October 31, 2014

7 Best, Common or Creative Ways to Find Work.

I need work

I need work!

Need a job? Here are 7 ways to find work.

When I chaired the Tech Alliance at the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, I was always asked to help people find a job or connect with someone for business development.  Not surprisingly, in this economy, I still get approached from time-to-time and I find nothing more rewarding than helping someone out.  I appreciate when people have helped me, so I think of it as paying things back.

I got an email from James, a great guy, I hadn’t spoken with in several years.  Here is what he wrote and my 7 ideas to help him find work doing Apple computer support and training in Chicago’s western suburbs.

Hi Kurt!

LONG time, no see! Hope you’re doing well…

I wanted to run this by you – I have no idea if you can be of any help, but it didn’t cost me anything to ask!

I NEED more work! Like, I’m really getting quite desperate!! I’ve thought of all kinds of things, but after brainstorming a bit, this might be the best idea of them all!!

I am quite an expert now (if you don’t mind me saying:) with Apple products, and I’m ALWAYS being called by family and close friends when they have issues or don’t know how to use something. I’ve done enough consulting work to have made thousands and thousands by now! LOL

I wondered if you have any ideas on how to reach people with these services. You are connected to the technology world, that’s why I thought to ask you!

Any thoughts might be helpful. I know FB and LI are places, I wonder if there are any people or groups that you know personally that might be good for me to talk to..

Anyway, thanks for your time!!

James

He’s off to a great start, doing EXACTLY what he should be doing – Networking!  Talking to as many people as possible.  He’s leveraging the power of LinkedIn and Facebook too.

Here are my 7 ways to find work suggestions:

Hi James!

Nice to hear from you, but I’m sorry things are a bit slow. Been there, done that.

You’re not alone. Lot’s of peeps are looking for work, either a job or freelancing. The good news is, I have several ideas on how to find work.

1) Consider advertising on Craigslist. You free ads will be seen in the local area. Small biz and computer categories, I think. You could also promote photography.

2) See if you can get some testimonials on AngiesList.com. Lot’s of people search for reputable vendors there.

3) Hang out in forums and discussion groups. Answer a few questions, be helpful.

4) Meetups are a great place to network. Meetups.com I have one in Wheaton tomorrow. Come on by! West Suburban Business Networking You can find Meetups for all kinds of interests and attend, usually for free.

5) Probably helps to have a website – somewhere that people can find out more about what you have to offer. Many web hosts offer free sitebuilders and low cost hosting. You can also make free blogs at Blogger.com and WordPress.com. You may also attract organic traffic with optimized pages for terms like “Naperville Apple support”

6) You might find freelance jobs on elance.com

7) Facebook paid ads can be amazingly cost-effective. I’m doing them for several clients, including a north suburban hair and nail salon that’s getting new ciustomers on a budget of $10/day. You can target by geographical area, gender, household income and more.

Do you have business cards for this venture? You’ll need them and I would do something to stand out. Make it unique!

I think you need a one-sheet with descriptions of the work you do and something they can carry with them.  Certainly a list of services, if not packages.  And it might help to research what solutions your market is looking for.

Hope one or more of these ideas help. I may even need to use your services with a soon to be acquisition of a Macbook.

Let’s stay in touch and I hope to see you tomorrow!

Kurt

This book might help you find work.  

how to find work Take Your Career Back Jan MarinoI helped another guy get a pretty decent job recently.  I thought he could use some professional help with his resume, appearance, interviewing techniques and networking.  He had never really had to find a job.  He always was promoted from within and switched companies via contacts who recommended him.  He was never unemployed until a few years ago.  He’d hired people, so he thought he knew how to get interviews, but  finally realized that the job coach that I was recommending had some good ideas in her book, Take Back Your Career. I saw the author, Jan Marino speak at a Business United meeting earlier this year.

