The results are in…
This January we launched a new and improved website. In June, we threw out our home page and redid it from scratch.
Sometimes, we get it wrong.
OK, maybe not “wrong” but not “good enough”. We regularly review the results from our website in our quest to keep improving web performance. In this article, I’m sharing with you our process for doing data-driven website reviews and a bit of a case study on how we used it to significantly increase results for us.
My hope is that this will inspire you to get better results from your own website by making data-driven changes.
But first, a cautionary tale…
How To Follow The Leader To Failure
Most people make changes to their website based on “good ideas” they saw on someone else’s site. As this story illustrates so well, that can be a very dangerous thing to do, especially if you’re not in the habit of monitoring your Analytics.
A number of years ago, I was listening to Raymond Aaron tell a story that really highlights the dangers of simply making changes to your site because you saw something that looks good on another site.
It’s been a while so I may not have the details exactly right, but that doesn’t change the message.
As Raymond tells it, he was planning a real estate seminar out West and one of his competitors was taking note of how Raymond went about promoting his event. Several months later, this competitor found himself at the same restaurant with Raymond and had to ask: “Raymond, you’re very successful in the seminar business and I took close note to how you promoted your real estate seminar. But, I got to tell you…I had miserable attendance. It just didn’t work. How do you do it?”
And then he confessed, “ya, my attendance was miserable too!” Raymond went on to explain that he had been experimenting with a new way to promote his events and
Don’t get tricked into making changes merely because you saw someone else’s—even a successful someone else’s—website and decided to do what they’re doing. It may not be working for them.
It’s critical to make your own data-driven decisions. If someone is doing something that you think would improve your own results, it’s fine to try it out. Just be sure to set it up as a TEST and be prepared to go back to how you had it before.
Now onto how to do your own data-driven review…
The 5-Step Website Review That Finds Hidden Opportunity
This is the 5-step process we use for reviewing our website and those of our Clients.
- Data Driven Review. A primary tenet of our design philosophy is to design using what works. In the end, it doesn’t matter we think something “looks good”, it matters if it “works well”.[TWEET]We let the market be the ultimate judge of our design decisions.The two biggest metrics we look at are:
- Website traffic. Google Analytics is one of our primary tools for getting insight into how many people are coming to the site and how effective the site is at shaping visitor flow.
- Conversions. How many phone calls and contact forms is the site producing? Are we getting traffic but no one’s calling?
In our case, we saw that there were significantly fewer people going to our main web design page than we expected. This was troubling because our web design page is a big money-maker for us.
- Identify the “small hinge that will swing a big door”. When looking at the data, it’s important to take an 80/20 view to finding the small changes (the 20%) that have a huge impact (the 80%).In our case, we found the biggest opportunity for us was to do some traffic shaping to get more people going to our web design page.
- Formulate a Hypothesis. This is a super-critical and often overlooked step in the website redesign process. Treat your redesigns as an experiment. By doing “x”, I expect to get “y”. And then see if you were right. Your changes need to be based on some rationale. In our case, our hypothesis was that by simplifying our home page to help visitors find the solution they’re looking for and simplifying the menu to make it much clearer what our core services are, we would get more of our visitors clicking through to our web design page.
- Test. Make the change and let the test run an appropriate amount of time so you can collect real data that will tell you whether or not your hypothesis was right.In our case, we let the changes run for 3 weeks.
- Review. Go back to your data and take a look at the results. Did you get more traffic? A Better traffic flow? More phone calls? Use data to decide if your hypothesis was right or wrong. (If the results are worse than before, you can always reverse the change.) In our case, our change had a much more positive impact than expected, a 620% increase in traffic to that page.
How Making Small Changes To Your Website Can Mean Big Money
The phrase “work ON your business” is often bandied about. The idea is to take time to make changes to your business that make your business better: easier to run, better profit, more sellable. It’s very good advice. Yet, so few business owners heed it.
Even 15 minutes working ON your business can have huge impacts. And I’ve got the story to prove it:
A number of years ago, before Piggybank, I was “The CRM Coach” selling an infoproduct online that I had created and occasionally doing consulting. I was just finishing a big consulting gig and we were quickly realizing that a nice gravy train was about to come to a belt-tightening end. I needed to get another CRM gig. I remember it was a Friday afternoon and Jen and I decided that we should SEO our site to target a specific type of CRM need that a Toronto company might have. It was a 15-minute SEO job. Monday morning the phone rang! That phone call resulted in almost $30,000 of consulting!
By going through the 5-step Results Review outlined above, you can likely find small, easy changes that you can do yourself (or with little help) that can have a huge impact on your results. (If you need help with this, give us a call!)
Here are a number of changes you could make to your site that you can probably do without the need of hiring a designer or marketer:
- Changing headlines
- Calls to Action
- Opening paragraphs
- Tone of the message
- Choice of image (or add an image if you don’t have one)
- Font size
- Main menu: number of items, chunking, wording
Hopefully, at this point, I’ve got you thinking “What small change can I make to my website to get better results?” The place to start is by looking at your Google Analytics and understanding how people are using your site. And if you need help doing that, give us a call.