Recently, I’ve attended quite a few seminars talking about internet marketing, social media marketing and other techniques to help small business owners drive more traffic to their website(s). Unfortunately, many of them miss the mark. Instead of leaving business owners with a clear strategy and actionable takeaways for generating more traffic, they leave them with a briefcase full of distractions.
If you own or operate a small to medium sized business and you’re looking to increase the traffic to your website, follow these steps:
Install a program like Google Analytics to measure and track every aspect of your website. Make sure you set up filters to remove yourself and your employees from your data. You might also want to remove any vendors that might frequent your site (assuming these categories of activity are not important to you – if they are, leave them in!). Make sure you also set up goals and funnels so that you can more easily see/differentiate more valuable visits.
Invest in some form of call tracking. This can be as simple as taking out a specific local or toll free number which will only be used on your website. If you use the same phone number on your website as you do on your trucks, your business cards and your brochures, you’re never going to be able to determine whether calls from your website are going up, going down or staying flat. Ultimately, you want leads and sales from your website – not just more visitors. For many small to medium sized local businesses a lead/sale originates via phone. Blue Corona works with hundreds of local businesses and the ratio of phone inquiries to online inquiries ranges from 4:1 to 10:1. If we didn’t track our client’s phone inquiries, we’d be missing most of the picture and so would they!
2. Determine your website’s conversion rate
Think of your website just like you would a sales funnel. If your website gets 1,000 visits, how many of those visits result in a contact? That’s one type of conversion. Of those contacts, how many are leads (vs. solicitation calls, vs. job seekers, etc.)? That’s another level of conversion tracking. How many of your leads became sales? You get the picture. Do this for both your website as a whole as well as for each traffic source – i.e. Google Organic, Direct Visits, Referring Sites, etc.
3. Look at Top Traffic Sources report in your analytics program and identify the “big easy to turn knobs”
If you have some type of Analytics program on your website, you should have a report that shows you your top traffic sources. Sort this list by total visits and total conversions. Now, if your goal was to double your traffic, where would you focus your time, attention and budget? I like to think of different traffic sources as knobs (maybe someone out there can help me come up with a better analogy?!). Some knobs are easy to turn and some are more difficult to turn. Some knobs cause large increases in volumewith just a small turn while others can be spun and spun and not a whole lot happens.
I’ve read all about the “long tail” and I get it — instead of focusing on the big knobs, find a way to maximize the 10,000 small knobs. In my mind, the easiest way to do that is to launch an affiliate program, but that’s another blog post altogether.
Look at this traffic report:
Google Analytics - Top Traffic Sources
A couple bits of relevant info – this company’s Google PPC account is hitting their budget before 2-3pm on most days (meaning – they could dramatically increase their budget and get increased clicks/visits as a result). Their top lead source is Direct Visits followed by Organic and then Google CPC (pay per click).
They have paid ads on Superpages (Idearc) and Yellowbook.com.
If their goal was to increase their website traffic – and ultimately leads/sales, which traffic sources represent their big easy to turn knobs? Is running a larger display ad (if it’s even possible) on Superpages.com going to take their traffic from 14 visits to 200? Doubtful. Assuming their organic rankings are the same on Bing and Yahoo as they are on Google, are they going to ride Bing advertising to doubling their traffic? Nope.
Obviously, this is an over simplified example and there are a dozen different strategies that you could take to reach the goal of doubling traffic to this site. However, if it were my business, I’d up the budget on Google AdWords, run an organic ranking report on Google, Yahoo and Bing and optimize the website to rank better for the keywords that provide the best balance of visits and conversions (phone calls and online inquiries).
4. Avoid / Eliminate distractions
If you own / operate a small to medium sized business, you always need to be working to minimize distractions. Time is your most precious commodity. If you’re website converts 15% of all visits into a conversion, you should focus on one thing – doubling your traffic. Think about what one new customer is worth. Think about your close rate on your leads. If your website can generate a lead for every ~7 clicks, don’t get hung up in all of the details. Forget that Facebook Fanpage everyone says you need. Turn a blind eye to Twitter. There will be a time and place for those in the future. Just focus on doubling your traffic. [If you believe you have a sure fire way to double your traffic via Twitter or Facebook, go for it – but recognize most people don’t have that idea/concept and even those that do rarely execute it effectively].
Look at your conversion rate across all traffic sources and look for your big easy to turn knobs. Don’t get too hung up if your conversion rate for one of your top traffic sources is a bit lower than your site as a whole. Your Analytics program may be giving the conversion credit to the last click (vs. the first click) and this could dramatically alter the conversion rate between online marketing strategies like Google PPC and Google Organic.
Here’s an example – Suppose someone Google’s “water delivery bethesda maryland” and they click on DrinkMore Water’s paid ad. They cruise the DrinkMore Water site and then leave to comparison shop. A day later, they decide to sign up with DrinkMore Water so, they Google “DrinkMore Water Maryland.” Which traffic sources should get credit for the sale? If it were me, I’d want the majority of the credit to go to the paid ad. It was the paid ad that captured the original visit and created the opportunity for the visitor to become familiar with the company. If you feel the same, make sure that your Analytics program is set up or customized accordingly or, as I mentioned above, don’t pay too much attention to the exact conversion rate. Balance the conversion rate with total traffic and the quality of the visitors.
5. Don’t dabble or tip toe
Part of the point of this post was to get you focused on BIG things not the hot thing of the month or the dozen distractions put before you on a daily basis. Don’t make your goal for traffic generation be to increase your traffic by 10 or 20%. Double it!! Triple it!! Think in extremes. If your goal was to double your website traffic and you had to invest in only one marketing strategy to get you there, what would it be? If your online marketing company recommends upping your PPC budget, don’t increase it from $500 to $600 and try that for 6 months to see what happens. That’s not an increase that’s a distraction. Double your budget and try it for one month. You’ll get far better information, a picture that is much less murky and you’ll be setting the stage for better marketing decisions in the future.
6. Measure and track everything
Oh, did I already mention this above? Well it’s that important!! Measure and track everything. Better more accurate information leads to better decisions and better results – period!
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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“We are very pleased not only with the end result, but with the entire process of working with Blue Corona. The amount of patience, guidance, and knowledge that they displayed throughout the whole process made them a very easy and enjoyable partner to work with. We are thrilled with our new website, mobile site, and content management system. We would recommend Blue Corona for any website development or redesign project. ”