One of of the most important aspects for any web site is the ability to measure return on investment. Not only does this allow a client to understand what they are getting in return for the money they spend, but it provides metrics you can use to gauge success and tweak your online strategy over time to optimize performance. Since all of our online marketing strategies are focused on the web site as a "ground zero" tactic, these measurables are super important.
Tips for Measuring Return on Investment
- Define web site conversions
- Determine how these conversions will be measured
- Assign metrics to those conversions that are not actual "sales"
- Monitor conversion performance over time
- Tweak strategies based on these performance metrics
Lets look at a few of these tips in a little more detail...
1. Define Web Site Conversions
The first thing we do before we build a web site is to list what our "expected outcomes" are for our target users. This may include filling out a lead request form, downloading a pdf file, viewing a video, or actually booking a vacation. Understanding what actions define "conversions" on your web site allows you to formulate and measure a complete strategy to gauge success and tweak the user experience as needed over time to optimize the performance.
2. Determine How Conversions are Measured
If your web site is an online store, conversions are pretty easy to measure. Obviously, you want your success to be determined by how many products you sell. Most online store systems can be connected to Google Analytics and you can view your e-commerce data by source. On a basic level, this means you can determine how much of your sales are from "search traffic", "direct traffic" to your web site, or even "social referrals" from your facebook page. This is all great information to know and helps you figure out what tactics may be driving your online sales and which ones, not so much.
But, if your business is based on lead generation, it gets more difficult to determine how your conversions are measured. There are a number of actions that are still very important in the sales process that hold value and are easy to measure.
These might include:
- Lead forms filled out
- File downloads
- Videos viewed
- Phone calls from your site
- Important page views
- Map views for local directions
3. Assign Metrics to those conversions that are not actual sales
So let's look at a real life example. In this case, we will consider a restaurant web site that gets about 50k visits a month. Their ultimate goal is to generate reservations and get web site users into seats. This is one metric that can be measured through the reservation system, But, there are additional conversions that also hold value. These include private party or wedding guide downloads (.pdf file), menu views, employment form applications completed, and recipe views. Since there is not a real monetary value behind all of the actions, you can actually use Google Analytics to assign a value and use that as a metric to measure success. So for example, we might assign $1 to each menu view as a measurable metric. While this article will not go through all the ways to measure conversions, there are plenty of great articles that do, including this Google help document.
Once you get your tracking code in place on your different measurables, you are able to build a very useful dashboard view of your conversion performance as seen below.
For each of your conversions, you can also get more specific. In this case, we are able to look at restaurant "menu views" by source. I can see how many users viewed menus from social campaigns, google organic traffic, yelp referrals, etc. This is valuable information and can drive decisions for a variety of marketing tactics toward what is working and get away from what is not.
4. Monitor conversion performance over time
Once you have conversions defined and measured, it's important to measure and compare performance over time. If you have year over year (YOY) metrics, you can view this month's performance vs the same month last year to determine if you are improving in your conversion strategy.
As an example, in the chart below, it shows our "Wedding Guide Downloads" were up this January over 72% from last year. The wedding guide .pdf file was downloaded 340 times in Jan '20 vs 197 times in Jan '19. So, our efforts to generate interest in wedding party bookings as private events this year is paying off.
5. Tweak strategies based on performance metrics
When you are able to measure your conversions, you have a valuable tool to gauge success and tweak your strategies over time. Once these metrics are in place, you are able to source all of your marketing efforts to determine if they are working or not. Running an ad on a certain web site? Well, let's look at whether the traffic from that ad actually converted or not. Sending out an email marketing piece every monday to promote specials? Well, let's look and see if any revenue was generated from the traffic sourced from that email. Running some PPC ads on desired search terms? Let's look at which terms are actually producing conversions to tweak our paid search strategy as we go.
These are invaluable tools to help understand return on investment for web site strategies. If you are looking for a web site with an online marketing strategy that produces measurable results, connect with us today!