What website statistics do you think matter the most in business?
- Numbers of visitors?
- Countries they’re from?
- Numbers and cost of paid advertising visitors?
- Bounce rates on key pages?
- Traffic from social media?
That list could be much longer, but while all the above (and a lot more in addition) are useful statistics to analyse, none of them are as important as focusing on one statistic that should be the most important in any business:
Within a defined period of time (e.g. a month), how many enquiries/sales were there related to each individual product or service offered on the website?
Recipe for success
Increasing enquiries/sales about your products or services is purely a case of following a recipe for success – step by step.
This isn’t a microwave ready meal that takes minutes to cook. It’s a recipe that requires the right ingredients, equipment, and baking to succeed. A recipe where missing something out can lead to disappointment.
It’s also a recipe that very few businesses follow because their focus is on quick fixes instead of long-term success. Nine out of ten of you who read this will not complete the recipe. If you’re the one out of ten that does complete it, I’d love to hear your experiences.
You will need:
- One product or service page from your website.
- One month of enquiries/sales numbers about that product or service.
- (optionally) an extra month or more of those enquiries/sales numbers.
- A pinch of salt
- Alcohol/drugs/a brisk run
- (optionally) a secret ingredient
- Analytics software (Google Analytics will do but A1WebStats is more powerful).
- A spreadsheet application.
- A hammer to break rose-tinted glasses.
- Google search engine.
- Web developer skills
Step 1 – Choose your product or service page
Choose just one. One product or service that is top of your list to gain more enquiries about. You can always repeat this recipe for others in the future.
Step 2 – Create a spreadsheet template
Create a spreadsheet similar to the example below.
Step 3 – Add in enquiries/sales
For either one month or more, add in the number of enquiries or sales you’ve gained about the product or service.
The example below shows a two month view.
Step 4 – Fold in your analytics statistics
For your product or service page, use your analytics software to identify:
- The number of visitors who landed on that page.
- The total number of visitors who visited that page (which will include those who landed on the page).
Step 5 – Add a pinch of salt
Using your analytics software, filter the number of visitors who landed on that page, and the number of visitors who got to that page, so that you only show visitors from the countries you target.
That pinch of salt will probably adjust your figures downwards, which is useful because it gives you a more accurate picture of how many people within your target geography got to your product or service page. You’re not interested in those outside your target geographical area – they’re just noise data.
Step 6 – Mix in a spreadsheet formula
Create a formula to calculate the enquiries/sales gained as a percentage of the ‘potentially useful’ number of people who got to the page.
Step 7 – It’s ok to cry – really!
If your percentage looks as bad as the example above then indulge in alcohol, drugs, a brisk run, or whatever else takes you away from the misery for awhile.
Step 8 – Hammer time
You may have been wearing rose-tinted glasses for some time. It’s not an exclusive club – most website owners also wear them.
Those rose-tinted glasses aren’t helped by lots of other website statistics that can lull you into a false sense of satisfaction that your website is ‘doing ok’.
For now, you’re only interested in the numbers related to one of your products or services. Take off your rose-tinted glasses and smash them with the hammer and never darken the doors of the rose-tinted glasses shop again.
Step 9 – Optionally add in a secret ingredient
Your spreadsheet will probably be showing you that you have a depressingly low level of enquiries/sales compared to the numbers of people who have visited your product or service page.
You’re not alone in seeing that view – most businesses will see the same.
You could take the viewpoint that it’s the product or service page alone that is at fault. Google Analytics will show you how long people have been on that product or service page (on average), which can give you an indication of how engaged they are. However, Google Analytics will not make it easy for you to gain insights into each individual visitor to that product or service page and how they:
- Found your website (e.g. Google organic, PPC, email shot).
- Navigated through pages before your product or service page.
- Navigated through pages after your product of service page.
That depth of information can be found within A1WebStats. The example below shows the path that a company (Deepdale Engineering) took before they got to the product page of interest.
It’s an optional secret ingredient but still an important one because a buying decision can often be formed by the pages a potential buyer visits both before and after they view your product or service page.
Step 10 – Print it out
Print out your product or service page.
Put it on the desk in front of you.