My dad always said that when you’re looking for work, you should spend 40 hours a week looking for a job.  He was right!  And with today’s technology, you have options for a Return On Investment like never before!

What are YOUR ideas for my friend James and anyone else who could fill out their 40-hour week of searching for a job?

Where Do You Get Online Leads?

Notes gleaned from the Twitter feed at Interactive Local Media West.

Lead generationYesterday they discussed leads at the #ILMWest Conference.  It’s a top subject of sales people, marketers, SMB owners and business development pros.  Where do you get leads?  Where do you get online leads?

What is a lead?  What makes a good lead?  The panelists said a lead could be most anything; a phone call, emails, form submissions, lead sheets, “likes”, and digital word of mouth.  Interestingly, they said that leads include “an intent to buy.”  Obviously an intent to buy makes a better lead than one that is not, like the difference between “Prospects” and “Suspects.”

According to a survey of small businesses by BIA Kelsey, 61% of small and mid size businesses rate the phone call as the most valuable lead…far surpassing other leads.  So, what will you do to make the phone to ring?  What has worked best to make your phone ring?  What marketing tactics yield the most leads with an intent to buy?  Where do you get online leads?  Where should you concentrate your marketing resources and initiatives to maximize website ROI?

Other interesting survey results.

What is your primary source of leads offline?

68% say word of mouth
20% say search engines
15% social media

What share of overall leads come from online?  33% say more than a quarter of their leads come from online. That surprises me.  I would think more than 33% would get a large number of their leads online and that more businesses would get more than 50% of their leads online.  I’ll bet very successful companies do.

What prevents you from converting leads to sales?

Adam Burrows, VP of Business Development for ServiceMagic suggests that you respond quickly – leads are perishable. Even a 24 hour quote response results in customers getting a quote from another source or business.  I believe it!  I’ve followed up on leads withing a couple of hours, only to be told that they had already made a decision. Learn from that – it gives you a competitive advantage!

Another #ILMWest panel revealed the results of a survey of a half million SMB websites in the U.S that indicate that small businesses still have room to improve.

  • Only 13 percent of smbs have a local phone number on home page.
  • Only 24 percent have an email address on the website.
  • 36 percent of websites are only a single page in length.
IMPORTANT: If you want the phone to ring, put your phone number on your website!  It may also help your search engine rankings.

IMPORTANT:
Some people prefer to email, especially if they’re online outside of normal business hours. Put an email address on your site!  Better yet, put the appropriate email on specific pages, such as a sales email on product or service pages, a customer support email on a support page and your Contact Us page should have all of them, including an accounting contact.

IMPORTANT:
Create more content (and pages) on your website.  I like to call it “owning a bigger share of the Internet.” Don’t confuse your website visitor.  Give them the right information in the right places.  Read why you should update your website content regularly.
I’ve blogged in the past about how to increase website conversions and how to tell what your prospects want.  Both articles will help convert your online leads.

Other important takeaways:
  • SMB focus is shifting to long term value, driving strategy and go to market plans.
  • 40% of small business ad budgets will be online in next 12 months.
  • 51% of SMB websites not found.
  • 61+% of SMB Facebook Fan Pages have zero fans.
Image by Flickr user Mark Anderson (Creative Commons)

Social Media Timeline: Social Marketing Has Been Around Forever!

Social Marketing Has Been Around for 2,500 Years

I mentioned in a previous post that social media in the 21st century isn’t much different than what people were doing 75 years ago.  Social media today is NETWORKING.  And we’ve been doing it for centuries!

There may be some new twists or applications, but it isn’t much different than the days of people meeting in the town square or at the general store, or more recently at a chamber function or conference.  When I speak or lead workshops, I have a slide that shows social networking/marketing technology going back to the first post office in Persia 500 years BC. The telephone was (and is) social media technology. Even the telegraph before that!

Most people think of social media technology as Twitter and Facebook, blogging, YouTube and LinkedIn. They’re all just new ways of having conversations, participating in communities and telling stories like we’ve done going back to Adam & Eve.

