Closing the Web Analytics Loop

Unless you’re an e-tailer, your site isn’t likely designed to close a deal or complete a sale. Tracking the value your site adds to the bottom line can be a struggle if you rely on partners and resellers to complete transactions. In such cases, it’s imperative to understand handoffs to partners and measure the success of those handoffs.

Whether the conversion happens on a partner Web site or at a brick-and-mortar store, tying it back to site performance is important. As the landscape becomes more competitive, organizations are dedicating more resources to optimize their site. They’re using tactics such as A/B and multivariable testing (discussed in my last column) to improve the number and quality of online leads.

Tracking Online Handoffs

We work with a fairly large consumer brand that features different products on its site. When visitors want to buy, they’re given two options: find a brick-and-mortar store or buy through an online reseller partner.

For this group, it’s important to understand the following metrics:

  • Percentage of visitors exploring product detail pages

  • Number of product detail pages the average visitor views
  • Percentage of product detail page visits that result in a store locator search or a handoff to an online reseller partner

Though tracking these metrics is important, you won’t get the full picture unless you track improvement all the way to the final transaction. For example, if a company drives three times more traffic to its reseller sites but the actual conversion rates dropped by 75 percent, this would inaccurately reflect a very successful change.

The client mentioned above works with its largest online resellers to track conversions from referral to final sale. As the company makes changes to its site, it continually looks at the effect on the number of referrals to the partner sites, the percentage that close, number of items sold, and average order value. This way, it can assign a more definitive value to the effect of site changes.

Tracking Offline Handoffs

Working with online partners makes sense, but closing the loop with offline resellers can be a little more complex. We’ve helped a number of clients solve this problem, including a very large community development firm with multiple locations throughout the country.

This client sells homes and condos ranging from $150,000 to over $10 million. Its Web site is a great tool to educate interested parties on its different communities and offerings but not the appropriate channel to complete a home purchase transaction. The primary call to action for site visitors is to request more information about a community or to arrange a time to visit one.

The form people use to request more information indicates which campaign drove the visitor to the site and tags it as an online lead. This information is then fed into the client’s CRM (define) system (it needn’t be very complex). It becomes the main record for the lead throughout the sales process. The client regularly tracks the percentage of site leads that convert to actual sales. It compares this to its other lead sources to evaluate conversion rates, average value of the closed sale, and time to close.

Even if your site’s elements don’t at first appear readily measurable, try to find a way. Make sure the changes you make don’t just affect a partial conversion, but the ultimate conversion — the one that drives the bottom line.

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