website redesignHere are four words that drive CEOs and business owners crazy.

Let’s redo our website!

It’s time consuming and a B2B website is perceived as an expense, not a revenue generator. And what is worse, everyone has an opinion. Regardless of their role in the company, everyone has an educated guess about content, color, photos, navigation, etc. But the best way I have determined in recent years to start a website project is to start with data not opinion.

There is gold in Google Analytics. You just need to know what you’re looking for and how to interpret the results. And if you have accepted the fact that your website and web presence is now the top of the sales funnel, then there is data in Google Analytics that will save you time, money and make the design experience as painless as possible.

Here are 3 data categories you must bring to your next website meeting…

1. Be rock solid on who is visiting your website

Many people start a website project because they want to update company or product/service information on their website. They want the website to reflect the latest corporate information. But before you charge off and gather the latest company brochure, figure out who is visiting your website and what they need to know. You can learn a lot about people using these three data points:

  • Bounce rate. Everyone has a love/hate relationship with bounce rate. Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it is a blatant proof point that your content needs overhauling. Every week you should be checking to see if people coming to your site are getting to the right content based on their search. A high bounce rate means your keywords are not lining up with your content. You can figure this out by conducting a keyword evaluation. Dumping the same keyword strategy onto a new website doesn’t solve anything.
  • Organic traffic. Check to see how many visitors are finding you and going to your website through search engines. High organic traffic with a high bounce rate could signal problems. It’s important to sort this out before you decide on a new navigation for your website.
  • Percentage of new visitors versus returning visitors. This data point is simple and often overlooked. Generally, it gets ignored because people start a website without clearly establishing the primary goal of their website. If your website is to support lead nurturing, then percentage of returning visitors is way more important that new visits. Tracking this data saves lots of time and money when you are deciding campaigns and tactics to drive traffic to the website. More importantly, it helps you make important decisions about your audience before you redo anything.

2. Understand what people are reading

The Clash sang it best when they crooned, “should I stay or should I go now.” Pulling down copy or rewriting content can have a long term effect on your web presence strategy for both machines (Google) and humans. Don’t cling to pages no one is visiting and conversely, keep pages that perform well with respect to time on on page and from a keyword perspective.

  • Page popularity. For most B2B websites, About and Contact are the pages that get viewed the most. This data point is excellent for understanding what pages should stay and what should go on a new website. Many companies cling to pages and pages of product information. But a simple data pull over six to 12 months often proves that many pages are never visited. You need to understand what people read before they hit About and Contact and if you have pages that are not performing, dump them.
  • Reverse visualization. After people land on your website, look at entrance and exit points. There is an important story being told about how they are using the information on a website and what they need to ‘get to know you’ as a business.

3. Be clear about whether your website is performing

Many people start a website redesign because they are convinced the current site is not performing. But when you push a little harder to understand what someone means by “performing”, you often hear a generic comment like “we don’t get leads from our website.” So before you can fix that problem, you need to understand exactly what you want the website to do and what the site is doing right now with respect to business performance. Often times, people start a website project thinking it’s all about the look and feel and want to change a site if it feels old and outdated. But we think you should save your money if that is all you intend to fix. A prettier website is not a better performing website. Get a handle on the following first:

  • Goals/Conversions/Events. To determine how well the site is converting or doing what you intend it to do, make sure you have a series of goal completion set up and tracked in Google Analytics that follow the buyer process of your customer. When they land, what pages do they go to and what do they read before downloading something or completing a form, etc. If you can determine a clear path, then the next version of your website should built on that path. Your ultimate goal is to improve conversion so that you can improve lead nurturing or lead generation. Before you decide what do next, dig down to find out what is working and what is not.
  • Source/Medium/Campaign. Determine which external sources are driving the best traffic based on goal completions. Did you get more new subscribers to your email list from LinkedIn or was organic search based on documented keywords driving business results? The reason this is so important to determine before you redo anything is that you don’t want to lose what is working. If you are getting great leads from an industry group in LinkedIn that go to specific page on the website, figure out why this content performs and build more of it before you redesign the page.

 

Everyone has an opinion. But the really smart people use data to make their point!

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