Only the tools and tactics have changed!

The new technologies make it easier to identify and connect with a wider audience than was available in the general store or on your neighborhood party line earlier in the social media timeline.

Business has been built developing professional relationships at business functions, church activities, outdoor barbecues, sporting events – anywhere a group of people gather – for a long time. Very often, someone will ask to be introduced to someone at one of these events. Usually there are followups. Ultimately, they know, like and trust someone enough to buy from them.

With the applications available today, it’s much easier to target those relationships in a much larger pool and when it’s convenient to do so.  Social media is not selling, but it is a way to get prospects into your sales funnel.

Networking on Your Schedule and Budget!

Can’t make the Business Before Breakfast at the Chamber tomorrow morning? No problem! You can find new contacts on LinkedIn after you put the kids to be tonight.

Can’t afford to exhibit at the trade show in California next month? No problem! Find qualified prospects on Twitter and begin engaging them, even if it’s 7am Sunday.

Have you blown your budget on local newspaper ads or Yellow Pages? No problem! Create a community using Facebook Fan Pages.

I’m not suggesting that social media replaces chamber membership or newspaper ads — social media is best used in conjunction with successful traditional marketing.

Do More in Less Time

Networking in this millennium is inexpensive marketing that allows you to time shift and effectively target your prospects in any market(s) you want!

And it’s not just conversations.  It’s videos, widgets, community building, bookmarking, online reviews…

Market Research: How to Tell What Your Prospects Want

KSonRichesMagazine If you're operating a website, its likely there to solve someone's problem, right?  You want site visitors to buy your goods and services.

If your message appeals to your visitor, you have a better than average chance of engaging them than if you just sling up content without giving it much thought.

And many times, we see messaging that appeals to the site's owner, instead of his/her prospects and customers.  Look for sites that promote features, rather than benefits. (This is one of the most important things for website owners and managers to understand)

FEATURES may be of some interest to prospects and customers, but its the BENEFITS that convey value to your customer. "Features tell, benefits sell."

So, how do you find out what your prospective customers want?  How do you find the terms they use?

By visiting blogs that cover the niche.  By participating in forums and other Web 2.0 communities related to your industry.  By reading the publications they're reading.  By subscribing to online newsletters, both paid and free.

Go to magazines.com and you'll find a publication for just about anything!

Google "blog directories" to find sites that will help you find the most popular blogs by subject. Do the same with "forum directories" and "newsletter directories."

An added benefit of cruising blogs, forums and other communities is that you can leave comments and answer questions, which builds your reputation as an expert and increases your brand awareness.

Don't forget to put a link in your sig file or profile, so that when you answer questions and comment, the readers will know where to find you AND you get an incoming link to your website, which helps with the search engines.

Talk about an ROI!  I would try and spend time doing this every day, even if it's 10-15 minutes.

Sometimes it's helpful to look from the top down.  What are the biggest magazines people are reading, for instance?  Here's an article about magazines that are kicking it in 2010 in terms of increasing ad sales.  Maybe it will give you some ideas! 

But a simple trip to a well-stocked news stand or magazine section in a bookstore can be very incisive too!

1 Thing Small Business Owners Should Do Today Online: Re-Assess Goals

Goalsblackboard

Following up on my previous post, 5 Things Small Business Owners Should Do Today Online, here is the first of five (actually 6) posts where we'll focus more on my previous recommendations.

I've said for a long time that failing to set specific measurable goals is the biggest mistake most companies make with their website. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

All too often I hear executives say that their goal is to "sell product."  But they usually don't qualify that by defining, "How many?" or "To whom?"  Whether you have one product or many, you need to determine how many you need to sell to make your online efforts worthwhile – to earn an ROI.

And even if you only have one product or service, consider ALL the potential customers who may have a need.  Don't just think about selling to "them."  The tactics you use and the messages you project may be different to different target audiences.

