4 Metrics That Tell You It's Time to Update Your Website
Whether your website was updated 3 weeks ago or 3 years ago, it can be challenging to know if it's performing well or needs another refresh. Regular analysis of your website's performance is a great way to measure overall site effectiveness. But between Google Analytics, Search Console and your website platform/vendor data, it's easy to spend hours and hours looking at numbers. Don't get "analysis paralysis", instead use these 4 metrics to get the big picture on your site's overall performance and to help guide decision-making:
1. Traffic and Sources
Measuring traffic shows whether your site is attracting people. When looking at total traffic, it's important to identify where your visits come from - is it Direct, Search, Referral, Social or Paid? When people type in your URL, this is Direct traffic. Search visits are coming from Google and other search engines. If this traffic is low or has dropped, it can signal SEO issues tied to keywords and user experiences. Referral (links from other websites), Social (traffic from social media sites) and Paid (visits from advertising) traffic are all driven by specific marketing activities. Your traffic should increase over time, especially if you're implementing marketing campaigns. If traffic is not increasing — your website needs attention. The best place to start is working on your SEO.
2. High Bounce Rates
Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who leave your site shortly after arriving. While industry averages vary, financial services has bounce rates of 53%*. This means roughly half the people click away and leave the site without any interaction. There are many reasons for a high bounce rate including slow page load times, unattractive layout, poor functionality, bad content or content that's unrelated to the search query. If your bounce rate exceeds 50%, it's time to test new homepage layouts, refresh headlines with more compelling user benefits and add more relevant content to the site.
3. Visitor Engagement
Once people enter your website, it's important to understand what they're doing, where they're going and which content they value most. While you can spend a lot of time looking at different analytics, focus on tracking the number of pages viewed per visit, identifying your most popular pages and exit pages. This data tells your engagement story and helps identify areas that need improvement.
4. Low Conversion Rates
The overall goal of your website is to convert visitors into sales. For most financial professionals, this means having a call-to-action that provides sales leads by collecting visitor information, scheduling an appointment or signing up for your email newsletter, etc. Using valuable content and information can be an ideal incentive for prospective clients to provide their email address. If your site has great traffic and lower bounce rates yet isn't capturing leads, then it's time to add a more compelling content offers along with testing new call-to-actions.
Review Analytics Regularly
Look at these 4 areas monthly (or quarterly) using Google Analytics and your website platform/vendor data for an excellent snapshot of how your site is performing. And if all of this sounds like Greek to you, instead of spending valuable time trying to make sense of it all, consider outsourcing to an expert.
Remember, your website is the central hub of your entire business and brand, making it your most powerful marketing tool. It's extremely important to have a dynamic site loaded with quality content that educates visitors, becomes a magnet for search engines and converts leads.
Back to School Means Back to Business
Summertime is full of vacations, outdoor activities, festivals and relaxation. With so many co-workers and clients out of the office, many meetings and projects tend to get pushed out a few weeks. Then Labor Day hits, the kids go back to school and business owners get back to business. Back to school time is synonymous with renewed energy and enthusiasm with dedicated focus on finishing the year STRONG. But with so much to do and so little time (before you know it, the holidays will be here) it can be challenging to get started. I have a couple of ideas to help on you make 2018 your best year yet!
REVIEW YOUR GOALS
It’s time to dust off your business and marketing plans. If you’ve been reviewing them all-year, awesome! You already know what you’re working towards and which activities to focus on. When you’re fully engaged in goal setting and planning, you’re 10 times more likely to achieve your goals (according to a Harvard MBA Program Study).
If your marketing plans have fallen by the wayside, it’s probably because you were too busy with sales, staff and daily operations. While this is not ideal, you can still make time now for marketing. Review your strategy and objectives, take stock of your accomplishments and prioritize the activities that you can achieve. Start with any “low hanging fruit” and marketing initiatives that you started but didn’t launch. Don’t be tempted to jump on the latest trend just to make something exciting happen – unless it meets your key objectives. When goals and tactics don’t align, it can be a waste of money and time. Keep it simple by focusing on your most important goal(s) and map out the specific activities that will accomplish those goals.
REFOCUS YOUR MESSAGE
Is your messaging trying to be all things to all people? When you’re talking to everyone, it tends to be so general, that you may not connect with anyone. Focus on your niche and their specific challenges to develop stronger client relationships and attract prospects. When you know exactly who you’re talking to and what problems you solve for them, it becomes much easier to create marketing content that resonates. Highlight HOW you help clients with their greatest problems by using benefit-oriented language. Take a fresh look at your messaging, to see how if there’s an opportunity for stronger connections. This can be as simple as changing a few words or sentences for greater impact.
