Then, the moment of truth, the managerial meeting in the boardroom. The CEO looks at the reams of data and says, “So?”
If you want to leave that boardroom elated and appreciated rather than deflated and defeated, follow these 7 simple steps to ensure your web analytics mean something at the end of the day.
1) What is the goal of your analytics?
This seems overly simplistic at first, but probably only 10% of businesses I know do this correctly. They look at “hits” or hopefully “unique visitors”. This can be a sign of going in the right direction, but it’s not an ending point. Views of a website don’t translate into dollars… directly, at least, unless you sell banner ad space on a pay-per-impression basis.
Still other businesses track rankings in search engines, but a boring value proposition or a keyword-stuffed listing that never draws clicks doesn’t translate into dollars either.
B2B companies usually have a long or complex-enough buying cycle so success is most easily measured by leads. But, are all leads equal? If a company just has a contact us page on the site as the primary tool for lead generation, then yes. But every company should be doing significantly more.
There are 4 stages of the buying cycle and each stage wants different information: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. We can create different goals for each (e.g. a quote request for “desire”, or a whitepaper for “awareness” & track them separately.
Now break that down into mini-goals. If your company sells solid-state rockets, you aren’t going to have 100 leads coming through each month to give statistical significance to your test results. If this is the case, you can then split your goals into mini-goals.
For example, we have a landing page with a video that presells a whitepaper. The whitepaper download may be our goal, but some minigoals could be
- did they start to fill out the form? (Some fancy tools like clicktale can give you this data).
- Did they watch the video & if so, how long?
- If they didn’t fill out the form, did they keep looking around the site or did they leave?
- Do you know why they left? How about an exit survey?
So I guess #1 was a bit of a trick question. There is more than one goal and you could possibly have dozens. The trick is to give them all a hierarchy so they feed into each other and are easily boiled down to a couple measures of identifiable improvement.
2) Assign monetary value to your leads
Now that we know what we need to be doing, we should translate it into dollars and cents – something we can hang our hat on at the end of the day. The basic plan is to figure out generally how much a lead is worth at each stage of the buying cycle. Since many companies have never done this before, use whatever data you can to get an estimate – just an estimate – no accountants are involved so the numbers don’t have to be perfect. The important job is to get something in place and let the numbers improve over time.
For example, the sales team may reveal, after some prodding, that 100 contacts equals 10 leads, which translates to one sale. Then perhaps double or triple those ratios since these are web leads.
How much is a sale worth? And we’re talking lifetime value. Again, these can be a guess. Figure out your net profit + marketing budget and that’s roughly what you have to play with – keep it under that number and you’re in good shape. Companies are often surprised at how high this number can be. Once we know the cost per lead, extended effort over dropping cost per lead from $100 to $90 suddenly becomes much less important than increasing volume of traffic.
3) Filter unnecessary traffic from your analytics reports
Employees hop on the website these days for all kinds of reasons, like customer questions, demos, sales opportunities, and more. Filtering these views out of analytics reports is important – even if you’re a relatively small company, this can inflate your figures from a traffic perspective, giving a false sense of confidence.
They can also deflate your figures from a conversion perspective, causing you to undo items that may be working well. This can be done relatively easily by collecting your company’s IP addresses then having your analytics administrator add a filter.
4) Are these really leads?
Contacts through the web are only “leads” if they’re relatively qualified. This usually means a brief phone conversation, but you could use a web form to help with the prequalification. The longer the form, the less submissions you’ll have so we generally recommend you use the absolute bare minimum of form fields for each type of lead.
Another way to prequalify is create a maze of information. Potential customers earlier on in the buying cycle may start at the beginning of the maze with downloadable information, drip-feed email campaigns to further educate them, and once they have gotten far enough in the maze, then your sales team steps in to guide them through the final couple phases. How early your sales team comes in depends on how much resources you have. Ideally you want them contacting early as possible but usually lower-quality leads have to take a backseat due to competing priorities. That’s okay, too. Just make sure the maze of information keeps them in the maze. No escaping.
Aso be sure to have the terminology right. Don’t go into a boardroom with you a sales manager to talk to the SEO and call them leads when they may just be contacts. The sales manager may call you to the carpet for it. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.
5) What is happening to the leads?
us: “Leads are way up!”
CEO: “Great, how are sales?”
us: “The same”
all: (awkward silence)
Having a bunch of leads going into the pipeline is one story. Knowing how many became sales is what will turn heads when it comes to increasing budget for marketing efforts. The best way to accomplish this is passing traffic source information for leads into a CRM system (which gets used religiously) and tracking the leads to conclusion.
It shouldn’t take long to see which lead generation efforts can be built on and which need to be improved or discarded. It takes vigilance and an iron will to work with all the parties you’ll need to in order to collect this data. Once you have everybody involved and a few big wins under your belt for the team, the future will look bright.
6) Who are you Presenting to?
The COO may want more graphs and put up with backstory whereas a CEO may want 3 slides & “get out of here”. Also consider their personality. Get a coach who knows them, to help you come up with a good report – perhaps their assistant.
7) Make it clear and keep it simple
Use plenty of color, keep the numbers to the minimum and always tell the “so what” in concise, bolded wording. Remove ambiguity. Analytics are complicated and require expert analysis but the end result comes down to “we recommend this instead of that”.
One simple change each month which improves your web lead generation by 8.5% equates to a 100% improvement at year’s end. Even though more simple is always better, of course have enough data in your back pocket to back up your conclusions if they come under closer scrutiny.
Additional Option for Improving Web Analytics
If you would like help compiling analytics for your b2b marketing efforts, contact WSI B2B Marketing today for an opportunity analysis. We can help with anything from consulting to fully-managed analytics. Done right, web analytics can be the key for identifying high ROI opportunities for improvement sitting right under your nose, and a powerful weapon against the onslaught of your competition.