Your website is an investment. Want a return on it, then use it!

What’s your website ROI?

You built a website to promote your business online, but building it isn’t enough anymore. You have to use your website to get a return on investment. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money.

 

Here’s the deal…

I have tremendous respect for anyone running a business that generates enough revenue to hire and train staff; develop new products, services and plans for growth; and has enough left over to hire someone like me to build a website. It takes time, research and effort to create something great. You realize the importance of hiring an expert, because you still need to run your business. But building a website is one thing, using it is another.

I love the excitement of launching a new website. Everyone is optimistic about the results. It feels good to have a brand new shiny website, right? Money well spent, right? It finally happened and you are so excited! It’s something you have been awaiting for such a long time! But…now what? Wait for new business to knock down your door by the dozens just because your website was launched? Not likely. What went wrong?

 

The reality of it all

Most business websites are still just nice looking online brochures. Sure it’s informative, but if it’s not setup for conversion, you are missing out on valuable opportunities. Compelling people to take action is vital if you want to generate leads, receive phone calls, sell products, increase donations, newsletter signup, or achieve whatever goals you have set to benefit your business. But do you have an online strategy? What are your goals for the website? How it is performing? What is a lead from your website worth? Are you keeping it up to date? When will you achieve your website ROI? Your website is a platform — a platform to inform, build trust, then convert. Chances are it informs, but it probably stops short there.

Your website is a marketing tool built to increase exposure and generate revenue. “If you build it, they will come” is not a realistic scenario. Your website is a business tool and you must use it. You wouldn’t order a case of tri-fold brochures without distributing them, so why would you build a website and not use it? That would be a waste of time, money and effort, and it leads to nothing in return. This may be hard for some of you to read. If it is, your understanding of what a website can do needs to shift.

 

Making the shift

You need a plan. You need to understand how your website is performing before you can effectively improve it. There is an endless amount of information gathered on your website traffic, but focus on a few key items at first and set a baseline. Start with the analytics. Here are a few things to look for:

  • How many visitors did you have last month?
  • How many are new/returning visitors?
  • Where are your visitors?
  • What are the top 10 pages?
  • What are your traffic sources?
  • What keywords are people using?
  • What is your bounce rate?
  • What the hell is a bounce rate?

 
Now that we have a baseline, we can get started on improving your online presence. What did you learn from this data?

  • Are you getting traffic but your visitors are leaving to quickly? They either can’t find what they came for or it wasn’t there in the first place. It’s either your navigation system or lack of content. A little more digging will give you the answer, then you can take action.
  • Not enough traffic? Your website might not be optimized for search. It will only work if people see it. Not only that, but you need the right people to see it. Use a focus keyword to build your pages. Write a compelling title. Your content must be relevant. (More on this in another post.)
  • Expecting people to use different keywords? You need more structure pages and blog posts focusing on important keywords.
  • Did one of your blog posts do well? Great. Find out why and add the details to our plan.

 
If you are not sure if your website is gathering this information, find out why, and then how. It’s crucial to your online success and should be your first assignment. Get it done! Set yourself up for success.

 

You need to write

Contribute to your blog on a regular basis. That’s right. I said it. You need to write…regularly. If you aren’t a writer, pay someone who knows your business well to write for you. Informative posts create trust and increase the likelihood that your goals will be met or exceeded. Take a common problem your customers have that you can solve, then document and publish it on your blog. Next time you are talking about that topic with a customer, ask if you can email the respective article that details the solution to the problem. By utilizing this strategy, you’ve done a few things: you have provided valuable information; you have most likely strengthened trust between you and your customer; and you have collected a valuable email address that you can use to continue the conversation. This is a great practice to get in the habit of and a perfect example of how you can use your website to increase ROI.

Here are a few other content ideas for your blog:

  • Write success stories — interview a customer and share how you worked together to achieve success
  • Capture photos of a product implementation and share a short story about it
  • Ask customer service what they are currently dealing with; document and publish
  • Create a how to document — “Eight things you must know before you…”
  • Find a keyword that isn’t in your search results (but should be) and write an article about it
  • Share an opinion about industry news
  • Behind-the-scenes — give an insider’s view of your company; share photos too
  • Document an event — share your stories about what you learned

 
You can’t wait for people to come to your website, but you do need to give them a reason to be there.

 

Use your website

Don’t let your website be a brochure that simply describes your products and services. It must do more. You must do more. Use your analytics to gain insight, highlight a problem you can solve, map your solution, then take action. Write, publish and share. Rinse and repeat. The more you give, the more you get. Use your website to increase ROI.

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Scot Rumery

Business advisor, database engineer and web developer specializing in technology implementation.

I have always been interested in how things work. I’m excited about making things better and I am deeply interested in the process, taking the time to understand why and how, listening and learning. Why is something set up a certain way and what makes it work? How can we make it better?

6 comments on “Your website is an investment. Want a return on it, then use it!

  1. Great advice for website owners, Scot! It’s sadly true that businesses often think “if we build it, they will come” to the website. I like your point that website owners need to take responsibility for measuring and increasing a site’s ROI, which is what businesses care about in their marketing efforts.

    • Thank you Chad. I value your opinion. This is something I feel strongly about, as you can tell. It’s the extra effort that will pay off. We can write a plan but if it’s not carried out, the benefit (and momentum) is lost.

  2. Scot, I definitely need to be more assertive with clients (past, present, and future) in regards to truly making their site a valued/cultivated tool, rather than a big ol’ waste of online space — basically, a website should be treated as a microcosm of the main business… you wouldn’t neglect your main business for a week, let alone for 6 months at a time, right!?

    Good stuff.

    • You are correct Steve. Great point. It’s all too common a theme for small business websites. The longer they are neglected, the harder it is to recover. Having a plan is key, but it won’t do any good if it isn’t executed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I come across websites all the time that haven’t been updated in years and my first thought is the company went out of business. Who owns a business and doesn’t pay attention to their best sales person? A website may be the only impression a potential customer gets. It’s like going to the grocery store and getting the grumpy cashier. Not the lasting impression you want to leave a customer with. I would rather companies spend money on web development and marketing then put more junk mail in my mail box! Good post Scot.

    • More and more people are using the internet to research businesses before further contact. Vetting a businesses or performing due diligence is an increasingly common step for consumers. I received this comment from a potential customer they other day:

      I’m holding off with any website work. I dont get any traffic there. I’m not going to spend money where it isn’t needed. If it gets busier I will let you know.

      It’s the chicken and egg syndrome. Waiting for more traffic to justify website improvements is backwards. They may be missing out on leads because of sub-standard website design and usability. First impressions can be costly.

      Thank you for your comment Patrick.

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