I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of attending workshops, reading articles and blog posts, and hearing the same statement over an over again, “To be successful online you need to test, measure, and test some more.”
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that statement is completely true. I just get irritated to hear people say it over and over again, yet they never provide any useful metrics to gage that success.
Are those metrics some guarded secret of the so called “gurus” out there, or are they simply regurgitating something they heard in an article or a live appearance from some other so called “guru” they are emulating?
Unfortunately whenever there is a new technology or product innovation, there is a flood of opportunistic people and organizations who enter the marketplace trying to position themselves as the experts. I certainly don’t have an issue with that, since that’s marketing and typically the first to gain top of mind awareness in a particular area usually wins. That has changed a bit with the emergence of the Internet and it has made it challenging to hold on to that top position.
The problem I have is that the people and organizations with the least amount of knowledge seem to have the biggest mouths and get the most attention initially. Although these people and organizations are eventually exposed when the naivety in the marketplace starts to dissipate, companies end up losing a bunch of money unnecessarily because they follow these ill equipped “gurus.”
What are some examples of these ineffective metrics?
Back in the day webmasters used to point to “hits” as a basis for showing their incredible success. Today companies understand hits are requests for information from the server and are more relevant in determining how efficiently a website was built, rather than how successful it was based on traffic. The two don’t go hand in hand.
Today, in social media, these same type of organizations seem to be focusing completely on “unique visitors,” Twitter “followers,” or Facebook “fans” as the “golden metrics” that will certainly lead to an organization with hockey stick growth. Each of these metrics do have their place, but can be extremely deceiving if they are used for the primary metrics in judging your online success.
My argument against each of these metrics is simple …
Quality is FAR more important than quantity!
The following are nine metrics you can use as a true measurement of how successful your website strategy and tactical plan are in helping you maximize your online success. My following blog posts will cover what tactics to create to ensure you are taking these metrics into account. Make sure you subscribe to receive these posts on the right hand side of this page.
How many times was your website content …
Creating fresh, new, relevant content is critical to online success. Making sure the right people can find that content and consume it is even more important. Make sure you have the tools in place to measure each piece of content within your Website or other social media properties to keep your finger on the amount of times that content is being seen.
Getting people to your content is only half the battle. I’m sure you’ve found yourself doing searches on Google in the past and when you clicked the link you arrived on a page where you could tell the content was manipulated to appear attractive to the search engines, but not to you … the visitor.
Did you find this content worthy of visiting again? I’m sure NOT!
When you are creating new content for your Website or social media property, make sure it is content people will want to bookmark, subscribe to, or visit again. NEVER focus on creating content that is attractive to the search engines UNLESS it is also perceived as valuable content for your visitors.
Creating content or products that connect with your visitors in such an emotional way that they take the time to rate it is an excellent measure of your online success. This is an area you should keep a close eye on. Not just to see how many emotional connections you’ve made, but to help guide your content and product development in the future. The Internet is NOT a one dimensional medium. It gives you the ability to have conversations that uncover what is most important to your “buyers,” and if you want to be most successful … you will listen and make sure you act upon those suggestions.
I personally believe if you are going to take the time to create content, it’s important to make sure you spend the time to make sure it is content that’s worth spreading. Whether it is a “Re-tweet” on Twitter, a “Share” on Facebook, a “Bookmark” on Del.icio.us, or even if they copy and paste your content into an email and send it to a friend. Don’t create content simply for the sake of creating content. Make sure it is “share worthy.”
When you’ve taken the time to create content, an easy way to find out if you’ve connected with your visitors is whether they’ve felt compelled to leave a comment. Whether it’s a blog post, a status update on your Facebook fan page, or a tweet on Twitter. In my opinion if you never receive a comment, you need to re-evaluate your content strategy and by all means … make sure you are creating interesting and relevant content.
If a visitor is consuming your content and arrives at a link, you obviously want them to click it right? If that’s the case you need to measure how often that is happening, and work on increasing the frequency in which it happens. The frequency can be influenced by a simple change in the verbiage before the link, or in how you ask them to click that link. Remember the first three words in the title of this post are …
Testing and Measurement. :)
Keeping an eye on how your visitors interact with your content is important, but how about that expensive functionality you added to your site? This is a critical step in identifying the ROI on that piece of functionality. It will also allow you to identify deficiencies in the user experience which may lead to the visitor becoming frustrated and exiting your site for your competitor’s site. If you aren’t monitoring the behaviors your visitors are taking and where any potential “leaks” in your sales process exist … you are decreasing your potential revenue opportunities.
This is an easy one but something many companies don’t pay attention to. If you aren’t currently segmenting the sales volume between online and offline efforts, you should do that immediately. If you are a bit more sophisticated you can begin to determine how your offline efforts affect your online sales. This will allow you to be much more strategic which will result in significantly higher sales.
Do you have processes in place to determine how frequently your company or offering is recommended by others? This will tell you quite a bit about the quality of the product or service you are offering to the marketplace, but it will also point to deficiencies in making it easy for others to recommend you. Word of mouth is amazingly strong so make sure you are measuring it, and more importantly, make sure you make it easy for others to recommend you or your products to people they influence.
Please let me know if you have any other performance indicators that you find useful in gauging your levels of success online by leaving a comment below.