When I ask business owners about their website stats, their responses range from, “I know I have them, but I’m not really sure what they are” to, “Aren't they in my Google Analytics account?” If I continue probing, it becomes painfully obvious that they don’t actually know the answer because they aren’t tracking their websites.
Getting the answer right—that is, knowing exactly what percentage of your website visitors become sales leads—is extremely important. Without it, you simply can't maximize your online marketing ROI. If you make just one change to your website in 2012, make it this: install the analytics tools required to accurately identify and monitor your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate.
Knowing your conversion rate matters
Conversion tracking (also called “goal tracking”) allows you to differentiate between valuable website visits and everything else. This can be anything from signing up for your newsletter, e-mailing with a question, asking for a price quote or filling out the Information request form on your website. Think of a conversion as a lead—someone you can potentially sell to—now or in the future.
Whenever someone takes an action after visiting your site, you can configure Google Analytics to track it. Knowing this number can help you to figure out what you’d be willing to pay to drive a qualified visitor to your website. Would you pay $20? How about $50? Where do you draw the line? Unfortunately, most business owners rely on their gut intuition, often assuming that there’s no way to know for sure. This is a big mistake because with some basic business information and the right tracking tools in place, you can use this information to make sure you are optimizing your Web marketing budget and project with confidence how many qualified leads you can expect for an increase in online marketing spend.
The case for website tracking tools
To accurately track your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate, you’ll need two key tools. The first is website analytics software which will allow you to track everything that’s happening on your website. I personally prefer Google Analytics because it’s highly customizable, easy to use and free.
The second major component of your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate is the number of calls that came in from your website. For example, if you’re a consumer in need of a plumber, you are more likely to make a phone call based on what you see on a website than you are to send an e-mail to ask about their areas of specialty or pricing. To track and quantify the phone leads you receive, you should invest in a call tracking platform. For a nominal cost, you can accurately track every phone lead you receive and trace it back to the original source. Some call tracking platforms even allow you to track leads back to the actual keyword used to find your website. To learn more about call tracking solutions, check out Ifbyphone, Mongoose Metrics or my company, Blue Corona. All three offer easy to use call tracking platforms that can be integrated with your Google Analytics reports.
When you have the right website tracking tools in place, you can turn something that used to be a lot like art (advertising and marketing) into something that more resembles actual science.
OPEN Cardmember Ben Landers is the President of Blue Corona, a data-driven SEO company that helps business owners measurably improve their marketing ROI.