No matter what type of site you operate, there are some basic concepts you need to keep on top of to keep your site performing at its peak each and every day. The foundation of any strong online business is the website and once that is on solid footing you can start focusing on driving traffic to it.
Below are some suggestions on how to manage your site to be the best in its category.
- Know your audience
Your site is your product, and just like any great product out there it needs to be geared towards a specific audience. For example, if you look ESPN.com it is geared towards male sports fans as evidenced by the images/copy on the site. One simple way to understand your audience is by taking a poll of your users. You can also review your message boards to see who is responding and even send some of those responders an email asking them relevant questions about themselves. Once you understand who you are targeting you can devise a stronger marketing plan for your website.
- Set goals and objectives
You have a site and you know your audience. Now what? You need to define goals and objectives. Ask yourself “Why am I managing this site?” “How do I know it is working?” “What does my audience want?” “How do I know what to focus on first to improve the user experience?” “What do I want to achieve?”
A goal might be something along the lines of “Become #1 in traffic for sports blogs in 2011” and an objective might be “Hit 1MM members in 2011”. Your goals and objectives need to be clearly defined so you know what to focus on during the year when developing content, commerce and advertising opportunities – along with prioritizing the thousands of ideas you likely have for improving your site.
- Constantly analyze
The key to improving your site experience is to understand how your site is doing. The best way to do that is to constantly review some basic metrics like visits, referral urls, unique visitors, clickstream, time spent on page, conversion (if applicable), and average order value.
Also known as users or hits to your site, ‘visits’ are the people who came to your site during a given time period.
- Referral URLs
These are the url’s, or sites, where your site visitors arrived from. Referral URLs are important because they help you understand who is driving traffic to your site.
- Unique Visitors
This statistic measures the traffic to your site, counting each visitor only once regardless of how many times that visitor returned during the specified time period. This helps you understand how many people are coming to your site versus the amount of times people are revisiting your site.
- Click Stream
This is a record of the path that a user clicked through from the moment the user arrived on the site. This metric helps define user behavior on the site and helps reveal what content they were interested in, where they got hung up in the process, and where they exited the site.
- Time Spent On Page
This measures the amount of time a consumer stays on a given page on your site. This could be an indication that the content was valuable (blog) or that the product was of interest (ecommerce).
A key metric for eCommerce sites, Conversion rates informs you of how many people ended up purchasing a product on your site in comparison to how many people visited your site. The higher this number the better as it likely means you are providing the user with the relevant product. This metric is best measure as a rolling average to determine if it is increasing, decreasing or staying the same, thereby allowing you to do some digging into what is causing those changes.
- Average Order Value
Another great metric to use, this reflects the average dollars spent for each order made by your customers. This metric should be used to determine what price points your users are gravitating towards and what types of offers you should think about communicating to those users.
- Stay focused and have patience
With competition coming at you from every angle and a list of ideas to implement rivaling the size of the Empire State Building, it is your role to be focused and have patience. It is human nature to want to do everything all at once and see immediate success, but we all know, even online, that the expectation of immediate success will likely lead to long term failure. Take time out of your day to look at the results, reflect on what they mean, and make the corrective actions if necessary.
Coming next time…
What marketing channel is best for you and how to make it effective?
Affiliates, SEM, Display, Videos, Social Media…..etc