How To Build A Successful Web Site
Recently, I talked with a speaker about her "extremely
successful" Website. She based this opinion on the fact that
she was selling several e-books every day and generating "some
calls". When I asked if she was reviewing her traffic analysis,
she said "No, why should we - it's clearly working - we can tell
that from the sales". I didn't ask if she knew how her sales
and calls compared to the actual visitor numbers for the site - I
suspected that she'd have been shocked to learn how many more
opportunities she was losing.
If you don't know what's happening with your Website visitors,
where they go, what they're looking for, what they respond to,
and what turns them off about your site, you can't possibly make
the most of your online potential. Your Web traffic reports
offer unprecedented opportunities to analyze these relationships
on a one-to-one basis.
Here are some examples of using your metrics to ask intelligent
questions and make informed adjustments to your site:
Tracking your Promotional Efforts
There are many ways to promote your site, both online and
offline. Some are free and some, while not costing money, do take
up time and effort. It's important to know the marketing
options that generate the best return on investment for all your
Joyce Weiss works with her public relations consultants to
analyze the immediate impact of her radio appearances on her
Website traffic (at http://www.joyceweiss.com). She said "This
way we can decide if the Website needs to be tweaked for radio
shows, or if I need to say something different on the shows to
get people to sign up."
Following the links to your site (called "refering URL's in the
reports) can be very useful in creating good professional
relationships. Often, site owners won't tell you that they've
quoted you so it's important to check that the reference is
And, it's important to say thank you. I once followed a link to
my site and found that one of my articles was required reading
for a course at the University of Southern Oregon. When I
dropped a note to the Professor telling him how honored I was,
he replied "Not at all, I really like your ideas - and by the way,
we're looking for a speaker for our next conference . . ."
Dave Paradi does this too: "I do check out those sites that
link to mine. One time I found that the link was to an old page,
so I wrote to them and suggested that they update the link. I
was also able to mention my other articles that would benefit
If you're paying for traffic, make sure that the keywords you've
selected, or the sites that you're advertising on are generating
good quality leads. Abby Marks-Beale told me how she does this:
"I've set up separate portal pages for those who come to me from
my pay-per-click program through Overture. This way I can see
if the program is really working."
In other words, you can create special entry pages for visitors
from Overture, Google AdWords, e-zines that you sponsor, or
other campaigns. If a visitor enters through one of these pages,
they can only have come from this one specific source. Then you
can follow where on your site these visitors subsequently go,
how they respond and ultimately decide whether they're good leads
and whether your money is well spent.
Hot Content Areas
Your traffic reports list the most requested pages on your site,
telling you what's hot and what's not about your content. If
you're offering downloadable articles or special reports, you
can see which of these are most popular.
Mitchell Gooze makes a point of doing this: "We track white
paper downloads by person, and we know exactly who downloads
which white papers. We store this information in their data
records. We also know which topics are most interesting to
Knowing the hot content areas on your site can give you great
ideas for future product and program development. Rita Risser
(http://www.FairMeasures.com) developed a whole set of online
checklists and policy guideline documents based around the
subjects that her visitors were searching for.
Calls to Action
One of my favorite mantras is "Every Page of your Site Should
Have a Strategy". You should absolutely know which segment of
your target audience each page is aimed at, what's in it for
them and what you want as a result. Provide clear (and
clickable) calls to action at every point in your copy where the
reader might be ready to make the next move - whether it's "Sign
up for our newsletter", "Buy our product", or "Contact me to ask
about our services".
Sometimes this means directing the visitor to the next page that
you'd like them to see. Dave Paradi told me:
"I realized that people were entering my site on one of two
specific pages, which are a couple of my articles that now have
great placement on Google. I also noticed that almost all of
these visitors entered and exited on that page, not visiting any
"So how could I get them to see the rest of the site -
particularly the products that I hoped they would buy? I
included a link to my products page at the bottom of each
article. And last month, the products page jumped to the second
most visited page, and it appears that many visitors, based on
the value of the articles, are checking out the products."
And he's taking this a step further:
"It hasn't yet resulted in increased orders, but I think the
next area I need to address is writing more successful copy for
the products page."
At the Risk of Repeating Myself . . .
I like to think of Web traffic analysis as "market research that
cannot lie". The reports show you what visitors do on your site
of their own accord, without prompting or other influence. Not
to discount focus groups, surveys and asking your favorite
clients for feedback - those are important tools as well, but
not as powerful.
So, if you haven't clearly defined the strategies, target
markets and outcomes for your site, and if you aren't looking at
your metrics to evaluate the success of these, then you're
shooting in the dark with your Web investment. The examples in
this article show you just a few of the many ways that you can
use this information - I hope that you're now motivated to find
out more about your own site.
(c) 2003, Philippa Gamse. All rights reserved.
Philippa Gamse, CyberSpeaker, is a Web strategy consultant and
professional speaker. Check out her free tipsheet for 23 ideas
to promote your Website:
html Philippa can be reached at (831) 465-0317.
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