REVISIT YOUR WEBSITE
Your website is the central hub for your marketing activities so it’s critical that it communicates your unique message to target clients. Set aside some time to review your website – paying close attention to your home page and bounce rate. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site shortly after arriving. While industry averages vary, financial service industry sites average about 50%. This means roughly half the people click away from a website without any interactions. If your bounce rate is 50% or higher, it’s time to refresh your messaging, content and layout to improve site effectiveness.
REFINE LEAD GENERATION
Content marketing has become increasingly effective for converting leads. Adding compelling and unique content to your website provides so many benefits: it shows your expertise, builds trust, increases SEO (search engine optimization) and helps you stands out on social media. Attract more leads with a “freemium” offer that gives prospective clients valuable information and ends with a couple of paragraphs on who you are and how you can help them. Collect email addresses in exchange for providing this content. Once you have the email addresses, take the extra steps to ensure you’re nurturing those relationships with timely emails. Create an automated email marketing campaign that provides additional information. Focus on providing great value not on products or selling. Far too often business owners bring the hard sell before establishing credibility and trust.
REFRESH YOUR CONTENT
In our increasingly digital age, it all comes back to your content. A lot of business owners have created custom content which is promoted a couple of times and then quickly forgotten. Content marketing takes time to reach prospects so it’s not once and done. Continue to promote your content across social media channels and in email throughout the year. It’s also important to repackage and repurpose your content for maximum effectiveness. Create blog posts, videos, infographics and even webinars from your custom content.
Don’t underestimate the power of case studies and storytelling – it’s the perfect way to demonstrate how you’ve helped similar clients overcome problems. Create compelling content with a case study that focuses on the value, outcome and future results instead of talking about products or services.
GET BACK TO BUSINESS
Now that you’ve got some ideas to help grow your business, it’s time to get to work. There are about 4 months left in the year (actually 3 months if you count the holidays). To recap:
Or, if you just don’t have the time, look to a marketing partner who can kick it out for you. Either way, you’ve got this. Plan to finish the year strong so that 2018 is your best year yet!
Balancing Kids and Work During Summer Break
Here’s a couple of thoughts on what’s shaping up to be an awesome summer.
Today is the first official day of our summer vacation. I’m super excited but also stressed. I’ve always worked – a lot and my loves have always gone to summer camp. But after a not-so-great camp experience last year, we decided to spend this summer together. And no, I haven’t won the lottery, so the next 13 weeks will be the ultimate work-life balancing act. I’m determined to make this summer fun and memorable while also growing my business. Here’s a couple of thoughts on what’s shaping up to be an awesome summer.
Decide What’s Important
Summertime in Florida brings endless possibilities: camps, theme parks, baseball games, festivals and of course our beautiful beaches and parks. With all the amazing options and a limited budget, we quickly realized we can’t do everything. Prioritizing the summer wish list was interesting as my son prefers athletics while my daughter wants to explore nature and animals. After a couple of conversations, we came up a good mix of camps and activities that everyone is looking forward to.
One of my strengths is planning so naturally once we had our wish list of activities, it was time to bring it all together and make reservations. Using a one-page calendar with June, July and August only, I reviewed all my notes and emails to map out the entire summer. This is not as easy as it sounds, there was a lot of erasing, adjusting, phone calls and emails. A couple of days later with several hours spent organizing and prioritizing, we have our summer schedule. Of course, the calendar is in pencil, so we can adjust for weather, friends’ schedules, tummy aches, etc.
Say No to Stay Sane
There are only 24 hours in every day. Even with the best intensions and a flexible schedule, it’s important to recognize that you cannot do everything. As moms we try to do it all and many times we do but we're also exhausted. When I’m tired, I lose patience and yell at the kids. To keep myself sane, get my work done and juggle all these fun activities, I’ve already said NO to a couple of requests. And, I had to give up my favorite volunteer activity for the summer. Over the next 3 months, I'll carefully consider when to say YES and NO while reminding myself that it’s OK not to take on everything.
Get the Kids Involved
I’ll admit that I do almost everything for my kids. They typically don’t do chores, clean their rooms or even know how to make themselves a snack. Now that the busy school year is over, it's the ideal time to get the kids more involved around the house. To make it more fun, I’ve created the Pick-A-Task chore jar. While they’re not thrilled about these new responsibilities, I’m happy to get a little more help.
