Some days, it feels like it was yesterday, and others, my increasingly greying hair reminds me that the journey has definitely landed its share of punches.
I’m often asked, how/why I decided to start my own business, and although it may not necessarily be a page-turning story, it’s a story that’s all mine.
Aside from my business, I’ve had one job in my life (ages 16-20), at a local ticket broker company. Although it was a part-time job, it offered me some of the most valuable insights I’ve ever learned, and was the birth place of my entrepreneurial spirit.
I worked with a couple guys, who through an abundance of patience on their part, taught me some things I’ll take with me forever. The manager showed me the ropes, and kept me accountable, while the owner answered my unrelenting questions about small business. You see, I was never a scholar, never a kid who excelled in school, and certainly never the “smartest” amongst my group of friends. But this was different. I had an interest in learning everything I could about how the business worked, without even being consciously aware of why I was so intrigued. This is why I owe so much of the past 14 years, to my first and only boss. Perhaps he seen the entrepreneurial spirit in me, or maybe he just wanted to get me off his back. I’ll never really know, but the truth is, I don’t need to.
The day that I finally came to realize that I was born to be an entrepreneur, is a day I will never forget. I remember sitting at my desk, hustling tickets like we did every day, when I looked over at my boss, writing cheques. I remember thinking to myself, “Now that’s what I want to do. I want to be the guy who cuts cheques”. Maybe it was my young age and inexperience, but I seen something powerful that day. A seemingly composed entrepreneur, taking-care-of-business. It wouldn’t be until a few years later that I would realize that entrepreneurship isn’t always the high flying, marshmallow cloud world that we so often hear about.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be the Captain of whatever that ship might be. And one day, without even realizing it, the opportunity presented itself.
Next to our office, was a travel agent, who we sold the occasional sports or theatre tickets to. She came to me one day, and asked if I knew anyone who could build her a website, to which I informed her that I could. She requested that I send her a quote, outlining the costs associated with the build. Somewhat clueless, I opened up Microsoft Word, put together a project outline with a price, and sent it over. A couple days later, I had a signed quote and a deposit cheque. Words cannot express what that felt like.
A few short days after that, November 20th, 2002 to be exact, I officially registered my first company, without the slightest clue of what the next 14 years would bring.
My concept was simple. I wanted to create something unique, something I could be proud of. Maybe even one day, I could become a mentor, just like the mentor I had. Like I said earlier, I may not have been the whiz-kid in school, but I like to think that I was able to see the tremendous value that entrepreneurship had to offer, as a fearlessly naive 20 year old kid.
The most profitable and successful restaurants, are those who not only monitor their spending, but are also familiar with where their costs should be, in order to be profitable.
If you’re serious about making more money, you’ve got to know how your most volatile costs are running, in an efficient manner. Having an effective measurement process in place, will help ensure you’re operating in the black, and able to recognize and correct unexpected overspending issues when they arise.
If you don’t currently have an effective measurement process in place, it’s highly recommended you start. If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a couple quick insights to get the ball rolling.
It’s no secret that owning a restaurant comes with a wide range of monthly expenses, however profit is usually gained/lost from the performance of two critical numbers:
When combined, Labour and Cost of Goods Sold (food and beverage) are commonly referred to as your “Prime Cost”, and make up the largest percentage of spending in any restaurant. For this reason, it is imperative that your spending is in line, to avoid letting profits walk out the door.
“Prime Cost” usually runs approx. 60-65% of total sales in a full service restaurant, and 55-60% in quick service restaurant.
Ideally, you want to measure your “Prime Cost” as frequently as possible. If you haven’t been measuring your “Prime Cost” up until now, we suggest you start with weekly monitoring, so you can quickly identify problem areas, and begin to make the necessary adjustments.
The most profitable restaurants, with an effective measurement process in place, know their food and beverage costs at the end of each week. They can also tell you how many days worth of inventory is sitting on the shelf, as of closing time last night. If there’s a problem, they’re able to quickly identify it and respond accordingly. Weekly food cost reporting improves your “kitchen culture”, due to the awareness and sense of accountability it creates.
