Monitoring, reporting and recommending: the endless cycle
There is no point in monitoring web site performance if that data is not used
As a web designer I have 3 basic tools to use to monitor the performance of a web site. The first is us as a team and we decide together: does the web site look good, is the menu easy to follow, is the content interesting and are the images relevant and eye-catching. The second set of tools are various data providers Google and other internet based systems provide. From this we get very precise numerical data we can then use in a manner to build a history and trend of performance, and set targets. The data is a lot richer than pure numbers of visitors that come to the site. Where do they come from, how they behave in the site, and what makes them leave?
The final tool is one that measures the market, how many people search for that product / keyword in a given period, in a given region. Once we get a handle on the online market size, the logical extension of that is to determine what proportion of that market we are able to tap into, and what steps we need to do to increase our share.
There is a fundamental difference between collecting data, analysing and acting on that data. Too many web sites are 'conservative' in their basics, or it is seen as too much trouble to alter the major aspects such as menus, pathways and funnels. Yet this is the crucial element in making a web site more responsive, it is the logical conclusion of this cycle of monitoring and reporting. Keeping web sites 'fresh' is another key ingredient that can be sidelined in established web sites, re-wording whole paragraphs for a better read will never do any harm and increasing the keyword content will bring the additional benefit of increased traffic.
Part of the monitoring and reporting cycle is keeping an eye on the competition and the starting point of that is determining exactly who the competition is, and if our strategy should be 'head on confrontation', or cooperation in some sense. Sometimes the rivals are too big to take on, such as Amazon, and there might be a case of working with them, such as their own custom shops, as an alternative means to market our goods. Options of reaching a bigger audience should always be explored.
This is team work, and the success of this circular exercise will be based on both of us being committed to the same goal. There are also external factors that need to be factored in a web marketing campaign. These include social media campaigns, pay-per-click and blogging. Depending on your work load and experience, I am happy to either advise you on running these campaigns or run them on your behalf. Same rules will apply for these external campaigns, of monitoring, reporting and recommendations. Together we will get a deep knowledge of the customer base through this interaction.
Interacting with customers and potential customers is often over-looked by web marketers, yet it is fundamental. The dialogue should be on multiple levels, whether it is a passive form such as 'download our pdf guide', to offering instant communication with modern tools at our disposal such as a messaging services and Skype. Sometimes giving phone numbers and an e-mail will not bring in all potential customers. A database of enquiring and past customers can be built up and future marketing campaigns and reminders can tap into this relevant list and once again, a good ordered monitoring and reporting system will bring long term benefits.
Finally the data we build up on our customer base and the dialogue we have established will guide us for the future. Their feedback can provide the inside information to improve and update the product / service and guide us to the ideas for new product launches, and if close to the original product, thus with a ready potential market base we already serve.