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Increase the ROI of Your Website

Design a website that gets visitors to take action. With so much discussion centered around Search and driving traffic to your site, it’s easy to overlook another equally important key to website ROI – content and navigation optimization.

1. Set your goals

In the dot com days, people designed websites around “user experience” and “usability”. Clickthroughs were considered a sufficient measure of success and very few of us paid any attention to website ROI. This has all changed.

Today, website ROI is measured by conversions — how frequently visitors reach your goals. Goals are activities on your website that are important to the success of your business. Obviously, a sale is a goal if you sell online. A request for a sales call is another example of a goal. So is an email registration. Even if you have a purely brochure-ware site, you might consider viewing the Contact page or a Product Spec page to be a goal.

The point is that if you haven’t built one or more key activities – goals – into your site, no amount of site re-working is going to help. Without goals, you haven’t created any connection points with your prospects and customers and you’ll have no way of knowing how well you meet your visitors’ needs or of measuring your website ROI.

2. Get that first click

A visitor to your site will do one of two things upon entering your site – click deeper into your site or leave. It’s a coin toss that most sites lose on their entry page.

Everything on an entry page must be designed and written to entice a visitor to click. Why? That first click is going to be either a conversion to one of your goals or the first step down one of your conversion paths. The visitor gets to choose the path that looks most interesting to her. In doing so, she gives you valuable information about her needs and interests – if you use web analytics and are paying attention.

In particular, I recommend that you look at your Entrance Bounce Rates. The Bounce Rates will show you how many visitors you lose from each entrance page. Do everything you can to lower the number of “bounces”. Next, look at each entrance page traffic. This will show not only where visitors go, but how frequently visitors who go there convert to each of your goals (in terms of a conversion %).

It is likely that your home page has several audiences. Potential customers, partners, investors, journalists all may have an interest in your company. Speak directly to each need and make the next step clear. Use active words such as “Learn”, “Ask”, “Browse”, “Sign up”. Use “you” and “your”; avoid “we” and “our”. Keep copy short and to the point. Remember, you just want them to make that first click and start down the path.

But if you don’t sell online, how is it possible to measure per visit value? The answer is that you can calculate per visit value and ROI based upon goal values that you supply.

If you think about it, every goal online has a value. Let’s say you know that your sales team can close one out of every ten leads that requests to be contacted. If the average sale is $1000, that means that each request to be contacted is worth $100.

Not all lead captures are equal. Let’s say that only one of every one hundred visitors who signs up for your newsletter actually ends up buying. For the same average sale of $1000, each sign up is only worth $10.

For sales, use the value of the transaction to calculate ROI. For non-sales goals, use the value you’ve set for each goal.

3. Call your audience to action

Buy Now. Add to Shopping Cart. Calls to action, obviously, but not the only ones you should have on your site. Make sure your visitors always know what to do next, so that they aren’t left standing in your store, overwhelmed by choices. Add calls to action on every page of your site: Learn More, Help Them Decide, Compare, Next Step. Gently lead visitors down the conversion path, and you’ll earn more from the visitors you get.

4. Simplify conversion steps

The easier it is for a visitor to reach her objective, the more likely it is she’ll convert. Obviously, you need to provide the information that the visitor needs before she’ll buy or ask for a sales call, but consider carefully how much information you need to ask for. Do you really need to ask your visitors to select a city from a form when they already give you a zip code?

The Defined Funnel Navigation will help you identify where you are losing visitors on the path to conversion. The site stats show the conversion path that you expect visitors to take. Traffic tracking shows where the visitors who leave the funnel go. Traffic tracking shows where the visitors who enter the funnel come from.

Use reports to identify steps where visitors lose interest. Go back and tighten up these critical pages. Make sure the next steps are always clear and that you aren’t asking for too much from your visitors.

Effective Marketing + Content Optimization = Max. ROI

To summarize, you’ll maximize return from the visitors you attract if you do the following things:

  1. Create key activities (goals) on your site.
  2. Get that first click towards conversion.
  3. Call your audience to action on each page.
  4. Simplify the conversion path.
  5. Experiment and measure!

Of course, content optimization doesn’t eliminate the need for marketing. On the contrary, the two are complementary. Once your website begins to turn visitors into customers, you’ll have even more incentive to drive traffic.

In fact, with a content optimized website, you’ll get that much more benefit from sophisticated marketing and tracking reports – allowing you to see which email blasts, ad campaigns, and keywords really drive the quality traffic to your site. Ultimately, your highest ROI will come from effectively using site traffic tracking for tuning both your marketing and your content.