How to grow your online business
This article lets you know in a non-tech way the process of how you can use web analytics findings to grow your business.
You have just started to get some success with your website and have come to the point where you need to step up the level of professionalism to get even more business out of the potential that your site has.
This requires that you know how your site is performing from a business perspective. You need to start making data-driven decisions. To do this, you need analytics.
How to start using web analytics to grow your business
Getting started analyzing a website can seem like an overwhelming task for someone who is new to it. This article lets you in on how you can begin to manage your site using analytics.
Start by defining your businesses goals.
Your first task is to define your business goals. You need to have clarity on what the purpose of your website is, and how you expect it to support your business.
Do you want your users to take specific actions or is your goal to influence or educate them about your brand?
What is the purpose of your website?
- Making more of the right people visit your site
- Making your site convert
- Making your most valuable users come back
- Creating content that engages your audience
- Getting more visitors to your site
Define what success means to you
The reason it is essential to define what the purpose of the site is that you cannot measure success if you have not defined what success means to you. So your first step is to establish what online success means to you.
Next step is to define how you measure your success
This can be done in different ways, and many terms define such measures. Some call them conversion goals, others KPIs, and others Call to Actions. To keep it simple, we use the term “goals.”
Regardless of the term, they all represent the actions that you would like to measure your business value up against. So it is best if you have as specific a goal as possible.
If you are a Google Analytics professional, then you can set the goals up in Google Analytics. If you know that you are not, do not try. It is difficult, and your time is better spent elsewhere.
The easy way to do this is to use the Canecto Growth Report. It lets you set up your goals in a matter of seconds without any coding required, and once it is done, you do not have to do anything other than work with your actual site improvements.
Get an overview
The process of improving any website is a continuous journey. You always need to focus on what your biggest bottleneck is in the moment. So, you can prioritize your resources where they create the most value for you.
Your first step in your improvement journey is to get an overview of how the different elements of your site are performing.
It makes sense to split up this overview in two areas:
The dynamics of the two areas are very different. Getting more paid traffic to your site is simple. However, the effect will be short. Most often, when you stop the campaigns, the user flow will fade out.
The content issues are often more complicated to fix. They have to do with how your users interact with your content and how they navigate through your site. Any problems here are more difficult to spot and fix. However, if you succeed in doing so, then you will have created a proper long-term fix for your website.
If your site is like most sites, then you lose 95% of your users. They do not do the actions that your site was built for them to do.
The look of your content has to do with what your users are doing on your site:
- Content interaction: How do they interact with your content?
- User Journeys: Which are your most important journeys?
- UX: Do you communicate to them in a way that they understand?
Traffic is getting more users to your site. You can do this in three different ways:
- Marketing: Using your brand, SEO, content marketing or paid campaigns can get users to your site
- Social Media: Content on social media or campaigns can be an effective way of generating traffic
- Re-Marketing: Getting users back to your site can be done via remarketing campaigns, either on social media or conventional ads
The usual rule of thumb is to fix the content areas first. For most businesses, it would not sense to try to get traffic to a site that does not perform to your business goals.
How do I get the overview?
The content and traffic areas are described in the website improvement areas:
Tip: The Canecto Growth Report has built-in an overview of your site’s best actions. You can see a demo version of the report here.
Choose an area of improvement.
You cannot do all your website changes at once. You have to prioritize, and you have to make the decision based on the best information available to you.
You will never decide on which website to do, that is based on complete insights into what is going on your site.
You will always make assumptions (right or wrong) or miss essential information pieces.
So your first step is to get a quick overview that outlines all your improvement options. They all have a cost, a risk, and a reward profile.
Some are easy to fix and could have a high business impact—these are the low hanging fruit. Others are riskier because you do not know the outcome—any combination of cost, risk, and reward exists.
Start with what you have now. It is always better to work with the decision-making framework that is available to you now than to wait for a level of insight that you will never get anyway. Or even worse guess or go with your gut feeling on what could be right.
Based upon an overview like this, you should then decide on an area that makes the most sense for you to progress with now. If you use the Canecto Growth Report, then you get the findings out of the box.
The fast way
It might not even be possible for you to make a set-up like this table. That is okay. You can work with a simpler way of zooming in on what is important to you.
Either you get more or better traffic to your site, or you make your website perform better with the users that you have. It boils down to:
- External focus: Getting people into your site
- Internal focus: Getting people to relate to your site’s content
So, decide where you want to focus. Questions that can help you do this include:
Do the users on the site convert into being your customers? Are you achieving your site’s goals with the user base you have now?
If not, you should focus on working with the internal focus. If your users do what you expect them to do, you should focus on getting more volume into your site. So, you should scale up on the users that are similar to the ones that you have successfully converted into customers.
Tips: The Growth Report lets you have all this information automatically.
Now it is time to choose your actions. This means actually making the improvements in the area that you have selected when you do this. Make it clear in advance how you will work towards your goal.
Set your target
The first thing you should do is to establish a success target. It could be to make 20 more users from Facebook download your PDF book.
Then set the resources you are willing to pay for hitting your target. What would be a real effort on your site? Does it require external spending? How long does the project take and when do you expect to see the results?
You should also consider the risk. What is the chance of me not succeeding? And the opposite. Are there any potential upsides?
Is it possible that I can achieve my target with the resources that I am willing to invest? And the risk that I am willing to take? If yes, then you continue. If not, you should consider whether your time is better spent on a different improvement goal.
The 80/20 rule
When you start implementing your target. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind. The last 20% of your users are most often tricky ones to get. Are they still worth it, or are there other alternatives that you could do that work better for you?
The last step in your improvement journey is to implement and validate the results. When you come to this part, you should have set up the efforts:
- Target – what do you want to achieve? It could be 20 more PDF downloads.
- Resource allocation: How much are you willing to spend on the effort?
- Risk profile: Are you ready to take the risk of doing the change and not succeeding?
So the idea is now to evaluate if you are on track with your website changes. Getting numbers here is key for you. You probably need website data to monitor your target performance. The resources are probably acceptable too especially if they are external spending.
Not an exact science
Remember that what you are doing is not an exact science, and this means that the right numbers do not exist. You will never be able to place a precise value on the target that you are trying to achieve. The cost might also be difficult to estimate too.
So the best you can do is keep to the numbers you started with. The ones that made you do this instead of another improvement. Compare this to the result and cost. How does this look?
Most often the learning is the most valuable result. Did you get the expected result? What did you learn? Did you identify spin-off areas to explore that could have more potential? Would it make sense to do a phase two? Or should you move on to the next improvement phase?
It never stops
Now, you are just wiser about what is going on your site. Socrates once said that “the only thing I know is that I do not know anything.” That to some extent is true for the development of your website too. The learnings you have gained from your latest improvements have taken you to a different level. You just need to remember that this is still a lot about how to improve your site and you need to focus on what can bring your site to the next level.