Another tremendous benefit of weekly food/beverage reporting is that it also makes people very cognizant of their inventory levels, and provides restaurant owners the ability to lower their food/beverage cost by 2 to 4 percent of sales, in just a few weeks. Think of the money that puts back in your pocket, by simply implementing an easy and effective measurement process.
Restaurants are tremendous cash flow generators, and that alone can often times be very seducing to owners, as this cash flow is mistakenly perceived as profits. Money in the bank, does not equate to being profitable, and without a solid measurement plan in place, cash flow spending can lead to an unanticipated crisis.
This is why monitoring your “Prime Cost” is so important, as it offers a level of control. Many of your fixed expenses are beyond your control (such as renegotiating your lease), so ensuring your key expenses are in line, will offer the potential for continued growth and profitability.
The truth is, if you’re not monitoring/measuring your “Prime Cost”, it is highly likely that you’re overspending, which means less profits. Think of it this way, if your restaurant generates $1 million in revenue each year, but you’re overspending by even 2-3%, that’s $20,000-$30,000 of lost profits, year in and year out.
If you’re interested in implementing an effective, yet simple measurement process, but don’t know where to get started, contact us today… and let’s start putting that money back in your pocket tomorrow!
Ahhh, the restaurant/bar business. Sounds like a fun gig, doesn’t it? For many, it can be. For others, it can be an uphill battle. Today, we’ll talk about common “owner” types.
If you’re a restaurant/bar owner, chances are you can equate yourself to being one of the following types:
Face-of-the-business: This type of owner can always be found on-site, casually wearing multiple hats, socializing with guests, and enjoying the perks of ownership.
Behind-the-scenes: Generally hands-off of the day to day, and often times isn’t recognized by guests, as the owner of the establishment.
The-mix: Enjoys being present, but also possesses qualities of being calculated and in-tune with the business side.
Now, there’s no right/wrong type of owner, absolutely not. In fact, each of them present their own strengths, that offer tremendous opportunities for growth and success. With that being said, the opposite is quite true as well. Each type of owner will also possess traits/habits that may present obstacles in the success of the business.
Regardless of which type of owner you are, one thing is non-negotiable… Knowing your numbers!
Having a grip on your costs, including: labour, food/drink costs, and other operating expenses is critical in the success of any business, especially a restaurant/bar. Overspending in just one or two key areas can be the difference between profit and loss.
Don’t fret, you don’t have to be a math-genius to know your numbers. Most people get caught up in the complicated math, because they simply don’t know how to simplify the questions. With an efficient program in place, all of the answers you need can generally be found using math you can do in your head… It’s true. The key is drilling down to the most important metrics.
Want an example? Try this… Who is generally more valuable to your business, dollar-for-dollar… the bartender or the cook? Keep in mind, we’re talking dollar-for-dollar, not personality, not talent, just money. Think about it for a minute, and I’ll provide some insight at the bottom of this article.
Now, let’s get back to the owner types. If you’re the face of your business, and you’re often in the establishment, eating/drinking/socializing, you bring some real value to the business… However, you’re also a liability to it.
On one hand, you’re there to experience the day-to-day, and able to assist in problem solving on demand. On the other hand, you’re eating/drinking (generally on the company’s dime), and utilizing the restaurant/bar’s resources, without providing any value to the “bottom-line”. You’re an expense. Learning how to capitalize on this opportunity is where things get exciting. I’ll never tell you to no longer be the face of the business, definitely not. It’s what you do, and you like the social aspect. However, if you’re able to be present, but also mindful of the sales/profits in real-time each day, you’re going to enjoy your time socializing 100-times more… that I can promise you.
It’s important to know which numbers are most important to your business, and which ones need to be kept a close eye on, to ensure you remain profitable. Don’t let terms like operating costs, fixed expenses, variable expenses, and prime costs confuse you. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. With a set of just a few numbers that you keep an eye on, we’re able to not only help you transform your business, but also help you sleep easier at night.
