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May 2007
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November 2007

Reading the User's Mind and Then Doing Nothing About It

Want to find out what users of your web site are thinking?
The simplest place to start is by looking at your web site log files with an analytics program. Right now, I know that a number of people reading this are saying to themselves "Thank You, Dr. Obvious!" Of course if you look at your web stats you'll get better information on what the users are thinking.  Each user movement through your web site tallies up in various trends for interpretation on web reports.  The process takes a good portion of the guess work out of the equation as it pertains to "what are the users thinking?

Doing Nothing With Good Information
I've seen more web reports than I care to recall.  These reports include everything from a short synopsis of user activity to 75 pages of data that a statistician would drool over.  For all the great analytics packages on the market, some solutions being absolutely free, most companies don't take the time to implement web strategy changes in accordance with their web stats.  At web stat review meetings  everyone is "amazed and really interested in all the findings." After a review meeting most findings fall to the way side or nothing gets changed.

Linking Your Statistics with Goals
I discussed the challenge of web stats falling to the wayside with my friend Matt from ITMonkey.  He shared some of the same concerns and suggested some very practical advice. Matt said it starts with "creating realistic and measurable goals that you can reference against your web stats." You need to go beyond the standard metrics such as visitors, page views, average time on site, etc. Some simple goal oriented suggestions include the following:

  • If your goal is to increase the usability of your web site, your web statistics are a great starting point for any usability testing.  The history of your site gives a historical retrospective on who, what, when, where, as it pertains to users. You can also test new strategies against old trends.
  • Web statistics are a great bridge into establishing or refining a Search Engine Optimization campaign.  Again use collected keyword data as a starting point.  Are your new keywords as effective as generating traffic?
  • Are links you've recently traded or purchased to your web site providing you with an appreciable return on investment?
  • If you have an advertising campaign you are running in the traditional media use your analytics software to track the effectiveness of your marketing.  There was one campaign that was run earlier this year that actually showed a better return on investment from Pay Per Click Advertising versus radio advertising.

Companies need to go beyond just reading web statistics for all the obvious reasons.  Look deeper and tie the statistical data to measurable goals over time. Companies are getting a pretty precise map of what their web users are thinking and doing, but what's the use of a map that you never reference?

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Bring Your Offline Marketing To The Online World

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with a local business owner regarding a marketing campaign for her business. She had recently integrated portions of a print ad into a Craigslist post.  The strength of the ad was rooting in a compelling headline, a good unique selling proposition, and a specific call to action. Within a short time of posting the online ad she had a number of inquires regarding the promotion. The ad reinvigorated a promotion that the business had been running for a few years with only some success.

Have you run successful marketing campaigns offline?
Businesses should explore the possibilities of bringing some of their offline marketing campaigns to the online world.  Do you have an ad or piece of print marketing material that could be easily integrated into an online campaign? One of the easiest ways to integrate your traditional marketing materials to online marketing is through a keyword based pay per click (PPC) campaign. PPC campaigns allow advertisers to setup an ad and test its effectiveness in a matter of a few minutes. Not only is the advertising time frame to market shortened, but so is the cost involved.  You can start most PPC campaigns for less than $10 USD. I cannot think of any other form of advertising that allows you to test advertising with so little initial investment.

If you want to take the test a little further, setup a specific landing page to expand on your offer and give users even more interest in what you have to offer.

Beware Watchful Eyes
As with most things in life, for every virtue there is a vice. One of the dangers of bringing marketing items from the offline world is that competing advertisers and marketers will see your ad almost instantaneously.  Savvy competitors can quickly reverse engineer one of your ads for their own purposes.  The offline world allows marketers to run certain campaigns for a few months, in some cases a few years, before they need to make changes to their headlines, copy, or unique selling proposition. Unfortunately the speed of the Internet can create a marketing liability for certain marketers.

Regardless of some of the vices associated with bringing your offline marketing to the traditional world, every business owner should consider the possibilities of modifying offline campaigns for the online world. The results might just be a pleasant surprise.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


Beyond the Obvious: Regarding Your Web Site . . .

One of the most common questions asked in the business world is "Do you have a web site?" The question is somewhat of a self validating factor for many companies. "If you build it, they will come" worked wonders for Kevin Kosner in Field of Dreams, but as many companies and individuals find out that mantra doesn't pan out so well on the Internet.  There have been companies that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their web development with little or no return on their investment.  Companies should view web sites as an extension of their marketing, not as a piece of artwork to be admired.

All Looks and No Brains
There are company web sites that are visually extraordinary and do absolutely nothing in terms of generating leads or revenue. The lack of return on investment then prompts these companies to dump even more cash into a hopeless cause. At the same time there are web sites that look visually horrendous yet bring high quality leads and thousands in revenue month.

In my experience the companies that have the most successful web presence are those that are steeped with good marketing experience.  Those companies take the basics of good marketing and bring that to their web site. The best web sites are a amalgamation of directing marketing basics, strong copywriting, consistent testing, and lastly decent design.  Design is one of the most over emphasized components on the web.  Design is important to any web site, but it isn't the most important element. Users will almost always opt for simple and useful over superior graphics and technologically advanced web sites.

It helps to set practical marketing goals for your web site. How many sales leads did you generate from your web site last month?  If you didn't generate enough leads, what are you doing to correct the problem? 

Think about the following questions as they pertain to your web site:

  • Is your web site part of your current marketing plan? If not - why?
  • How does my web site contribute to additional sales or services for my business?
  • Do you integrate feedback given by your users?
  • When was the last time you looked at your web statistics?

Companies need to start thinking of their web site as a tool for marketing and extending their business, not just something you have "because everyone else has one."

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below: