According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, American consumers increased online spending in 2019 compared to 2018 by 14.9% to $602 billion. Last year, e-commerce constituted 16.0% of all retail sales, a growth rate of 11.1% from the previous year.
Companies have been pouring resources into building online assets to cater to consumer behavior. While it’s clear that connecting with your customers online is important, there are many opportunities out there.
Research comparing the end of March to mid-March during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that the percentage of consumers buying from a mix of their favorite brands as well as new brands increased to 24%, a growth of 14%. Consumers buying only from their typical brands dropped 8% to 44%.
You can set yourself up to grab your share of the market. In order to grow your business online, here are the top questions you need to answer about providing a compelling experience for your customers.
What are your goals?
Before you start any campaign or program, define specific goals. This is crucial because your goals give you direction. Your goals will not only guide your efforts but they’ll also help you evaluate your efforts and determine whether they’re productive.
Set a date range for your goals. Depending on your program and your goals, this could be two weeks, a month, a quarter, six months, or a whole year.
Your goals should be defined in such a way that when it comes time to evaluate the performance of your programs, it should be easy to determine whether you’ve achieved your goals. With this in mind, your goals should bear certain characteristics:
- Goals should be specific. What kind of goal is it? Does it pertain to your business as a whole or to a specific department?
- Goals should be measurable. Set any target numbers you’re aiming for.
- Goals should be realistic. Use previous benchmarks or take data points over a brief period and use that to create a baseline.
When you define your goals, it will help you identify your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the metrics that make your goals measurable and help you gauge progress towards your goals.
How does your audience engage with you?
In the scope of your online presence, you should also note the goals for your audience and how your online assets align with those. These audience goals should be tied to the business goals that you’ve defined.
No matter the goals, two of the most important web metrics to any kind of website are the bounce rate and the conversion rate. These are two metrics that tell you a lot about your customers’ online experience.
Bounce rate is the percentage of users that visit your website and do not interact with it. Here are a couple things to keep in mind for bounce rate:
- Bounced visits are typically characterized by single-page visits where users don’t click nor engage with any element, for example, a button, on the page.
- Depending on the behavior of the interaction, your out-of-the-box web analytics tool, like Google Analytics, may still count the visit as a bounce if the action doesn’t take the user to another page.
Conversion rate metrics should be closely tied to your business goals. The obvious conversions are purchases. Some other useful conversions might include the following:
- Request for proposal or request for quote via a contact form
- Signing up for a discount
- Access to gated content
- Subscription to an email newsletter.
You can dig deep into these particular metrics. Are visitors from specific traffic sources more likely to convert than visitors from other sources? Do certain pages encourage visitors to perform intended user actions more than other pages?
Segmentation is key to analyzing performance and drawing insight. Think about various audience segments and how they engage with your web properties.
Look for any causes and noticeable patterns in your results.
Are you reaching your goals?
After the date range for which you’ve defined for your goals, evaluate the performance of your programs against your goals. As mentioned above, your defined goals should allow you to easily determine whether you were successful in achieving your goals.
Figure out what worked well and what didn’t work. What factors contributed to those outcomes? Do you need to reconsider various aspects of your conversion funnels? Here are some elements to think about:
- Landing pages
- Call-to-action placement and copy
- Simplifying steps in the funnel
You can assess whether you want to allocate more resources to your top-performing audience segments or if you want to improve on those that are struggling.
Adjust and continue the process
You don’t have to refrain from making changes in the middle of a performance period. You can check on the status every once in a while to ensure that your systems are running smoothly.
Give yourself some flexibility to make changes. If the data is clearly showing that a campaign or a landing page isn’t connecting with your targeted audience, update with changes, and consider adjusting your timeline.
Using the insight that you gain from evaluating your results, consider new elements to test, set new goals, and repeat the process. This process will help you grow your online presence.
Isaiah Stone is a digital analyst in the consumer goods industry. He is passionate about business growth, productivity, and accomplishing more. He contributes content on those topics to OAKFLOW and Growth Learner. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.