Marketing Communications Pros are lucky now — we live in an era where the behavior of prospects can be analyzed and scrutinized, in hopes it might be monetized. But this requires a keen understanding of “key performance indicators” (KPIs), and a focus on actionable analytics. We’ll review analysis tips and tactics, but first let’s consider how a website design is only a starting point.
You Website Design is Only a Starting Hypothesis
Your design is a “hypothesis” — huh? — a hypothesis for what? Your website design is a visual interface hypothesis which you hope/believe will serve to engage your target prospects and lead them to completing desired business outcome goals. Way too many MarComm Managers, perhaps stuck in the grove of print materials that were
costly to rework, not only blow past opportunities to improve site performance, but simply cling to their “faith based” belief in their preliminary “beta” design. That’s all your design is — a beta proposition — and clinging to it means you’re just stubbornly hoping it might work well. More importantly it means you are stubbornly missing out on ROI improvements you can make.
If you think your initial design gambit does not need improvement, then the rest of the article is not for you. If instead, you would like to use Analytics to help gather more prospects, leads, and customers — read on.
The Analytics Mindset – Landing Pages, Consideration Pages, Action Pages
First make a sitemap and analyze each page as either a landing page, a page where visitors are reviewing what you propose — consideration pages, or action pages where you seek to have them download a white paper, become a lead, or convert to a customer. Then have a good stare at the infographic above from icrossing (click to enlarge it) and note four things to study: where visitors originate, the type of persuasion page (in the dashed line box), how you may analyze performace, and most importantly — what you can do to improve performance. Improving on your beginning design hypothesis may involve A/B testing, heatmap testing, retargeting your content based on behavior, and other forms of site optimization. And by optimization, here I do not mean SEO. Remember that you are not optimizing a website, but for behavior AT a website.
What Performance Indicators are Actionable?
I’ll give you a few tips here, but the art and science of analyzing performance data then taking action requires a symphony of cross discipline skills including copy writing, user interface tactics, content marketing engagement strategy, and graphic design. Your design is not finished at launch — are you buying this yet? You should always be reviewing and adjusting and even redesigning your site — all studies and persona experience teach that you will improve your sales results when you take smart action. Let’s look at a couple of metrics and related tactics.
Seek to lower bounce rate
Analysis: Most understand bounce rate intuitively but let’s ask two related questions: bounce rate for which visitor segment(s); and do you address lowering rate with onsite or offsite tactics? Short answer to question one: key in on new visitors. Short answer to question two: use both onsite and offsite tactics.
What can we learn from the above?
- Are these acceptable bounce rates? Both our Agency and the Client bounce rates may be reduced. A general rule of thumb is to shoot for a 45% – 65% bounce rate. Some of this depends on the type of site you are measuring, where ours is for an Agency, and our client is a publishing site — both can be lowered.
- Lower New Visitor Bounce Rates. We like to see new visitors with a lower or similar bounce rate to returning visitors — this goes to how well crafted your content is for target “personas”. Our Agency can reduce New Visitor bounce rates by more closely complimenting content to the solutions our target prospects are seeking. And, since our client is a publishing site, they need to test the theory that their New Visitor Bounce Rate is too high — that new visitors don’t find the site interesting enough to take a look around beyond just the first page.
- Always check for Goal Values. New versus Return visitors mean nothing unless they are completing some action your business needs like downloading case studies, signing up for newsletters, and becoming leads. This key performance indicator assumes you have thought out your goals and entered them into analytics. Above, we see in both cases, that return visitors are worth more to the business than new customers. That’s as it should be, but now your question is can we raise those value numbers?
Action: Ok. What can we do to affect bounce rates and associated goal values by visitor type?
- Ask: First, simply ask your visitors if they were able to find what they needed. Do this with polling software.
- Content Focus: Next consider your editorial strategy — are you writing posts that will engage the prospects you seek? What about infographics, videos, slideshows, and other types of content to help boost engagement?
- On-site Content Marketing Tactics: Use your CMS (we specialize in WordPress) built in and plugin options to surface important content and study the results. One example would be to use our MaxRef Content Marketing Widgets plugin to show popular posts, pages, and links in the sidebar, then use Google’s “In Page Analytics” to study results.
- Think Off-Site, Inbound Marketing, and ask — am I engaging the right prospects and enticing them to my site? There are a number of ways to do this — one we use quite often is to target appropriate groups on LinkedIn.
- Continual Testing: Your design is simply a beta hypothesis (yes, I’m repeating this again for emphasis) until you test it to improve what visitors are doing at your site. You can even learn the “why” of their behavior during testing. One tool we like is Five Second Tests. Learn more about our Testing Methodology for Landing Page Campaigns.
This is just the tip of the “actionable analytics” iceberg — I’ve written a longer series on this for Content Marketing Institute. And, we’re happy to give you a quote on a custom analytics review of your website — contact us today.