If I asked you “How’s your website performing?” would you be able to provide an answer instantly? Do you know what your monthly visitor rate is? What about your Net Promoter Score or the conversion rate for you best piece of content?
“What gets measured gets managed,” and if you aren’t measuring these and other website performance indicators, how are you going to improve them? Too many industries think of their websites as online brochures, when really they should be your hardest-working sales tool and constantly evaluated and improved.
But what, how and when do you measure? The most effective approach to continuous website improvement follows an 8-tier hierarchy (based on the Growth-Driven Design, or GDD, methodology which you can read more about here), a process that works to improve each of the 8 metrics until you reach a point of diminishing returns. Here’s a basic outline of the 8 tiers to be measured and improved:
Tier 1: Audience
If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?
If a website has no audience does it exist?
The first tier of the GDD continuous improvement cycle hierarchy is audience – because without visitors none of the other tiers would matter. Evaluating your audience will lead to improvements that will build a consistent and predictable flow of new visitors to your site.
The metric to focus on is month-over-month unique visitors. Set a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound) goal for what you want this metric to be in 6, 8 or even 12 months. The goal should be tailored to your specific industry; a manufacturing website, for example, is not going to generate the same amount of traffic as a eCommerce website like Target.
There are some indicators that can tell you if you’re doing the right kind of work to improve your audience even before the audience shows up. These are things like your keyword rank for important keywords in your industry, the number of blog posts you’ve published, or the number of backlinks you’ve generated to your site. Using a tool like Moz and/or HubSpot, you can track your keyword SERP ranking over time.
Tier 2: Value
How useful is your website?
Once someone finds it do they use it?
Value, the second level of the growth drive design hierarchy, is focused on making sure that your content is valuable to your primary personas. If they don’t find it valuable they are not going to offer up their information for it. Or, if after they have dowloaded it and determine that is was not worth their information they are not going to be very willing to talk with you further about your services.
Types of valueable content for manufacturers could include industrial equipment configurators, maintenance guidelines, and extensive production line efficacy audit manuals.
To determine how useful your content is it is useful to setup a net promotor score poll. This poll, which should be positioned on your content thank you page or other locations where individuals who have interacted with your content will find it.
Other leading indicators of your valuable content include how high your content’s bounce rate and time on site. A low bounce rate and long time on site indicates that your content is very useful. Just make sure that your users are finding your content useful, not frustrating, which is another reason they could be on your site for a long time. Also, if you content is being shared on social media, particularly B2B social media liked LinkedIn, it means that is users are finding the content valuable.
Tier 3: Usability
If your visitors have to work to find something on your website, your user experience (UX) could use some improvement. To measure usability you need to identify the primary interactions on the pages you’re monitoring and set up triggers.
For example, let’s say you have an equipment price calculator on your website. By placing a trigger on both the “use our price calculator” button and the “equals” button on the calculator itself, you can determine how many visitors successfully use the calculator (compared to those who never attempt to use the calculator, and to those who begin to use the calculator but never finish.) To improve the calculator’s usability you’ll need to look at the behaviors of the people who’ve completed your tasks versus those who have not (What pages did they visitor prior to the calculator page? Where did they go afterwards? How long did they stay?). By comparing the two groups you’ll be able to find ways to improve its usability.
Other indicators you can look for to determine the usability of components of your site are the landing page bounce rate, the number of customer service calls you receive relating to questions that could be answer on your website, and your NPS poll results.
Tier 4: Conversion Rate Optimization
You created engaging content, now you want your visitors to read it! To get the greatest number of eyes on your content, you first must optimize it for conversion. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) will help identify exactly where you lose visitors and where you can make improvements.
To measure CRO you need to set up conversion funnel reports, which you can do in both Google Analytics and HotJar. These reports tell you how many visitors fall off at each part of the conversion path. For example, say you want to measure the conversion rate of visitors downloading your “10 Tips for Manufacturers” ebook from your Resources page. You’ll need to set up a funnel test that sees the drop-off rate between the Resources page to the “10 Tips for Manufacturers” Landing Page to the “10 Tips for Manufacturers” Thank You page. The higher the percentage completion of each stage in the funnel, the better your conversion rate. Seeing where dropoff occurs helps you pinpoint and correct problems that may be keeping people from going further.
Tier 5: Stickiness
Do your visitors come back for more? It’s a fact that 80% of sales are made between the 8th - 12th followup, which means that your visitor’s first content piece is most likely not going to result in an instant sale; this is especially true for highly considered purchases, like large industrial equipment. It’s important for your content to continue to bring your visitors back, reading not only blogs but downloading advanced content pieces – like case studies, eBooks, guides – and watching videos. When your visitors are consuming multiple types of content, you’ve achieved content “stickiness” – the more they see and read, the more they want! The more content they consume, the more they’re willing to give you additional time because they know the content you’re providing is valuable.
Measuring stickiness is done by segmenting your audience into new and returning visitors. The more the visitor comes back, the stickier your content is considered.
The number of subscribers for your blog is a good leading indicator for this, as those subscribers have determined that your content is good enough to allow into their inbox on a regular basis. Similarly, a lot of visits to a specific page of your website could mean that web page is particularly sticky. Also, like your blog subscriber numbers, the number of social followers you have will tell you how sticky your content is.
Tier 6: Personalization
Hello <your name here>.
You might be most familiar with personalization when it comes to emails – most automated emails will be addressed to you personally. Well, we now have the ability to do the same with website content (crazy, right?). Personalization will help improve the performance of all the above tiers.
For example, you can add value (see Tier 2) if you customize your homepage based on whether or not the user is from a specific industry; that will allow visitors who have identified as being in one industry to see text specifically tailored to their interests. Who wouldn’t want to see messages throughout an entire site specially tailored to them?
A website with effective personalization should improve audience, value, usability, conversion rate optimization, and stickiness.
Tier 7: Assets
Now you’re on Tier 7 of 8, where we’re being very specific about how visitors interact with content on your site. Assets is the equivalent of advanced content: think ebooks, white papers, how-to videos, etc., but that content needs to be high-performing. Content that’s highly aligned with your customers when they’re prospects is considered an asset, as is your most downloaded content.
You want to identify what parts of your content are so valuable that users would be willing to pay for it, even though you give it away free. To be considered an asset, content should be solving prospects’ bigger issues, and saving them real time and money. That might be an app visitors can use to map out their industrial production area and then virtually place new production lines so they can see how they’ll fit; maybe it’s an offer to actually have your staff go on site and conduct a complete operations audit at no charge. Other examples include industry specific guides, calculators, and ebooks.
The more real assets you offer, the greater your value – both in the short and long term – to prospects and customers.
Tier 8: Promoters
When your visitors, leads, and customers get so excited about your content that they can’t help but share it with their network, you’ve got a promoter on your hands! To measure promoters, focus on their referral ratio, which should be more than 1. You’ll need to set up a tracking code system to know exactly which promoters are sending you the most referrals.
Leading indicators for promoters are social shares and email referrals. You need to make sure it’s easy to share your content via social network or email by placing buttons right on your content’s landing pages so promoters have a quick and easy way to share with their networks.
Your website should be a proven lead attraction magnet that keeps visitors on it and returning to it for content that helps them address their challenges. Allowing it to sit, static, without measuring and improving is a ignoring its potential to absolutely change the trajectory of your business. Use these 8 tiers of continuous improvement to make yours the powerhouse it should be. Learn more about Growth-Driven Design, the basis of this method for enhancing your site’s performance, by downloading our Growth-Driven Design eBook.
Topics: Web Design and Development
An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.