Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of a performance-oriented website is what it is “not”: It’s not a website that is merely an online brochure.
At the lowest level of effectiveness, a website that simply exists is arguably better than no website at all. (Having said that, a really poor website can lower the repute of your business, which, theoretically, could be worse than having no website in the first place).
Stated another way, if you publish a website expecting it to help you achieve any of the three purposes stated below – it won’t do so effectively – unless you take advantage of any of the many things that can be done “after” you have established a website.
Generally speaking, anything and everything that can be done to make your website proactively work for you, could be categorized as building and realizing its performance potential.
If we consider that a website would have one, or more, of the following purposes, we could define performance as anything that improves such attainment:
♦ Selling a product or service
♦ Conveying information to as many individuals as possible
♦ Facilitating social and/or professional interaction
Avoid the Most Common Website Problems
A website that offers nothing more than a description of a product or service will not likely achieve much of anything, if nothing is done after it is published.
In other words, a commercial website needs to incorporate as many different promotional opportunities as possible, in order to become profitable.
However, even a non-commercial website would still benefit from the majority of web promotion strategies and technologies, to further the attainment of non-commercial purposes.
Leveraging Internet Marketing and Communication Technologies for Greater Website Performance
Very small, or very large amounts of money and resources can be engaged to further the purposes of your website.
From a practical perspective, even with an unlimited budget, it would still be prudent to approach spending on a gradient basis, with the intent of testing and tuning the various marketing elements along the way, to more effectively leverage the return of your dollars and resources.
The following is by no means an exhaustive outline of all the things that can be done to increase your website’s performance, but it certainly delineates some of the most common.
♦ A simple and inexpensive activity would revolve around establishing and regularly publishing new content to a blog. Search engines like new content and this one activity alone, over time, will boost your website’s profile on the internet.
♦ Taking advantage of the “basics” of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will further make your website’s content more friendly to the search engines and establish a greater probability that your pages will be delivered to individuals searching for what you have to offer. SEO encompasses a broad swath of activities to create more traffic to your website: some more readily learned than others. However, the most basic points are not burdensome to learn and will boost the performance of your website.
♦ Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the fastest way to generate qualified traffic to your website. It makes the most sense for commercial sites, since every click costs money. PPC advertising is easy to get started, and “used to be” an easy way to make profit. I emphasize “used to be” not because it is less effective nowadays, it’s just that it has proven to be so effective (and become so popular), that the costs have gone up tremendously since its early days and the sophistication required to excel at it has also increased. Regardless, the entire traffic and profit stream for some commercial websites revolves principally around PPC advertising.
♦ The term “joint venture” is used to describe the concept of two or more independent parties working together for economic advantage. In respect to online marketing, this can embrace a number of different types of joint venture relationships. One effective opportunity includes sharing the profits of any of your sales that are generated via an email campaign (or other promotion) from other web entities. For a specific example, check out this Simple Flow Chart for an Email Marketing Joint Venture Campaign. Joint ventures can be one-shot campaigns that may, or may not, be repeated in the future.
♦ Affiliate marketing might seem similar to a joint venture, in that it incorporates the concept of working with others to sell your products or services. However, there is a critical difference. In a joint venture, two (or more) parties are specifically and personally working together for mutual advantage. Affiliate marketing is more impersonal (at least in the beginning). Affiliates are like free agent marketers. If they are interested in your products and like your commission plan, they will drive some traffic to your site (as a test), and then will only continue to do so if it is profitable for them, and/or until they switch to selling your competitor’s products should they offer a higher commission.
♦ Taking advantage of social media networks is another way to further promote your website and business. Although many people think in terms of the no-cost opportunities related to posting content, nowadays the labor involved doesn’t always yield a positive return on one’s time investment. What is more workable is a paid social media strategy.
♦ Regardless of how few or how many of the aforementioned promotional actions you take advantage of to drive visitors to your website, one very fundamental action is setting up an auto-responder database service to automatically capture the email addresses of interested visitors (usually in exchange for some valuable info or free service), which will then allow you to keep in touch with them, to build a relationship, and to better achieve your website’s purpose.
Monitoring and improving your website’s performance requires a comparative analysis of what has been achieved in the past as opposed to what is going on now, in order to boost the performance for tomorrow. The most fundamental metric for commercial sites is conversions, which can mean sales, or email subscribers, or white paper downloads, more information requests, or any key performance metric that results in value for your organization. But it can also include metrics like how many people visited your website, how long they stayed on the website, how many pages they visited, how many visited high-value pages (such as sales pages), how many videos were watched, how long the videos were watched, how many people filled out a survey and so on.
A performance-oriented website is really the centerpiece of a proactive and strategic marketing activity and process, which includes driving visitors to the site, converting them to take some action (i.e., purchase a product, request some free info, enter their name/email into a form, etc.), all of which is quantified in terms of website metrics for the sake of improving the performance of your website, in respect to its individual purpose(s).