How Website Mistakes Can Kill Your ROI
1. Not Setting Up Measurable Goals And Baselines – In any endeavor, setting up goals and baselines is a prerequisite in order to properly measure results and identify problem areas. When marketing online this is even more crucial, not having key data to analyze can destroy your online business if you have no idea what it takes to produce a sale or convert a visitor. You need to be able to answer questions such as, “How many unique visitors do I need to reach X revenue?” What is the optimum click through rate I need on my sales/lead pages?”
In my experience consulting with upper level managers and business owners most are quite frankly clueless when it comes to online marketing. The fact is that you need to be even more stringent than offline with monitoring your various marketing methods because there are so many facets. You need to know which online marketing methods work best for your particular business and customer demographic. The only way to do this is to have measurable baselines to start from and utilize tools such as Google Analytics to measure data such as unique visitors to leads and leads to sales.
2. Establishing Your Own Unique Selling Proposition Or USP – This is like an expansion of the “elevator speech” that many of us were perhaps taught in sales. You know, the quick 20 second overview of what you do and why people should do business with you. In the online world with millions of competitors most businesses fail before they begin because they don’t separate themselves from the crowd.
Don’t follow into this trap. Develop a solid USP and market it on your site and in your advertising. You MUST tell prospective customers what it is about your company or brand that sets you apart from everyone else and WHY they should do business with you. This post from About.com shares some great USPs from well-known brands that should help you see how you should structure your own.
3. Failure to Monitor Bounce Rates – Do YOU know the bounce rate of your website pages? To keep it simple, a bounce is when a visitor comes to a page on your website and then leaves without clicking through. In my experience the majority of websites tend to have bounce rates of 60% or higher. This is costing them a fortune, the target bounce rate should be under 30 percent.
To lower bounce rates be sure that your USP is displayed concisely, while giving a solid overview of the products and services you offer. It should also cover your customer profile(the market you serve), along with how the solution you have to offer solves their problem or need. This information should always be above the fold on the left side of the page so it is highly visible. Get rid of any visual clutter that may distract visitors, and always include clearly defined CTAs or Calls to Action on every page.
4. Search Engine Optimization Or SEO Is Lacking Or Nonexistent
With the information available and the many qualified individuals who have years of SEO experience there is simply no excuse for this. Establishing and online presence without SEO would be like opening a new brick and mortar business with no signage and not telling anyone you are open.
SEO is NOT about “gaming” the algorithms as many novice SEO companies try to do, it is about providing QUALITY content that gives solutions to problems visitors are searching for. SEO is about providing “visitor optimized” content in the form of website copy as well as blog posts, videos and more that utilize the predictive keywords that someone searching for your product or service might be searching for. While you want to include these keywords and phrases in your copy for the “search engine spiders”, you must also ensure that it is “visitor friendly” and not written for particular search engine algorithms which change constantly.
5. Know The Demographic Of Your Ideal Customers – Many online retailers make the mistake of trying to be everything to everybody instead of focusing their marketing where it gives them the best results. Large multi-billion dollar companies can afford to do this because they have broad client bases but most companies NEED to focus on their optimal demographic.
It should go without saying that a website that is marketing medicare to Baby Boomers should be constructed and written differently than one that is selling skateboards and accessories to Gen Xers! You must take the time to implement in depth demographic research to discover your optimal client and create your content primarily for them to obtain the best ROI for your efforts.
6. Be Sure Your Website Is Easy To Navigate And Understand – A lot of brands and businesses get sold on fancy flash presentations and high tech designs that lose the message in all the glitz and glamour. Just because you and your web designer love the look doesn’t mean it will convert well. Make sure that the information flows properly and includes instructions that lead visitors through your sales funnel with no issues that could cause roadblocks in the buying process. Have contact and comment forms on each page and don’t let your ego keep you from accepting constructive criticism from visitors. Use visitor and customer comments to fine tune your every aspect of your online marketing plan.
7. Don’t Lose Your Visitors In Industry Jargon – With few exceptions website copy should be written for the average visitor, which according to statistics is reading and comprehending on around a 6th grade level. This means you need to stay away from using words that aren’t commonly used that require a thesaurus to figure out and don’t write like you are writing your Doctoral thesis.
Obviously if your site is specifically geared towards a niche market such as physicians, or Quantum Physicists then the above may not apply. It all goes back to KNOWING you target market demographic and creating content optimized for them.
8. Include A Strong CTA For Each Page – Don’t put up content on your website just for the sake of content. Each page of your website should have a defined purpose and include a call to action that directs the visitor to accomplish some measurable goal. These actions include opting in to email lists for newsletters, ebook downloads, social media interactions and sales. All of these can and SHOULD be set up and tracked in Google Analytics so you can see where to invest your money and where to cut back. Yes, Google CAN be your friend, IF you know how to use the tools.
Establishing an online presence and creating a marketing plan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing a brand or business on the internet. The Internet is constantly changing and evolving due to the infinite amount of data available to those who create the systems that run it. Even those of us who have made this our chosen career must stay on top of new innovations and changes on a daily basis to continue to be effective.
This is why it pays to hire a company to handle all of these processes for you. No one can run a company and stay on top of the day to day operations that they need to be doing and handle all of the online aspects as well. It just can’t be done. It takes a team of qualified professionals with varied skillsets to accomplish all of the tasks mentioned above in an efficient manner. Even those of us who know how to do all of them would not take on the task alone.