As a veteran parent of 25+ years, when it comes to learning long after the fact about children’s poor choices I totally see value in the concept of Ignorance Is Bliss. Creating concoctions by combining every condiment on the refrigerator door, adding numerous spices for flavor, coaxing much younger siblings to consume it and doubling over in laughter as the child runs to the kitchen sink post swallow is one particular scenario that comes to mind (I wonder why). And I’d really rather remain ignorant to my twenty-somethings recall of high-school and college experiences that they miraculously lived to tell about. Yes, after the fact when everyone’s survived intact without too many scars to show for it is when blissful ignorance is absolutely okay in my book.
However Ignorance Is Bliss seldom has positive outcomes in business – particularly when it comes to digital. No matter what industry your company falls under survival in part relies on how digital channels perform. The Internet of Things can make or break bottom line growth. And aside from laziness there’s no excuse for ignorance. Basic reporting tools provide basic information – for FREE. Granted free tools provide a superficial view of performance but at least it’s something and nonetheless a telling benchmark on whether good or poor digital decisions are being made.
The sad reality is few in the digital industry – outside Certified Marketing Performance Agencies like d.Mark – will encourage website performance monitoring. Why? Well web developers are tasked with creating the site and for the most part really don’t care thereafter if anyone goes to it. The job is done, monies in the bank and residual maintenance revenue is easy pick in’s. If web developers encouraged clients to regularly view basic analytics it may very well reflect poorly on the developer’s initial or ongoing contribution. Low traffic, few and far between search visitors and unusually high bounce rates all reflect negatively on any web developer’s involvement. No. It’s not in their best interest to encourage ongoing website performance assessment because it could spotlight their shortcomings.
Marketers typically steer clear of analytics especially contracted ad agencies. They’re not analytical by nature. They’re creative individuals and most aren’t wired to double as business analysts. Unfortunately online marketing for most businesses often mirrors offline push marketing. One size fits all messaging. When one campaign ends its time to undertake a new one with little attention paid to revenue resulting from previous campaigns. Analyzing campaign message performance prior to moving on to the next campaign would again hold people accountable for efforts and money spent in the process. No one wants accountability if it can be avoided – I don’t care who you are. That’s just human nature.
But in my travels what I find even more perplexing is the volume of small to mid-sized business owners that are totally okay not knowing whether anyone at all, in any given month visits their website. Does not knowing change the fact that money was possibly wasted and continues to be wasted on a website that performs no better than a billboard in the middle of a cornfield? Seriously – how much is the average business willing to pay for a billboard whose monthly audience is a herd of cows and a couple farmers that give it a first glance then never a second? Do you have budget for that? No. You would not set aside budget for the cornfield billboard marketing investment. Yet an incredible amount of businesses do the equivalent with their website. I’ve got news for you. You’re not Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. Building it does not mean they’ll come – especially in the digital ecosystem.
When it comes to digital expenditures – whether the website is new, old or aged in between – companies often pay little attention to whether their audience shows up. In the real world though you care. You care whether someone walks in the door, considers what you’re selling, picks up the phone or sends an email. So why not care virtually? Virtual and reality not only parallel, one feeds off the other. If real world interest in your business is low then your digital typically performs no better and in all likelihood probably performs worse. Digital performance is a barometer for health and longevity of any company. Denial and ignorance will not change that fact.
It’s in your company’s best interest to pay greater attention to digital performance. Employ not just digital marketers but Digital Performance Marketers who use tools that actually measure ROI with raw data to back it up. Don’t listen to digital practitioners or strategists resistant to the idea of accountability. Those who hold that opinion are not looking out for your company’s best interest. Fire them.
So here’s my challenge to businesses:
1. If Google Analytics isn’t active on your site – activate it now. It’s FREE.
2. Begin benchmark performance metrics.
3. Through Google’s Dashboard set up weekly or monthly automated email reports that reflect just the basics.
Basic data really isn’t all that Greek. Report presentation user-friendliness can certainly improve but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was back in the day and definitely better than nothing at all.
When it comes to the basics here’s what you care about:
The number of pages on your site that are actually viewed
Intelligence gained: You built it, did they come?
Lists site pages people find of greatest relevance
Intelligence gained: Has time and money been wasted creating content that no one cares about? Do you have a finger on the pulse of what customers really want and need from you – or not?
Indicates effectiveness of SEO (search engine optimization) investment
Intelligence gained: If monies spent on SEO and results show few search referrals monies been thrown down the drain. Employ qualified, experienced strategists that use software to ensure the job’s done right and that new customers actually discover you through search.
The volume of people visiting your site
Intelligence gained: No different than monitoring real-world foot traffic to your business or number of times the phone rings. Because 9 out of 10 people visit your site before doing business with you, users are a true barometer of realistic growth and revenue potential.
Those who’re arriving at your site for the first time
Intelligence gained: You can’t survive on stagnant customer lists and residual business alone. Customer base must inflate or company longevity is likely to deflate.
Indicates how quickly visitors came in the door and then left. This is my favorite. If you look at absolutely nothing else look at bounce and evaluate month to month changes.
Intelligence gained: High bounce rates mean visitors didn’t find what they wanted and went to your competitor’s site instead. You have 2, at the most 3 seconds to deliver what they walked in the virtual door for. If it wasn’t there then your page content didn’t meet expectations. The majority who leave won’t come back to give you a second chance.
But let’s say what visitors seek is on your site. High bounce indicates you didn’t make it easy for them to find. How much navigation was required to get to the desired destination? No one has patience to look. Instant gratification is always your site’s objective. Give ‘em what they want or they’ll leave and the majority won’t return to give you a second chance.
Are you seeing the end trend?
The majority won’t come back to give you a second change.
They went to your competitor instead.
Your site enticed and led visitors to believe you had what they’re looking for but you wasted their time when it wasn’t there. Or at least their perception is it wasn’t there. Perception is reality. I don’t know about you but I don’t have time to waste on sites that have history of wasting my time.
Managing digital performance provides a wealth of intelligence. The greater the reporting tools used the greater the intelligence gained for making better business decisions. The more you put into it the more you’ll get out of it as long as performance is measured and managed correctly along the way. Digital does pay for itself when expectations are set and managed to be met.
For more on how to measure and improve website performance check out d.Mark’s related resources below and contact us whenever our team can assist with your digital performance management efforts.
Related d.Mark Resources
Marketing Automation 101 <video on demand>