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Benchmark your Conversion Rate Using Fireclick.com's Industry Data

By Ayo Ijidakinro

Example conversion rate data from Fireclick.com.
Use Fireclick data to establish reasonable conversion rate goals for your website.

Summary: The Fireclick Index is a great resource for site conversion rate data. I was very happy to find it! Use it to benchmark your site's conversion rate.

In a previous post I discussed the importance of benchmarking your site's conversion rate against your industry's average. In the post I mentioned that finding good benchmark data is difficult. Today I stumbled upon Fireclick, a great website for industry average website conversion rate data.

I suggest you take some time to review Fireclick's data, because a good understanding of your competitive environment is necessary to set realistic goals for your website.

Examples of What Fireclick's Data Reveals

Fireclick reveals that the average website conversion rate is 2.2%. However, conversion rates vary greatly by industry.

For example, catalog companies have a site conversion rate of 6.8%. Which lends further evidence that direct mail can do a lot to improve your conversion rate. (Of course you must balance this against the added cost sending out direct mail.)

The worst industry, by conversion rate, is electronics with an average of 0.8%.

Conclusion: Benchmark Your Site Against this Data

So far, this is the best resource I have found for freely available, real-time, accurate conversion rate data. I hope you are able to use this to successfully benchmark your website!

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What is Web Strategy and Why is it Important? 10 Questions to Help Explain

By Ayo Ijidakinro

Example customer categories as part of a web site strategy.
Do you think of your customers as one big group or do you categorize them?

Summary: I have watched friends build a website to generate income with very little planning; they have an idea, and the next day they're building the website. But I've watched those same friends start a business and immediately start with a business plan before doing anything else. Why the difference? It seems that planning is an expected part of successful business strategy. Why isn't planning considered equally important for a website? In this article we'll discuss what web strategy is, questions that should be answered as part of a successful website strategy, and we'll talk about why such a strategy is important.

So what is web strategy?

I'll start with a rather pithy definition: Web strategy is about looking at and anticipating root causes of online success or failure and coming up with solutions to address those root causes instead of superficial solutions.

Perhaps that still doesn't make sense; let's try to explain it another way?

Put simply, web strategy is like a business plan, but it is the plan for your website. In it you outline a road map for your website. You outline obstacles and challenges you expect to face, your plan to overcome those obstacles, and goals that will determine whether you've been successful.

Do you really need a web strategy?

You may ask, 'Why is planning important?' An ancient proverb states, "The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want." Good planning ultimately leads to business advantages. Similarly, good website planning ultimately leads to advantages for your website versus competing websites.

But what types of questions are answered as a part of a web strategy?

Let me provide some examples of web strategy questions and see if this helps you to understand what web strategy is about:
  1. What are the categories of customers who use your website? Thinking of all your customers in one big group is an example of having no website strategy because customers are not all the same. For example, a website selling books might group their customers into categories like as in the chart at the top of this article.
  2. Does your website address the needs of each category of customer in a satisfactory way? Many website owners think primarily about their own needs, for instance getting a sale, and thus the website reflects this. Just as we hate salesman that are only out for their commission people hate websites that only sell and otherwise aren't helpful at sincerely answering questions or concerns the potential buyer might have.
  3. What are the top 10 questions customers ask when they reach your website? How do you answer each of those top 10 questions? Websites that fail to answer the most important customer questions won't get sales because it is guaranteed you have a competitor on the internet that does answer his questions. Since this is the case, why would he buy from your website?
  4. On each page of your website, what is the desired action you want the user to take on that page? If you don't know this, how can you tell your customer what to do? If you can't tell your customer what to do, how will he know what to do next? If he doesn't know what to do next, he will just leave your website.
  5. What is considered a successful visit on your website? What are you doing to ensure that each visit to your website is successful? Are you trying to get a phone call, a newsletter subscription, a purchase? The answer to this question should greatly affect your entire website's layout and design.
  6. What is the average conversion rate for your industry and what is the target conversion rate for your website? If you don't know your industry conversion rate, then how can you set a target for your own conversion rate? You can't just pull these numbers out of the air. If this data is not available, you need some other logical way of determining a reasonable conversion rate.
  7. Besides relying on search engines, directories, and advertising, what is your six month plan for increasing the number of visitors to your website? Millions of websites are competing to get on Google Search, Yahoo Directory, etc. If you do the same thing everyone else is doing, you're going to get the same results. The average website fails. So what will you do differently than those failing websites did?
  8. What are the goals for your website in the next 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year? Your goals should guide your activity every day. Without goals you are like a runner running without a destination. How will he know which direction to take his next step?
  9. What lessons have you learned from your competitors in the last 6 months and how do you plan to apply those lessons in the next 6 months? Your competitors are trying thousands of different things to find success. The smart entrepreneur learns from his competitors. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and Sam's Club, started Sam's Club after he visited Sol Price's Price Club (now named Costco). He way always learning. You should be doing the same by using your competitor's websites regularly.
  10. What reason does a visitor have to tell others about your website? The best marketing is word-of-mouth. Is there anything about your website that a customer would have reason to tell his friends and colleagues about? To get an honest answer, you may need to ask someone else for their opinion. This is probably the most important question you can ask.
I could continue to list questions, but hopefully you get the point. Web strategy is about formulating answers to questions like the above. To put it another way, a successful web strategy can be a formal document, just like a business plan, that outlines your plan for the growth and development of your website and sets clear goals that will allow you to determine whether you were successful or not.