Also, consider that you may have more success by setting a series of interim goals that lead to your prime objective of "selling product."  The ultimate goal of a football team is to win the game.  Interim goals are to score touchdowns, get within field goal range, protect the quarterback or prevent the opponent from scoring. 

Your online sales funnel may include a number of steps that begin with your prospect's initial interest and include requests for more information, e-mail opt-in, marketing support, a needs analysis or survey, participation in on an on or offline demonstration or some specific followup or sequence of followups. 

Your goals can then be adjusted based on an ongoing analysis. If you achieve more of your ultimate goal when your prospects engage in a specific activity, then you may want to promote that.  If something else isn't working, you'll likely improve ROI by ending the initiative and focusing on productive activities.

I consult with many small business owners and often say that they will usually see a consistent ratio of the total number of people who visit the website to the number of people who ultimately buy.  It is even more illuminating to see the ratios of visitors to each of the interim goals leading up to the sale.

Then, work to improve each step along the way!

You can and should also break it down to target audiences.  You may have many more than one target audience.  What are each of their needs?  How can you customize or enhance their experience?  Testing and revising your website strategy and message will likely lead to more sales and ROI.

Do your goals end with selling something?  What about the future? Is there an opportunity to cross-sell, up-sell, support the sale, get a referral or maintain a profitable relationship that will lead to future sales?

All goals are not sales related.  Your goals may have to do with operating more efficiently, building a network of influencers, promoting a cause, getting volunteers or donors, hiring, distributing news, teaching/training, working with partners or building a community.  Some of these goals may be part of an effort to build sales and they all may benefit from or require interim goals to succeed.

So, TODAY, list ALL the goals for your website and the specific interim steps to achieve them with your target audiences.

– Kurt Scholle

Follow me on Twitter! @KurtScholle

What We Learn From Radio Programmers About Website Strategy

Doctorjohnnyfever Early in my career as a radio programmer, I learned about quintile analysis and its effect on strategy.  I worked for the NBC owned and operated FM radio station in Chicago: Q-101.

Quintile analysis looks at a situation broken down into five parts, 20% pieces of the whole.  In radio, QA studies how the 20% of the audience who does most of the listening compares with the 20% of the audience that does the second-most amount of listening, on down to the 1/5 of the audience who really is not brand loyal and doesn't listen very often.  The 5th quintile usually prefers another station OR they may like your station alot, they just don't listen to the radio much.



It's much easier to get the top 20% or 40% of your audience to do something than it is to get the 1/5 of your audience who listens the least to do something.

It was the first time I considered the differences between segments of audience; their respective needs, loyalties and motivations.  Getting your first quintile to listen 10% more was far more effective than getting the 5th quintile to listen more often. And you're motivating 20% of your audience who listen much longer than any of the other 4 segments, so a 10% improvement of those most brand loyal is worth much more than a 10% improvement in those audiences who are not as dedicated.

It's helpful to analyze you website's audience in a similar way.  Visitors who have bought something from you are more likely to buy from you again than those who have not received products or services.  Consider them your first quintile audience and look for ways to maintain relationships that lead to a followup sale.  That could be links to non-public pages with special offers or premium content.  That also includes websites where "Thankyou for your order" pages also promote an  up sell or cross sell.  If you know what motivated them to do business with you in the first place, it'll be easier to figure out how to 'rinse and repeat.'

Your second quintile audience are those who you've had some interaction with, but not necessarily a sale.  They filled out a form or survey, requested information, attended a teleseminar, signed up for a newsletter, etc.  You know something about their interests and what they've been exposed to.  More importantly, you know SOMETHING about who they are by the contact information they've given.  Use that information to follow up.  Give them an update.  Make them feel like you care.

Web Asylum has a customer that markets industrial products all over the world.  They offer dozens of whitepapers about the market and the products they offer.  We built an application where the sales manager can view what whitepapers have been downloaded by date and where their prospect is in the world and assigns the lead to the appropriate company rep or dealer.

