HOW TO REALLY MONITOR THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR SITE
Understanding your web sites performance is more than just reviewing how many 'hits' you have had in a day. Do you really know from where your site is receiving traffic? How effective is your online marketing program? How in depth are your visitors going into your site? How long does a typical visitor stay on your site? What is the most frequent entry page? What is the most frequent exit page? If you don't know the answers to these questions, your mortgage web site is probably not performing as well as it can.
When visitors 'knock' on your web site door, most mortgage owners don't know the exact reason why the potential is there. It could be for refinance, new home loan, or a home equity loan. We will examine a way to learn more about your visitors.
Just What Are Hits?
Before we get too far, just a quick primer on the term "hits." Some counters call a "hit" every time any file is accessed. So if you have a web page with one picture (say a logo) that is placed on a web page. Every time it is accessed; that is two hits (the page plus the picture). And if you have a web page with 10 pictures, that totals eleven hits (the page, plus the 10 pictures). As you can see, when someone says he is getting 1,000 hits a day, it could really be only a 100 visitors... so if use a counter, make sure it counts visitors, not hits.
You Are Visitor Number…
'Visitor counters' allow you to tell how many 'unique visitors' (not hits) you have on a monthly basis. Unfortunately using visitor counter data is an ineffective way to manage and understand your web site. Using a visitor counter is like driving with your rear window covered - you can tell your going forward, but can only use your side mirrors to see where you have been.
I Will Show You Mine. You Don't Have To Show Me Yours.
Assume you have installed a visible visitor counter (one you can see - typically at the bottom of the page) on your web page and it states, "You are the 54th (or 54,000th) visitor." In most cases, assuming you started the counter at zero, your visible counter is now providing your competitor with vital proprietary information. If your competitor sees you have had 54,000 visitors; they may copy your content. Conversely, if a potential customer arrives and finds they are visitor number 54 they may ask why they are at such an unsuccessful site. You can't win with visible hit counters, so don't use them. Use log analysis software instead.
What Is Log Analysis?
Hit counters function like headlines; giving you just a bit of the story. While log software performs an in-depth analysis of 'your headlines' complete with details of each movement of your visitor. Logs are the software tools that let you see through the back window AND ahead to where you are going. Log software captures vital data about your visitors including such factors as…
What Are The Top Entry Pages To My Site?
Most people believe everyone comes in through the front door, (i.e. the main page of your web site). In analyzing hundreds of web sites, we find that for a typical site as much as 50% of the traffic actually enters via a web page other than your main page. Here is an example: assume you have home loans as your main business but also offer home equity loans. The home equity loans web page is rich with relevant 'home equity' keywords and thus more likely to get ranked higher in the search engines than your main page (which is emphasizing home loans). Since this page is ranked higher, it is more likely someone will enter on this page…instead of your main page.
When you analyze your logs, if you see you had 5,000 unique visitors and 1,000 came in through the home equity loan page, you may want to emphasize home equity loans.
What Are The Top Exit Pages To My Site?
Log software will also let you know which page is the most likely exit page. For example, if you have a "contact us" page and find that 40% of your people leaving the site; you may need to examine this closely. Maybe this "contact us" page is not secure or you are asking for too much information. Whatever the reason, by knowing this is a top exit page, you can edit this page until it is more customer friendly.
How Long Are Visitors Really Staying On My Loan Site?
According to the latest studies, the typical web surfer spends 51 seconds on a site. Sites that earn the most revenue average over 3 minutes per visitor. This would generally indicate that better performing sites have quality content and information and customers are staying to learn more before purchasing.
If you find your average visitor to your site spends less than three minutes on your site, you need to rework your content.
What Are My Visitors Looking For?
By examining which search terms were entered in the search engines (and subsequently brought your visitor to your site) your can determine what your customers are really seeking. For example, if you have a home loan site, but find a substantial number of visitors arriving after typing "VA loans," you may decide to place more emphasis on Veteran's Administration loans.
How Many Visitors Really Read My "President's Greeting"?
Often when a web site owner creates a web page, they think, "This page will be read by everyone." When you examine your logs, you can see how many people really visit certain pages. We find that for loan sites, only about 1.5% of all visitors ever go to the "Privacy Information" page.
What Log Software Can I Use To Analyze My Marketing Effectiveness?
Today, you have access to a wide range of analytical software. Some of the software is free like ExtremeTracking (http://www.extreme-dm.com/tracking/), but it allows everyone, including your competitors to see your data. Other software is far more sophisticated such as WebTrends Live (http://www.webtrendslive.com), Super Stats (http://www.superstats.com/), Live Stat (http://www.livestat.com) or the BellaCoola Web Hound
The higher end software offers a wide range of reports, which will identify web visitor trends, untapped market segments and help evaluate the success of your various marketing campaigns.
I Know Who's There!
After implementing log software, when customers now knock on your door, you will know who's there. You will be able to help customers understand your site better, because you understand your customer better.
For more information on these programs, please visit:
Rod Aries and Robert Farris are co-founders of MortgagePromote.com, a leading Internet marketing provider to corporate mortgage clients. On request, they conduct nationwide training seminars covering Internet marketing strategies, lead generation, web site development techniques and more. Web site: www.mortgagepromote.com