Benchmarking Website Performance

As a follow on from the popular post ‘5 questions to ask before redesigning your construction company website‘, over the coming weeks and months I’ll be sharing the phases and processes that we take our clients through to deliver their engaging and measurable online experiences.

Looking at benchmarking and auditing to implementation; building the website to driving new traffic and finally, keeping loyal visitors happy and turning them into brand advocates and product referrers.

We’ll explore the challenges facing today’s marketers. Delivering a website that not only qualifies new leads quickly, but builds confidence and credibility encouraging prospects to buy or specify your products over the competition’s.

This post on ‘Benchmarking Website Performance’ is part 1 of our series of posts that highlights how we get the very best results from the web-build projects we undertake.

The situational analysis: What’s working now, what needs improving?

Having a new website alone isn’t in itself going to rain the sales or build the brand. However, it is a critical tactical element of an integrated marketing strategy that, when optimised to your customers needs and wants will enable your customers and prospects (ie. the humans) to interact with your brand and products and enable Google, Bing and Yahoo (ie. the major Search Engines) to find your site, its content and landing pages.

There are likely to be many reasons why a website is not deemed fit for purpose anymore (did the website have any objectives to start with?) and a new website to help grow the business is being considered. Businesses may be experiencing any or all of the following issues:

•    Less traffic than expected
•    Poor product and company visibility in search engines
•    Limited functionality
•    Limited meaningful information for prospects
•    Not enough clear calls to action on key landing pages, not enough landing pages even
•    Little good information on a typical user journey
•    Lack of internal control and content management
•    The website doesn’t convey the new company identity
•    The website doesn’t sufficiently promote the most profitable or core products

… and the list goes on, and of course it will be unique to our own business situations…

What if we knew what was happening right now?

Rather than being re-active to the problem, auditing the current situation gives marketing the information needed to see what digital tools are working and what needs improving. In most instances understanding the core elements that make a website work is the best starting point, establishing some key intelligence. We could do a lot worse than starting by addressing the following:

•    Why have a website at all? What’s its purpose?
•    How the current website performs from a technical point of view
•    The consistency of positioning messages of key products and services
•    The customer journey on a businesses website and that of it’s competitors
•    The social channels for company mentions and prospect activity
•    And even asking the customers and employees about their perceptions…

Benchmarking, auditing, researching, blah, blah, blah…

There is usually plenty of chatter about benchmarking in our office, about auditing, and about researching (we’re dreadful nerds). Primarily because it’s massively important to our clients success – it helps define some of the objectives and substantiates the purpose of investing in a website at all.

“Where you are now?” is a fabulous question, it compliments another cracker; “Where would you like to be?”

As marketers it’s our job to ask, to establish the gaps between where we are now and where we’d like to be (in relation to business goals). To decipher the reasons why the website is where it is and the critical marketing tools and tactics needed to improve the current situation. Asking good questions provides powerful information essential to the success of any marketing strategy.

Whatever the brief, whatever the client, whatever the budget, if we want to save time, money and stress upfront and avoid costly random acts then a benchmarking and auditing exercise is the obvious place to kick an intelligent web-build process off.

“I’ve already written a brief, I just want costs and creative!”

Self-diagnosis is common in website design and I’m not saying it’s wrong by any means but if we’re paying an expert to provide their expertise we should allow them to make their own assessment, to challenge our assumptions and bring valuable intelligence.

Briefs are often written with two things in common; an outline ailment:

Eg. ‘We are not visible in SERPs’ or ‘we only get X number of visits’

and an outcome.

Eg. ‘… we need to be on page one for our key search terms’ or ‘we need more visits’

Understanding why our site isn’t currently ranking in the search engines will provide us with the answers to the ‘why and the how’ of getting the site ranking.

Understanding how the current visitors behave as well as what they want from any given website and whether the website is providing that information will provide the insight on how to move forward, to improve the quality of future visitors.

This is what auditing is all about. Uncovering the issues, working out the reasons for the problems and recommending realistic, measurable ways to improve the website and the way we drive traffic to it and then convert those visitors into leads or data capture for further marketing.

Creating multiple interactions

A new website is the place where we can reach prospects who are unaware of your brand and products. It’s a place where loyal customers go to get and share valuable, insightful, meaningful information.

A  new website is a place where multiple interactions should be measured. Where our capabilities and experience can be tailored to influence different audiences.

In order to enhance any part of a website it clearly makes sense to understand what is happening now in order to understand what impact success could and should look like for your new business website.

Evidence based information, when used in creating functionality and relevant content – content that you know your key customers are asking for – will bring real benefits and trump random acts based on assumptions and guess work any day of the week.

The Profit Hunter Program

Our own benchmarking process rarely stops at just auditing the current website and it’s performance, not least because the outcome of the program is insight and actionable recommendations to take your business forwards.

We’ll often undertake extensive online competitor analysis pertinent to your customers, products and services’ needs. We’ll perform customer surveys. We’ll look at positioning messages and product information available. And then we’ll investigate social channels, uncover brand mentions and deliver an online reputation analysis along with opportunities to exploit.

Most good digital agencies will have a process for understanding you and your company’s goals before they start to build or design a new website. If they don’t then perhaps you should point them to this post in order to save you time and costly updates.

Our process is called the ‘Profit Hunter Program’ and it’s 100% geared towards one goal: finding out how to attract more qualified leads quicker and ahead of the competition.

Contact Nick to find out more.

In the next post we’ll look at how to position your products to provide the most relevant content for a new website and also how that positioning will deliver the most efficient search strategy to drive more qualified leads.

About Nick Pauley

is the founder and managing director of Pauley Creative. Aside from managing the strategic direction of Pauley Creative, Nick is primarily involved in the early planning and marketing direction of each of Pauley Creative’s fabulous clients. Follow Nick on Twitter click here.

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