Quintile analysis can be even more effective when you incorporate website analytics!

I'm not saying that 20% of your visitors are all buyers or that 20% would all fit a common description.  But to evaluate your prospects by previous behavior or brand attributes will give you a unique perspective that can be leveraged successfully.

And that will increase your website ROI.

– Kurt

Best of the Website Success Blogs (Feb 6, 2009)

Linus015
I took last week off due to the sudden death of the best dog the world has ever known – Linus.  I miss him bad.

There is some great stuff out this week!  A new YouTube channel, some great PPC articles from Clix Marketing and the Adwords blog, paid web directories that will help your SEO, 2 top keyword lists that may give you some ideas, secrets of 40 top bloggers and a Dilbert cartoon for a little levity!

Have a great weekend!

SearchEngineWatch:
Google Website Optimizer Launches New YouTube Channel
Great for visual learners!

Official Google Blog:
Add Google News to Your Website
You can even be the editor!
Eye Tracking Studies: More Than Meets the Eye

Clix Marketing:
Great PPC Articles

Inside Adwords:
Do More With Less Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Google Webmaster Central Blog:
A New Google Sitemap Generator for Your Website

Occam's Razor:
Paid Search Analytics: Measuring Value of “Upper Funnel” Keywords

Includes a good strategy based on where the prospect is in the purchase funnel

Search Engine People:
The Top 25 Most Powerful Web Directories
Get links from these!

Search Engine Guide:
The Top 500 Search engine Keywords of the Week
Plus 200 of the top keywords over the past 5 months – maybe some new ideas?

Traffikd:
28 Days to Improved Results with Social Media: Week 1
28 Days to Improved Results with Social Media: Week 2

Drew's Marketing Minute:
What secrets do 40 top bloggers share?
Book review and links to 40 great blogs!

Hubspot Inbound Internet Marketing Blog:
Best Marketing Practices? Think "Blog," "Social Media" and "SEO"
Best and worst marketing practices presented as clouds.

And finally for "Hits & Giggles"
Dilbert Cartoon: How Not to Manage Your Online Reputation

Build Inexpensive Website Traffic and Increase Recurring Sales

Case Study: I have a customer with a pretty decent offer on their site but very low sales.  There are a number of ways to increase traffic profitably, which results in an improved website ROI.

Pat
"Pat" has a website in a decent niche that would seem to be profitable. Pat has a significant background in the field, is passionate and provides information that can significantly improve circumstances for site visitors.  Like many information marketers, Pat would like to increase sales of monthly membership and related products and services.

But Pat is busy and may not have the desire or resources to spend significant dollars promoting the site, so what could Pat (and others) do to increase the number of prospects entering the online sales funnel?

Let me count the ways!

1) Pat has a goldmine in a Goldmine database – nearly 1,000 names of people who have done business with Pat.  Some may just be fans or others within Pat's network, but 978 names and almost as many addresses is a significant resource.  Pat should consider sending letters to them announcing the benefits of the site.  And for additional 'frequency' (see below), I recommend that Pat send out postcards to this list.  How big is your goldmine?

2) Pat could also ask these brand loyalists to refer their contacts to Pat's website.

3) Pat is a pretty decent writer and has a whole hard drive of resources that could be re-purposed into articles that could be uploaded to free article submission sites like www.ezinearticles.com.  Each article has a resource box that would link back to Pat's website.  The inbound links might help with search engine optimization, but traffic from sites that post Pat's articles will add peeps to the funnel.

4) Pat could post free articles on the site, which would improve Pat's online offering, but also provide more link bait for search engines to find, therefore improving Pat's reputation and rankings with the search engines.

