Jul. 12, 2011 - Measuring Website Success
“Ok”, you say,” I am getting the message. Websites are about building customers. Social media works because visitors become followers. I am building my personal or association brand. My website markets content and interactivity with my brand.”
“Yup”, I reply, “You’re catching on. You’ve got a blog now and a place for your readers to leave questions and make contents. Good job!”
Of course, now the job is to measure the effectiveness of your social media strategies. You can toss up a website for a few bucks and make some pithy remarks once or twice a week in your blog titled “The Specialist Speaks”, but are your efforts really paying off? How do you know? How does one measure the effectiveness of what we term ‘Content Marketing’ and ‘Social Media Channels?’
In yesterday’s world, techniques for measuring return on advertising investment were pretty standard: we looked at a publication’s readership, the ‘drive time’ of a radio ad placement, or maybe an answer to the question “How did you hear about us?” In our associations, we counted the number of newsletters sent or the number of reservations for the training seminar we announced on page one.
But that was then, this is now. What should be doing to measure the ROI on our websites? How do we know not only how many visitors our site experienced, but can we measure how meaningful their experience was to them? Or to our organization or business?
A good website is more than an electronic brochure: it is a dialogue. As website owners our job is to create the conversation, to involve a visitor, to strengthen our bond with the member or customer. How will we know if we’ve achieved those goals with any degree of success?
Website success measurement is more than counting visits. In the world of social media website design, here are some tools which are good indicators of your website success:Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
- Facebook ‘likes’: "Like" is a way to give positive feedback or to connect with things you care about. About a year ago (April, 2010) Facebook introduced the ‘Like’ button for non-Facebook websites, so that visitors anywhere on the internet can indicate that they are fans of a particular site or of a content article. Their support is then shared with their social network on Facebook and their name associated with the site they like. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
- Share on Linked In: LinkedIn.com is another social network, perhaps with a more professional intent. Relationships, user groups, and content are built on occupations or business specialties. This is typically how a user will experience the LinkedIn Share link on a blog or website: a user reads content on your site and wants to share it; you provide a Share link on your website article; your user clicks that link and shares the content with her network of professionals.
3. Tweets and Re-Tweets: Twitter is one of the 10 most visited sites in the world. Its users comment in short statements to their followers (called ‘tweets’ or ‘micro blogs’). Their tweets are also re-tweeted by others who see them and wish to share the original tweets. When a user identifies website content through a tweet, she is sharing that content to her followers who may, in turn, retweet the content to theirs. Tweeting is an important means of leveraging content support. A twitter icon on your website content makes it easy to share, and it will count the number of times the item is shared by your site visitors.
4. Backlinks: Backlinks are incoming links to a website or web page. The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (for example, this is used by Google to determine the PageRank of a webpage). Outside of Search Engine Optimization, the backlinks of a webpage may be of significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page.
5. Reblog is just what it sounds like: the reader of the original blog may want to share a part or all of a blog with her readers. Blog sites like Wordpress have a reblog feature making it easy to share blogs, again expanding the readership of the original post. How many times is your blog re-blogged? The answer is a sign of your popularity.
6. Comments: blog comments are what make a blog interactive and social. The most popular blogs have a very interactive community where members frequently voice opinions on posts—an important conversational component of a website. There are, of course, tools allowing control of content and comment writers to protect your blog from spam and slander—but the important lesson here is to encourage blog comments whenever possible.
7. Followers: developing and retaining followers is an important component of social networking and provides the tools which allow readers to follow a blog writer, a website, a Twitterer, or a blog conversation. RSS feeds are an important tool to add to a website. How do you sign up and track followers for your blog? Most blog hosts like Blogger and Wordpress provide what are called widgets, which enable readers to become your followers. “There are apps for that,” as they say.
8. @Mentions: A Mention is any Twitter update that contains @username anywhere in the body of the Tweet. (Direct replies to Tweets are also considered Mentions.) On the homepage of your Twitter account, you’ll be able to easily track the comments that Mention you. Make the process easy with the easily available Twitter gadgets.
The important message in this article is not that you are taking away a specific number of direct ‘hits’—social media measures aren’t based on the number of superficial glances you get from the audience eyeballs--but on the depth of the relationship that audience has with the content on your website. Do visitors care enough to leave a comment or to sign up for further conversation? These measures are called ‘proxies’—indication of the use of tools which deepen the relationship between website and visitor.
Good websites provide the tools to continue the conversation, both blog comments and applications for sharing content. Measuring the use of those tools by your site visitors, particularly the growth of aggregate trend data (how many more tweets-reblogs-comments-followers are you finding in July than you found in April?) is an important and meaningful measurement of the increasing momentum of your website.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Measuring Website Success : Off Stage