Marketing and communications departments, external agencies, senior management and the IT department within pharmaceutical companies, have somehow found some common language around which they can communicate. ‘Hits’, ‘Visitors’, ‘Bounces’, and ‘Repeats’ have been some of the so-called measures of an online success or failure. Yet in today’s world of digital engagement, these numbers have so little consequence compared with the insights now available from true indicators of success.
In reality, is it actually important how many people visit your website? Does this indicator really have a lot of meaning?
A new frontier in measurement
When Google Analytics was launched in 2005, a whole new age of measurement came to website managers and marketers. No longer confounded by boring tables and bar charts, the Google Analytics tool provided a simple distillation of the main website metrics on a dashboard, so that any person with access could simply see “are we doing better or worse than the last time we looked?”
That is not to say that there have not always been layers of detail which conscientious marketers have been able to interrogate to gain extra insights.
- Which pages did they arrive here from?
- Where did they go from here?
- How long were they here?
All of these queries could be investigated to gain a greater understanding of what works or might not work for any web page.
Functioning funnels and goal setting
Measurement really started to step up when the concept of ‘goal funnels’ was introduced. A goal funnel is a predetermined path that a marketer expects or wants visitors to take on the website. It usually results in an action. Perhaps to download a paper, or to sign-up to a newsletter, or to vote, or to make a phone call, and so on.
The beauty of the goal funnel is that the marketer can see clearly how different visitors react at each stage of the prescribed journey. Some may leave early in the process. Some may go right through to the end, and then suddenly depart. All of these measurable events create an opportunity to glean even more meaning from the people that are interacting with the brand online.
- Why didn’t they complete the last step?
- Where did they go instead?
- Is is something we said or asked of them?
The creation of goal funnels means that you know where there are gaps or weaknesses in your customer journey. Continuous refinement of this funnel will inevitably lead to a streamlined and efficient conversion process, which can only lead to improved return on investment.
Real-time usability studies
In the past, if you wanted to do some usability testing, you would commission an external research partner to facilitate live user testing of designs and phrases to determine which had the greatest impact and delivered the best conversion results. Today, it is possible for real-time A/B split testing or multi-variate testing to be happening on your website, all the time. What does this mean? It means that those little uncertainties about your communication strategy or copy can be tested, against alternate versions, to see which of them is the most effective for the actual people that visit your campaign pages online.
Sometimes when you are too close to a subject, it can be easy to start using internal ideas, acronyms, metaphors, and company slang without realising that the people that you are intending to communicate with have no idea what you are saying. More often than not, what we as experts ‘think’ is the best way of communicating, proves to be secondary to another which we consider to be inferior. So with an automated optimisation strategy in place, you can be testing images, headlines, straplines, catch phrases, calls to action, and more. Every minute of every day, and with every visitor. This is not with an unrelated demographic either. This is using very targeted individuals who are actually interested and engaged with your brand, because they have taken some of their precious time to visit your website.
Interception of targeted individuals
Pay per click advertising and digital display advertising are interesting and sometimes appropriate ways to drive targeted visitors to your campaign landing page. With modern trending, benchmarking, segmenting and social media monitoring tools, it is possible to build your own intelligence about the ideal profile of your target visitor. With this bespoke understanding of your market, you can strategically choose how to intercept users in the place where they can be found, using a variety of engagement strategies.
Conversion rather than visits
Whereas ‘visits’ give some sort of tangible indicator of overall exposure, they don’t necessarily tell the truth about ‘who’ or ‘why’ they are there. Far more important is a visit that turns into a meaningful action.
This is the strategic art of measuring conversion.
A conversion can be any number of strategically determined actions, for example:
- Time on page as a conversion goal
A user who finishes reading an article won’t always click a button or register another event in the browser to indicate that she’s done. In those cases, it may be useful to count a conversion after the page has been loaded in the browser for a certain amount of time.
- Advanced A/B Testing
This is A/B testing which allows you to compare entire pages against each other, to see which has the better performance.
- Experimenting with dynamic content
Sometimes you need to use variations of content from a database to see which gets the best results.
- Tracking all movement past the landing page
In this case, you’re not concerned with the specific action that they’re taking, so much as that they’re actually taking action and not leaving your site after viewing your landing page.
- Improve your newsletter subscription rate
You can discover the best page design or message for enticing people to sign up for your newsletter.
- Experiment with site-wide changes
This may involve changing your header content (such as a tag line or a logo), or experimenting with the look and feel of navigation elements or colour choices. Is there a clear winning approach?
- Comparing old vs. new website designs
When it is time to bring in a website redesign, you can measure improvements in results from a new ‘look and feel’, and fine-tune accordingly.
- Testing the same section across many pages
Introduce a new section that appears site-wide to see if (and where) it attracts appropriate attention
- Testing many sections across multiple pages
Have varying content with different calls to action, to see which brings increased engagement
- Counting a conversion when a link is clicked
Maybe someone visiting the page is not enough, you need them to click a specific link to be counted as a conversion
- Counting a conversion when a form is submitted or button clicked
Perhaps your conversion goal is that a visitor completes a form and submits it, or even that they click a ‘print’ button on the page
As with any good return on investment analysis, the most important question should really be: “Of those that visited our website, how many took the action that was expected?” The above examples take the concept of analytics past traditional ‘hits’ or ‘visits’ and into the meaningful area of ‘Are we really engaging online?’.
To find out how you can implement improved conversion strategies online, [intlink id=”contact” type=”page”]speak to one of our consultants[/intlink].