Refining Your Sales Funnel With Web Analytics
From my position I get to see business owners and executives go through a few predictable stages of the lead generation process.
First, they are excited by possibilities. Then, they start to wonder whether they can really get sales opportunities from their websites. Next, they start to put these ideas into action and begin to see results. And finally, once they get used to having new leads coming to them every week, they start to wonder how they could get even more.
That’s where things can get a little bit tricky. Certainly, you can improve the effectiveness of your sales funnel by adding more or better content into the mix, which draws in visitors and makes your website more engaging. At some point, though, you might have to restructure entire offers or traffic-building campaigns. When it’s time to make those kinds of moves, how can you be sure you’re going to make things better instead of worse?
The answer, of course, is to study your web analytics closely. There are always risks to tampering with a successful formula, of course, but those are greatly decreased when you have proven facts and figures on your side. To put it another way, the best information about your market comes from prospects themselves. When you can see how they behave on your website, and respond to your offers, it’s easier to make adjustments while moving ahead.
With that in mind, I recommend that you take a deep dive into your web analytics package on a regular basis – at least once every few months, if not more often. This is easier done with the help of a web design team who knows your business and lead generation strategy. Not only can they help you to make sense of the statistics you see, but they can also be sure you’re seeing the bigger picture without reading too much into small fluctuations in traffic or conversions.
In order to help you zero in on the information you need to make the most of your sales funnel, in this chapter I want to give you a series of questions to answer. Keep them in mind as you look at your web statistics and you’ll find ways to make your lead generation campaigns more effective.
Do You Have the Right Analytics Package in Place?
There are many different ways to keep track of visits to your website, but most business owners tend to prefer Google Analytics. Not only is it a free solution, but it also comes with more tracking and reporting features than the average small or medium-sized company could ever use.
However, it’s worth pointing out that there are other options. In particular, some advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software like HubSpot, Keap, and Magento offer their own analytics suites or add-ons that can be valuable, particularly when you’re tracking the activity of a single user or prospect.
In the end, it probably doesn’t matter all that much which analytics solution you prefer. What’s important is that you install something and get to know it well enough that you can access and understand basic reports. Don’t get too caught up on finding the “right” answer. Just focus on getting familiar with the interface of whatever tool you are using.
How Are You Tracking Visits and Conversions?
Installing web analytics software is incredibly simple. It just means having your web designer put a few lines of code on each one of your pages. After you’ve taken that step, you can get access to simple statistics on website visits, visitor location, average time per session, and so on.
That information is valuable (as we’ll see in a moment), but you shouldn’t settle for the bare minimum. With just a little bit of additional effort you can set up your analytics app to track successful conversions through your sales pipeline. This is crucial because it gets you away from simple website statistics and gives you real insights toward the lead generation results you’re looking for.
For instance, if you set up your analytics software to track visits to an ebook download page, you’ll have an easier time watching progress toward that goal. Additionally, you’ll be able to see how visitors are making their way to that point on your website, and which pieces of content are drawing the biggest returns.
Which Traffic Sources Are Most Valuable to You?
A novice marketer might assume that their most valuable source of website traffic is the one with the highest number of referrals. So if the majority of your prospects are finding you because you rank well for a certain keyword on Google, or because you run ads in a well-known email newsletter, the assumption would be that those efforts are generating the biggest returns.
That might not necessarily be the case. Remember, the goal is to track conversions, not website visits. It happens more often than you might think that the biggest traffic referral sources are also the least efficient. In other words, your most popular search terms might generate very few leads. On the other hand, some more specific search terms or marketing channels could give even better results with lower investments of time and money.
It’s important to think of all you do to generate leads on your website through the lens of efficiency. Raw numbers can be instructive, but ultimately it’s your ability to turn visitors into sales opportunities that matters, regardless of how they found their way to your website.
How Much Time Are Prospects Spending on Your website?
You’ll want to pay particular attention to the amount of time website visitors are spending on your website. Any relevant data will tell you something about whether your target market considers your website to be engaging and informative enough to hang around for a while.
If you find that the average visit is very short, or that prospects are leaving before they check out more than one page, you might have problems with the usability of your website or be dealing with underlying technical challenges. Conversely, if they are spending a great deal of time perusing your site, that’s a sign they like what they’re seeing and can find the information they want quickly.
Another point to consider is that every minute a prospect is spending on your website, they aren’t visiting your competitors. Most researchers and buyers have a limited amount of time to work with, so keeping them engaged with your website is a good marketing strategy.
Which Topics or Offers Are Driving Engagement?
Along with the amount of time being spent on your website in general, you should also pay attention to the activity on specific articles or pages. By knowing what visitors want to read or see, you can determine which topics are “hot” and also draw some clues about the top layer of your sales funnel.
Obviously, unique page views and the amount of time spent on a particular article or idea are important indicators. However, don’t overlook the predictive power of simpler forms of engagement, such as blog comments, page likes, and social shares. Each of these can tell you that you’ve struck a chord with your audience and that they want more ideas from you that run along the same lines.
When you hit ideas that are well-received and popular with visitors, see if you can generate more posts or content on similar subjects. Look for ways to tie in new offers. See if you can take your existing ideas and format them in new ways, like turning blog posts into video clips or infographics. In other words, no matter how you do it, don’t let your popular topic become a one-off inspiration. Use what you learn to keep your sales funnel growing.
At What Point Are Visitors Leaving Your Website?
I have zeroed in on the importance of figuring out where your web traffic comes from, along with insights on what visitors are doing on your pages. Just as crucial, though, is figuring out where prospects leave your website to go elsewhere.
When you know the point where visitors are exiting your website, you can often figure out why. Perhaps they found all the information they needed and shared their contact information with you. That’s obviously a good result. However, it could also be the case that you asked for too much information and they weren’t willing to give it. Or they might have become frustrated when they were unable to find details like price or product availability.
Not every exit from your website is a bad outcome or a negative sign. Everyone who comes to you online is eventually going to depart. However, if you notice that prospects are going away consistently after coming across a specific page or piece of information, that could be a sign you need to alter your sales funnel in some way.
What Are Your Analytics Reports Telling You?
I have saved the most important question for last. When evaluating your sales funnel by studying your web analytics, the big question you and your web design team should be looking to answer is: “What is the message prospects are sending us?”
It can be easy, when you’re deep into a detailed set of web statistics, to lose the forest for the trees. Don’t forget that your primary goal is to simply figure out which parts of your sales funnel are working, how your content is engaging your best prospects, and what you can do to generate more leads. All the percentages and performance indicators you’ll find can be boiled down to those conclusions.
The best marketers use web analytics to steer their lead generation campaigns in the right direction. With a little bit of practice, and a mindset that’s geared toward results, you can do the same thing.
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About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.