How To Use SMART Objectives For Web Optimization
In my previous article, I have looked at some of the factors that must be considered when it comes to effective website design. In this article, I want to look at how you can make use of SMART objectives for web optimization. Follow me as we will look at this together in this article.
Your goals must be SMART:
- Specific: the goal should be as specific as possible so they are clear and easily understood. “Get more website traffic” isn’t as clear as “get 10% more new website visitors to product pages”.
- Measurable: the goal should be able to be measured with concrete numbers and data, so you can prove that you’ve met it. Use a percentage or set number.
- Achievable: the goal should be attainable and not impossible to complete in the time allotted. For instance, a new business setting a goal of $1 million dollars in 12 months likely isn’t achievable. But maybe $100,000 is, depending on the product.
- Results-Focused: the goal should focus on the end factor, not the process to get there. For instance, “be more organized” isn’t a SMART goal, but “streamline work process to work 5 fewer hours per week” is better.
- Time-Bound: the goal should have a time deadline. This should be reflective of its attainability within that time frame. What can happen in a week is likely different than a quarter.
The most important metrics for your website are (in order):
1.Conversion rate: the percentage of converting users to overall users on the website. A conversion varies by website and could be a sale or something like a newsletter sign up or e-book download.
2.Return rate: the percentage of users that are returning users to your website. This is tracked by sales and tracking cookies.
3.Referral source: this is the website or medium (like an app) that led users to your website. This is important for learning how users are finding out about your website, which can help you decide how to spend your efforts. For instance, if you get the majority of your social media traffic from Facebook and only 15 visits a month from Instagram, it makes sense to spend more time on Facebook content (or to experiment with Instagram ads to get your referrals up from that channel).
4.Cart abandonment rate: the percentage of users that leave your website and “abandon” their online shopping cart without checking out. The average is 60-80%, according to Wikipedia.
5.Time on site: this is how long a user spends on your website.
6.Bounce rate: this is the percentage of users that leave after only visiting one page on your website (which isn’t always the homepage). The lower the percentage, the better.
A website is effective if:
- It is hitting its metric goals, as defined using the SMART goal creation process and then assigned specific data points to track.
- A colleague or random test reviewer can accurately complete a task without confusion (e.g. “Buy two shirts in men’s Small and women’s Large”). If there is confusion, note where and why on the website the tester is confused so you know what needs to be fixed.
- The website is viewable and accessible from a variety of different devices, tested manually, including tablet, iOS and Android phones, and different computers (Mac and PC).
- All desired information is included: there aren’t any common questions or product information that needs to be included on the website and it isn’t.
Available resources to make sure your website is following the latest best practices in website optimization include:
- Google Analytics for metrics testing
- Fetch as Google tool in Google Search Console
- SEO tools that audit your website, like PowerMapper, SEMRush, or SE Ranking
Determine the effectiveness of a website by setting up regular reporting on Google Analytics to track metrics and goals:
- Create automated reporting and/or custom dashboards in Google Analytics (or other reporting software)
- Build a tracking spreadsheet that will show progress from month to month
Here’s an example of referral sources for a website in the last 28 days. By tracking website data, we are able to determine whether or not a website is performing to the best of its ability. Poor metrics or unmet goals mean that the website needs to be further optimized.
Create a regular schedule of metrics reporting and action implementation based off metric results by having a dedicated time monthly and quarterly with the involved team members to set one to three specific goals for the next month or quarter, based off results. Then repeat the process of testing, recording, making changes, which then repeats on a regular basis. Website optimization is always a continuous process!
To schedule metrics to report in Google Analytics, go to the dashboard you want to view. In the example, it is showing the Audience Overview. Click on Share in the top right corner. From there, you can decide the frequency of the report, the format, and who you want to send it to. PDF is the easiest to read version. Send the report to involved team members as needed.
Adjust website optimization accordingly, based on goal performance:
1.Examine which metrics are down and their corresponding pages: for instance, if users always abandon their cart at the payment page, test different payment options or processes to see if that decreases cart abandonment rate.
2.A/B test page elements to see if that positively affects metrics: oftentimes, more links or different CTA buttons or text can lead to more clicks, conversions, and time on site.
3.Make the change permanent if an increase is reported: if you see a positive increase, you know your change worked. End your A/B test and go with the change that worked best.