Our services don’t tell you what decisions you should be making, that’s your business. We simply provide you with the tools/answers in an innovative, relatable manner, so that you can make your decisions with more data behind them. If it’s focusing your efforts on trimming overspending in certain areas, so that you can eat/drink without worry, that’s perfect. We’re here to show you where you can do the trimming. Simple.
Like the old saying goes “You can’t get where you want to be, if you don’t know where you are”. Before you can grow your business, you need to find out where you currently excel, and where you currently lack. So, if you’re the face-of-the-business type, you’re our favorite type of owner. You have the day-to-day answers, while we provide you with the math/technical ones. When those two things come together, it creates something pretty awesome.
If you’re one of the other owner types, you’re generally going to have a little bit better handle on the “numbers” side of the business, than the face-of-the business type. However if you’re answering the wrong questions, or fumbling over the wrong math, you could find yourself in some pretty deep water. Take the time to learn which numbers are actually most important to your restaurant/bar, or hire us and let us help you.
Let us finish with this…. We work worth many different industries, and the reality is, talking numbers is intimidating to many business owners. Often times, it’s about ego. Nobody wants to hear what they could be doing better, or that they’re less than perfect in some way. But the truth is, in almost 14 years, I’ve yet to meet anyone who was perfect, and you’re certainly not doing anything “wrong” that we haven’t seen countless times before. We’re not drill sergeants looking to force change on you, we simply provide you with the tools/answers to help you better understand your business. So, if you’re looking for that competitive advantage, reach out to us, and let’s make something happen!
Finally, back to the question from above… Who is generally more valuable to your business, dollar-for-dollar… the bartender or the cook? If you said “bartender”, you’re right. Here’s why.
We’ll just make up some numbers, for the fun of it, and strip it down to the most basic form. For you nerdy types, don’t try and debunk the following with technical semantics about variables, etc. This is the lean and mean example.
Dinner entree: $25
Time to prepare: 18 minutes
Revenue per customer/minute: $1.39
Time to prepare: 45 seconds (average).
Revenue per customer/minute: $6.33
Dollar for dollar, a bartender is able to drive significantly more revenue than a cook, in a given period of time. Believe it or not, this is a metric that has extremely powerful insights, when factored in to the daily operations, revenues and profits of a restaurant/bar.
So, if you’re looking to learn more about the “numbers” side of your restaurant/bar business, contact us today… You will be glad you did!
Last week, Primary Target Media officially launched our Salon & Spa Suite; an innovative new marketing service for the Salon & Spa industry.
After working with Salon & Spa companies for over a decade, we finally took the time to turn the knowledge and methods we’ve used, and implement them into a powerful new platform.
The Salon & Spa Suite focuses on what we call “Money Math”. The core of the platform focuses on helping Salon & Spa owners truly dig deep into the numbers of their business, and learn what they mean, and how they affect the day-to-day life of the Salon & Spa.
Using visualizations rather than complicated math formulas and spreadsheets, Salon & Spa owners receive a valuable, real-time pulse of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as custom outlined strategies to help grow.
Over the next few months, we look forward to introducing the new service to our clients here at home, as well as some of the Caribbean’s most luxurious Resort Spas.
We’ve all visited websites, who offer an email signup form. Often times, that form simply asks for “Name” and “Email Address”, basically saying that they’re going to hit everyone with the same emailÂ marketing newsletter, with the same generic content, and hope we bite.
Take a step back, and look at this from a marketing standpoint… It’s absolutely absurd.Â By only knowing a person’s name and email address, they’re a stranger, and you can’t effectively market to them.
Yet, so many business owners and their marketing personnel still wonder why their email newsletters get such poor results.
Adding one or more additional fields to your email signup forms, to collect relevant and valuable information, can shoot your email marketing results through the roof. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding.
According to a 2013 Email Marketing Study by Experian:
Personalized email campaigns offer 6X higher transaction rates, than those campaigns without personalization.
Personalized email campaigns offer 29% higher unique open rates, and 41% higher unique click rates…. Staggering!
Personalized subject lines show 26% higher unique open rates.
These are tremendous increases, in the most widely used “success measuring” factors in email marketing, yet 70% of brands fail to properly personalize their email campaigns.
