Many website owners look at the profitability of their website as a matter of luck. The problem with that theory is that luck comes in streaks and always runs out. Who wants to gamble with their livelihood? The truth is that the profitability of your website has much to do with a couple of key areas and little to do with luck. There are a few areas of your website that when focused on, almost always provide an immediate boost in performance. If you want to increase the number of leads, sign-ups, or sales through your website, then keep reading.
Why You Should Care
When was the last time you traveled by hot air balloon? Hot air balloon rides provide picturesque views of scenery but exactly where one will take you depends on which way the wind is blowing. When you absolutely must get from point A to point B, you rely for transportation on something that is dependable. Hot air balloons rides are for great for creating a memorable experience, not for transporting you to where you want to be.
Too often, people approach their website as if it were a hot air balloon instead of a high performance vehicle. Rather than having clear expectations about where they expect their website to take their business, they are simply along for the ride and end up whichever way the wind blew them. When your website is more than a hobby, when it absolutely must be profitable, you’ve got to keep your eye on your website’s performance indicators.
Where Customers Come From
One of the least known pieces of valuable information for most website owners is where your customers come from. When you know where your customers actually come from, you’re able to spot problems as well as opportunities. You see, most people who look at their web stats know how many people (visitors) come to their website. Although this is interesting, it is not a truly actionable piece of information. You see, increasing the number of visitors that come to your website doesn’t automatically increase the number of customers (or leads) that you get from your website. The reason is that some visitors are more likely to do business with you than others. Since not all visitors are worth the same amount to your business, knowing where your customers come from is a powerful piece of information that is truly actionable.
Not all Visitors are Equal
Although some business owners think the only reason people come to their website is to buy from them, this simply isn’t so. People land on your website for a variety of reasons. They are all looking for something. The question that everyone has when they land on your website is “Am I in the right place?” This question is asked and answered subconsciously in a fraction of a second. When the answer is no, they click the back button and away they go. Those visitors are obviously not valuable to your business at all. They show up in your web stats as people who visited your website, but other than leaving you with a high bounce rate, they leave you with nothing else.
The people coming to your website come from a variety of places. Some come from the search engines after typing in a search word or phrase, while others come to your site through links from social media, blogs, etc. The key thing to remember is that some of those visitors are more valuable to your business than others by virtue of where they came to your site from. In other words, how they found you is a great indicator of whether or not they will spend time on your website and go on to do business with you.
Not all Referral Partners are Equal
In any business, there are other businesses that service the same types of customers you do, but without competing with you. By forming a relationship with these other businesses, you are in a position to refer your customers to them and those businesses do the same. The result is that your business becomes referral partners with these other businesses for the benefit of everyone.
You can think of the different places that people come to your website from as similar to a referral partner. You may not be sending visitors from your site to those other sites, but they are sending people to your site. When you think of it this way, one of the things that you’ll see very quickly is that some of those referral partners (sources of traffic to your website) are much more valuable than others. In other words the people coming to your site from certain places are much more likely to do business with you than your average visitor.
This kind of insight into where your customers are coming from is extremely valuable because it is something that you can take immediate action on. Are there things that you can do to increase the amount of traffic that you are receiving from your most valuable referral sources? Are there other sources of traffic that you can look for which are similar to your most valuable sources of website visitors? Are there sources of traffic that you’re investing time and money in, that aren’t paying for themselves? Taking action here gives your website and your bank account a real boost.
Most Desired Action
When people come to your website what is the most desired action that you want them to take? Ideally, there are a number of different actions that they can and should take on your website. This includes everything from clicking to another page for more information that is highly relevant to what they are looking for, to joining your mailing list so that you can send them valuable information and further develop your relationship with them, to requesting more information, to picking up the phone to give you a call. What is the sequence of steps and interactions with you that is reasonable to expect and ask for of someone who visits your website for the first time and hasn’t heard of you before? The answer to that question depends in large part upon the exact nature of your business. Large increases in business are to be had by focusing on improving this sequence of steps. Map the different steps out. Now look at your site and see where the gaps are. What point are people coming to, but not going further as much as they should? What is holding them back from taking that next step? Do they need more information? Should your call to action be more specific? Are they distracted by something else on the page? Would your call to action be more effective if it was placed or formatted differently?
Pareto’s Principle for Increasing Sales and Signups
There are lots of opportunities for making little changes here and there with your website that will provide a real boost for your business. The real issue is where is the low hanging fruit? Pareto’s principle as it applies here is simply that 80% of the performance boost will come from focusing on 20% of the opportunities. Once you’ve identified the opportunities that exist, they can be evaluated on the basis of the amount of time that they will take to implement and the amount of benefit that they will provide to your business. Generally speaking the fastest way to boosting your site’s performance is to begin by focusing on improving the calls to action and then focusing on increasing the most valuable sources of visitors to your website.