This post is for any business where management has access to the website’s analytics data. At some very large corporations, that data may be reserved for the eyes of marketing only. But if you can get it, here’s what to look for and how to improve sales quickly.
This post refers to Google analytics. Other ‘brands’ of site data aggregation are similar.
What to Look at First
The first thing to look at is the number of total visitors and where they are located. Compare with period over period for prior year. This tells you if your traffic is up or down for the same period. Obvious and simple. Draw your own conclusions on that one.
Time on Site
Next, look at total time on site. This tells you how long visitors, on average, stay on your site once they land there. Again, compare with comparable period. If your business is new, compare with a period of at least 4-6 months ago. Comparing with last month isn’t very useful.
Don’t be alarmed if the time on site is 1 – 2 minutes. About half of site visitors leave immediately—ooops, wrong thing. That means the ones who stay, stay a while.
This is a metric we want to build. The longer a visitor stays, the greater the chance they will call. You build time on site by delivering relevant content. A blog page is a good way to build time on site unless the content or writing is poor.
Look next at content, all pages. This tells you two important things about your site. Look at Bounce Rate per page and Time on Page. Both of these are critical.
What is bounce rate? When someone enters your site, they land on a particular page which is not necessarily the homepage. For example, if your site offers clothing for men and women, a search for “men’s shirts” will bring a visitor in on your page devoted to men’s shirts. We seldom enter a site through the homepage unless we type the site address as www.teachu.com. In that case, you will enter through the homepage.
A bounce only counts if the visitor leaves your site completely from the page they entered. If they enter on men’s shirts then go to the homepage, then leave the site, it’s not a bounce.
Do you see the importance of the bounce rate? If 90% of site visitors who enter through a particular page leave your site without going to any other pages, that’s bad. The lower the bounce, the better.
Now look at Time on Page for every page of your site. High bounce and low time on page is a deadly combination. What about a high time on page and a high bounce rate? That’s weird. They stay a long time but leave without looking around. That can mean your visitors are confused with your content. They read it and tried understand it but in the end, they left.
What about a very low time on page and a low bounce rate? Is that good? Not really. It means they aren’t happy with where they landed but they aren’t done with you. Why didn’t they like that page?
What to Do?
Start work on the pages with the worst statistics. Change images. Re-write the copy. DO NOT RE-DO YOUR ENTIRE WEBSITE. If the message is wrong, no amount of “site pretty” will fix that. FIX THE MESSAGE FIRST.
Key pages with low time on page and high bounce are serious danger signs. If the page explains what your business offers and has a “call to action” but the visitors are leaving in a hurry, you are losing business.
How long does it take to read this page? If I see this post has a 2 second time on page, what does that tell me? Either no one cares or they hate the writing.
Make a Plan
Look at the bounce and time on page for the important pages of your site. Important? Yes. Who cares about the mandatory privacy page? Look first at your homepage. Re-write, edit, re-write, edit. Plan the priority of the pages you will edit. Fix a few, watch the numbers. As the numbers improve, so will the calls and the sales.
This process is on-going. You must tune constantly to improve these metrics. Doing this will put money in the bank. I see people work for hours on some silly PDF give away or fluffing up a useless Facebook page when the content of their website is the barrier to growth.
If you do this, I guarantee you will see sales improve. If you are a sales manager and have never seen the website analytics, you are missing the most important tool available. Why?
And if you have not set up analytics or need help improving your metrics, call me. If you need further help understanding the metrics, call me. If you want to improve the metrics and don’t know where to begin, call me.
Chris Reich, TeachU (530) 467-5690