Using Analytics to Understand How Your Site is Working
Many businesses do not cherish the idea of rebuilding their website and with good reason. Very few mid-sized companies have a dedicated web person in the marketing department, and the website is just one of many responsibilities a marketing director has. The website is too important to ignore, but they are too busy with all of their other marketing initiatives to pay attention to the site for months on end. This is how it is for agencies, too. Your agency’s primary function is not to build and maintain a website for your own firm, but, at the same time, your site is a marketing asset you know you cannot ignore.
This common challenge creates a wasteful web development cycle. The cycle involves spending three to six months every three to five years focusing intensely on the website. After the new site goes live, everyone involved goes back to their real job, and the site recedes back into the shadows. Three to five years later, the site gets so far behind the times that it becomes an embarrassment, and the whole process begins again without anyone really knowing what parts of the old site worked and what did not. Applying ninety-five percent of your investment of time, money, and energy to your website over the course of three months every three years and ignoring the site the rest of the time is not an effective approach to managing your most important marketing asset.
The antidote to this wasteful trend is to spread your effort out over the entirety of your site’s lifecycle. Approaching your site in this iterative way starts with paying attention to and becoming comfortable with your site’s analytics.
Your website is no longer just an online brochure that you need so that you look like a real business. The website is the marketing firm’s most important marketing asset, and to remain competitive, you need to make sure your site works as hard as it possibly can.
When you go through the process of building your site, you make thousands of guesses and assumptions about how your prospects will find your site, navigate through it, and decide to take action from it. No matter how much you prepare, the web development process is replete with guesswork. When your site goes live, it is not time to forget about it and move on to the next job; it is time to start the long-term process of reviewing its effectiveness on a regular basis and making continuous and subtle changes based on what your site analytics tell you.
This post is an excerpt from my book, “A Website That Works.”