This article was first published September 12, 2008 on the Tatum Marketing blog
This is the last in a series of articles on B-to-B website redesign. If you’ve missed the first 5 articles in this series, here’s a good place to start: B-to-B Website Re-Design – Proceed with Caution.
We’ve looked at website strategy, website design, search engine optimization, and website content. Now we’re ready to look at two critical elements of running a highly successful business website that may well be the least exciting to marketers – testing and measuring.
Personally, I love testing and measuring for a couple of reasons:
- You get fast, solid feedback on what your customers and prospects like and don’t like.
- You can use the numbers to keep getting better results.
- You can avoid a heck of a lot of mistakes.
- You have tangible proof of what marketing is doing – or not doing – for your sales efforts.
Let’s look at measuring first.
What should you measure?
With the arrival of easy-to-use and easy-to-understand web analytics applications, one of the biggest problems – once you realize you need to measure – is avoiding data overload.
As I mentioned in a past article Basic Web Analytics for Technology Marketers, there are a few fundamental metrics that we recommend that all of our clients track. Beyond that it’s up to you to determine what data is really useful. My rule of thumb is this: don’t track anything you’re not going to act on.
Basic critical data includes:
- Unique visitors – the number of unique visitors who visit your website monthly.
- How many are new visitors and how many are returning visitors.
- Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who quickly leave your site from the entry page without going anywhere else. (It has been rightly pointed out to me by Bernie Borges that you should consider where the traffic is coming from when looking at bounce rate. For example, pay-per-click traffic will have a higher acceptable bounce rate than direct traffic.)
- Actions taken – how many people did something (downloaded a whitepaper, watched a video, requested a sales call, etc.) and what did they do. This is especially important for lead generation sites.
- Number of purchases – an obvious important metric for ecommerce sites.
What should you test?
The simple answer is: test everything you can.
No matter how carefully you follow best practices, persuasion fundamentals and gut instinct from knowledge of your market, trust me on this: you will not get it right. One of the most interesting challenges of marketing is the fact that people do not always react the way you think they will. And one of the coolest parts of website marketing is that we can constantly test and improve to get the best results.
Here are just a few elements that are worthy of testing:
- Calls to action
- Page layout
As I mentioned before, you could test literally anything; but keep in mind why you are testing. You want to improve the performance of your website so test to learn which versions or combinations cause more people to stick to your site and take the actions you want them to take.
That ends a very rapid look at the basics of developing an effective business-to-business website. I’ll summarize just in case you missed an article or two.
To own and operate a truly effective business website – one that attracts and converts the right kind of traffic – you need to think beyond just how your website looks. You also need to consider:
- website strategy
- search engine optimization
- analytics and
All of these factors contribute to the success of your site.