Do you understand specifically what your website visitors are looking for or do you only have a generic idea? If you understand what they are specifically looking for to meet their needs, you have a much greater chance of true engagement. When you have true engagement, your odds of a sale increase dramatically, if not today, then on the next visit.
But if you don’t understand how to look at the trends and numbers, you will have a challenging time understanding what your visitors are really looking for.
That’s why retailers count how many people are coming in and how many people are coming out there also counting how many of them are actually purchasing. I have worked with over 100 different retail chains from single store retailer to office supply big box stores. They are counting by the month, day of the week, hour of the day (I know, I installed the counters that go back to the corporate databases with these body counts). They are counting how many of purchasing customers are actually signing up for the e-mail list. They’re counting how many of purchasers are return customers from previous orders. There also counting what is the average amount of each visitor’s spending. Retail stores count the numbers in so many ways you would be amazed. Just like you need to on your website. Your website is not a black box. You need to be paying attention to what’s happening.
If these types of customer engagement don’t make absolute clear sense to you, then I would suggest you go and spend some time and with brick and mortar retailers. Consider even working as a retailer. Learn how retailers convert the looky loo’s into true engagements. Yes we have all been shopping, but look at how retailers work with other customers not just yourself. Learn how retailers try to customize to the needs of each person, not a one size fits all. It is important that you learn how to look through a store or website through the eyes of a customer. It is important that you understand that the customer is always right in their perspective, and how they are looking at the world. And if you don’t understand their perspective, it will be very hard to understand why they’re not buying from you. If that same attitude of understanding is what a potential customer or visitor is looking at when they see a store and their perspective also becomes very useful.
This attitude of looking at your website comes into play in how you design your SEO and SEM. Did you need to present the right kind of signage from the street to get the customer to pull into the parking lot? Once they get inside the store, they need to see what the sign promised is fulfilled. SEO and SEM is about creating it signage from the street. You can fake a man once or twice, but once you do, they will ignore your sign for the rest of their life, because you made them cut across left-hand lane and pull into your parking lot. And they will tell their friends to ignore you or worse. You need to create a good ‘sign’ in your SEO/SEM to attract your visitors into your store. But you also need the sign to be a good indicator of what is in the store.
Just as stores don’t (at least those that survive long term) have the same layout year after year, websites also must evolve and continue to improve based on what works and what does not. This should be done as measured experiments. You can follow the models used in Lean Start-up (Eric Ries) and E-Myth Revisited (Micheal Gerber). Those experiments need tools like Google Analytics and other tools like ChartBeat. Topics of other blog posts.
Oh, not selling products on your site? I would place heavy odds that you are selling your ideas – be they the idea that your service is better then someone elses, or your idea is more important then the next bloggers. Remember to look at the website through your visitor’s eyes in the path they took to get to your website, and your pages.
Here are some thoughts from Kevin Lee’s Poll on Linkedin,
Do you think your PPC (Pay Per Click) search spending will grow this year compared to last?
I believe SEM (search engine marketing) will increase, but the real question is will more dollars go to SEO (search engine optimization) or to SEM?
SEM will increase, because it is measurable and you can plan on it a lot more the SEO. More importantly, the results are often quicker with SEM than SEO. These days management wants quick results – harvest the sales this month, not planting for when we might be in business next quarter. SEM has fewer variables as far as knowing at least how many ‘clicks’ you are going to get. Certainly you still have a lot of back end ratios that can be ‘tweaked’ to get your true CPA (Cost Per Action) including copy, call to action and creativity. But at least you can report a ‘we had a million people come to the site’ that matches up well with the retail side of ‘Orbit’ people counters or what ever the ‘bricks’ side is using to count bodies. ‘Orbit’ people counters are devices that counts number of people entering a store each hour-most stores are counting how many are entering the store, as well as how many are buying and average spent per visit.
I think the answer is - it will be a draw – more dollars will go into SEO as SEM gets saturated. But SEM will get the easy money as response from traditional marketing continues to drop in response to TiVo, DVR, Hulu, YouTube, programming fragmentation (what time was that show on? – now its what day, time and station is that show on?), programming standardization (how many ‘dancing shows’ are there?) and simplification (reality TV), diluting brand equity and a host of other core mistakes on the traditional marketing side as it tries to adapt to the changing world of ‘500 channels of TV and nothing’s on’.
It will be interesting to see if the additional money in SEM produces good results or will too many hacks waste too much money and destroy the reputation of the industry for years to come, pushing marketing dollars back into traditional marketing as soon as the economy recovers, and traditional marketing can get their own act together for measurable results (especially with live viewings vs. 24 hour viewings vs. 7 day viewings).
So what do you think? Are you investing more in PPC in 2009 than in 2008?