Turning Website Visitors Into Customers
by Siouxie Boshoff
Lots of web site visitors, but no sales. Some visitors and some sales. No web site visitors and no sales. These are the common dillemas faced by most web site owners. But what does all this mean?
First things first. If all you know is that the website is "not working", but you don't know why, that's okay, because there are software programs available that can tell you exactly what you need to know. I'm talking about what It is commonly referred to as web site visitor tracking software or web site statistical tracking or website analytics. In either case, it is brilliant and neccessary if you want a web site that rocks.
In determining how effective a website really is, website stat traffic software can give you a clear picture of what’s actually happening. You can find out how many visitors, how often they come, where they are coming from, how they got there and where they are going when they get there. This is an extremely vital tool for webmasters or website owners. In fact, if you are reading this now so that you can apply this in some aspect to your website and you don't have any sort of statistical tracking, then that is the first thing to remedy. Get stat tracking on your web site immediately, then let it roll for a few weeks and come back to this then. Otherwise, what I have to say here, will be of little use.
What Really Counts in the Bottom Line
The first should be a given for any professional web designer and anything other than the above is really not worth mentioning. In fact a website can win awards for being “beautiful”, but if it is not generating leads or sales – then honestly, who cares? At the end of the day it is the bottom line that matters, and that equates to more business from that web site. So, how can you determine a website's effectiveness?
How to Assess a Website’s Effectiveness
Analyzing stat tracking results, you can usually determine which situation applies to a website. It will almost always be one of the following:
1) Few site visitors, and a high conversion rate.*
2) Lots of web site visitors, but little to no conversion.
It probably means one of two things; Either the website is designed ineffectively and does not drive people to become leads or sales, OR that site is ranking for search terms that bring in alot of unqualified traffic. In many cases it will be the former, and in some cases it will be the latter. You can get some idea by using stat tracking to see where all the traffic is coming from. If most of the traffic is coming from the search engines, you should be able to actually see which search terms people used to find the site. If the search terms are too broad – then the site will get less targeted traffic. If the search terms are fairly precise, and they are getting a lot of traffic – then an overhaul of some kind is definitely in order because something about that website is COSTING them leads and sales.
If they are getting most of their traffic from “blind referrals”, it usually means that people are actually typing the web address directly into their browser – in which case it means that the web site is being promoted in some way, shape or form, but that the visitors are not being converted to a sale or lead. The site could be unprofessional, could be confusing, difficult to navigate or possibly just missing a call to action (meaning there may be no incentive for someone to become a lead or sale, or no obvious way for them to become a lead or sale). Regardless of the circumstances, the site would need to be overhauled in some manner to make it more effective.
3) Little to no site visitors and little to no leads or sales.
This can be remedied rather quickly by implementing the same actions as covered in #1 above, along with some direct marketing (postcards, print ads, etc). Regardless of how this is accomplished, it has to be done because without sufficient traffic to the web site, there is no way to gauge how effective the website is.
As a side note, in my experience, clients that invest in marketing their web site actively through internet ad campaigns (like Google AdSense and other similar) as well as through traditional means, will on the average get the most traffic to their web site. Those that don't do anything to promote their web site generally will end up with a web site that is virtually invisible. That just seems to be how it goes.
The above guidelines should help you immensely in determining the most effective course of action to create a successful website. I hope that it will help you get the traffic AND the conversion you dream of.
*Conversion rate: When used in websites statistics, it simply means the number of site visitors who are converted to a lead or sale.
**Investing in search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to most web sites, however, in this case I am referring to either investment of money by paying a professional, reputable SEO expert to do the work for you or investment of your time (which includes learning about SEO and then implementing it - both of which can be very time consuming, but are well worth it).