Setting goals for your website can be confusing. You might want your website to bring you more clients, to serve as an archive for documents, or to streamline your practice. These are high-level purposes that are perfect for planning your website. As goals for a quarter or even a year, they’re probably not even not measurable online. Your website goals should be visitor actions you can measure — what you want your visitors to do at your website. The better your goals – the more detailed, accurate, and measurable – the greater those goals’ benefit for your business.
But your website goals have to be things your website can do — and things that you can see your website doing. For example, “Increase patient satisfaction” is likely to be one of the purposes of your website if you have a medical practice. This purpose will drive how you build and maintain your website. But measuring how well the website does that requires a more specific goal, based on patients’ actions. Maybe you’ll have them answer a quick survey when they visit. Maybe you’ll note how many pages they visit, ask for a rating of your practice, and see if the number of visits correlates with the number of stars in your rating.
Obviously, coming up with a goal and a good way to measure it is harder than just tracking Facebook Likes.
Dialing in your website goals
Broad, general, generic goals usually don’t cut it. Everyone wants to increase traffic to their website, but “more traffic” is not a good goal. Dive deeper.
Here are some example of traffic-related website goals that will make more difference to your website:
- Increase traffic by 30% year over year, without reducing conversion rate.
- Increase traffic from our service area by 10% during the next quarter.
- Increase traffic to the store locator page by 15% over the next year.
Think about the type of audience you want to bring in to visit your site, and think about what actions you want them to take when they get there. Would you like to have 20 patients sign it at your patient portal next month? Would you be just as happy to have 500 new visitors from Russia check out your Justin Bieber infographic tomorrow?
Identify specific goals that you want to reach, and critically examine the steps involved in achieving those goals. You might want to build a funnel in Google Analytics, or to set up individual goals there to make it easier to track specific behaviors.
Struggle to reach your goals
It’s important that your goals are attainable, but you don’t want goals to be so attainable that you can’t miss. This can be tricky to fine tune. If your goals aren’t attainable, you’re setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, you don’t want to limit yourself with goals that are too easy to achieve.
Generally speaking, it’s better to aim high with website goals. Establish goals that will really push you. Set the bar high enough that even if you come up short you’ll be happy with the results.
Leave the low-hanging fruit for someone else. You want those lofty pears and towering coconuts.
For example, you may want visitors to download your ebook. If 329 visitors downloaded an ebook last quarter, and 300 did so in the previous quarter, you saw an increase of about 10%. If that’s your usual pattern, then a 10% increase isn’t a challenging goal for next quarter. Analyze the behaviors of your visitors in the past and see what actions you could take to goose that download rate. Could you add offers to more website pages? Could you use email to entice readers to download the book? Do the math and use your data to figure out what responses your changes could cause.
Set an aspirational — not an unrealistic — goal.
Once you identify a goal
So you’ve found a specific and measurable website goal that will benefit your business. Good. Now you need to implement that goal.
You’ve probably identified your target audience for your goal, so now you need to understand their behavior. You can do this by determining an online action that shows their behavior or a sign of intention. Make sure your website offers ways to track this behavior.
Set up a goal – or goals – in Google Analytics to monitor the results.
Also be sure to give yourself a deadline, and “at some point in time” or “in the near future” or “eventually” do not count as deadlines. When you establish goals without a clear sense of a time frame they’re likely to peter out.
Here’s an example
Let’s say you’re in charge of a medical clinic, and you’re looking to hire additional nurses. You want to increase traffic among registered nurses, and you want them to click through to your contact or careers pages.
- Identify your audience — in this case, registered nurses who are looking for a job.
- Determine ways to bring this demographic to your site. AdWords can be a good option.
- You want your audience to engage with your website, and specifically to apply for a job or explore career opportunities. Tinker with landing pages and links that encourage this behavior.
- Remember to make your goal measurable. Determine the best way to measure success. This could be the number of applications, number of visits, quality of applicants, etc.
- Track user behaviors such as time on the website, URLs visited, items downloaded, and any other actions they take. Micro-conversions can give you valuable data about your visitors.
- Set up a goal in Google Analytics that will measure the right behaviors. In this case, it might be filling out an online application form.
- Give yourself a time frame – say, “I want this many qualified applicants in 4 weeks.”
Now you have a real website goal to work toward. You have a plan to collect data that will be useful in the future. You’ll have a lot more to work with than your increase in Facebook Likes. You’re more likely to reach your goal with this kind of planning than without it.