Step 11 – Select your search phrases of choice
Select one or more search phrases (two or three would be enough) that you would expect potential buyers to search within Google.
For each of those phrases go through Steps 12 to 14.
Step 12 – Kill a few trees
Click on all the search results that a buyer may feasibly be interested in. There may be some that wouldn’t be important to potential buyers (e.g. a Wikipedia page on a product or service) so you can ignore those.
- Paid adverts.
- Images that appear in search results (your product or service may be searched for by image – for example, people searching for ‘red kitchens’).
- Videos that appear in search results (again, for some types of purchases, videos will appeal to some buyers).
You need to identify at least 10 that in some way relate to competitors for those search keyword phrases. If you don’t find 10 on page 1 of Google, go onto page 2.
Why 10? Because 10 is better than 8, which is better than 5, which is better than 3. The more competitors you invest time in analysing, the more successful your recipe baking will be.
For each competitor you find, do the following:
- Print their page. Forget the dead trees – you can plant new trees out of the increased profits you’ll make.
- Run through their page on screen from the viewpoint of a potential buyer.
- For each positive point on the page, highlight it in bold red on the printed version.
Don’t stop until you’ve got at several sheets of paper with bold red on them, having covered at least 10 competitors (even if you have to dig deeper into the Google results).
Step 13 – Too many cooks makes wonderful broth
This step depends on whether you work alone but is very much recommended.
Get a co-cook and get them to go through Step 12, using your search phrases (so that they are more likely to get the same Google search results).
Don’t give them any insights into your own observations.
Their additional insights will take more time but will lead to a much stronger result from the recipe.
Step 14 – Compare notes
If you followed Step 13 (I’d suggest that most people in business would be able to get at least one person to help them to achieve the results they want) then this will be particularly beneficial. If it’s just your own notes, the result won’t be as strong because you won’t have the benefit of more than your own insights.
For each red inked piece of paper related to each website, compare notes to each other, while comparing any strengths that website page (and pages that support it before and after people get to that page) has, compared to your equivalent product or service page.
Step 15 – Stuck for ideas?
All product or service pages will work in different ways. What works for some types of products or services won’t work for others.
Here are some of the ‘red ink’ positives about other websites that may or may not have come out from your analysis. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list – just a few insights into what makes product or service pages more successful:
If the product or service page is supported with numerous testimonials related to that product or service – directly on the product or service page, then it creates reassurance that people have positive comments to make about that specific product or service (rather than just positive comments about the company in general).
Those testimonials would ideally be:
- From named individuals …
- Within named companies …
- Showing their geographical location (this matters to some buyers) …
- Dated with the month of the testimonial (so that over time your focus becomes on always keeping fresh testimonials on each product or service page, which sends out a message that buyers are consistently pleased with what you provide).
Why is this important? Because a potential customer is less interested in what you can do and is initially more interested in who you have done it for (and what they have to say about you). When you answer that with lots of testimonials then they are much more likely to make contact with you.
Similar in concept to testimonials, but allowing the opportunity to create deeper website content that will also help with organic SEO.
For each product or service there would ideally be a section of the page that includes several brief introductions to case studies related to previous customers who have bought the product or service.
Each case study introduction would act as an invitation to click through to a separate page dedicated to that case study, where you can provide the more detailed information about how that product or service helped that customer.
A potential customer is looking at your product or service page and is thinking: “how have other people benefited from this product or service?”. When you answer that question with a series of case study introductions (leading to more detail when clicked on), then you are giving them more reasons to make contact with you.
How many case study introductions should you have on the page? As many as you can. Start off with three and then build on that. When you get to more than ten you may want to introduce a button to ‘See more case studies’ that expands to more case study introductions and avoids cluttering up the page.
Many businesses avoid pricing and sometimes it’s not possible to be specific about pricing. There is a perception that if pricing is on a product or service page then the competition will undercut that pricing. That’s always a possibility but by including pricing (at least indicative pricing) then you will get much higher levels of enquiries than if you don’t.
The way to view pricing is to imagine you are in a room and have a table offering your products or services and you have no pricing on them. On the other side of the room is a competitor offering the same types of products or services but they have pricing on them. 100 people enter the room and they are interested in those products or services and they move between the tables of you and your competitor.
