You invest a great deal of time, effort and budget on your website, but how do you know if it's well spent?
Something we are very much aware of at Liquid Light, and something we see as key to a successful relationship with our clients, is being able to demonstrate the success of all that we do. But how do you measure this?
We recently sat in a kick off meeting for a new project and raised this very question. We wanted to get to know the client a little better and understand what they saw as being key to the success of their website. The answer was not exactly what we were hoping for:
"When we have a good looking site we're all pleased with, we know we've done well"
Whilst it's reassuring that they knew we would deliver, as a measurement to assess return on investment (ROI), it fills us with dread...
What makes a site 'good looking' and who decides that? This is very much based on a single subjective view and ignores the end user - success being measured on what we think internally, not what the user thinks and does. It's also very much based in the here and now and has no long term benefit/targets. What is the long term plan and how will we know when we get there?
To be able to assess ROI you need to remove the need for subjective review and base it on indisputable facts.
How do we do this?
The first step is to understand the purpose and objectives of your website, though this in itself can be too wide ranging. If the project/updates you are implementing are specific to an individual task, focus in on those.
Once these are known you can identify how this will be tracked and set your targets.
For an commerce site this is often relatively easy - how much stuff you have sold! Target incremental increases from before you implemented the changes and see how much additional revenue your investment has generated.
However, as mentioned earlier, this can be an inaccurate measure. Look to identify more specific measures for the project. Are you trying to reduce basket abandonment or increase ancillary sales during the checkout process? Alternatively if you have a high customer acquisition cost, your target could be about increasing return visits and repeat purchases.
Don’t forget that the objectives of an online shop don’t always revolve around sales. In the multi-channel world that we live in, your website can also help drive sales in the offline environment. We work with clients where one of the objectives of the website is to generate sales leads over the telephone - in this instance ROI can be measure in relation to the number of calls.
For non-commerce sites, identifying key indicators of success can provide more of a challenge. Working with a number of NGO's and charities has given us a keen insight into how to tackle this issue. Whilst the outcomes may be different from a commerce website, the underlying principle is still the same: why do people come to the site and what do you want them to do?
For charities this may be simple. Your website can be a vehicle to generate donations, so how have the updates you’ve implemented affected the money people are giving you?
In regards to NGO’s, we've found that the biggest challenge most face is generating awareness of who they are and, more importantly, what a difference they are making on the ground. For one of our clients, when people were searching for terms related to their work, they were only appearing on the 4th page of Google - no one ever saw their site or saw the difference they are making. By updating the content and improving how the site was built, they now rank in the top 2 results. In this case, success was measured by the improved rankings and subsequent traffic.
Alternatively, you may be creating high quality content that raises the profile of what you do, so why not target getting this content shared on other websites, linked to from Social Media or to generate high levels of PR enquiries. Finally, many NGO’s and charities have news sections, blogs and/or forums. Success can be measured in regards to improved engagement with the posted content - how many people are commenting and voicing an opinion.
Too many times we see websites that look amazing, have won design awards, but don’t actually ‘do’ anything or help produce tangible results. When investing your time, budget and effort improving your website, make sure you always know from the outset what success will look like and how it will be measured.
Speak to us about our track history of building website solutions with proven results.