To Measure and
Measuring and understanding your Web site's success is a
critical process that is sometimes overlooked. Many times,
marketing efforts stop at getting traffic to the site.
Improve Site Success (Part I)
by Bobette Kyle
Traffic alone, however, does not make a site successful.
By "connecting the dots" between your marketing
programs and end results, you can improve performance.
Ultimately, site success depends on how well your site
performs with respect to your goals. Measuring actual
results against those goals tells you how well your site is
In my view, improving results lies not with measuring the
results themselves but in measuring, understanding, and
adjusting the events that lead to those results. Further,
having a marketing plan that identifies general strategies
and specific programs for meeting your site goals will give
you a higher baseline performance to work with when
improving upon your site's success.
Whatever your Web site goals, a marketing plan helps you
better meet them. By including two or three general
strategies to meet each goal as well as *specific* programs
under each strategy, you are better able to evaluate and
improve upon performance.
For example, let's say you make high quality, custom-made
scarves and wish to sell them regionally:
* A Web site goal could be to begin selling
scarves online and achieve "x" amount of sales in
the first six months online.
* One general strategy for meeting that goal could
be to get the site known locally by fashion conscious ladies
in your community.
* A specific program to support this strategy
could be to hold a contest on your site, with the prize
being a f^ree, customized scarf. To promote the contest, you
could issue a press release, which you send to fashion
By taking this funnelled approach - planning down from
the broad goal to the specific program - you are better able
to evaluate how well each program supports (or fails to
support) your goals.
From the start - when you are developing your plan and
deciding upon site structure - think about how to measure
performance. Measures will differ, depending upon the
situation, but should be both quantitative and meaningful
with respect to helping you improve site performance. Choose
a set of measurements that tell you not only how your
marketing programs are working but also how well they
support Web site goals.
In order to evaluate a marketing program's success, first
decide your objectives. Then, most importantly,
"connect the dots" between those objectives and
your site goals. Later, when analyzing program results,
evaluate not only whether the program succeeded in meeting
objectives, but also how well it moved your business toward
its Web site goals.
It is possible to meet a project objective while failing
with respect to site goals. A frequent example is traffic
generation programs. I often read stories of a business
participating in "hit" programs with
disappointing results. They reach "hit" goals, but
see no benefits.
Return on Investment (ROI)
One way to evaluate marketing project results is through
a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis. The ROI is a
computation that tells you how much you got back compared to
what you put into a project. You can express ROI in terms of
a dollar amount or as a ratio. Either way, the formula
itself is simple.
The dollar amount formula tells how much you increased
profit in total dollars as a result of the project:
(Cost savings and earnings as a
result of the project) minus (Dollars invested)
The ratio formula tells how much you got back, in
dollars, for each dollar you invested in a project:
(Cost savings and earnings as a
result of the project) divided by (Dollars Invested)
IMHO, things get sticky when you try to define "cost
savings and earnings as a result of a project". This is
because returns from marketing investments are broader and
often more abstract than returns from some other types of
investments. Marketing investments result in not only direct
monetary benefits, but indirect benefits as well. To make
matters even more difficult, the indirect benefits are often
intangible and difficult (if not impossible) to measure.
If you are part of a typical small business with limited
resources you may be in a seemingly no win situation.
Accurately computing ROI requires a detailed analysis for
which the internal resources and expertise are often
lacking. Outside consultants can spend hours unearthing data
and computing an accurate ROI, but this can be expensive on
a small budget.
This does not mean, however, that you cannot make your
best effort and use ROI as only one of several inputs into
your project evaluation. When figuring ROI and evaluating
project success, keep in mind that each project will realize
different types of benefits. Aside from direct dollars cost
and direct dollars returned, consider other potential
project benefits, including how well it supports your site
goals. Other aspects to consider:
Improved Customer Relationships
Happier customers can represent a return on investment. This
can be gauged through repeat order patterns, by a change in
the number of complaints/compliments, or through customer
surveys comparing pre and post project satisfaction.
Influence On Off-Line Sales
Online activities often have an influence on off-line
transactions. You may experience sales leads originating
from your Internet programs. Customers may also be driven to
your off-line store as a result of online information.
Online activities can mean better long-term growth for your
brand. Market share changes, online interactions, and brand
awareness surveys are some ways you can judge brand-building
Company Growth Potential
Factor in long-term growth prospects when evaluating your
project. For many businesses, the Internet provides access
to new markets and customers. If you have a local business,
for example, your Web site could extend your business far
beyond the city limits.
3 Step Approach
Take into account these broader implications, pay attention
to how well a program supports your site goals, and measure
project results. By taking this three-pronged approach, you
can better choose marketing programs that will result in a
In Part 2 of the Web Site Success Series, I look at
several Web metrics, ways to measure and improve your site
by understanding the data. Read How
To Measure and Improve Site Success, Part 2: Evaluate Site
Activity With Web Metrics.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bobette Kyle is author of the Marketing Plan Guide "How
Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing for
Small Budget Businesses". Read more about the guide
Much For Just the Spider? Copyright 2003, Bobette Kyle.
All rights reserved.