5) Pat might improve natural search engine results with a modest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program.  It's one thing to guess at the terms people use to find a site, but it can be really illuminating to competently research what people are looking for.  An example is a customer who wanted to be found for "telephone installations," but research showed that people hardly use the word 'telephone' in a search – they use "phone."  Another client is a guerrilla marketing coach, but people have come to his site by mis-spelling "guerilla marketing" and "gorilla marketing."  The downside? You need to understand what you're doing and SEO can take several months to build rankings.

6) Sites can get immediate traffic using paid search (also known as "Pay-Per-Click" or PPC.) One of the other benefits of PPC is that you can set up campaigns for very specific keywords that might not be broad enough for SEO, but collectively account for dozens or hundreds of visitors.  Again, proper research is the key, and managing the bids is important to keep costs under control. It's probably more cost effective for Pat to hire someone to do this.

7) Sometimes, just submitting your site to the major search engines, can improve your rankings.  Try these:

Google          MSN          AskJeeves

Just understand 3 things:

  1. The services that offer to submit your site to hundreds of search engines for a modest fee (say $39) rarely help build your ROI.  The big search engines will not accept automated submissions.  And while some niche search engines may be effective, especially in some vertical markets, your efforts are best spent trying to rank in Google, MSN, etc.
  2. Even when you submit your site to search engines, it could take weeks before you see a benefit.
  3. Search engines put alot of creedence in sites that are updated frequently.  You need to freshen it up weekly for best results.

8) Pat can re-purpose more of the stuff on the hard drive into blog posts.  Search engines love blogs and blogs can easily be updated by nearly anyone.  It might take a commitment of 30-60 minutes a day, or Pat could develop several posts on the weekend that could be scheduled to go out a regular intervals.  Blogs are often read in news readers by subscribing to the blog's RSS feed, a free service that distributes site content.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

9) Pat can develop another revenue stream and initiate a system by creating digital content and selling it on sites like Clickbank, where information and other digital products are sold by others for a healthy commission.  The buyers of, say a $7 or $19 e-book can then be upsold to the monthly membership product or other higher priced products or services.

9b) Pat could offer Clickbank products for sale on Pat's website too!

10) Inbound links improve search engine rankings and the sites that link to you can also provide traffic.  Pat should consider contacting other sites for a link, especially "authority" sites.  I'd recommend that Pat use the best keywords that were researched for the SEO and PPC suggestions above in the links the other sites post to Pat's site.  Pat would also benefit from using free link popularity tools that can be used to determine who is linking to Pat's competitor sites and asking for a link.

11) Pat should also link OUT to authority sites as that can improve search engine juice too.

12) Public speaking is an excellent way of promoting a website and hundreds of organizations need keynotes, workshop leaders and seminar presenters.  Some will even pay!  We've built websites for public speakers and almost all of them book more business as a result of public speaking.  Back of room sales help too!

13) Hosting a radio program, either online or on-air, can be an effective means of building your brand and filling your funnel.  But Pat might also benefit by being a guest on a radio or TV program.  Sending letters or emails to program hosts and producers should net interviews.  (I was in major market radio for 25 years.  I have some tips and tricks to help get more bang our of an interview.  Maybe I should jsut blog about it!)  Pat should shoot for Oprah or the Today Show.  Anything is possible. 

One speaker we know tries to schedule a media appearance anywhere he speaks in the country.  His approach? "Hi, I'm going to be in your town speaking to (whoever) and would like to offer (my valuable expertise) to your (listeners, viewers, readers, members.)"

That's 13 good ways to build online business!  Pat may also get even more ideas from reading any of the dozens of guerrilla marketing books that are available.  Guerrilla marketing is all about low-cost or no-cost marketing.

But, it's important to test a number of ideas to see which ones work best.  They can easily be done in your spare time, but serious marketers think about promoting their products and services daily.  And repeat, repeat, repeat.  You'll have much more success promoting to someone on multiple occasions that just once.  It's best to do it 5 times to a list of 100 then just once to a list of 500.  Use your initial success to ramp up the program.

