How Do You Measure The Success of Your Website?

When talking with prospective clients, one of the questions we ask is how will you measure the success of your website? There is an old marketing adage, “If you are not measuring, you are not marketing.

One of the most effective ways of measuring the success of your website is by using website analytics. One of the questions we are frequently asked is “will I be able to tell how many ‘hits’ my website gets?” “Hits” have never been a good measurement. Each file (including individual images on the page and the page itself) sent to a website visitor’s browser from the web server is a “Hit.” Accordingly, each page viewed will generate anywhere from a few “hits” to dozens of “hits.” What most website owners are interested in is the number of “Page Views” and the number of visitors to their website. While these statistics are helpful, there is much more information available that will help website owners or managers measure the success of their website.

On every website we create, we install Google Analytics for our clients and provide them access to view their statistics. With over 100 standard reports along with countless custom reports that can be generated, Google Analytics provides more than ample data to help verify traffic in a multitude of perspectives.

Real-Time — six reports
Audience — thirty-one reports
Acquisition — five reports
AdWords (If a Google AdWords Campaign is linked to Google Analytics) — ten reports
Behavior — eighteen reports
Conversion — eighteen reports

What and how you measure depends on your purpose for having a website and what you are expecting to achieve. That said, there are some standard Google Analytics reports that are useful no matter what type of website you have. Those include the number of Users, number of Sessions, Pageviews, and Bounce Rate.

Here is an example of the Audience Overview report that contains the basic statistics related to the website’s audience. Becoming familiar with Sessions, Users, Pageviews, and Bounce Rate is helpful to anyone wanting to know what is happening on their website. You will see those metrics in many reports. Viewing those metrics from different perspectives can be very enlightening.

GA Audience Overview Report

Acquisition — Knowing how Visitors (Users) get to your website is important. That is especially true if you are paying for advertising.

In Google Analytics, under Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels, you will find the following Channel Groupings.
1. Organic Search
2. Direct
3. Paid Search
4. Referrals
5. Social

Listed for each of those types of acquisition, you will see all of the data for the audience Sessions, Users, Pageviews, Bounce Rate, and more. You will also be able to drill down in each of the acquisition types, to see more detailed statistics.

Behavior — You need to understand which pages Users visit, the number of Pageviews for a given page (and how many of the Pageviews were Unique), how long users stayed on the page, the Bounce Rate, and completion of Goals (if they have been created). The important reports in Behavior, are All Pages, Landing Pages, and of course, Goal Conversions.

Conversions — While the reports in this area are arguably some of the most important reports, they all require configuration, and most require editing the tracking code that goes on the pages. For that reason, we will not discuss them here. Of course, we at WebWise Design & Marketing are always happy to discuss how we can help you measure and increase your website traffic.

Now that you know you have all of this data available, how will you measure the success of your website?

Will it be a specific number of Users (visitors) per month, or number of Pageviews, or Pageviews per Session, Goals completed, contact forms completed (you will see the “thank you” page listed under “All Pages”), sales from products you offer online, or one of many more metrics?

Please remember, if you do not measure the results of your marketing, you are not actually marketing. You are simply spending money hoping for a return.

Do you measure the success of your website? If not, we will help.

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1-800-281-9993 or 608-822-3750

It Is Not Enough To Know Who Your Audience Is

So, you truly believe you know who your website audience is. Hopefully, you don’t believe that is enough. You still have to make and maintain a favorable connection with your prospective and current customers.

How do you do that? The answer is by using the other 4 Ws as they relate to online marketing.

Five WsWhat — Refine what you want to say. Well-written, relevant, and grammatically correct copy is imperative. It doesn’t matter if it is a 1,200-word blog post, a 140-character Tweet, a product description, or a Google AdWords text ad with a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines. Provide relevance and value.

When — The adage, “Timing is everything,” is true.  Know when to send your message to your audience.

  • Look at your website and or Facebook analytics to see when most of your visitors are online.
  • If you have a newsletter, check to see when your subscribers are opening your email.

Where — You said you know your audience. Go where they are. If the majority of your website visitors get there by searching Google, you may want to consider Google AdWords (the type of campaign may depend on the devices your visitors use). If your audience is on Facebook or Pinterest you should be too, and consider advertising there. The same is true of other Social Media. If they listen to the radio, a short commercial always closing with your URL can be effective. Similarly, classified and other newspaper ads can be effective as well. Remember your “Who” drives your “Where.”

Why — Are you trying to . . .

  • create brand awareness?
  • drive traffic to your website?
  • reduce inventory of a particular product?
  • announce a new product or service?
  • build your newsletter subscriber list?
  • thank a returning customer?

The reasons why you are trying to reach your audience affects what you say, when you say it and where it is told.

Applying the 5 Ws as they relate to your marketing plan (You do have a marketing plan, do you not?) will reward you for your time spent. After all, simply identifying your audience is not enough.

Your Audience and Your Website Visitors – Are They the Same?

Who is your audience? That is one of the very first questions we ask our new clients. The answer to that question is something that should be at the forefront of every business plan and marketing decision made for any business. Of course, identifying your audience is not enough. You need to know if your story is reaching them.

Many of you are going to say, “Of course, we know our audience” and I will grant it is likely that you do.

Assuming you do know your audience, are those in your target audience among your website visitors? Have you checked lately? You do review your website analytics regularly, do you not?

Google Analytics Demographics

Here is a little checklist for you.

