For reasons that are difficult to fathom, business-to-business website developers are frequently guilty of overlooking ? or ignoring – two of the easiest ? and most important ? ways of ensuring a website performs at peak levels. These are testing and measuring.
Many marketers and designers, especially those schooled in the art of creativity, find testing and measuring boring. But these are several very good reasons to get excited about it:
Testing and measuring provides fast, solid feedback on what your customers and prospects like and don?t like.
You can use the numbers to keep achieving better results.
You can avoid a heck of a lot of costly mistakes.
You have tangible proof of what marketing is doing ? or not doing ? for your sales efforts.
Let?s look at measuring first.
What should you measure?
With the arrival of easy-to-use and easy-to-understand web analytics applications,one of the biggest problems – once you realize you need to measure – is avoiding data overload.
There are a few fundamental all website owners should track. Beyond that it?s up to you to determine what data is really useful. Here?s a good rule of thumb: don?t track anything you?re not going to act on.
Basic critical data includes:
Unique visitors ? the number of unique visitors who visit your website monthly.
How many are new visitors and how many are returning visitors.
Bounce rate ? the percentage of visitors who quickly leave your site from the entry page without going anywhere else. Be sure to consider where the traffic is coming from when looking at bounce rate. For example, pay-per-click traffic will have a higher acceptable bounce rate than direct traffic.
Actions taken ? how many people did something (downloaded a whitepaper, watched a video, requested a sales call, etc.) and what did they do. This is especially important for lead generation sites.
Number of purchases ? an obvious important metric for ecommerce sites.
What should you test?
The simple answer is: test everything you can.
No matter how carefully you follow best practices, persuasion fundamentals and gut instinct from knowledge of your market, one thing is certain: you will not always get it right. One of the most interesting challenges of marketing is the fact that people do not always react the way you think they will. And one of the coolest parts of website marketing is that you can constantly test and improve to get the best results.
Here are just a few elements that are worthy of testing:
Calls to action
As mentioned earlier in this article, you could test literally anything; but keep in mind why you are testing. You want to improve the performance of your website, so test to learn which versions or combinations cause more people to stick to your site and take the actions you want them to take.
? 2008 Tatum Marketing Inc.