How many times have you thought, “We need to increase our online sales!” As a start up or business owner, your daily objective is to increase sales with the least amount of additional marketing spending. In this article, I’ll show you how to do just that.
Likely everyone started throwing around ideas on how to drive more traffic, get more visitors and just threw in everything including the kitchen sink to drive visitor growth. Yet visitor growth is actually only one part of getting more sales, since cost per acquisition can skyrocket as everyone’s applying the same thinking and strategy of buying traffic and visitors.
“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
What if I told you, that you can double your sales on the same traffic you have now?
You could double the effectiveness of your marketing budget without spending a penny more. That’s like having a cake and eating it too.
Of course, there’s a reason why this can be done but it’s just not obvious. It’s like learning a new skill, you’ve got to find time, energy and motivation to do so. Most businesses treat google analytics (GA) as a stray dog that should be avoided. It’s hard to get anything out of something you don’t respect, but today I’ll cover why you should respect analytics and make friends with it. Just by adding a few tools to your newly minted tool belt, you can get a massive increase in understanding your visitors and improve your sales.
Digital is the new frontier, take a look at this recent Digital Marketing Event in New York City.
1) Landing pages + Time on page + Bounce Rate
Most people know that low bounce rate is good! …Except when it isn’t. Bounce rate is meaningless unless you know what you are measuring with it. Just the bounce rate, in isolation, has no value in practically every case. But when you connect it with data, landing pages and time on page, all of sudden you open a whole new vision. Do you know which page brings you the most traffic?
Surprise, more often than not, it is not your main page. Often times it might be a blog article, or a page that you have no idea is getting high traffic…. The only way to find out? Check your landing page GA. Our team spends significant time analytics with each project .
“I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of Sherlock Holmes
First things first, get into the habit of looking beyond the bounce rate. Landing page tells you where visitors are coming from. This criteria is very important and here’s why: you might have traffic coming to a page, that you have no idea who or what is bringing that traffic. This happens all the time. We had a client where 50% of their traffic was coming from a handful of pages that the client had no idea was bringing traffic, which means those pages were not optimized for sales and conversion.
By knowing what pages are driving you the most traffic, you can edit and target them with relevant information (and call to actions). This alone can double your sales. Imagine you sell holiday gift items (screenshot below) and you think your main traffic comes from the main page… wrong. In fact one of our recent clients found out that less than 30% of their traffic was coming from the main page. In the chart below, guess which one is the main page traffic….. Take your time.
You probably guessed wrong, the main page is actually only #4 of the traffic drivers for this site. It’s only 10% of total monthly traffic, yet has a very low bounce rate and the longest time on page.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Albert Einstein, Physicist
But notice that the bounce rate is so different for each page. That’s because each page has its own role. Some educate people about activities, some tell about gifts and some are there to capture SEO traffic. Each page has its own bounce rate reasons, but you wouldn’t know that if you just looked at the entire site bounce rate. Each page should be treated as its own conversion funnel, and by knowing time on page, bounce rate and where it’s landed you can identify which pages drive the most traffic to you, how they do it, and what should be done to improve sales conversion on them.
In the case of this client, we did page by page edits, breaking down who was the demographic of that page, why were they leaving and what we could do to have them go to another page, versus just leaving because they didn’t find what they were looking for.
2) How to use GA on-page Analytics to understand traffic sources
“A picture is worth more than ten thousand words.”
Fred R. Barnard
One of the easiest to use elements of GA is on page analytics. Even if you are advanced with GA, it will give you a new perspective on how you absorb and find actionable data. Below is an example of one of the projects we worked on, before we came in. Notice that some menu elements didn’t even have a single click from the main page. The way GA works, on every single page you can see where people go and how they use your site. The best part is, if your boss doesn’t understand how to use analytics or why it should matter, show him on page GA. Nothing speaks volumes as much as actually seeing what happens on the page.
How to use it to increase sales: This is another element that alone can double your sales. Simply see what pages people are going to, maybe you should cut down on pages. For example, in this case they have 3 pages that no one ever goes to, but those menu items are taking up valuable above-the-fold site real estate. We hid those pages for the client, and we found a jump of 40% to pages that increase sales. Just by removing pages that are not used, you are removing clutter and focusing your visitors to where they should be going.
“The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”
John Tukey, American Mathematician
You can also see how people are browsing visually page by page, do they scroll down or stay above the fold? For this client we’ve found that only 25% of people would scroll down, the rest would take action above the fold. Which means 75% of people never go beyond where they landed, before clicking on another page. Depending where you are in your project, this might save both time and money as well as direct you on the right track in terms of engagement.
3) Not all traffic sources are equal for your sales.
One of the biggest faux pas I see when working with projects, is not measuring the conversion of each channel. Sometimes you will have much larger traffic from one source and yet sales will be much higher from another source. One project like that was a medium sized nail polish company that, out of nowhere started getting 30,000 visitors every month from social media and it was a significant part of their overall traffic. If we just looked at the traffic we would pat ourselves on the back and say great job! We on the other hand decided to look closer at the source of the traffic, and traffic behavior. Sure enough, most of the traffic was coming from the social media discovery site, stumbleupon, and it was extremely low quality traffic. We had to segment it and remove it from our lead / sale calculation since it was skewing the math.
Hence, know your channels, know how people take action and where they are coming from. Segment your funnels by channels, behavior and sales numbers. If you want to do a social media campaign, know the numbers. Since we found that, unless very well planned and executed, social media is usually worse for direct sales. Your organic traffic is 4 times as likely to convert to sales vs social media traffic.
“Never confuse motion with action.”
A client in the travel industry that we worked with took this to heart, and changed how he allocated his budget for holiday marketing, which resulted in a 180% increase in sales coming from online traffic. A lot depends on your field, your demographic and what you are looking to get out of the campaign. Knowing that your organic traffic will convert better to sales, you might want to consider spending more time on building out your organic engagement pages vs preparing your next big social media push.
4) Time line benchmarking your GA objectives. Track all your core changes!
It’s really easy to forget when a change was made, and if you don’t save it, even only a week later it’s hard to remember the exact date and details of the change. Imagine a month later? 6 months later? A year later? When you do get results you don’t know if it’s one of the changes you did or not, or which of the changes you’ve made got you the results. This seemingly super simple option, allows for amazing insights down the road, but often goes completely unused.
This is one option that everyone can make, and you don’t need any special skills or training. Just add a quick summary of what happened that day, and it immediately becomes a trackable benchmark that can help you spot a drop or increase in traffic and changes in user behavior. Changing a banner and tracking it can help you see the effectiveness of the new addition.
Just last week we tested the mobile banner for an ecommerce website. The main change was a holiday themed banner and different products as the call to action; same text as before, same color scheme. It resulted in 108% increase in click through to product pages. A seemingly minor change resulted in doubled sales for the the company from those pages that were identifiable from measuring results from a timeline before, and after, the change was made.
By adding notes and tracking for every significant change, and making it your operational procedure, you can always trace any discrepancy or change in buying behavior, sales, attributing and tracking your visitors’ activity.
The final takeaway? Don’t be lazy with data and it will reward you. At the core, it comes down to using the information available to you, and if you use even one of the above methods to harness your data, it will have a profound effect on how you view your visitors, make decisions about marketing, and have customers buying more without having to increase your budget. We have seen companies triple and quadruple their sales based on the integration of data into their sales process and start taking GA data seriously. Love and respect your GA data, and it will love you back.