Your Plan is Your Map

If you don't have a web strategy, then you're like a traveler on a road trip without a map and without a route. You might stumble upon your destination, but your journey is going to be long and difficult full of wrong turns and dead ends. However, by developing a web strategy you're going to be like the traveler that has both a map, and a well planned route. You will reach your destination, and you will reach it quickly and you will enjoy the scenery along the way.

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Is your website competitive? Let's Ask Google’s New Benchmarking Tool

By Ayo Ijidakinro

Screenshot of Google Analytics Benchmarking Service
A screenshot from Google's new Benchmarking service.

Summary: Google has launched a new benchmarking service to enable business owners and executives to compare their website's statistics against the industry average. This tool can help you to gain insight into how your website stacks up against your competitor. This is necessary if you are going to increase your site's conversion rate, yield maximal benefits from website promotion, or increase site traffic. In this article we will discuss the tool in more detail and analyze why it is so valuable.

Have you ever been sitting, looking at your website statistics, trying your best to analyze the data, but just feeling like you have no idea whether your site’s statistics are good or bad? You keep wondering, ‘how do I stack up against my competition?’ Unfortunately, you can’t just call your competitors every week and ask to swap data. But without knowing how your competitors are doing, you feel like your site’s numbers give you little real insight as to how your company is performing.

Fortunately, Google has helped to lift the fog. Google Analytics has released a new benchmarking tool to enable companies to easily compare their website’s statistics against industry averages. Amazingly, this free service can help you see if your website is doing well versus websites in your industry, doing poorly, or just performing at an average level. Google’s Analytics Benchmarking tool can give you insights into your own success and failure and those of your competitors.

But what is benchmarking and why do business owners and executives need a benchmarking tool to maintain a successful website? It is beneficial to examine the answer to this question.

You may know your website’s statistics (e.g. number of visitors, pageviews, etc.), but is that enough to know whether or not your website is performing well? No. Your website’s level of success, whether good or bad, can only be determined by comparing your site against competitors. This process is called benchmarking. Let me illustrate why benchmarking is necessary with an example.

In college, students are graded on a curve. Students who are far above average receive the A grade; students that are below average receive the C, D, or F; average gets you a B. It is impossible to determine your grade from your exam score without also knowing the average.

For example, while in college, I once scored 45 out of 100 on a final exam. When I saw my score I was in shock. I was almost certain I had failed. But did I fail the test? No. In fact, I aced it. It turned out the average on the test was a 25 so my 45 was an A+. Only by knowing the average could I accurately judge my success on that test.

Measuring website performance is the same. If 10% of visitors to your website end up purchasing, is that good or bad? It depends. If your competitors are getting 30% of visitors to buy, then you should be asking, ‘what am I doing wrong?’ If this were college, you’d be receiving the F. However, if your competitors are only getting 2% of visitors to buy versus your 10%, then your company is performing at an excellent level! You deserve the A+! Again, site statistics must be benchmarked against your competitors to accurately judge your success. On their own, statistics provide limited insight.

So undoubtedly you see the importance of benchmarking your website’s performance against the industry average. Google’s new Analytics Benchmarking service is an excellent tool that now makes benchmarking easier than ever. I urge you to strongly consider the use of this tool, or any similar benchmarking tool you are aware of. As a result of benchmarking your website, you will know with confidence whether your website is great, without need of improvement, or uncompetitive with urgent need of an upgrade.

Notes
  • To use the Google Analytics Benchmarking service, your website must be using Google analytics.
  • Google Analytics is a free service.
  • You can sign up for Google Analytics at: http://www.google.com/analytics/indexu.html

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