Everything changes—or should, especially when we’re talking about websites and marketing strategies. After all, the alternative is stagnation, and stagnation = disaster, at least in the business world (and on the internet).
Fostering an environment that supports ongoing change can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity to up your game. And it’s absolutely vital in today’s environment of constantly evolving Google rankings, data-related regulations, and tech disruptions.
Fortunately, the approach that helps you stay on top of the “evolve or die” cycle also helps your company improve profitability. By planning an approach to website optimization that includes ongoing measurement, testing, and learning, you’ll develop a habit that can revolutionize the usefulness of your website and marketing collateral.
Investing in Website Optimization,
Acting on Information
The requirements to improve the bottom line and keep up with needed changes have been major drivers for InfinityQS, one of our client partners. For the past few years, the company’s marketing team has committed to an ongoing optimization strategy, and they’ve seen outstanding results.
“It was more important than ever that we include measurement, optimization, and testing in our strategy,” Greg Matranga, InfinityQS Vice President of Global Marketing, notes when discussing the company’s approach to a major website redesign and marketing initiative. “A mistake in any of these areas would cost us valuable traffic and revenue.”
Matranga’s instincts were right. Simply by optimizing its site for SEO, for example, the company was able to save half a million dollars. And that’s just one of the benefits InfinityQS realized.
How can you enjoy similar benefits? More on that soon—but first, let’s begin where Matranga did: by determining which key performance indicators (KPIs) to track.
Marketing KPIs That Matter
The famous quote by the well-known sales guru Zig Ziglar says, “You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.” Zig was right: If you want to get the maximum value from your website and other marketing assets, you first need to decide how to measure that value.
You can categorize your most important site KPIs simply by asking three questions:
Are prospects visiting your site? In this bucket, we have traditional measures of success: website traffic, unique visitors, page views, click-through rates, and keyword traffic. You need to know whether prospective customers can find your site and whether they can navigate to what they need once they arrive.
Are they serious about buying? Now we dig a little deeper into what visitors do once they hit your site. How much time do visitors spend on various pages? What content is drawing the most attention, and which level of buying interest does that content imply? (For example, downloads of a buyer’s guide indicate prospects who are closer to a buying decision that downloads of a problem-awareness white paper.) Measurements in this category include time on site, lead volume and quality, bounce rate, and keyword traffic.
Are they interested in buying from you? Why should prospects choose your company over your competitors? These KPIs get down to the nitty-gritty. To answer this question, you’ll need to measure conversion rates, ROI (via sales figures), and brand awareness.
For InfinityQS, KPIs included SEO-driven paid and organic traffic, brand awareness, sales results, demand generation, and lead quality. We also measured site metrics such as total visits, new users, time on site, and mobile and paid conversions. And we began tracking the performance of assets and nurture campaigns.
Note that some KPIs, such as bounce rate, can answer more than one question. Are visitors leaving your site because they aren’t finding what they came for or because they aren’t that serious about buying? Some of the same tools we use for testing can help provide clarity.
Once you’ve decided which KPIs you want to track, you’ll need a baseline measurement. That way, you can get an accurate view of what needs to change and whether your optimization efforts are successful.
Time for Testing: Google Analytics and Beyond
There are numerous testing tools available to determine your baseline and to monitor results once you begin a redesign, update, or other effort. Of course, if you use Salesforce, Marketo, Net Promoter Score®, or other proprietary services that offer testing and analysis services, those will be your first line of defense. But here are some other tools and techniques we find useful.
Google Analytics—It’s no surprise that Google Analytics is top of the list. Use this set of tools to measure traffic volume, path data, and a whole lot more. Measure user interactions with your site, get post- and pre-click performance details, make sure your site speed isn’t bogged down, figure out how searches and paid ads are driving conversions … this tool covers numerous bases.
Mouseflow—With Mouseflow (or the heatmap tool of your choice), you can analyze page clicks and complete a use analysis to see how visitors navigated your site. Did they spend a lot of time hovering over or clicking through the navigation menu (which could indicate trouble finding what they were looking for)? Regular review of heatmaps can help you pose and answer relevant questions, such as does a particular button design or CTA placement work better than another?
Content gap analysis—Successful content marketing depends on an accurate understanding of your target audience and the buying cycle for your products or services. Before adding or changing site content or spending effort on white papers, videos, podcasts, or other assets, we suggest completing a careful analysis of your existing coverage. (To get started, download this free assessment worksheet.)
A/B and multi-variant testing—Multi-variant testing can help you determine which designs and offers work best on your site. For example, you might test a couple of variations of your home page or your asset landing pages. Half your visitors are directed to one option, while the other half see an alternate design. Look for patterns that indicate more positive interactions (e.g., more click-throughs or conversions) with one option over the other.
Brand lift analysis—Consider this tool if YouTube ads are part of your marketing strategy. Google Brand Lift measures viewer reactions to your video ad to help you determine its effect on brand awareness and alignment.
Lifecycle reporting—Also known as first-dollar attribution, lifecycle reporting is used to track a marketing vehicle from first-touch through (hopefully) purchase. This type of testing helps you determine which lead-generation efforts are the best investments—and which aren’t pulling their weight.
Whichever tools you use, test against your chosen measurements to determine which aspects of your marketing approach to prioritize and how to determine the ROI of your efforts. With this baseline in hand, you’re ready to optimize.
Now You Can Optimize
Many companies choose to begin optimization with whatever “low-hanging fruit” their initial testing reveals. For InfinityQS, a website redesign helped bring the company’s primary marketing vehicle—its website—into better alignment with prospects’ buying journeys. Updating existing collateral and creating new white papers to match the company’s new brand was another priority.
With insight from SEO testing, both efforts provided a boost to organic traffic, which increased 60% YoY. As a result, InfinityQS was able to save $500,000 that would otherwise have needed to be spent on paid traffic to achieve the same result. The cost of paid conversions decreased by 56%, while conversions for paid traffic went up by 15%.
Position Yourself for Continued Growth
Remember, the end goal of measuring and testing must be learning—and action. And once you’ve taken action, you’ll want to keep testing to prove ROI and to adjust your approach for the best possible results.
By implementing a purposeful measurement and testing strategy, B2B companies can create a cycle of continuous improvement and realize outstanding marketing ROI. Keep in mind that some efforts, like content marketing, reap long-term benefits and can take a year or two to reach full potential.
And of course, since change is the only thing you can really be sure of, you’ll need to adjust your plan over time to keep experiencing optimal results.