Here a List, There a List, Every Week Has a To-Do List
To-do lists help manage activities, tackle big projects and keep on top of important deadlines - basically they help you get it all done. I’ve tried a couple of different apps but I’m back to a weekly paper planner. I find that breaking down complex tasks and advance planning for meetings makes me proactive instead of reactive.
And, on the days where there is still alot left to-do, but you’ve already crossed off a bunch of items, you visually see the progress and find greater inspiration. With so many activities planned this summer, micro-managing every day will become more important than ever.
Enjoy the Summer
While it’s going to be a challenge to simultaneously manage kids’ activities with my growing business, I’m up for the challenge. In few short years, my children will be off to college, so I want to really enjoy this time without stress. Planning and flexibility will help make our summer break fun and productive. And, when it's the kids time for fun activities, I plan to be present and enjoying the time. That means put the phone away till later.
I hope you enjoy your summer too!!
Working more efficiently and effectively doesn’t necessarily mean big changes to the routine. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest impact. Here are 5 ideas to inspire you to achieve great success in 2018.
Like many people, I approached 2018 with a new year, new me attitude. But instead, I found myself ringing in the new year with the world’s worst cold (or possibly the flu, I’m still not sure). Although this seriously set me back a couple of weeks, I’m determined to accomplish my lofty first quarter plan by making several small changes to boost productivity. I’m sharing my 5 focus areas to inspire you to make great things happen too. Working more efficiently and effectively doesn’t necessarily mean big changes to the routine. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest impact.
1. Schedule Your Daily Tasks
Before you start each day, know your plan and schedule the key tasks. When you set simple goals for every single day, you tend to accomplish them (or most of them). Break down your complex projects into a series of tasks and then complete them one-at-a time.
Also, take advantage of your most productive time of the day. I tend to be most effective early in the morning as I’m sipping my coffee. Now, instead of slowly starting the day by scrolling through social media, I’ve been jumping right into my most challenging task first. This may not work for you, so come up with your own personal system – perhaps block off time to finish the entire task or set the clock for an hour and work without distractions.
2. Check Email Periodically
Checking emails compulsively can be a big waste of valuable time. It’s distracting and takes you away from what you’re working on. This is a big challenge for me, as I like to be responsive. But, I’m learning that in many instances, emails are really fulfilling other people’s to-do list – not my own. So instead of checking emails every few minutes, I’m blocking off dedicated time to focus on emails twice in the morning, and once in the afternoon and evening. I can’t say that I’m following this mantra every day, but I when I do stick to the schedule, I’m usually hitting all my daily goals.
3. Stay Off Social Media
Social media can be another BIG waste of valuable time. Yesterday, I went to Facebook to check a client’s page for specific information and before I knew it 45 minutes had gone by and I was on a random website signing up for an email newsletter. Don’t go down the rabbit hole - seriously! It can be challenging to go several hours or even the entire day without checking your feeds. I started keeping my phone away from my desk so there’s no temptation and it’s amazing how much work can get done. This can be a simple way to really boost your productivity.
4. Set Aside Time to Exercise
With a to-do list that’s a mile long, I will sit at my desk for hours and hours without a break trying to do it all. It’s challenging for me to step away - even for just a few minutes to exercise. But, research shows that regular exercise has tons of benefits. Exercise improves physical and mental health, increases memory, boosts your mood and energy level, reduces stress and can even inspire creativity. The easiest way to get exercise is to just schedule it. Add it to the calendar and make it happen. In just a few days you’ll see the benefits when you come back recharged with great new ideas.
5. Stop Multi-Tasking
I’ve been saying for years that multi-tasking means doing two things poorly and it’s true. Trying to do more than one thing at a time is just not productive. Plus, recent research found that jumping from task to task more than 10 times a day, drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Focus only on one task at a time and I bet you’ll notice a big difference in your productivity.
Plan Your Work and Then Work Your Plan
All my suggestions are linked to scheduling your daily activities and sticking to your plan. While this sounds inflexible, it doesn’t have to be. View your daily plan as a framework that can adjusted and changed as needed. This way when you have a sick child, a flat tire or an emergency meeting, you can shuffle your priorities to the big picture for the week rather than the “wasted” day.
And keep in mind the alternative – if you make no changes, nothing will change. Find what works for you with an eye for the small activities that can have a BIG impact. Increasing your productivity in 2018 will make it your best year yet!
Diana is a content marketing strategist and virtual marketing director specialized in financial services. She has 20 years of marketing expertise, including campaigns for top brands such as Johnson’s Baby and Band-Aid.