Now that we’re back from a prolonged hiatus, it’s time to jump right into Part 9 of our real-time experiment – Testing the Muse in Practice. Over the next several posts, we’re examining how to test your offer using online advertising.
But one thing’s missing – traffic! You have zero people visiting your website. Why is that? You’ve probably been reading this blog, or generally been around long enough, to realize that “if you build it, they will come” does NOT apply to the internet.
With roughly 1-billion websites online today, there is no shortage of other people trying to earn the attention and focus of everybody’s eyeballs.
Admittedly, I did struggle with the best way to convey the details of this vital stage. These posts could range from highly technical to high-level, overly simplified steps. So I’ve attempted to strike a balance – referring to existing tutorials for technical details, as well as providing more a conversational instruction guide.
These posts will specifically highlight how I approach online advertising – ranging from setting up the goals to measure “success”, drafting the advertisements, posting them on ad networks, and analyzing the results and their overall effectiveness.
Further to all of the work that was put into finishing your product’s website in Part 8 of Testing the Muse in Practice (see Building Your Product’s Website), you now have a home to direct prospective customers to; which in turn, allows you to actually measure if there’s real-life interest in your idea.
This is where rubber meets the road.
Before moving forward, you need to setup the framework to measure the potential success of your [future] advertisements. This actually starts before you even begin drafting your ads.
If you simply rely on the stats from your ad campaign (e.g. in Google AdWords), they will only tell you how effective your ads are – such as how many times it was displayed compared to how many people clicked on it. Important, absolutely; but tells you nothing about what people did on your site AFTER they’ve clicked on your ad – and more specifically, whether or not you have a prospective customer.
To gain this level of detail, you first need to define your goal(s) by determining what constitutes a “sale”.
In our current experiment, as with previous projects I’ve worked on, I’ve made this super simple by setting up a basic funnel in the website – whereby an interested customer would click on a “Buy Now” button, which would lead them to a mock sales/transaction page – stating something to the effect of “Coming Soon” or “On back-order”, etc. (again, see this post for a refresher on how to set up the same type of funnel).
If a lead lands on this page, they had to have clicked on the “Buy Now” button, so this could effectively be considered as a soft sale.
If a prospective customer was really interested in the product, the page also allows people to submit their email so they can be contacted when it’s ready for purchase (or when the product arrives “back in stock”). If a lead submits their email address, that’s essentially a hard sale, and the start of your budding email list. Bonus!
These aren’t double-counted, as both required a customer to move through the funnel to the mock sales page. Anyone who gets that far is considered a potential sale. But receiving an email is the cherry on top – signs of strong interest, and kept for future contact if/when the product is developed.
Now that we’ve defined a “sale” to be anyone who reaches a certain page through your funnel, measuring success is relatively easy.
Goal Setting with Analytics
Simply put, a “goal” is achieved each time a visitor reaches your final sales page. But it’s not enough to just tally your goals. You need to assess these goals relative to the big picture, by comparing them to the rest of the traffic to your website.
This is where the concept of a “conversion rate” comes in.
Your conversion rate can now be expressed as the number of unique visitors who reached that final sales page compared to the total number of unique visitors to your site. This will produce a conversion rate (of visitors to “sales”) for which you can measure the effectiveness of your idea, product, copywriting, advertising, etc. – and ultimately whether or not to proceed further with your project. Naturally, the higher the conversion rate, the better.
The calculation is easy, as follows:
(# of customers that reached your sales page) DIVIDED BY (total # of unique visits to your website) EQUALS % Conversion Rate
Tracking these figures is done by reviewing your website’s “analytics”. Like any statistical analysis, web analytics can go really deep when you begin to consider all of the data and potential cross-tabulations that can be done.
Again, at this stage, let’s keep it simple! Otherwise, it’s too easy to get bogged down by analysis-paralysis.
Google Analytics is the standard free source for your website’s analytics. If you’ve used a Google product before (e.g. Gmail, Google+, etc.) then you already have an account that can access Analytics. If you don’t already have an account or haven’t already submitted your website to Google, you can sign-up by visiting either Google Analytics or Google Webmasters.
Assuming you already have a website in place, you need to link your site to Google Analytics so it can get detailed insight into the behaviour of visitors while on your site. Although this is not a complicated process, as it’s the equivalent of adding a verification code on your website, it’s better to follow the detailed instructions outlined by your webhost (by searching their “Help/Support” section for “Google Analytics”).