But, by all means, put together a plan.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  And if you fail to do anything, with or without a plan, you will (and should) fail.

* I feel like a sequel to this post will be coming soon.  There are just too many inexpensive, but effective ways to market your website than what I've presented today!

Got any ideas of your own?  Share them!

– Kurt Scholle, the Website ROI Guy!

Annual Website Assessment (Pt 3) Links & Functionality

Loser
One of the quickest ways to lose a visitor (and a conversion) is with broken links and functions.
  When a visitor hits a dead end, your site may as well be flashing "Loser-Loser" in big red letters across the screen.  It's even worse when the broken link is a money link (purchase, donate, register) because you may have subjected your visitor to 'linkus interruptous' just when they had their wallet out.

Most website operators we know fail to test their links and functions on a regular basis, even on an annual basis, so they have no idea that site navigation or e-commerce functions are hindered.  We know of sites where the order function was not even tested when it was added to the site!

It's important to order from yourself on a regular basis, especially if you're using a 3rd party vendor.  They may have changed their process or be experiencing technical difficulties.

Test not only that the product links work, but that the whole process is set up properly.  Go through the whole sales funnel, taking notes or screen shots along the way.  Make sure that the "success page" your visitor hits upon completion of the sale has the proper message.  Make sure that page has links to other pages on your site – don't make it a dead end.

Don't link to other site pages if you're using the success page as a landing page for an upsell.  If they accept your additional offer, there are other pages in the funnel for them to follow.  There can also be a "no thanks" link that takes them to another offer or a real "Thankyou" page with links to your site.

And by the way, the success page is an excellent opportunity for an upsell or a cross sell.  A large number of people will buy from a success page, than if you make the same offer in a followup days, weeks or months.

Present your success page offer as a bonus for new customers.  It can be very effective to use the scarcity tactic (limited time offer).  Offer a related product or service for a low price.  If you don't offer a product/service, consider offering information or membership.  Perhaps a white paper related to the product in exchange for their first name and email address so that you can make followup offers via sequential autoresponders.  Or the autoresponders can deliver tips on using the product, such as "Bi-Weekly Tips for (doing something more profitably or enjoyably)"

Sequential autoresponders are set up in advance, sometimes with weeks or months of information ready to be delivered at pre-set intervals.  Format them so that they have a standard look and feel, but often include an offer or at least a reminder of the value of your website. 

  • "Order today and take an additional 10% off"
  • "The Midwest's Leading Supplier of School Athletic Uniforms"
  • "Free Shipping on Orders of $25 or More"
  • "Serving the area since 1998"

Sign up for your own autoresponders and experience what your customers and prospects do.

The key is to get something beyond the initial sale
: an upsell or autoresponder opt-in.

Test all of the links on every page of your site.  Too many sites have broken links in their site navigation.  It's easy to get fubared links from page content.  Test links to other pages of your site, but test links to offsite pages too.  Broken outbound links are frustrating to users, but the search engines are thought to use outbound links in their ranking algorithms, and a broken link to a partner website can cause friction with that partner.

Test forms on your site
.  Make sure they ask for the correct information and make sure they results are delivered to the appropriate people.

Test your email links.  Make sure they go to current email addresses.  We see email boxes shut down when an employee leaves and there's no way to receive current inquiries.  ALWAYS have a former employee's email address forward on to their successor or manager.  You don't want to miss a message from a customer, prospect or vendor.

Website E-Mail Tip
: Do not use sales@yourwebsite.com or info@yourswebsite.com type email addresses.  Spammers know they are frequently used, so once they find URLs, they will send out bulk emails to as many 'common' email addresses as possible inlcuding common first names like John@ or Mary@. Consider using sales2009@ or info2009@ instead.  It will take the spam robots some time to find them and you may want to change them a couple of times per year.

And make the employee email address a little less common than Mary@.  Helping to avoid spam will increase their productivity and your ROI.

