09 August 2013 , by A. Cedilla
- How would you know if you’re making money –or bleeding it– if you don’t record your sales and overhead?
- How would you know if your new marketing campaign is making an impact unless you track the numbers before and after you institute the promotion?
It’s an accepted fact the the internet has changed the way we do business. What hasn’t changed is that it still takes money to make money. Even if you’re working out of a closet, you still need certain things, things which require money. And time. And labor.
And then there’s the matter of getting something (preferably money) in return for what you shell out, and knowing how much, exactly, did you gain for all your work.
So, to figure out your return on investment, you need to measure, record and analyze specific things to get a clear picture. For an online business’s standpoint, it isn’t just the sales but the branding, how well you are known and how well you are selling. This includes things like conversion rates for visitors, sales, sign-ups, etc. You have to know your numbers.
- To watch over your site growth and know if you’re getting more page-views and higher quality traffic.
- To monitor the effectiveness of your campaign performance — you can track what you measure, and change what’s not working while improving on the rest.
- To find out what your customers are looking for in particular and then revamp your approach so you can give it to them, and-or bring more of it to their attention.
- To drive your sales. (See above.)
- To get enough data to improve your site design and internal navigation, thereby getting more people to stay and buy.
You can’t be accurate if you don’t measure things, you can’t take measures without data, and you can’t improve if you don’t know how much you need to change to improve, or what to improve in particular.
Measuring success online
There’s probably enough software available to measure any metric you want, but the right numbers are the ones that can clearly help you decide what to do to improve your website and get more more visitors to become customers through actual purchases.
Marketing-wise, you want to kick up the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns, which include customer acquisition, click-throughs, and conversion rates, among other things. Website-wise, you want to improve the effectiveness of your website in terms of online sales, page-views, sign-ups, etc.
The most basic method to boost your online success is: Get more people to learn about your website. Get more people to visit your website. Get more of those visitors to buy things from you. This basically covers branding, advertising and conversion.
How well you’ve analyzed your target audience and tailor your site, your services, your content and your products to fit influences your conversion rate.
- The more streamlined you make the purchasing process, the faster the customer gets to seal the deal and both of you get what you want.
- If you add a recommendations function, for example, you can cross-sell and up-sell your other products, increasing sales.
- With a ratings system put it, you can gather testimonials about your products and build a reputation for excellence.
Measuring your success online
In this case it’s time to put some special blinkers on. Don’t look at your competitors this time, only focus on improving your own website’s performance and results. The number of industry-specific benchmarks is overwhelming enough with out trying to hit all of them like a constantly shifting report-card from hell. Find out your most important areas to keep your business alive and thriving, and build those numbers up. Consistent improvement is vital to continued success.
That being said, there are very basic key areas that you probably know about already:
• Conversion rate
• Return on investment
Many people see the conversion rate simply as the way to measure how many people buy products from a website, divided by how many visit the same website in a certain span of time. But conversion rates differ according to the goals of the website owner. Bloggers may aim for followers and newsletter sign-ups, and retailers look for sales, while marketers can look for sales coming in from ads. Then again, you can have all those goals in mind if you own an online business.
For example, let’s say you average 500 visitors to your Web site in a day and one day you have 50 of them sign-up for your mailing list in the same time period. The sign up conversion rate would be 50 sign ups divided by 500 visitors, which equals .10 — a 10% rate. Congratulations. So, the higher your conversion rate by whatever measure, the more effective your strategies are in boosting sales, ad effectiveness and-or sign-ups.
Return on investment
This is a metric that changes according to your goals. While on the outside it simply refers to what you get in return for what you put in, the ‘what you put’ in and ‘what you expect in return’ are variables which determine your successful ROI rate. What are your goals and your metrics, and are they aligned?
For example, you want more people to visit your site, and your records show that your new ad campaign using social media has driven up your visitor count. Your social marketing strategy is effective, but has it contributed to the bottom line of your goals (making money)? If you’re trying to spread awareness of a particular subject, sure, but if you’re trying to boost your sales, and your conversion rate for total visitors and total sales hasn’t budged, you better take a look at the other numbers not under the spotlight.
If you liked this article, here are a few more links that can help:
AdMinder provides software that can track all your online promotional efforts, including the number of visitors, downloads, clicks, and sales, then calculate your cost per click, the success of each ad, and the return on investment for your particular campaign.
Their resource center shares tools, articles and ebooks to help you understand and improve your conversion rates. They also have an impact and conversion rate calculator as well as links to their blog, white papers and WeWe Monitor (their customer focus calculator).
- Web Metrics test, part one and part two, a must-read to see just how much can be lost when you don’t know how to use the data.
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