In the online marketing industry, it is very easy for people to get caught up in improving rankings and traffic. The problem is, many fail to recognise the importance of a website that not just looks good, but is easy to navigate and delivers ‘calls to action’ at the right moments.
I have been working in the online marketing and web design industry for over 5 years and in that time I have noticed a considerable amount of pushback from people when I have recommended that they invest in a new website. Of course the initial cost is a bit of a deterrent for most business owners and managers. However, the most common reason I hear is that a new website is unnecessary, that their website looks fine and they just need more leads. This tells me that they are only focussed on whether their website is visually acceptable enough and not on the ability of the website to generate leads. As an account manager it is my job to identify opportunities and recommend the best course of action to my clients.
Quite often the biggest opportunity for growth online is not about generating more traffic, but converting the traffic you do have.
To identify whether a new website or more traffic is the best course of action, I use a simple homemade (excel) ROI calculator. I calculate 3 scenarios, one to assess the clients current website ROI, one where we increase the organic traffic and another to calculate the change that a new website could make.
The ROI calculator
To do this, all I need is:
The average number of website visits per month
Website conversion rate
The ability of the businesses to close a lead (as a percentage)
Average sale value
Lets take the example above as a starting point. Lets assume that this website is for a furniture store called ‘Timber Top Tables’; it attracts 2300 visitors a month and converts 0.65% of the them (The conversions being tracked are phone calls and enquiry forms). This equates to 15 leads per month, of which Timber Top Tables is able to turn 60% of these leads into sales and since their average sale value is $3,500, the website is roughly generating $31,395 per month.
Now if we take these numbers and decide that we want to increase the traffic to the website by 20%, we will see an increase of $6,279 per month. Not bad huh?
Increasing the website conversion rate
Now lets see what sort of ROI Timber Top Tables might get if they invested in a new website. The average website conversion rate is just above 2% so if we take a conservative number like 1.5% and plug that into the calculator, we get an estimated $72,450 worth of sales per month. The increase in revenue in this instance is essentially double and it would have paid off the cost of the website within a month. Even if a new website were to bring the conversion rate up to 1%, Timber Top Tables would be looking at an extra $16,905 per month, something that is very, very achievable.
In this example, getting a new website to improve the conversion rate is a no brainer, but it’s not always the best course of action. It is necessary to identify the key elements of the website, such as phone number visibility, timing of calls to action, site navigation and layout etc. if all the elements of a good web design are apparent, but the website is still converting at a low rate, then perhaps the product is just not good enough, too confusing, too expensive, or you are just tracking the wrong conversions.
Websites that are engaging rank better
Putting revenue aside, investing in a new website that increases conversions and interactions is a great way to increase your rankings. Google uses engagement data to help it get a sense of how good a website is and where to rank it (more on that here). Essentially, if you are improving conversion rate, you are invariably increasing the amount of time visitors spend on your website as well as how many pages they view and things they click on. Google uses these engagement metrics as ranking signals, which means that if you are looking for more traffic, you also need to look at how your website is converting. In my oppinion, this will become more important over the next couple of years.
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
If your website looks great and is ticking all the basic principles of what a good web design is, then you can begin to undertake conversion rate optimisation. If you guessed that conversion rate optimisation is essentially improving your website conversion rate, then you would be correct. Undertaking conversion rate optimisation requires A/B testing, which is the process of allowing Google to show two variations of your site at one time. You then collect the data on both versions of the site and which ever has a better conversion rate, is the version that becomes your new website. If you’re still confused, take a look at this quick video
A/B testing is an incredibly important digital marketing strategy and has become one of the premiere techniques used by the worlds leading websites to increase traffic and conversions. One website which is constantly completing A/B testing is www.booking.com, they even have a blog about it http://blog.booking.com/concept-dne-execution.html.
If you are deciding on a new website or investing more heavily in digital marketing, then I would strongly suggest working out the potential ROI of both. In the perfect world you would be developing all strategies consistently over time, but of course the budget to do this is not always there and at times you need to pick the low hanging fruit. The two pieces of advice I can give, is to think of your website as an employee who you can up-skill to become better at selling and to always make your decisions based on the data, not on gut feelings.
If you would like me to send you my nifty homemade excel ROI calculator to complete your own calculations, please feel free to drop me a line.