"So, how much traffic did you get from <insert source here>?" "Ummm, not sure..."
Well, how much traffic did you get to your site?" "Ummm, not sure..."
"OK, how about sales? Did your website produce any sales?" (You guessed it!) "Ummm, not sure..."
Sound familiar? Heard those questions before? The crux of it is what you did based on those questions. Did you just soldier on, put your head in the sand like an ostrich, or actually take a long hard look at your whole website and how you track campaigns?
Why sites don't perform
1. No one knows they're there! Yes. I know that sounds simplistic, but, if you're on page 3 or worse you are, to all intents and purposes, invisible.
2. Bad navigation on site. I see it all the time, even on professionally designed sites. You can't find anything; important stuff hidden behind 2-3 mouse clicks.
3. Lots of flash. Yep, Google supposedly can read content in flash, or is close to. But do you want to alienate 10's of millions of Apple mobile users?
4. Poorly optimized graphics. You can get browsers to re-size that 4Mb 3000px x 1800px image if you're too lazy to do it on your desktop, but it kills site loading speed.
5. No call to action. Once the visitor arrives at your site, is there any compelling "force" driving him/her to contact you or buy from you? Or do they just leave and check your competitor?
6. Under construction. And it's many, horrible variants. Either take more time to properly complete your site, or leave that page out for now.
7. Sloooow loading pages. Do visitors have time to make coffee while your pages load? Truth is, they won't - they just leave!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but are some very common mistakes.
Tracking your site's statistics
There are many ways what happens on your site can be tracked. Probably the most common is using Google Analytics. A small piece of code is inserted in your site, and it allows you to see traffic (although numbers are notoriously wrong), how quickly visitors left, how many pages (and which) they visited, plus a lot, LOT more. We NEVER launch a site without it.
Awstats, part of CPanel, is another good source of information. Traffic stats are more reliable than GA in most cases, and it gives a wealth of useful data. Awstats is just one of a bunch of stats programs that come as part of Cpanel.
We also track rankings using Advanced Web Rankings software. We wrote about it in a recent blog, and what it does, and how it helps us.
But it doesn't really matter (to a point) what you use. The most important thing is you use SOMETHING! The longer you use it, the less errors in the data will mean. As i mentioned, GA's traffic reporting is a bit off - generally reporting only between 10 - 20% of what Awstats does. But consistent use will show trends, and that's what you really want to know - are you getting more, or less?
Test and measure
Where we have clients embarking on special campaigns we always recommend setting up special landing pages for each campaign. It makes the job of testing and measuring a breeze rather than getting a bunch more traffic to your home page. The heart of good marketing is implementing, testing, and measuring. Just throwing an ad out into print (or a website onto the web) without measuring it's success is crazy! You never know whether it's making you money or costing you.
How do you test and measure your website? As I mentioned, special landing pages for specific campaigns. Watch your stats, or get someone to. Monitor your site's rankings. Update content regularly and watch what happens.
I'll leave you with this question to ask EVERY customer (yes, the current ones too) regardless of how they contact you.....