  • Are you reviewing the demographics reports?
  • Are your visitors in your target age group?
  • If your target audience is a particular gender, are the majority of visitors that gender?
  • What is the ratio of “new” users and “returning” users?
  • Does that ratio coincide with your marketing plan?
  • Are the visitors to your website spending time on the pages you want them viewing?
  • Where do they go when they leave those pages?
  • Do they leave your website or do they look at more pages?
  • Is your conversion rate what you would like it to be?
  • Are visitors filling out a form or making an order?

If you are not measuring, you are not marketing, and if you are attracting the wrong audience, you are not marketing at all!

Are those in your target audience among your website visitors?

Website Security For Content Management Systems

Online security breaches have been national headline news topics regularly throughout the last year. WebWise Design & Marketing has always taken security seriously. We have used and stressed the importance of strong passwords, and we endeavor to keep the versions of the applications we use updated as quickly as possible.

As most of you know, websites with Content Management Systems (CMS), by their nature, present a far greater security risk than static websites. Simply having a user login facility creates a security challenge. Hosting companies and other companies that provide security products and services tell nearly everyone who will listen that, “In our experience most account compromises are due to weak passwords and/or outdated software.”

www.wordfence.comLast week we took another step in securing our client websites that were built on a WordPress framework. We have installed the Wordfence Security plugin on nearly all the WordPress installations we developed and manage.  While there are other similar products, we use and recommend Wordfence Security (we have no affiliation). Here are some of the features of the free version.

  • Real-time Security Network
  • Enforce strong passwords
  • Check existing passwords
  • Scan for DNS changes
  • Get detailed IP info
  • Track IP’s to their source
  • Block IP’s & manage blocks
  • Intelligently block networks
  • Block fake Googlebots
  • Block brute-force attacks
  • Scan Core, Theme and Plugin Files
  • Repair Files
  • Scan for known malware
  • Scan for hundreds of backdoors
  • Scan content for bad URLs
  • Real-time traffic shows hackers
  • Real-time view of crawlers
  • Includes a complete firewall
  • Rate limit rogue crawlers
  • View top content leeches

You may have noticed one of the features is “Enforce strong passwords.” By default, we use that setting for our client’s protection and recommend that everyone use the feature. Read our Secure Passwords Should Not Be Optional blog post.

While the free version of Wordfence Security does an excellent job across the board, we believe the investment in Wordfence Premium is a good investment in the security of anyone’s website. Take a look at it and decide for yourself. www.wordfence.com

Secure Passwords Should Not Be Optional

Password Security

A very large number of the security breaches we read about are because of weak passwords. Nearly all of us are guilty of using insecure passwords. Some of the time it isn’t a big deal. If someone steals your password to your favorite newspaper account, it likely doesn’t matter as much to you as it does to your newspaper company. Of course, if you stored credit card information there, it could be a bigger problem for you than you think.  The bottom line is if you don’t want any of your accounts and the information in them accessed by someone else, you need to use a very secure password.

So, what constitutes a secure password? Let’s start with the basics. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Consider using at least a 12-character MINIMUM. We like to see 20 – 24 character passwords. Okay, so we agree you should use long passwords.

What else? Before you create that first really secure password, make sure you protect your computer and network with up-to-date antivirus software and a firewall. The most secure password in the world is not secure if it is in an unencrypted file (Word document, text file, spreadsheet, etc.) on a computer that has been compromised.  If any of the accounts you access offer two-factor authentication, use it! Many experts recommend periodic (and somewhat frequently) password changing. I agree with Leo’s answer on Ask Leo to this question. Is a periodic password change a good thing?

Back to creating that long password.

  • Create passwords using a 12-character MINIMUM. Using 20 – 24 characters increases password strength exponentially.
  • Use at least one number, one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter and one special character (symbol).
  • Don’t use the names of your family members, friends or pets.
  • Don’t use dictionary words, including commonly used foreign words.
  • Don’t use common substitutions such as “$” for “s”, “@” for “a”, “1” for “l” and, well, you get the idea.
  • Don’t use zip codes, local street numbers, phone numbers, birthdates, ID card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
  • Don’t use the same password on multiple sites.

Password Generators

We recommend using a password generator, and creating them at least 20 characters long. There are several good secure password generators online. Here are a few.

Norton Identity Safe Password Generator
Random Password Generator
Online Domain Tools Password Checker
Perfect Passwords — GRC’s Ultra High Security Password Generator

For those of you who want to remember your passwords. It is possible to use really long passwords that are easy to remember. Here is an excellent blog post which includes methods to do that.

Password Managers

How to remember those long passwords? Well that is a challenge. We recommend using a password manager application. Because LastPass, one of most widely used password managers, was broken into last month (hackers didn’t access user password vaults because it uses a rigorous cryptography system), some believe using a password manager is not a good idea, but it is a very viable option. This blog post answers the question, “Am I An Idiot for Still Using a Password Manager?

There are two types of password managers, those online that store your passwords in encrypted databases in the cloud, and applications that you install, and then store your encrypted password database on a file on your desktop computer, phone, or tablet. There are pros and cons to both types, and both can do the job for you. Here are some of the most popular password managers.

LastPass
Dashlane
1Password
KeePass

Here is how PC Magazine rates (June, 2015) paid and free password managers. Please remember that those ratings, as all ratings of software, are somewhat subjective and a matter of personal preference.

Start today with creating a new and different password for each of your email accounts. Most of us have easy-to-remember (and easier to crack) passwords for our email accounts that really should be changed.

Please remember,  Secure Passwords Should Not Be Optional, and using a password manager certainly doesn’t make you an idiot.