To understand the overall health and performance of a business, the three main financial statements—income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet—tell a vivid story.
As a Strategic Advisor, you know you can gauge a business’s performance by looking at these reports over time, going back to see history and trends, and digging into individual metrics as needed. The individual metrics: revenue, gross margin, net income, etc, are key performance indicators.
You know how important this work is for your clients, and you likely do it for your own business too. But have you considered a similar type of analysis for your business’s website performance?
Your website is an online extension of your practice, making its success crucial to achieving your goals. Optimizing your website by digging into the user data will not only improve your business, but it will give you a better understanding of your audience, and how to better target their wants and needs.
Identifying your website’s key performance indicators will establish a clear connection between your online presence and your personal business goals. Monitoring these KPIs will help you to make data-driven decisions that in turn will grow and scale your practice, and create opportunities for sincere client relationships.
Three areas of your website that serve as a good starting point are your homepage, resources page, and contact form page. These pages all provide different functions that are absolutely essential in building your customers’ journey and ensuring that their goals are being consistently achieved.
Think of your homepage like a storefront window—it is your opportunity to showcase the key features and services that represent your company as a whole. More than just a listing of your offerings, the homepage establishes brand identity, and functions as a road map that makes website navigation simple and straightforward. This page is the heart of your entire website, and it can make or break the entire customer journey.
Creating the directory to a network of sites may seem daunting and task-heavy, but in reality, it boils down to two essential components.
The first question you need to ask yourself is: “What is the end goal of my website?”
What is the number one thing you want prospective customers to do when they visit your website? Perhaps you want them to sign up for a consultation, or purchase a specific product or service. Regardless, the path to reaching this end goal should be prominently positioned on your homepage with a clear call to action.
The additional tabs on your homepage should support your target by providing supplementary information that will lead users to the finish line. For example, listing a testimonies page will enhance your credibility while providing an additional pathway to your desired end goal.
With the correct information in place, the second piece of the puzzle is a clear design that optimizes the customer journey through navigability.
Website design is the most basic element that makes up your online identity. A thoughtful layout that enhances usability will make people want to engage with your page, and gets you one step closer to landing a new client.
Your homepage design doesn’t have to be fancy—in fact, some of the best homepages are the ones that sacrifice an eye-catching design for a simple layout that makes navigation a breeze. Users are visiting your homepage for a general overview of your practice, so emphasize and optimize navigability by creating clear distinctions between choices.
Website KPIs for your homepage
A “bounce” occurs when a user visits your website and immediately leaves without interacting further with your site. An example of this would be someone clicking on your homepage from a Google search, and then clicking the back button to leave your site. You can find your homepages unique bounce rate by accessing Google Analytics and navigating to the “Behavior” page. From here, click “All Pages,” and your bounce rate column should be visible.
Bounce rate is computed site-wide, but since your pages have widely different functions and therefore varying bounce rates, a bounce rate analysis of your homepage alone will give you meaningful and targeted data.
This analysis is one of the fundamental places to start assessing the health of your homepage because it answers a very important question: Are users engaging with my content? If the bounce rate reveals a weak engagement rate, you can start digging further into the data to try and find out the “why.”
There is never one clear explanation for why a bounce rate is high or low, but a good place to start finding answers is by playing around with segmentations. Try grouping your bounce rate into different variables, such as gender, or browser type, and see if this reveals any underlying issues.
Website design is another key place that affects bounce rate. Return to the question of, “What is the end goal of my website?” Is your layout reflective of this goal? Are you optimizing navigation and overall usability?
What is a good bounce rate?
When looking at your bounce rate, lower is always better.
The bounce rate on your homepage should be the lowest number compared to other pages, since this is ideally where you want users to land and navigate other areas of your website. Sitting below 60 percent is ideal, and anything above this percentage is worth looking further into.
Remember: The key element behind a thoughtful homepage design is navigability. This consumer behavior can be difficult to analyze, but the users flow report makes it possible, by examining the functionality of your website with traffic paths and patterns.
