wanted to target brides (because they make the decision on what tuxes will be used) and their mothers, that will help to dictate what colors are used (white and baby blue perhaps), what textures the site should have (lots of lace in this example) and even what kinds of lines or shapes (rounded corners will look softer and more inviting).
So if you want to build a better web site, you don’t necessarily have to go cutting edge. Just determine what you want the site to do and who you want to market to and you’ll be well on the way to building a better site.