Dollar for dollar, the best value for your advertising and marketing budget can be spent on web initiatives. But how can you squeeze even more value from your web budget?
Whether you have a new website or have been doing business on the web for years, these tips will help you maximize your investment and outpace the competition.
1. Configure Visitor and Conversion Tracking
Most marketers have heard the well-known quote from John Wannamaker “I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted… I just don't know which half.”
In the online world, access to key data is easier to gather than it ever has been before. While you’ll never gain 100% efficiency from your advertising efforts, it is possible to track accurately visitors and conversions online using free tools from Google. If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed that is the first step. Google provides basic instructions for implementing their Analytics and any qualified web developer should already know what to do. Conversion tracking can be a little more complicated and requires some strategy if what you consider a conversion hasn’t been clearly defined before. If you sell a product online, a conversion is usually considered the completion of the checkout process, however if your product or service can’t be sold online you have to be creative with what you consider a conversion. A conversion might be considered visiting the contact page or completing a contact form. More advanced implementation might require a visitor to view a series of pages or remain on the site for a specific period of time to trigger a conversion.
2. Implement a Content Management System
If you’re spending a lot of time and money making repetitive changes to your website it might be time to consider implementing a well designed content management system (CMS). It’s important, however to do a cost analysis before diving headlong into implementing a CMS. The typical amortization period recommended for CMS cost analysis is 2 years. The reason is that typically other factors, such as a change in services or your market, will require a redesign between 3 and 4 years so you want your CMS to earn its way before the whole site needs to be replaced. Often your CMS can be ported to a new site, but aside from licensing, implementation costs are often similar to the original CMS implementation because the implementation is similar.
To perform a CMS cost analysis first list all of the changes you plan to complete on a monthly basis in as much detail as possible. Such as: Update the lunch menu each Friday, Change the daily drink special each weekday, Update the live music schedule once a month. Next calculate the approximate cost for making these changes. If you’re using a web development firm this part is easy, just ask for an estimate but be sure to let them know that all the changes won’t be completed at one time since often there are minimums such as 30 minutes or 1 hour which might increase the cost of your updates. Once you have your basic monthly cost multiply it by 24 (the 2 year amortization period) and then add 10% for miscellaneous changes that you may not have planned for.
To finalize your cost analysis you will need to get a quote to add content management to your site from a qualified web vendor. If there is a difference in hosting costs, be sure to include this in your analysis.
If your analysis shows that you would save money or break-even then it's probably worth moving forward. The additional flexibility will probably allow you to keep your site more current and post more valuable information for your customers.
4. Focus on Organic Listings
In almost all cases organic or natural search engine listings are more cost effective as a long-term strategy than pay-per-click. As businesses start to look for ways to prop up their sales, many will introduce e-commerce and jump into competition for pay-per-click terms. If you don’t focus on natural listings, your established business won’t have any competitive advantage over the newcomer. In addition, their operational costs might be less than yours so they might have a greater margin in their sales and can afford to spend more per click.
So what’s the answer? A sustained commitment to natural search listings. You’ll need to either build the knowledge and expertise yourself or find a qualified web partner to help.
5. Improve Conversions
No matter how much traffic you have or what your cost per visitor is, the better your site can convert visitors to customers the better your results will be. Think of conversion like a bucket with holes in it. Every chance you give a customer to wash out of the bucket is a lost sale. There are a lot of different factors that will affect your site’s ability to convert traffic into customers. A few of the most important are:
- Create a simple easy to read navigation.
- Generate relevant landing pages with targeted content for each product or service.
- Make sure you have a short, easy to understand contact form that requests only pertinent information.
- Utilize free offers or incentives to customers in exchange for contact information.
[Via Atlantic BT]