The great thing about the users flow report in Google Analytics is that it offers a graphical representation of the different paths users took across your site, allowing you to trace unique trails and uncover any detours or backtracking that occurred along the way.
It can also help you understand how to turn more leads into clients, by following the bulk of your traffic to certain pages. If you notice that a high percentage of visitors are going from your homepage to your resources page, make sure to insert a CTA related to your end goal directly on that page.
Overall, users flow is a vital indication of how well your homepage directs traffic into your other pages. Pay close attention to where significant numbers of users are dropping off or backtracking, as this behavior signals a website flaw.
What is a good users flow report?
The relative success of your users flow report is determined by its alignment with your “golden path.” If you haven’t heard this term before, a golden path is your own vision of a perfect customer journey.
This may look like a user entering your homepage, going directly to your contact form, and then completely filling out the form and sending it to you. It is your “in a perfect world” scenario. While not every customer will follow your golden path, It gives you a standard to measure success.
Your resources page gives you the platform to start meaningful connections that—when nurtured—will grow into long-lasting client relationships that are essential in the advisory industry.
Providing resources offers valuable solutions and immediate answers, giving users a reason to trust you, and a reason to continue visiting your site. Over time, you are able to share your expertise, attracting potential clients and gaining advisory clients during the process.
When sharing your valuable resources, it is a good idea to consider offering them as downloads, so that your potential customers can easily revisit the content on their own time. This will also give you the opportunity to build your network by collecting contact information.
Generating email leads
This page benefits your practice for one big reason: email leads. Prompting users to release their contact information before downloading your resources, means you now have direct access to their inbox.
This opens the door to customized email sequences that will nurture your client relationships and set you up for repeat business. If you’re interested in constructing a marketing email aimed at growing and scaling your practice, check out this article.
Website KPIs for your resources page
Tracking a download
People are visiting your resources page because they are looking for quick accounting solutions and advice. If the solutions you provide are falling short of consumer expectations, this entire page quickly loses its relevance.
In order to keep users returning to your site and finding value in your expertise, it is a good idea to start tracking your downloads. Identifying your top-performing resources will give you insight into your audience’s preferences, and allow you to start targeting the development of specific topics.
For example, if you see a spike in downloads on your guide to understanding cash flow, you may be prompted to give an in-depth webinar on managing cash flow. By digging into your downloads, you are able to uncover consumer trends, and better meet the needs of your target audience.
Track your downloads for free with Google Analytics by navigating to Behaviour, and then accessing the Events section, found under the Reporting tab.
What is a good download number?
There is no magic number that constitutes a good versus a bad download. The best standard to hold yourself to will come from comparing documents that are similar in composition and similar in the contact information they collect. Determine your average and identify outliers with low download numbers that may be hiding underlying issues.
By tracking your downloads, you also begin to identify opportunities for conversion. A potential customer who is downloading your resources, or revisiting your content over a period of time, is considered a qualified lead. These individuals, who already find value in your services, create a window of opportunity for you to initiate communication in a place where conversations are direct and intimate—their email inbox.
Email open rate
If you are taking the time to collect contact information from your resources page through downloadable assets, and using them to build intimate relationships through nurturing email sequences, you should be putting the same effort into measuring their effectiveness.
Email marketing is a delicate process; sending too many emails can push potential clients away out of annoyance, and a long and boring subject line can cause users to simply skip over your valuable content. There are quite literally a hundred reasons why your email campaign may not be living up to its full potential, and tracking open rate is the first step to uncovering these underlying issues.
The email open rate measures exactly what it implies: how many people are clicking on and viewing your sent email. The best way to utilize this tool is to compare email campaigns, and see which ones performed better, and why. Play around with your subject line, email length, email frequency, and content, until you start seeing a positive trend within your open rate. This trial and error method can be meticulous, but creating a successful email sequence is the surest way you will turn leads into advisory clients.