Who will get higher levels of interest?
The one that shows pricing (or an indication of pricing) – purely because they’re not perceived to be hiding anything and the potential buyer feels safe to discuss the product or service with them because they can instantly see it’s within their budget (whereas they won’t even ask you for fear that they’ll have to find a quick way out if your pricing is out of their budget range).
Pricing (or indications of pricing) missing from product or service pages create a barrier to enquiries being gained.
Some types of products or services will benefit from supportive imagery. This is easier for products because it can be imagery related to the products (e.g. three pictures instead of just one).
If your product or service really doesn’t have any imagery that would be relevant (and your competitors also don’t have relevant imagery) then it’s better not to have imagery than to use stock photography because stock photography often creates an impression of laziness.
Many products or services can be portrayed well through video, as long as the video doesn’t drag on too long. It’s also important to allow people to control the pausing and moving through the video, and for it not to autoplay when people go to that website page. Videos that autoplay or don’t allow you to stop and start them are a big barrier to engagement because they don’t respect the time and environment of the video viewer.
If your competitors aren’t using video within their product or service pages then it probably means that they just haven’t thought about it. For most products or services there will usually be an angle where video can be used.
If you see videos appearing in the Google results when people are searching for your products or services then there is even more reason to invest time and budget in video.
Whether manned by your staff or run as an outsourced service, a Live Chat facility on a website can make a big difference with levels of engagement. The cost of these vary but most offer a trial period within which you can assess how much people utilise the live chat functionality.
In the context of a product or service page, if a potential buyer can use live chat to discuss that product or service, in a way that allows them to be anonymous (to avoid being sold to until they’ve made a decision to take the relationship further), then they are much more likely to convert to an enquiry.
While people can still call, email, or fill in an enquiry form on your website, each of those forms of contact still give away their details, and they may not want to put themselves in a position where they could be ‘sold to as they are identifiable’. Live chat enables them to ask questions anonymously and when they feel more comfortable they will get in contact.
Many product or service pages try to cram too much into one page, when there’s opportunity to lead people down a path that’s more valuable to them.
For example, a products page about widgets is quite generic and contains a lot of information about all types of widgets but can be overwhelming. If the potential buyer wants a specific type of widget and it’s clear where to click then they will become more engaged.
Taking the widgets example, if someone has got to a widgets page and what’s in their mind is metal widgets, their path is clear if they see clear navigation that offers:
- Metal widgets
- Plastic widgets
- Wooden widgets
When they click through to the metal widgets page they may then have even more options such as:
- Blue metal widgets
- Green metal widgets
- Red metal widgets
By avoiding product or service page overwhelm and allowing people to click deeper into sub-divisions, you send out a message of “we have what you want and respect your time by making it easy to find it”.
Many websites (particularly on product pages) don’t give enough details about the products. There is an expectation that if you provide ‘enough’ details then people will make contact. It’s wrong.
People expect to have the option to dig as deep as they want to into the detail of a product or service and they expect that information to be available on the website. When they see that one website product or service page has detail and others don’t, then they’re going to gravitate towards the website that gave them what they wanted and that didn’t appear to be hiding anything.
Although your product or service pages may contain plenty of information to impress the potential buyer, they may still want further information or the content of that website page in a format (e.g. PDF) that they can download, print, and share.
Many businesses offer their products or services to customers outside their home country but fail to make that really clear on the website. A simple answer to this is, on each product or service page, to have a map graphic depicting your geographical coverage. Within that graphic there should be wording to the effect of: “Click to see our worldwide clients”. When they click it takes them to a page that includes reference to their geographical area and then proves that you have supplied products or services to others in their area.
While it may not be possible to achieve this to a micro level (e.g. prove that you sold a million red widgets to a company in Germany), a good compromise is to say that you sold a million widgets to a company in Europe.
In Google Analytics you can see how many visits you’ve had to specific product or service pages from specific countries. If those numbers are significant then it’s useful to invest more time in the subject of Geography. If you want a deeper insight into those country visitors then A1WebStats can show you the full path of each individual visitor from each country that got to the product or service page, which can provide you with much deeper insights.