So why is this?
The answer is simple.Â Many small businesses decided to venture into email marketing because someone told them they should be using it, or they heard a commercial on the radio. The fact of the matter is, there is so much more to email marketing than simply writing some content that you believe is valuable, and blasting it out to your contacts.
There’s a science to it. Collecting the right data upon signup, determining the best day/time to send, A/B content testing and many other factors come into play, when trying to make the most out of email marketing.
So what should you be including in your email signup form?
This will obviously be unique to virtually everyone, however finding the answer is pretty straight forward. What pieces of information will help you target/segment your customers? This could be as simple as creating a drop down selection, asking “What is your favorite product from our company?”.
This allows you to segment your list, and deliver a timely email campaign, when a specific product goes on sale, or the introduction of a similar product you feel they may interested in, becomes available.
For example: John visits your Burger Joint website, and he signs up for your email newsletter, which asks only for his Name/Email Address.
A week later,Â John receives a newsletter from you, introducing a new 1/2 lb, bacon double cheeseburger.
Guess what… John is a vegetarian.
Alternatively, you offer a signup form that allows John to select his favourite item on your menu, or something that sounds tasty… He selects the Veggie burger.
A week later, he receives the veggie-version of your email campaign.
There are so many other elements that could go into this logic, however I will save those strategic enhancements for my clients 😉
If you have any questions about email marketing, or the 13 years experience we have in it, please don’t hesitate to contact us today… that’s what we’re here for!
Flash, a commonly used application for creating and displaying animation effects on websites since the late 90’s, has always lacked “search engine friendliness”. Still, some website owners and designers have continued to ignore this flaw, even up until and including today.
With Google’s most recent “Mobile Friendliness” update, it’s quickly become apparent that the continued use of Flash in your website, will undeniably impact your search engine rankings, if they haven’t already. Google’s update officially went into affect on April 21, 2015, and a month later has already impacted some of the most popular websites online.
Of course, there are many reasons your webpages may register as non-mobile-friendly, but Flash is sure to cause a great deal of headache to your rankings if not remedied.
Back in 2013, Google mentioned in it’s Webmaster Central blog, that many websites are utilizing Flash to embed videos for playback on their website. This approach proved to be effective for desktop versions of websites, however with Flash required to play these videos, they will not play on many mobile devices.
With most websites generating anywhere from 40-65% of their traffic from search engines, it’s imperative that your website continues to evolve with the ever-changing guidelines. Otherwise, you’ll see a significant drop in both search engine rankings, as well as traffic.
Animations and video playback play a large role in many websites, and although Flash is strongly discouraged, HTML5/CSS is an excellent, search engine friendly alternative.
At Primary Target Media, we all but eliminated Flash from our arsenal, back in 2012.
If your website is more than 2 or 3 years old, it could most certainly use an update, as there are more than likely multiple things causing your search engine rankings to suffer. Have your web developer perform an audit of your website, or take our SEO analysis, absolutely free. It will show you where your website is failing to meet search engine friendliness guidelines.
A “Do-it-Yourself” or DIY website building tool often sounds like a great idea for many small businesses… unless of course, you ask someone who has used one. The concept itself sounds very appealing, as it promises you the saved expense of having a professional web design company build your website. This is usually where the appeal ends.
Often times, upon embarking on your DIY website project, you find that the application can be daunting and time consuming… However you push through with the expectation of the internet applauding your arrival, with mounds of website traffic and increased business, once it has been completed.
Now, for the harsh reality. The truth is, DIY website tools often come with a few fatal flaws… The first flaw being, allowing anyone to build their own website. You see, there’s so much more to a website, than slapping together some text and graphics. A successful website consists of a fine mix of tactical and technical skills, practiced and perfected over time. These skills cannot be replicated inside a DIY website tool.
Here are the Top 5 Reasons Why Your DIY Website is Failing You.
