In Part 1 of this two-part post on ten ways you can improve your web analytics program, I looked at how you can use analytics to see how visitors are using your website. In Part 2, I will show you how you can use analytics to measure how well your site does in converting visitors to customers, and at what price. Here are the five ways you can use your analytics tool to measure conversion.
6. Analyze the impact of content on conversion
In Part 1, I discussed organizing your content to determine if visitors are seeing your key messages. Now, once you have a handle on managing your site’s content, you can then analyze the impact that content has on conversion. What you want to see is if those who view key content pages convert at a higher rate than those who don’t. You can look at visitors who visit key content before entering the funnel process, or those who exit the funnel to view key content, then return to the funnel. By providing these metrics to the content managers, you can show what impact or “lift” their content has on conversions and revenue.
Along with measuring the conversion rates, you can also look at path analysis to see what visitors do who view content. Some of the questions you may want to answer include:
- Do they tend to simply browse the site without initiating a purchase or other conversion?
- Do they read the key pages and leave the site?
- Do they engage in tools or other site applications?
- Do they come back to the site at a late time to initiate a purchase?
Since not every site is designed to sell products or services, and not all initial visits to ecommerce sites end in a purchase, you can use these insights to create other metrics and KPIs that measure how effective content is to the overall performance of your site.
7. Determine if onsite search is driving conversions, or driving visitors away
Onsite search is a powerful tool if your site has significant content or product pages. If they can’t find what they are looking for on your site, you may end up losing a customer. One of the first things that your onsite search report will tell you is what is most important to those who visit your site. If you don’t have pages that adequately cover these key search terms, then create them. Not only will this improve your visitors’ site experience, it can also increase your site’s ranking in organic search for these terms, increasing your site traffic.
If your site has onsite search, it is also important to determine how relevant the search results are. If the search results return pages that are not relevant, then you will tend to lose visitors. You can do your initial testing without using your analytics tool. Pick some in-depth site pages and identify key terms and phrases. Enter these in your site search, and look to see where the desired pages rank. If they can not be found easily, your search tool may not be doing its job properly. Your analytics tool can help by looking at pathing reports from your search results pages plus other metrics. Here are some of the questions you need to answer:
- What percent of visitors are using onsite search?
- What percent of visitors are leaving the site?
- What percent of visitors are getting into your conversion funnel?
- What percent of visitors who do not find any results leave the site?
- What percent of searches do not return any result?
- What are the search terms that lead to no result? What is the conversion ratio of those who use onsite search?
- What are the top search terms and their corresponding conversion rates?
By answering these questions and making adjustments to your site, you can increase the usability of your site and thus increase conversions.
8. Measure the value you are getting from your referral partners
If your site gets traffic from referral links, either ones your company has cultivated or “organic” links that were done outside of your efforts, you can provide reports that show both the overall percentage of traffic that you get from these sites, plus the revenue associated with these visits. Revenue can be shown as an aggregate from a particular source, or broken down as revenue or leads per visit from each source. Thus, if you are using any “pay-to-play” referral sources, meaning you pay a fee for each click, you can determine how effective that referral source is in generating revenue or leads.
Since most analytic tools provide the ability to show top referral sources, you need to simply add the desired success metric to your reports. If you are paying for clicks from particular sources, you can compare the data that is reported from your analytic tool to the data that your vendor is providing to identify any discrepancies and prevent being overcharged. It is a way to keep these vendors “honest” in what you are being charged. While there will always be a difference between clicks from a source to counted visits to your site, this difference needs to be agreed upon and monitored. Tracking visits to the site and revenue per visit can help fine-tune what your company is spending to deliver this traffic and increase profitability.
9. Measure the visits and revenue you are getting from Social Media
Sites like FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, along with blogs and Ezine article sites can bring traffic and revenue to your site. With these sites, you can create newsworthy events, videos, widgets, tweets, articles and other “buzz”. Sometimes, videos or widgets become viral in nature, meaning they propagate to thousands of web users with no effort on your part. Unlike regular referral links which may come directly to your site’s home page with no tagging, links from these sites can be tagged with a campaign ID, and linked to targeted landing pages. By creating unique campaign ID tags for each source and embedding these links in the targeted media source, you can measure traffic to your site from each source, and track the visits into your conversion funnel. From this, you can determine which sites are worth investing in, as far as content or increasing friends or followers, as you can measure revenue or leads from each site by adding the appropriate metrics to your analytic report. You can also measure the results of specific campaigns on each site, with targeted messages that direct visitors to specific landing pages.
10. Ensure that your sales are profitable
If you are using paid media, including banner advertising and pay-per-click, to drive traffic to your site, it is possible that even though you are generating sales you may be losing money. While you may be getting sales or leads from these marketing channels, are they profitable sales? To answer this question, you need to either have to know your cost per visit and conversion rate, or have a tool that give you a metric titled “ROAS”, which stands for “return on advertising spend”. With either of these sets of data, you also need to know the average gross profit margin of the products or services you are selling. If you are measuring return on CPI spend, you also need to know the click-thru-rate (CTR) of these banners. Your cost-per-click (CPC) would be the CPI divided by the CTR.
If all you have is your cost per click (CPC) data for paid search, you need to be able to segment your data based on keywords, as different keywords have a different CPC. More general terms will have a higher CPC, while long-tail keywords will typically have a lower CPC. When setting up your tagging, you need to identify the start point of the conversion ratio as the paid search or banner landing page. Keep in mind that there will be a discrepancy between the reported clicks that your CPC vendor is telling you and the reported visits that your analytic tool is telling you. Since the reported visits are most often lower than the reported clicks, your true cost-per-visit (CPV) will be higher than your CPC.
Once you have your CPV and revenue per visit (RPV), you can immediately determine if you are in the red. If your CPV is higher than your RPV, your site may be losing money. I say “may be”, as it is possible that visitors return later to the site from a bookmark and convert. You will need more advanced analytics tracking to determine this. Even if your CPV is less than your RPV, you can not tell if the spend is effective until you look at the gross profit margin (sale price less cost of goods sold) on a percentage basis. For example, if you are selling $1,000 worth of software where you get $200 per sale, you can afford a higher cost per visit than if you were selling $1,000 computers and getting $100 per sale.
One you know your average profit margin per sale, and your conversion rate of visits to sales, you can determine the maximum you can spend per visit to attract a customer. Knowing this, you can fine-tune your PPC bid management down to specific keywords to optimize your company’s revenue.
In summary, by creating a more robust analytics platform, you can obtain data that provides insight into how every aspect of your site is doing in increasing conversions at a profit. From analyzing paid media to your landing pages, content, tools, applications, visitor segments, and so on, your overall web strategy will become more data-driven, more actionable, and more accountable. Whether you are using free analytics tools such as Google Analytics, or more enterprise-level tools such as WebTrends or Omniture, take advantage of all the tagging features, segmentation, custom variables and custom reports that these packages offer.