Before doing any changes to your web site, the first thing to figure out are your goals. As a web development shop, we focus on building web sites that create measurable value for our customers, aligned with their goals.

Some common goals:

  • Help me close more sales from people who I send to my web site (brochure/information)
  • Bring me new customers (online marketing, SEO)
  • Help me manage sales leads (CRM)
  • Increase sales (e-commerce)

How you should revamp your site completely depends upon which of those goals (or whatever other goals you may have) are most important for your business at the current time.

If your most important goal is converting sales from people who reach your web site, you should really focus on how you want users to go through your site. Provide a clear "next action" on each page that leads to the next page you want them to view, and create compelling content to make them want to continue until you've established enough trust to get them to take action -- pick up the phone and call, do an online chat, fill out a proposal form, etc.

If your biggest goal is bringing in new customers, you'll want to focus on content around your keywords. SEO is a big focus these days, but in my opinion far too narrow of one. This is really about marketing, and SEO is just one component of that -- and furthermore, it is "optimization" of your search rankings, not a substitute for good content in the first place. Remember that Google is trying to deliver the best content to its users, so why not give it to them? Create good content that is engaging, interesting, and relevant to your business. Share it with your existing network and customer base, and encourage them to share as well. You'll get good SEO results as a side effect of this work -- but more importantly, this is good marketing material to help you convert sales as well.

If you already have a flood of sales leads, you might need help keeping track of them, especially if your sales cycle is long. This is where "Customer Relationship Management" (CRM) comes into play. We think in many cases large CRM systems like SalesForce is way more than most small businesses need -- adding some CRM functionality in your public facing site can really help. A more sophisticated CMS like Drupal will allow you to create content types for leads, companies, and activities, and can be wired together to remind you of an activity you need to do, such as following up on a sales lead after 5 business days, or set up with email templates you can populate with standard sales language, giving you an opportunity to edit before sending.

Finally, if you can sell your products online, you can focus your efforts on making it easier for your customers to find items they might be interested in. There are dozens of excellent tactics to consider -- adding a rating system and reviews, showing related items, running sales, setting up an affiliate program and distributing coupon codes, etc.

In all cases, you must decide up front how you want to measure your results. If you don't know what impact your changes have made, why would you go to the time and trouble of making them?

If your goal is increasing conversion on a brochure site, ask your customers how many visited the site before buying. And measure the traffic your site gets -- dividing those two numbers can give you a ratio of effectiveness, at least of the people who manage to find your site somehow.

If your goal is online marketing, web site analytics can easily provide you with numbers.

For CRM and E-Commerce, you're adding more layers. Think of these measurements in terms of a funnel -- as you go down the funnel, the number of people left gets smaller. Your goal in any website re-vamp should be to widen the funnel at the point where you see the greatest fall-off. But first you have to define your funnel, and what layers are in it. And then measure your current results. You might end up with something like this -- be sure to specify the time period you're measuring:

May 2013

  • Number of unique visitors to web site: 2958
  • Number of visitors to multiple pages: 469 (e.g. non-bounces)
  • Number of repeat visitors: 120
  • Number of leads: 20 (e.g. filled out contact form, called)
  • Number of qualified leads: 15 (e.g. a sales person called and identified a project)
  • Number of closed sales/conversions: 6
  • Number of new sales from previous customers: 5

The irony here is that improving some of these numbers may not make others better. For example, if you do a lot of SEO, you might bring in far more unique visitors to your web site, but if they aren't visitors who have anything to do with your business, you're unlikely to get any to visit other pages on your site, let alone purchase from you.

In our example funnel, the numbers you really care about are probably the last two. If you aren't getting repeat business from existing customers, you may want to spend more time making sure you're delivering a quality product or service, and making your customers happy. If you're only converting 0.5% of your traffic into customers, there are quite a variety of reasons that might explain that:

  • You're attracting a lot of people to your site who are not potential customers -- you're reaching the wrong audience
  • The content of your site is not engaging, not building a rapport that could lead to a sale
  • There's no clear way to buy from you, no attempt to close a sale
  • You have a high cost service and that conversion rate is normal

Ok. So what changes should you make to your web site? Take a look at your numbers, and make a theory about what you could do better to lead to more sales. Set that up as a goal, identify a target number you're aiming for, make changes based on your theory, and measure the result. Did you see improvement? Great! Identify the next thing to improve and set the next goal. No improvement? Try a different theory.

This is why I like to warn that your web site is never done. If you're not actively analyzing and managing the performance of your web site and tying that to business results, you're doing it wrong and you're surely leaving opportunities on the table.

And of course, if you need a web partner to help you measure these numbers and change your site to achieve your goals, drop us a line or give us a call!

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