5. Two versions of your site, without even knowing it.
Did you know, by default “www.yourdomain.com” and “yourdomain.com” (without the www.) are considered two different entities? Entering either of them in your website browser, will display your website, however search engines read them as two separate websites, making them appear as two websites containing the same content… and that’s a big no-no when it comes to search engines and how they rank your website. There is a solution, and it’s called “URL Canonicalization”.Â This simply redirects the non-www version, to the www version, so that search engines see just one version.We’ve yet to come across any DIY website tool that offers a canonicalization option built in.
4. Open Graph: Use it, and customize how your website is shared on social media.
Have you ever noticed, when you share your website on social media, the photo used (if any) isn’t always the best picture, and the title and description they automatically create, could use some work? Using Open Graph Meta Data in your website’s pages allows you to customize the image/title/description for each and every page on your website. Using Open Graph data in your website’s pages helps drastically increase engagement when sharing links on social media… an absolute must in today’s social media era. Most of the DIY tools that we’ve come across do not offer this type of customization.
3. Poor URL Structure can be devastating
Although the initiative is admirable, taking your website development project into your own hands can cost you a lot more than paying a web design expert. When you’re trying to craft your masterpiece, things like URL structure are probably nowhere on your radar.Â Most DIY website tools use poor URL structure, when creating the pages for your new website. For example, “www.yourdomain.com/pageid=1234” is an example of poor URL structure. Instead, your URL’s should be something like “www.yourdomain.com/page-title.html”.Â Many DIY tools do not offer the ability to change the URL structure to something more search engine friendly, begging the question… If they can overlook something as simple, yet as important as this, what else are they missing?
2. Fancy “Editors” only mean your code is painfully bloated.
I’m sure everyone can envision the computer nerd, who writes “code” that appears to make no sense at all… Well, when a DIY tool provides you with the ability to create a website, by dragging and dropping elements onto a canvas,Â the code is manipulated and altered, to make those features possible. All of this unnecessary code “bloats” your website, rendering it harder for search engines to crawl and index your website accordingly. This translates into weaker search engine rankings, and slower page load times. Clean, minimal code is the first step in a successful website that performs well in search engines.
1. Optimizing, Measuring, Marketing
The biggest reason why your DIY website is failing you, is simple. You’re not a web developer and online marketing professional. It’s not a hobby, and your 16-year old niece’s computer class didn’t turn her into an expert in 3 months. The reality is, your website is a marketing investment, and a hub in which the rest of your advertising runs through. It’s an online resource and salesperson that works 24/7, providing insights and a sales pitch to its visitors. A real web development and marketing expert will put your website on the path to success, and when done correctly, will generate revenue that makes the initial investment look like a drop in the bucket.
So if you’re serious about your business, start taking your website seriously too. That cheesy, cookie-cutter website that you’re ever so proud of, doesn’t impress your audience much. Just think about it.
Search engine marketing is a subject that many business owners and marketers struggle with. For the most part, they understand that in order to operate a successful website, they need search engine exposure… The hounding question is, how?
Unfortunately, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has gotten somewhat of a bad name, because of the nature of the service itself. Imagine trying to effectively sell/provide a service that is constantly changing, and offers no guaranteed results. The truth is, search engines such as Google, keep a very tight lip on the ins-and-outs of their algorithym; which is the process on how they rank websites for specific keywords. Although this can sometimes be difficult for website owners to fully wrap their heads around, it serves as an effort to ensure the most relevant websites are always ranked highest.
Often times, many search engine marketing companies “promise” top rankings in search engines when you enroll in their services… and my first (and most important) piece of advice is to RUN away from these types of companies immediately. Not only is it impossible for anyone to guarantee top rankings in Google’s “Organic” search results, most companies who advertise such promises, usually use “Black Hat” SEO techniques in an attempt to trick the search engines. “Black Hat” techniques are considered unethical practices, and can cause your website to be blacklisted from search engine results… Ouch!
Search engine optimization also takes a lot of work, as well as some time to really take shape. High rankings in search engines do not happen overnight, and usually require some maintenance to retain. An SEO program should be considered a long term investment, that will drive relevant, quality traffic to your website.
