The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Making your website work for you

by Paul Rouke, Usability and E-commerce specialist, PRWD

Almost all SME’s have a website, and many of them spend money on getting traffic to visit it. To get more traffic to your website you can spend more money on the likes of Google Adwords, and some of this traffic will convert into more potential new business for you. So far, this isn’t rocket science!

Where the big opportunity exists for companies is in improving how effective your website is in generating sales leads or actual sales (for the retailers amongst us).

A common mistake companies make is presuming that the number of enquiries or sales their website generates is OK and so why change something that isn’t broken?

Well, unless you already manage to convert a high percentage of visitors into making an enquiry or placing an order – say 30% - then there is a big opportuntity for you to improve how effective your website is for your business.

How to make your website work harder for your business

This is achieved by making incremental changes and improvements to key pages of your website, such as your contact page, services page or your shopping pages, and testing whether the change either increases or decreases your conversion rate. This type of testing, sometimes termed split-testing or A/B testing when carried out continually, is a surefire way of making your website perform better than it did before you started testing.

We are finding more of our clients are now more focused on improving how well their website performs compared to previously, when the main objective was to just to get more traffice to their website.

What if I only make a 1% improvement - why bother?

On its own 1% may not sound too exciting and probably not headline news for SME’s. On the other hand, when a business manages to improve their conversion rate by 1%, they benefit from a continuous improvement in the return-on-investment they get when spending money on search engine marketing.

Depending on the sales values of new leads to your business, this 1% can soon pay off more of your marketing expenditure in turn creating the business case to spend more money in getting traffic to your website.

If you are selling online, improving your conversion rate by 1% is guaranteed to make a big impact to your sales and return-on-investment as each week goes by.

What areas is it possible to improve?

Whether you have an e-commerce site, a brochure website or business site there are many areas that you can expect to improve including:

The number of online enquiries you receive
The number of people completing your online quotation form
The number of visitors downloading a key business document
The number of registrations you receive
The number of applications that are completed
The number of people making a purchase from you
The average amount of money shoppers spend with you

3 keys steps to improving your website performance

I recently presented at an event in Liverpool on the subject of improving website performance through three key steps – the slides from the presentation provide a greater degree of advice and recommendations for businesses, with the 3 steps covering:

Understanding your visitors and potential customers
Measuring the performance of your website
Testing different versions of key pages to improve conversion rates

Step 3 is what I have focused on in this article and I hope it has given you an appreciation of how your business website can be made to work harder in impacting your bottom line.

Lead or follow?

You may be wondering whether this approach to making your website work harder for your business is being done by most businesses already.

The good news is that it isn’t – and its highly unlikely your competitors will be doing this type of testing and improving.

For most businesses this means that you have an opportunity to take a lead on your competitors by investing more time and effort into making your website more affective. My advice to you is let your competitors follow you, probably after you have already made significant improvements to your website conversion rate!

Next steps

If you have an existing web design and development company looking after your website, you should ask them whether they can help improve your current conversion rates through testing. Hopefully they will be able to and you begin looking forward to your website working harder for your business – it will cost you but its worth the expense.

If you don’t have an existing web design and development company, or perhaps you look after your own website, you will need to find a company such as ourselves who specialise in helping business improve how effective their websites are.

Further details

Paul Rouke is the founder of PRWD, a company who specialise in helping businesses generate more leads, enquiries and sales from their website.
PRWD also design and develop new websites and online shops for businesses looking at moving their business onto the next level online, and they help businesses (particularly manufacturers) improve their internal processes with made-to-measure software. You can contact Paul on 0161 918 6729 or by email.

Trading Online Beginners Guide

Paul will be speaking as part of a panel of experts at this event, to be held at 6:30pm on Tuesday 25th August. Join in as they discuss the nuts and bolts of online trading, and how to get it right! Click here to reserve a place.

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