What Sort of Results Should a Search Engine Marketing Firm Produce?
When a small business hires an online marketing firm to increase website traffic there are expectations. Most small business owners want to increase sales and get the telephone ringing. Online marketing should increase overall business.
The ROI in online marketing is more easily and accurately measured than print, radio, television, and direct mail. Web analytics software allows for the measurement of daily traffic to a website. Every move a visitor makes on a website will be recorded on this type of software.
Google Analytics is free to use and easy to install. There are other website analytics programs that are more sophisticated which can be purchased for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For most service-based businesses, Google Analytics is sufficient. Product based companies running an e-commerce website may want to invest in more sophisticated analytics programs.
Measuring Visitation to a Website
Analyzing website traffic is a reliable method of measuring the success of an online marketing campaign. Before a search engine marketing firm begins an online campaign, traffic levels should be measured on the website in order to obtain a baseline for comparison. Traffic increases can be measured on an ongoing quarterly or monthly basis and should occur within the first 1-3 months of a campaign. Allow three months to pass before looking at figures closely. If possible, compare this 3-month period to the previous 3 months. Google Analytics breaks down traffic into three categories: direct, referral and search engine traffic. Any good search engine marketing firm will be looking to increase organic search engine traffic and referral traffic. Look closely at these numbers. Direct traffic can often be the result of a print, radio, or television campaign, so it may be best to keep these increases separate.
Quality of Traffic: Interested in Product or Service
The traffic that is being driven to the website should be interested in purchasing products or services. Interest is gauged by the amount of time visitors spend on a website and the number of pages they dig into. If visitors are only staying for less than a minute and leaving once the home page is viewed, they are more than likely not interested in the product or service. Or, the visitors may be frustrated by a website that is not easy to navigate or has functional problems. Consider adjusting the web page layout or improving functionality to be more effective. Test the functionality of forms, audios, videos, downloads, etc. to be certain the visitor is not frustrated when using the website.
Measuring Landing Page Effectiveness and Optimization
A landing page is a place a visitor will ‘land’ as a result of a search or referral from another website. Some search engine marketing firms build a landing page that is separate from the website for a more accurate measurement of the results of their campaigns. Some SEO companies simply drive traffic to the home page of a website and measure visitation increases through the main website. The page where visitors land is important. Look closely at analytics to determine if visitors are staying and going deeper into the site. If visitors are abandoning this page, consider making design enhancements that will increase online conversions. Take a closer look at content and revise with a call to action text and graphics to increase sales. Make sure that links to contact us or quote pages are embedded in web page text and that these menu items are easily accessible from the landing page.
Build Funnels to Contact Us Forms
Most search engine marketing firms will want to show a definite increase in sales or leads. The way to measure this increase is to build a funnel to the contact us or quote page and measure the number of visitors who complete these forms. If funnels are built for the campaign, it will be easier to determine an ROI for the campaign. Website visitors who take the time to fill out forms are definitely interested in purchasing products or services. In the case of service-based companies, these leads can then be converted to sales. For product based sites, build funnels to product pages that are being promoted with the search engine marketing campaign. For E-commerce websites, the effectiveness of a campaign is measured by an increase in product sales.
Phone Call Inquiries About Products or Services
For many entrepreneurs and small businesses promoting their services or products online, telephone inquiries are a good way to measure the effectiveness of a campaign. If a visitor takes the time to make a phone call, they are definitely a hot lead and interested in purchasing. Make sure that the company phone number is listed prominently on landing pages and contact us pages so the visitor is encouraged to call. Though phone calls are one way of measuring a campaign’s effectiveness, remember that many leads will come through the contact form. People who purchase goods or services through the Web often do this to save time and are not interested in speaking on the telephone. For this reason, sales staff should be well versed in responding to leads with effective, call to action emails.
Website analytics are a wonderful way to measure the effectiveness of an online marketing campaign. Most small business owners will not be familiar with how to read a web analytics report, so be certain that the search engine marketing firm provides an accurate interpretation of traffic figures. Measure the effectiveness of a campaign over the course of several months, instead of several weeks. Try to look at traffic figures the first week of every month, after search engines have completed their end of the month ‘crawl.’
Online marketing is an effective way to increase sales and raise a brand’s visibility online. If the search engine marketing company is not providing the kind of measurement discussed in this article, it may be time to look for a new SEO company.