So, if SEO isn’t so easy, what about PPC? (Pay Per Click such as Google Adwords)
Pay Per Click has been around for a long time, and many website owners have included it at one time or another, in their marketing mix. It’s premise is just as it sounds, you pay for each click your “ad” receives, when someone searches for one of your keywords. Google Adwords is the search engine giant’s Pay Per Click platform, and is most popular among website owners who have struggled to obtain top rankings in the “Organic” results, and/or those who have just recently launched their website and are looking for quick surge in traffic.
As you can see from the graphic above, Pay Per Click ads are displayed on top of the “Organic” results, as well as down the right hand side. Placement and frequency of your ads are based on a budget you set for any/all of your desired keywords/search terms.
This can sound like a great way to go, to avoid the ups and downs, and intimidation of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but there are a few critical factors to consider when investing in a Pay Per Click campaign. Let’s run through a basic scenario.
In this scenario, we will use an E-commerce website, as it is much easier to track conversions (actions that ended in online bookings).
You operate a hotel on a popular Caribbean island, and you decide to start a Pay Per Click Campaign, consisting of a group of carefully researched keywords, in an attempt to increasing online bookings. You will let the campaign run, until your budget is depleted, monitoring the progress to the best of your ability, and making necessary adjustments on-the-fly as needed.
The following results are what you can expect from this campaign, based on the industry-specific “bid” averages, CTR (click through rate), and “conversion rate”.
Suggested Bid (Google Adwords suggested bid price, to maximize ad exposure): $2.22 per click
Estimated Number of Clicks (Total visits to your website):Â 1,126 (Budget divided by Suggested Bid)
Average Conversion Rate: 1.45% (Percentage of “Clicks” that converted to sales/bookings. Source: Google AdWords)
Total Bookings: 16 (rounded to nearest whole number)
CPA (Cost Per Acquisition): $156.25
As you can see in the figures shown above, your cost to obtain a new “booking” from your Pay Per Click campaign was $156.25. Depending on your profit margins, this may or may not be considered a successful campaign. However, you must consider this; Statistically speaking, if you maintain the same numbers shown above, each booking from a Pay Per Click campaign,Â will come at an expense of $156.25. From a marketer’s standpoint, this is not the most efficient form of advertising, as it comes with a constant acquisition cost of this $150+, if not more… each and every time.
Conclusion: PPC or SEO?
Search engine marketing should be considered a marathon, not a sprint. With an effective SEO (search engine optimization) plan in place, your cost-per-acquisition decreases with each and every booking, as opposed to Pay Per Click, where your cost-per-acquisition will likely never decrease. A professional SEO plan will always win over PPC in the long run when it comes to keeping your profit margins intact, so you would be well advised to focus your efforts there.
In closing, Pay Per Click may be considered for a quick boost in traffic, for immediate results if the numbers make sense… But do your homework first, so you don’t end up losing your shirt!
With the new CAN-SPAM act coming into affect, it has forced many businesses to revisit their email marketing process. Many people are scrambling to become “compliant”, and ensure they’re following the rules.
But what about the “real” rules of email marketing? Some of them include: List integrity, creating engaging content, reviewing past-campaign performance, and overall design/compatibility.
|Â If your email campaigns aren’t yielding an average Open/View rate of at least 25%, I strongly encourage you to read on… |
So many businesses send out horrific looking email campaigns, just for the sake of “getting something out”.
With email marketing having been the most profitable form of advertising/communication available to us for nearly a decade, why are so many of us simply not seeing the results we hoped for?
The answer is actually pretty simple… Take the time.
Take the time… to build a quality list of opt-in contacts. When you have people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say/offer, they will open/view your email campaigns.
Take the time… to create engaging content, that your contacts will find interesting and informative.
Take the time… to review the performance of past email campaigns. This helps you realize what your contacts find most interesting, and something as simple as knowing what type of “email application” the recipient is using, goes along way in determining the layout of your emails. (Outlook, iPhone, Gmail, etc).
Take the time… to build a quality, user-friendlyÂ “email design template”.Â Slapping together a bunch of photos/ads, with a little text not only looks amateur, it shows your lack of attention to the campaigns you’re sending. When an email is designed correctly, the recipient will know what sections of the email are generally most appealing to them, making it easier for them to interact with.
