The golden rule of website success

Published on Oct 12 2010 under eTail & selling online, Improving your site, Site design

The Golden Rule of website success: Measure everything
I’ve met with 3 online businesses in the last 2 weeks that have all wanted to increase their online sales. None of these businesses were start ups and all are investing significant budget in online marketing. Yet all 3 businesses lack fundamental statistics about their online performance. A massive benefit of working in the online world is that it’s possible to measure everything that your visitors do…and doing most of it is free. So make sure you don’t break the golden rule and measure everything!

In the following post I’ll highlight a couple of actions that will give you the information you need to build a better online business.

Start with the basics

To get started ask your web developer or site administrator to give you access to your website analytics reports. The most popular service that I would recommend is Google Analytics. Analytics is free and used everywhere so as a ‘starter for 10’ I wouldn’t suggest you waste time looking anywhere else. If your webmaster hasn’t set this up yet, ask him to do it. If you’re running an online shop you should ask him to set it up to capture your eCommerce activity. This isn’t rocket science but is something that isn’t usually done simply because it’s not turned on by default.

Add a bit of salt and vinegar

With Analytics turned on and set up to report surprisingly useful information like “how many times people visit before they buy something”, you might want to get into more detailed analysis of user behaviour. A great way to do that is to look at where users click on your website. Although Analytics does have this capability, it’s a bit limited (read: rubbish!) so I suggest using an external ‘Heat map’ service. There are plenty of these about (CrazyEgg, ClickDensity etc.) but they’re all pretty expensive for ongoing use. A new service that is currently ‘in beta’ is Seevolution. It looks promising and offers free heat maps of both where people click and where they’ve scrolled. Other services like MET from Picnet are able to capture and replay customers’ mouse movements. I’m not sure how useful this really is but if it’s bells and whistles you’re after this could be the service for you.

So what?

Using Analytics and tracking user behaviour via heat maps is huge for website optimisation and design but also for informing the rest of the business what appeals to your customers. Think about it for a second. You can tell which images draw customers’ attention. Which brands should be promoted within your offline shop. With this kind of information you not only get the business intelligence to make your website better, you’re also able to make your real-world shops and print catalogues perform better. So go and speak to your web guy about setting this up for you (it shouldn’t take him long) and if you need any more website advice or insight give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

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