While email open rate gives you a general indication of how successful your email was, it only shows you the tip of the iceberg. After identifying a well-performing email, you can start analyzing the click-through rate, whether your CTAs are being interacted with, and if your email is generating new clients or site visits. All of these features are available in HubSpot, and will help you create emails that are goal-oriented, instead of emails that are simply being opened.
What is a good email open rate?
2019 data from Constant Contact reveals that the average email open rate within the accounting industry is 13.77 percent. A slight deviation below this rate is not a major concern; your main focus should be seeing consistent numbers that slowly increase with time.
Your contact form page is essential in collecting responses from qualified leads in an organized and timely mannered fashion. The customizability of this form allows you to collect exactly the information you need in order to begin nurturing and meeting the needs of your client.
The tailored nature of your contact form makes it a huge resource pool for consumer data. Two vital areas to focus your analysis on include the wording and structure of the form itself, and looking at the sources from where these qualified leads came from.
Website KPIs for your contact form page
Contact form analysis
The largest roadblock your form is constantly working against is time. You want to collect sufficient information in order to understand the contact request, but you also want to be mindful of the fact that your potential client has limited time to offer.
This delicate balance between collecting information and time is often the only thing standing between you and a new client. In order to walk the thin line that meets both of your needs, a contact form analysis is necessary.
A contact form analysis releases data on each step that is listed on your form, allowing you to take a deeper look at each question's completion rate. If your analysis reveals a high drop off rate at one specific question, you can start digging deeper into this behavior and begin improving the overall performance of your form.
Once you have uncovered problematic questions, there are several aspects you should start to consider:
- Is the question a required field, even though the information is not absolutely necessary?
- Are you asking a personal question that many users are reluctant to answer?
- Is your question worded differently than other questions, in a way that is confusing?
- Does this question require a large amount of time and effort, that is causing users to give up?
Addressing these questions will help you begin structuring a contact form that is better formatted to collect qualified leads.
If you are interested in digging into these metrics, consider a tool like HotJar. This analytical tool has a free plan with limited use, and gives you the option to upgrade to a plan with more advanced features. With HotJar, you will be able to analyze individual behavior, including the specific points where your form was abandoned.
What is a good contact form report?
When measuring your contact forms performance, the data itself is meaningless. The problem areas the data leads you to, and the questions you ask, are what will achieve your desired results.
That being said, general guidelines your contact form should follow include: concise and clear writing, a mix of required and optional fields, and a short completion time.
Understanding where your leads come from, and how they find you, is not only a great indicator of your website visibility, but it allows you to better target your marketing efforts.
An acquisition sources report in Google Analytics allows you to do just this, by identifying your most valuable channels with a breakdown of the different sources your users came from. The source is referring to the tool that a person used to find or access your website, such as Google search.
The best way to utilize this report is by comparing your expectations to your actual results. If you put a lot of effort into constructing emails aimed at funneling traffic toward your website, but this is not reflected in the acquisitions report, dig into the “why.” The answer could lie in a stronger CTA, a different web page link, or refocusing your efforts elsewhere.
What is a good acquisition source?
When analyzing this report, the main thing to keep in mind that your organic searches should be one of the highest sources on your list. Organic searches are a good indicator of name recognition and website visibility, both of which have large impacts on overall website health.
Consistency is key
While these website KPIs are individually powerful, the best way to optimize your results is by using them consistently. Using the same metrics is the best way to gauge your website’s improvement over time, and makes your data more meaningful.
As a small business advisor, reviewing financial statements is a crucial step you take in order to measure the performance of your business. You periodically make the decision to review this data because it helps you uncover deeper issues, foresee roadblocks, and maximize your profits. Understanding and assessing your website analytics allows you to achieve these same goals with your online presence.
Nina is a Summer 2019 Business Development intern at Palo Alto Software. Her recent work has included strategic writing, social media campaign management, and collaboration on creative content for Advertising. She is currently studying Business Administration at the University of Oregon, and will be graduating in 2020.