Once you have Analytics verified, you can begin to setup your Goals. Google Analytics has fantastic video and written tutorials on how to use all of its services (including setting up Goals) and I recommend you check those out. If you have a general understanding of Google Analytics, the following are quick step-by-step instructions that will help you measure the Goals for your Testing the Muse sales funnel, as we’ve defined above (in the Measuring “Success” section):
- Open Analytics and find the website that you will be testing;
- Visit the “Admin” section to begin adding Goals. There are many different Goals you can setup and measure, however, the following will help you setup a Goal as I’ve defined them above:
- Under Goal setup, select Custom;
- Under Goal description, add a name, and select Type: “destination”;
- Under Goal details, select destination;
- Under Value (optional), enter a value of 1 – this will ensure that every one visitor to your end page will equal “one” Goal achieved.
- Your Goals are now established. You can test them by going through your own sales funnel to the end page, and seeing the result tallied;
- To review the results, once you being testing, go back into Google Analytics and visit the “Reporting” section. Goals may already be visible in your Dashboard; if not, scroll down on the left hand side to the “Conversions” section and then click on Goals. You’ll be coming back to this area of Analytics to review your results after launching your ad campaign.
Does this sound like a lot of work? It kinda is.
Like all instructions, they will make more sense as you’re working through the steps yourself. However, the truth is that it’s quite a process to work through. And this isn’t even a fraction of what Analytics can do, which is exactly why there are so many courses and learning modules designed for using this program.
In addition to the instructions that Google offers through Analytics, you could take your own studies to the next level with courses through Simplilearn – use this link to receive Unlimited Access to 200+ Online Courses for $10.
I was first introduced to Simplilearn through advertisements on Facebook, and began looking into their services. They provide a very in-depth suite of professional courses – ranging from app development to project management to big data and analytics. If this is more than a hobby for you, this is the place for courses and certification that can seriously advance your career.
While Google Analytics is the most comprehensive free source, it’s not necessarily the most user-friendly. There are several competing web analytics sites that are far easier to maneuver, and in many ways, are better designed for our purposes. The best example of this that I’ve seen is Ptengine.
Ptengine is basically a more user-friendly web analytics platform, designed for online business of all sizes. It’s easy to use and it requires no analytics expertise for people to handle. In addition to a streamlined interface, Ptengine features:
- Heat Maps (a visual representation of how users engage with your website) – showing analysis of your visitor’s clicks, attention, and scroll-reach.
Their heat maps support websites built with responsive design; multi-device screen size heat maps; and you can freely add and combine traffic segments to learn different behaviors of mixed segments. In addition, you can compare two heat maps of same/different webpages, within different time periods, different segments and on different devices.
- Real Time – shows you 10 minutes of real time data that is currently happening on your site, as it’s being used by your visitors.
Requiring no professional analytics skills, being FREE to use as long as you want, and taking only 1-minute to setup – Ptengine is a no-brainer.
Alternatively, most website hosts/providers already provide some basic statistics that are perfectly adequate to do the job.
Weebly, for example, allows you to quickly view the number of total unique visitors to your site during a prescribed timeframe, and the number that have reached specific webpages within your site (i.e. your sales page). You can quickly do the conversion yourself, as noted above (A / B = C%).
I would caution that these figures don’t always align perfectly when comparing Google Analytics stats to Weebly stats (which typically appear higher) – although I haven’t looked into exactly why these differ, that’s less important as long as you are consistent in using one source during a testing period; consistency should smooth out any errors over time.
In addition to reviewing how visitors behave on my site by using Ptengine, my personal preference is to set-up the Goals in Google Analytics, so that it automatically reports the goal conversions every time someone visits. Although setting up the Goals in Analytics is a bit confusing at first, do it a couple times and you’ll get the swing of it. Or master your stats by taking a course through Simplilearn.
With our goals established and our ability to measure a potential “success” now in place, we can move on to the next stage of attracting an audience – advertising our offer.
Stay tuned for a couple longer, more in-depth posts on online advertising!
Key Resources Mentioned:
- Simplilearn – use this link to receive Unlimited Access to 200+ Online Courses for $10
- Google AdWords
- Facebook Ads