Is Your Website Meeting Your Goals?
Your website is your main face to the world online.
In most cases, it will be the first thing people see if they go looking for you online and it’s probably the place most of your marketing points people back to. In short, it’s important.
You don’t just want to make sure it looks good and professional (although that matters), you want to know that it’s doing the job it’s supposed to do.
For your website to be worth the time and money you put into it, it needs to get you results. It’s up to you to track what your website is accomplishing, determine if it’s falling short of your goals, and make any needed changes to ensure it does start doing its job.
Here’s how to make that happen.
To start, what is its job?
Different websites have different purposes. If you’re running a blog and primarily want to grow your audience, then your goals will be different than a business trying to sell products. The first step to figuring out if your website is doing its job is therefore to define what that job is.
Sit down and write out the goals you want your website to achieve. These may include:
- Making sales.
- Increasing awareness of your brand.
- A high level of engagement, as in blog comments or contact made through the website.
- Growing your email list.
- Increasing your followers elsewhere online, such as on your social media accounts, podcast, or YouTube channel.
It’s likely that you’ll have multiple goals. Figure out what all of them are, and determine which one is the top priority. For example, if you want to make sales, you’ll also want traffic (no one will buy from your website without visiting it first), but sales take higher priority than the traffic, since visitors that don’t buy are worth less.
How to Measure Your Goals
The best tool to track most of the goals you’ll have for your website is Google Analytics. You probably already have Google Analytics set up for your website, but if you don’t, getting started is pretty easy. Simply set up a property for your account and add the code snippet Google provides you to the pages on your website. If your website has a lot of pages, that last part could take some time, but for WordPress sites, there are plug-ins that simplify the process.
If you are just now setting up your Google Analytics account, then it will take some time for you to see the kind of results described below, so make a note to return to this post in a few weeks. If you already have Google Analytics data though, you should be able to start checking how well your website’s doing its job now.
What to Look For
Here are the main analytics to check for the different goals you have.
If your main goal is increasing awareness of your website or brand, then the primary metric to check is traffic. Google Analytics puts this information front and center in the platform. You can see how many people visit your site and how that number changes over time.
Google Analytics also provides a lot of useful information about where that traffic’s coming from, and what pages attract the most people. This information can help you figure out which of your efforts for driving more awareness are working the best so you can re-work your marketing plan to get the best results.
What if my website’s not getting traffic?
If checking these metrics reveals to you that your website’s not doing its job, then increase your online marketing efforts. Your website can’t accomplish anything if people can’t find it and marketing is how people find it. In particular, look into SEO, paid search, and social media to help raise awareness.
There are a number of different metrics you can use to track engagement. In Google Analytics, the best metrics for engagement are found under the Behavior tab. You can see how long people spend on your site and check the bounce rate, which tells you how many people leave your website soon after landing on it.
Under Behavior Flow, you can learn the typical sequences of activities – which webpages people typically come to your website through, and the pages they visit next from there.
In addition to the metrics in Google Analytics, you can gauge user engagement with more active interactions, such as blog comments, email signups, social medial follows, and interactions with your live chat window, if you have one. Figuring out these secondary analytics to check for engagement will depend on your goals – if customer service is a top priority of your site then interactions with your chat window or contact form are important; if you’re doing content marketing, then those email signups and blog comments are more likely to be meaningful.
Any marketing software, platforms, or plug-ins you use for these purposes should provide you with analytics data to help you easily track your progress in these areas.
What if my website’s not getting engagement?
If your analysis of your analytics tells you that you’re not getting the engagement you hope for, then you have a few potential steps to consider.
If a lot of your visitors leave the site soon after reaching it, then the problem could be an issue of web design. Do user testing to determine if your website is intuitive to use or if people have a hard time finding what they’re looking for. Make sure your testing includes mobile, especially if your analytics show that many of those quick exits happen on mobile devices. Mobile use is so common today that if you don’t provide a good enough mobile experience to keep your mobile users on the website, you could be losing out on a lot of your potential followers.
Also consider testing out different CTAs to keep users interacting with your brand rather than leaving the website. You want there to be some encouragement on every page they land on to do something else – whether that’s navigate to another page, sign up for your email list, make a purchase or some other desired action.
If people reaching your website from paid search links or social media promotion quickly bounce, there may be an issue with your promotional language not matching what people see when they get there. If you have PPC ads promoting a sale that already ended, your visitors are not only less likely to stick around, but they’re more likely to associate that bad experience with your brand. Make sure the messages you use when marketing and advertising your website match up with what’s on the landing pages you direct people to.
Use your analytics to try to get to the root of the problem here and test out different solutions to see which one does the trick.
If your website promotes a business, then your most important metric is the sales it helps you make. If you have a service-based business, that may mean setting up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to track each time your user fills out your web contact form or calls the phone number on your website.
If you sell items through the website, your ecommerce platform will likely provide some tracking functionality, and you can set up ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics as well.
What if my website isn’t getting enough sales?
There could be a number of problems that keep you from getting sales. Some issues could be due to problems offsite – like a competitor that offers better prices or does more aggressive marketing. But there may be problems you can fix on your own website that will make a difference.
One issue could be ineffective or missing CTAs. Go through your website to check if you’re consistently encouraging people to take the actions you want them to take on each page and add CTAs encouraging purchases anywhere relevant that you find them missing. If you already have CTAs and they’re not doing the trick, test out different wording, colors, or styles to see if a change can increase conversions.
Another potential issue could be last-minute barriers to purchase. Have you ever started to make a purchase only to find that the shipping costs are more than you expected or the checkout process was too long and unwieldy? Research has found a few main causes of shopping cart abandonment, check and see if your website is guilty of any of them.
In some cases, you could be attracting people who may be interested in your products at some point, but just aren’t ready to make a decision yet. Some of the engagement solutions above can help with this. Include CTAs to join your email list so you can continue the relationship, or look into retargeting ads that will remind your former website visitors of the products they checked out previously.
Sometimes it can be tricky to identify the exact problem that’s keeping your website from doing its job, but do your best to parse the metrics you have and use testing to work out the rest. It does mean more work, but all the work you put into your website will only pay off if you pay attention to results and do what it takes to keep your website effective.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.