Do your salespeople still ask, "How did you hear about us?" when a prospect calls? Do you list your contact information on your homepage? Do you display the same 800 number for all of your Web site visitors?
If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes," then buckle up. You are costing your business money by not using all of the available tools to monitor and improve your online advertising campaigns. Following the eight guidelines listed below will help you to make better choices about which campaigns you should expand and which ones you should eliminate.
1. Understand the significance of your Web site. Your site is the one place that virtually all of your prospects will visit before contacting you. In most industries, even the most technically challenged buyers will view your Web site before considering your product. Your Web site will either move them along the buying process or it will turn them away. So, instead of considering your site an online brochure, think of it as a lead-generation funnel.
2. Use a Web analytics tool to monitor your Web visitors. You should know how many unique visitors you get every month, what Web sites are referring them, and what percentage of them navigate to your Contact Us page or any other "success" page. A success page is a Web page that, if viewed, lets you know that you achieved a certain lead-generation goal.
For example, the main goal of your site is to convert a prospect who is mildly interested in obtaining further product information into a lead that wants to demo your product or speak with a salesperson. Therefore, your Demo Download page and your Contact Us page are success pages—because once they are viewed, it is highly likely that your Web site succeeded in moving that particular prospect down the lead generation funnel.
A word about a Web analytics tool: There is no need to break the bank. You can get an adequate Web site tracking tool for less than $50 a month.
One more hint: If you use a hosted tool that requires you to place hidden code on your Web site, be sure to place it at the top of each of your pages so it is the first item to download. If you place it anywhere but the top, you will miss many of your visitors.
3. Use tagged URLs. Web logs and Web site analytic tools do not always succeed in identifying the referring page of your Web visitors. Also known as tracking URLs or landing pages, tagged URLs provide a more accurate way to identify the referring site (and what specific link within that Web site) by the URL of the page on which they land within your site. This will assist you in determining more precisely the number of visitors you receive from a particular campaign.
4. Determine which visitors become leads. Track the number of inquiries you receive each month via your online contact form, phone and email. Compare this number to your number of Web visitors as well as the number of people that view your Contact Us page, in order to determine the percentage of visitors that become leads.
5. Centralize your contact information. Limit your contact details—phone, email, and contact form—to your Contact Us page. If you display these details anywhere else, you will be unable to determine whether a Web visit that ended at that page was successful.
Why? Because Web analytic tools track navigation paths. If your Web visitors can access all of your product information, contact details, etc. on the same page, then there this no navigation path to track. Navigation paths are the key to testing what works and what doesn't on your site.
6. Highlight your Contact Us page. Make it as easy as possible for someone to know how to reach you at any point during a Web site visit. Be sure that your Contact Us page is easy to find—on the top of every single page in your site. If you have an online contact form, keep it short. There is no need to collect erroneous information—like what Web site they used to find you. Your Web logs will tell you the referring Web site of each visitor who submits information.
7. Know how your prospects find you. Spend the extra few dollars per month for customized 800 numbers. Then link each of these 800 numbers to your different advertising campaigns. When a visitor from a certain company views your Contact Us page, be sure that the 800 number that displays is the company-specific 800 number. You can create a customized email address as well. Now when a prospect uses the customized phone number or email address, there is no need to ask how they found you. You already know!
8. Cultivate your leads. Not every inquiry that comes in is ready to make a purchase immediately. Since your sales department is usually focused on the leads that are ready, your marketing department should maintain contact with the prospect and provide all of the necessary information—success stories, case studies, white papers, etc.—to convert the prospect into a much warmer lead.