Dedicated to increasing your website ROI,

– Kurt Scholle

Annual Website Assessment (Pt 2) Website Metrics

One of the most important elements of your website assessment is knowing how many visitors your site gets.  Without traffic, your site fails.
Stat1b
I've discussed website visitor metric before, so I won't discuss the difference between "hits" and "visitors."  But you should track and study these useful metrics:

  1. Visitors: Knowing how many come to your site is critical.  Some metrics packages will tell you how many "unique" visitors you have.  E.G. You could have 3,000 visitors to your website and 2,000 of them could be unique, which means that about half of them returned – an interesting statistic.  Implication: Only a fraction of your site visitors will convert.  If 1 out of 75 visitors converts, and you're getting 6 visitors per day, you're probably not achieving your goals.  Know how many return is a measure of interest.
  2. Pageviews: It's important to know how many pages are being viewed on your site and with this information you can calculate the number of pages viewed.  The more they look at, the more interested and engaged they become. Track this figure.  Implication: Unless the goal of your site is to sign people up to a squeeze page (a 1-action page) you need people to immerse themselves in your site. (See Bounce Rate below)
  3. Time on Site: Like 'average pageviews' this is a measure of interest or loyalty.  You want people to spend time on your site.  Implication: In most cases you'll want your time on site to be at least several minutes.  If they visit for a minute or less, your offer is not resonating with them.  It might not become apparent or of interest to them in the initial 3-8 seconds from when they land on the site.  There may be no callout to respond to.  The reasons are varied.
  4. Bounce Rate: This metric tells you how many people landed on a page and then moved on without clicking any of your other pages.  Implication: The lower the better.  A reading of 50% or more is a problem.  In many cases, a bounce rate of 25% or more is a problem.  Study the correlations between Pageviews, Time on Site and Bounce Rate.
  5. New Visits: Expressed in a percentage, usually, it is a great indicator of how well a traffic building program is working.  Implication: If you are working to build website traffic by any means, this will help you understand what's working and what isn't.  New visitors is always a good thing.  Returning visitors are too.  Know the difference and track both metrics.
  6. Traffic Sources/Referrers: It's important to know HOW or WHY you get traffic to your website, so knowing how many came from "Direct" (typically they typed the URL into their browser) vs Search Engines or Referring Websites will help you understand how they reach your site.  Implication: This can help you measure the success of Search Engine Optimization, paid search, direct mail, print ad or link-building campaigns.  That can help you determine the ROI for any of those activities.  Seeing how many visitors you got from the chamber of commerce or a trade association website helps measure the ROI of those memberships, but it can also help decide of the links from those sites are compelling or effective.  Maybe the copy or graphic needs change?
  7. Keywords: Understand the keywords that your visitors used to find your site.  This can be very illuminating.  Then, TEST those keywords (there are free and paid keyword research tools) to find similar keywords that can drive traffic to your site.  This is an often overlooked strategy.  Implication: There are usually many possible keywords that people will use to find your goods and services, but don't necessarily use all of them at once.  You must also use just a handful on each page and each page needs to be optimized for different keywords.

I could go on and on about keyword strategies and much of what needs to be know can be found in the archives of this blog and in other areas of the web.  In fact, you could probably write a book on each of the metrics I mentioned above.  (And there are certainly a bunch of other metrics to follow!) 

The point is to try and understand what website metrics tell you and then use them to monitor the success and ROI of your initiatives.  What a great way to watch how people behave in your sales funnel! 

Don't analyze your metrics once a year.  Monthly is better.  Weekly is even better.  There may be a case for watching it daily, especially when you are actively working on increasing traffic, rolling out a new offer or simply tweaking your site.

You can do some of this yourself, but you may want to consider bringing in an expert to help review your stats and make recommendations to improve them.

If you have any questions, please drop me a line.

Our Annual Website Assessment series continues tomorrow.

– Kurt, the Website ROI Guy