January 28, 2010

Find Your Web Site's True ROI


Hostway Team

By Simon Wright

Managing directors often judge their company’s Web site purely on sales that are directly logged. However, the Internet’s value to consumers is greater than just the ability to make purchases. Consumers frequently use it to research services that they then purchase either in a face-to-face setting or via telephone. Therefore, to properly understand your Web site return, you need to track offline conversions from online sales leads.

Tracking offline conversions is easier said than done. When a customer phones you or comes through your door, you won’t know whether their approach has been occasioned by visiting your Web site. Of course, the way to find out is to ask them. However, to get a robust picture of how influential your Web site is in generating business, you need to capture this feedback in a structured manner.

No matter what goods or services you sell, or how your sales are captured, there needs to be a management information system underpinning any meaningful analytics. Ideally that management information system will involve an electronic database but it could be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet.

If you use a sales script, you should build in a question to capture how the customer choose to approach you. You could ask this question in several ways, such as “How did you hear about my company?” or “Did you discover us through our Web site?”

If customers have to complete a form as part of the sales process, you could integrate this question into the form. It’s often useful to provide categories to choose from. For example, the possible answers to “How did you hear about us?” could be as follows:

  • Web site referral
  • Newspaper/magazine ad
  • Word of mouth
  • Telephone directory listing
  • Used you before

Building in a tracking mechanism enables you to determine the effectiveness of your Web site. You’ll be able to look not only at the number of direct Web site sales but also at what percentage of offline sales your Web site has driven.

Another option is to ask Web site users to quote a reference number if they decide to phone you or visit you following a Web site visit. This could be along the lines of “Quote AS12 to get a 5% discount.” Of course, you would need to determine the financial viability of such an approach but it may be an effective way both of tracking whether a customer has visited your Web site and of enticing prospective customers to choose you for their business.

Econsultancy has a great four-part series on how to use Google Analytics to track telephone leads. Part one seems not to be working right now, but take a look at part two and part three.

About the Author

Simon Wright works as Mobile Delivery Manager for Royal Bank of Scotland and has extensive experience across Ecommerce and Mcommerce including the delivery of online sales capability.

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