Web Strategy | The HBS Blog | Business Strategies

By Gregg Schoenberg Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We all know that an effective web site is crucial to the success of just about any small business and that increasing traffic to your site can be a primary source of new revenue. But how many of us have taken the time to understand and analyze what is working about our web strategy, and what isn’t?

By putting a little but of effort into these three areas, you’ll increase your chances of having a more successful—and profitable—web presence.

Design

Start by taking an honest look at the design of your site and then comparing it with sites of your competitors as well as those of some unrelated firms that have a robust, and successful, Web presence. One of the most popular web site in the world is apple.com. Almost everyone wants to succeed like Apple, but your business may not lend itself to Apple’s web design.

How does your site measure up? If it looks like it was designed in the 1990s, then visitors are likely think to think that your business is stuck in the age of flannel shirts and grunge rock. Perhaps it’s time for an update.

You don’t need to spend a fortune or hire a hotshot designer in order to improve your online appearance. The goal should simply be to create a clean look with a number of easy-to-use action buttons such as “contact us” or “learn more.”

Customer Interaction

No matter how good your Web site might appear, it’s critical that you adopt messaging and keywords that clearly reflect your core business if you want to draw the right kinds of visitors to your sight. If you don’t know much about search engine optimization (SEO), it’s probably time for a crash course. Try reading SEO for Dummies by Bruce Clay, the premier SEO consulting company.

You should also learn to use Google AdWords and Google Analytics to track your success. The more you know the more successful you can be.

Fortunately, one of the most important things you can do for your Web site is also one of the simplest: prominently display your company’s phone number at the top of every page.

It’s easy to forget in an era when so much business is not conducted face to face, but people want to be able to reach you when they have questions, and many of them will not take the time to fill out a form or send an e-mail and hope for a reply. By making it easier for customers to initiate personal contact at their convenience, you’re almost certain to increase your site’s effectiveness.

Metrics

But how exactly do you measure effectiveness? Everyone likes to look at the total number of visitors to their site, but if that’s all your doing then you’re only seeing the forest and not the trees.

The number one metric to measure is your conversion rate: the percentage of your Web site visitors who turn into sales leads. A visitor becomes a lead by completing some desired action such as joining an e-mail list or requesting more information about your firm.

You should also be tracking your bounce rate—the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing just one page. If your bounce rate is high, you’re either attracting the wrong kind of visitors or you’ve got a pretty unappealing home page.

There are a number of consulting firms that can help you measure these metrics and offer specific advice on how to improve them. There are also many software products to help you measure your success against your competitors.

Let’s face it, web marketing is here to stay. The more you embrace the proper web strategy for your company, the more successful you will be.

More By Gregg Schoenberg
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