A 4 Step Approach to Performing a Website Audit
For a small business, the decision to invest in developing a website is not a small one. Often, budgets have to be allocated far in advance and internal stakeholders have a hard time justifying the cost. In addition, it’s not always possible to directly correlate revenue generated through your website, especially if your web analytics package does not provide closed-loop reporting.
So why have a website? According to the Business Development Bank of Canada, while 84% of Canadians are shopping online, only 18% of small businesses have a website. 18%!!! This is a HUGE gap and identifies a significant demand by consumers for businesses to make their products available online.
However, it’s not as easy as “build it and they will come”. You have to invest a lot of time and hard work towards getting the right people to your website.
So if you’re one of the 18% of small businesses that have a website but not generating the return you’d like to see from it this guide to performing a website audit will not only show you how to do the audit but identify the gaps and where you can improve.
1. Summarize your goals and gather the right data
What is the business goal behind your website?
In some way your goals likely relate to attracting visitors, converting visitors into leads or even generating more customers through your website.
Summarize these goals and then gather the appropriate data to determine if these goals are being achieved and what is getting in the way of achieving them.
For example, if you are trying to attract more website visitors you are going to want to gather a short term view of all traffic sources (3 months) and compare this to a long term view of data, say the past 6 months to a year. Determine where you are receiving the most traffic from and make an action plan to determine how to increase traffic from this source.
2. Interpret the data
The hardest part of conducting an audit is what to do with all the data available to you! Questions to ask yourself:
- Are these traffic sources continually increasing or do they fluctuate? If they fluctuate look at your best months to determine which marketing activities took place and build upon those activities.
- Is your website converting a healthy percentage of visitors to leads? If yes, you can focus on increasing traffic so you can grow quicker. If no, work on increasing the number of leads generated with the current amount of traffic.
Once gaps are identified put them into takeaways you can present to your stakeholders.
A note about conversion rates
It is extremely important to remember that conversion rates vary greatly across industries and even between websites within the same industry. Set your own conversion rate goals for your company by working backward from the revenue your marketing department (or company) has to achieve in order to meet its business goals.
Conversion rate can be determined by: # of Actions / # Unique Visitors = Conversion Rate
An action can be anything deemed revenue generating by your company: A contact form submits, ebook download, e-commerce transaction, newsletter signup, etc.
Let’s say your website generates 60 leads (actions) per month and you attract 12,000 unique visitors per month. This means you have a conversion rate of 0.50%.
60 actions / 12,000 Unique visitors = 0.50% conversion rate
Each lead to your business has a value of about $150.00. You can say your website is generating roughly $9,000.00 in possible revenue, or actual if these are transactions (60 actions x $150.00).
Does $9,000.00 meet your goals? If not, look at ways to increase the conversion rate, visitors or a combination thereof.
3. Identify gaps and create takeaways
Once you’ve identified some areas for improvement, the next step is to create some takeaways you can communicate with your stakeholders.
Some things you may want to communicate:
- How has traffic compared over the past three months to over the past year?
- Which campaigns have worked well over the past quarter?
- How many leads are generated each month?
- How many of these leads are sales-ready?
Set some new goals based on these takeaways and present an action plan on how to get there.
4. Communicate to stakeholders
We all remember learning about SMART goals in our business classes:
If you conduct an audit and come out of it with a goal such as “Increase leads and brand awareness by the end of the year” it’s not going to get you anywhere. This goal is not urgent and is based on a metric that is not measurable (brand awareness).
It’s important to set SMART goals so you can build a precise plan for achieving it – something like “Increase lead volume by 10% by December 31st, 2019” is a goal that will put a fire under your butt!