Email marketing shouldn’t be about blanketing the largest audience possible, with your latest promotion… that’s what the newspaper/billboards are for… otherwise known as “a waste of money”. Email marketing is meant to be a calculated, and measurable form of advertising, delivered to a targeted audience of quality leads. Ignoring that simple concept, is what turns email marketing from an ROI powerhouse, to something you do when the phones aren’t ringing.
So why do so many people struggle with it? It’s tough to say, but probably very in large part due to the numerous “DIY” email marketing tools available at your fingertips. There’s nothing wrong with the DIY approach, of course not, however you’re advised to learn the best practices of email marketing, so you can hone your skills and deliver quality content to your contacts.
So, why take my word for it? As the owner of Primary Target Media, andÂ 12 years experience in email marketing, I continue to help our clients deliver an average of 80,000 emails per day, while averaging a 32.7% view/open rate. By following the simple rules above, it’s truly not rocket-science to turn email marketing into the most effective marketing activity in your business.
The stories I come across from small businesses nearly every day, is borderline insane. Some are happy with their websites, some say it could use some work, and some absolutely hate it.
The “hatred” usually comes from people who chose the inevitable doom of the “Free DIY” tools, while others may be happy with their website, they admit to having no idea if their website is providing any benefit at all.
As a web developer, I know what a terrible website looks like… but for most people, it’s not always so easy. So instead, they simply chalk it up to “websites are unnecessary for business”… which clearly couldn’t be further from the truth.
So how can you tell,Â if your website is doing what it’s supposed to? Here’s a couple quick tips.
Overall Design and Compatibility
To see if your website’s design is up to par (or stuck in the past decade), try poking around at a bunch of other local websites. They don’t have to be competitors, they can belong to anybody. Remember, we’re simply trying to get an eye for the overall design. Does your website display properly on all screen resolutions? (large monitors, smaller monitors, tablets, etc). A poorly designed website is bound to fail, even if so many other elements are properly in place. The fact is, your website should be built for the visitor, and if it’s not… they’ll leave.
Search Engine Exposure
Go to Google, and try searching some keywords relevant to your business (i.e. fine dining windsor ontario). Is your website found on the first page? More importantly, in the top 5 results? Ranking at the top of search engines is a critical factor, in the success of your website. 77% of all clicks in a Google search, go to the top 3 organic results. If your website is nowhere to be found, you certainly have some work to do.
If you have access to your website’s traffic statistics, such as Google Analytics (which I certainly hope so!), log in, and take a look at where your traffic is coming from… (Example, in Google Analytics, go to Traffic Sources –> Overview).
In an ideal situation, 50%-65% of your traffic should originate from search engines. Up to 20% should come from “direct traffic”, which means that the user manually entered your website into the address bar (ie. www.primarytargetmedia.com). And finally, the remaining 15-20% should come from “referral traffic”, which means the user clicked a link found on another websiteÂ to arrive at yours (ie. Facebook).
This offers a solid distribution of traffic, for a website that doesn’t use custom campaigns, such as Pay Per Click advertising etc. If you use these types of advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook advertising, etc), you can probably expect approximately 10-15% of your traffic to come from these “campaign” sources.
Why is it so important to know where your traffic comes from? It’s simple… Your traffic sources paint a picture of your presence online. If you’re not getting enough traffic from search engines, you’re missing out on a large number of potential clients, as more than half of all “new customers” come from major search engines. If you’re not getting enough “referral traffic”, that simply means your brand isn’t receiving enough exposure throughout the internet, on “non-search engine” related websites.
Age of Website
If your website is more than 4 years old, it’s certainly time for a rebuild. With advancements in technology over the past few years, the face of both web design, as well as search engine optimization has changed, and ensuring your website is capitalizing, is crucial… and choosing the right developer (with experience), is obviously equally as important.
Knowing if your website is doing what it’s supposed to be, is no longer an option… If you fail to create an effective web presence in today’s economy, it truly is only a matter of time until you’re left behind.