Once you've had your website up and running for six months or so it's time to audit your digital marketing.
By audit I mean exam how your site is performing in relation to the goals you wish to achieve. Herein lies the rub. Often small business owners are in such a rush to market that they set up and launch their business website without giving due attention to the goals for their site and the site's integration with the core business. Rather, it's a case of “we need a website” because, well, that's what you do.
Identify Your Site Goals
It doesn't matter what you goals are but you do need to know them. Today, for example, I was working with a student group whose goal was to increase email signups. Measuring signups itself is all; however, you need metrics in place to see what actually influences the signups. The example that came to mind was how if you use custom sidebars in WordPress you can, say, test the placement of banners or which pages convert better.
You might also want to measure how many visitors to your website click on the “Contact” page on your site to inquire about your services. If you're getting 100 clicks a week and only 2 people actually complete the form, you'll know that you need to tweak your site to try and improve conversion.
The data you generate from this kind of testing is what you need to examine before implementing changes to increase conversion.
Identify What's Working and What's Not
I personally recommend auditing your website and digital marketing at least twice yearly and preferably each quarter. Through monitoring your site's performance as a marketing tool you are able to take action to improve conversion rates.
Remember, though, that it's just as important to identify what is working as it is to identify what isn't. For example, if a particular kind of blog post leads to more sales enquiries or purchases than another you might want to make adjustments to your editorial calendar.
A site audit isn't just about assessing the effectiveness of your design. You also need to check how it performs in terms of speed. Nowadays Google places increasing emphasis on the speed of your website as a key ranking in search engine results. Over time your site database might need rebuilding or you may need to introduce new programming techniques or network hosting techniques.
Google's Page Speed Tool is an excellent resource for assessing page load times. It gives you help and advice on how to improve your site speed too. To make changes you will need some coding skills but at least if you're a complete newbie you've got a good place to start as Google provides links to resources that will help you.
For search engine optimization I like to use the Scribe WP-plugin. It gives you a clear indication of the keywords your copy is targeting or whether, in fact, your posts are too week to taret any keywords. Writing keyword copy can initially be laborious as you assess your copy with a tool like Scribe; however, once you start to learn some of the common keyword phrase techniques you'll find you do this naturally.
Much, much more
There's much more to check if you're auditing your site but a good starting point is site speed, goals, conversion rates, design and the effectiveness of your copy. The main thing, though, is to remember that your website and its place on the Net is changing continually. Visitor behaviour does not remain the same indefinitely. It's only through auditing your site that you give yourself the chance to stay on top of things and make the changes that will keep your business succeeding online.