Although this won’t be obvious when first visiting a competitors website, you may get ‘followed’ by adverts they’ve set up within Google remarketing.
If you do then fantastic – it shows you that you need to set yours up in a better way than theirs (for example, if your website visitors go to a product page, show them remarketing adverts related to that specific page, not a generic advert about your business).
If you don’t see their adverts follow you around then it’s also fantastic. It probably means that your competition haven’t grasped the power of getting a further opportunity for that visitor to click back to your website in the future.
Google remarketing is a deep subject and although many people have this perception that the adverts are irritating, our own (combined from all subscribers) A1WebStats data shows clear evidence that it works for businesses.
Step 16 – Mixing in all the good ingredients
You should now have several pieces of paper with red ink on them, combining the good points of many competitors.
You now have to decide on whether you are going to cook a banquet or just one delicious item on the table.
First it’s important to understand what we want to achieve, which is for the following to happen:
- A potential customer searches Google for something you offer.
- They find numerous search results and start clicking through them.
- In their mind they will be identifying the good points of each website they go to (as you have done with the red inked pieces of paper).
- Regardless of whether your website is highest in Google results, they will find your website at some point and you want them to consider your website to be as complete as possible, so that they make contact with you.
- If your website combined all the good points of all the other websites, then their natural next step is to make contact with you, and not with your competitors.
To achieve this, you have to mix together all the good elements (red ink) that you’ve identified.
However, you may have a dilemma here because although you may want to be the best that comes up in the search results, you may have identified a lot of changes that you need to make within your website.
You may need to move on to creating one delicious item at a time and work towards the banquet …
Step 17 – Prepare one delicious item
Take all the red inked pieces of paper and take a decision on which opportunity for improvement is going to have the biggest impact on your potential buyers.
I would suggest that top of the list should be having plenty of testimonials and case studies related to each product or service. It’s the single biggest element missing from the majority of business websites. It’s also one of the most challenging to achieve (which is why so many businesses don’t bother).
You then need to collate all the ingredients that you will need to get this one improved feature of your product or service page ready to bake.
For example, if you wanted to focus on case studies you would need to do the following:
- List the names of clients who have bought the product or service.
- Create a template for the structure of each case study.
- Write the first case study.
- Get critical insights into how powerful the case study is.
- Refine the template.
- Create several case studies.
Step 18 – Bake one delicious item
When you have prepared the ingredients needed to make one aspect of the product or service page stronger, it’s time to hand it over to the people who are best at what they do – typically your web developer.
Through a combination of your preparatory work, budget, and their time, your web developer will take your ingredients and bake them into one delicious item within your website.
Having done this, your product or service pages will be one step closer to beating your competitors.
Step 19 – Keep preparing and baking
Your objective is to make your website contain all the best parts of every other website people will see from Google search results. This is what will make your website look like a banquet.
A banquet gives people a huge choice of foods to choose from, allowing their hunger to be satisfied. They may not be interested in one type of food but are interested in another (e.g. they may respond to video more than live chat). They’re more likely though to be interested in several of the foods on offer and can see it’s all on the table within your website.
So this step is about moving on to the next ‘red ink’ opportunity to make your product or service page stronger, and keep working through them one by one until you get to the final result …
Step 20 – Feast on the results from your banquet
When your website (particularly your product or service pages) contain every element that a potential buyer could possibly want, then there is no reason for those buyers to consider any of the other websites that they view within Google search results.
If your website product or service page appears top of the page (organic or paid advertising) then people will still click through to other websites to see what else is on offer. However, they’ll soon realise that your banquet is better than the oddments of food offered by other websites, and so will come back to your website.
If your website product or service page isn’t top of the page (but is within the first page of results) then people will experience elements that they like about competitor sites but when they get to your website they’ll see that all those elements have been combined, and they won’t bother looking any further.
Creating a banquet is not a quick fix, which is why most businesses don’t bother. If you choose to commit to creating a banquet, built up over a period of time within a specific planned out project, you will put yourself in the position where you can feast on the vastly increased levels of enquiries you get, while your competitors are left scrambling around on the floor for the crumbs.
I wish you luck and if I can help clarify anything further on this strategy to sell more of any product or service on your website, please feel free to reach out via my contact details on this page.
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