Navigating the New Media
by Sara Blum, president, PostScript Inc.
website optimization and analytics
Return on investment is vital in today’s online business world. With Web sites costing thousands to design and maintain, it is imperative that your website be optimized for both search engine results and your site’s goals.
There are many tools to accomplish this, some better than others. An example is a trio of tools from Google that work together to address these issues.
Google Analytics analyzes traffic sources, quantity and patterns of visitors. Website Optimizer tests different versions of Web pages to increase your site’s goal conversions. AdWords enables you to purchase real estate on Google within a pay-per-click business model. Using tools such as these means we need no longer be victims of anecdotal evidence, but can now determine which Web page designs, headlines, and graphics convert the most visitors into customers — or whatever your site’s goals are — and improve Web sites based on empirical data provided by Google.
Here’s how they work
- Google Analytics determines the number of visitors to your site, the average amount of time spent on the site and the percentage of visitors who purchased your product (met your goal). Google Analytics does not apply only to the Web. Does your print, radio or TV ad drive business to your website? By advertising a unique domain name and coordinating with a specific landing page on your site, you can measure the quantity of visitors from each advertising source. This is a useful tool as companies are now leveraging the most of their shrinking advertising dollars.
- Website Optimizer tests various versions of Web pages to increase your site’s goal conversions. For instance, employing multivariate testing, you can post different graphics, headlines, and body copy, and Google will analyze which combination is the most successful in meeting your goal.
- AdWords involves pay-per-click ads that appear on search results pages on Google and in Google’s content network. You will see them in the top first or second slot of the results or in the upper right hand portion of the page. The ad leads directly to a designated landing page on your site. For every click by a website surfer on a Google Ad, your company pays a fee—you do not pay every time your ad appears, rather you pay only when the ad is clicked. The best feature of Google AdWords is that these ads are highly targeted.
Now, you may wonder: “If I have optimized my site for good organic placement results, why do I need AdWords?” It is a great question and here are two quick answers. One: Your website is best optimized for the primary services and products your company offers; AdWords supports secondary services and products. Two: If you are in a highly competitive field, AdWords gives you the opportunity to buy exposure.
What you discover in the Analytics reports might free up significant dollar amounts to apply to other areas of marketing.
By understanding who we are driving to the Web and where they are coming from, we make better marketing decisions. There is much to learn about these tools, and they are constantly evolving. It may be daunting, but rest assured most marketers can help.
One tip: If you do employ Analytics in conjunction with a marketing firm, be certain that you, and not the marketing firm, are set up as “owner” of the account. Then if you ever part ways, you will retain all of your history.
These online marketing tools are powerful indicators. You learn more about your customers and your prospects and how you are reaching them (or not reaching them). •
Sara Blum is president of PostScript Inc., a full-service marketing and public relations firm in Burlington.