It’s a story that gets told over and over again in the board rooms of our businesses. And one that is rarely accurate.
It’s the story of your website’s return on investment (ROI) and how often this is undervalued.
It usually goes something like this (a true story).
“The website again proved disappointing this month, yielding only two email enquiries.”
Those of you who have been around websites long enough will be able to spot the problem with this statement straight away.
For everyone else, the correct answer goes way beyond email enquiries.
Email enquiries is but one measure of the effectiveness of your website. In no particular order the key others are:
- Online sales
- Website visits
- Phone calls
- E-news signups
- Social media connections
- Search engine position
In turn, these benefits can be grouped into two categories: direct leads and “lead assists”.
These occur when your website is directly responsible for the lead or sale. Typically they occur when a visitor searches for the good or service you provide via either free or paid search engine result and is directed to your site.
Once inside your website, and provided there is enough confidence to proceed with the next stage of the sale process, they then proceed to either:
- Purchase online
- Order online
- Complete a briefing or quotation request
- Email you
- Phone you
- Visit your store or office
That’s right. Email is but one of many actions your prospect might take to further their query with you.
If you are not collecting and recording all of these “touchpoints” your data on the effectiveness of your website will be inaccurate and probably misleading.
The first four of these can be accurately measured because like all things digital, they leave a trail for you to inspect and report on.
The last two aren’t so obvious. Unless your points of contact record them, you may be blissfully unaware that your website has in fact been responsible for that query or sale.
These occur when your website has contributed to the sales process in some way rather than be fully responsible for it. And sometimes it’s difficult to determine just how important the website has been as part of that chain.
Suffice to say if it wasn’t for the website, that chain may well have been broken along the way and the prospect lost to a competitor.
Ways your website can contribute to a lead include:
- Finding out more about your business
- Finding your contact details
- Joining your e-newsletter
- Liking or connecting with your social media outlets
- Influencing your prominence on search engines
Again, the website’s role in a query or sale may only be a fleeting unique visit to your website. But that visit may well have played a critical role in an individual taking whichever next step they choose to take with you.
Proof of capability and credibility
One increasingly important job for your website is the provision of all important capability and credibility.
I’m not sure of exactly what proportion of non-grocery purchases entail a visit to the vendor’s website but by now it must be very high indeed.
Who hasn’t visited the website of a prospective supplier in an effort to ensure they are kosher and have some evidence of their capabilities and quality, even if you plan to do business with them via another communications medium?
In fact the fewer physical outlets you have, the greater the likelihood that your prospects will drop in on your website on the way to do business with you.
Next time you or your staff member reports on the direct evidence of your website’s performance, be sure to measure more than just inbound emails as the key performance indicator.
Reporting and measuring all of the above factors will give you a much better indication of your true website ROI.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.
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