If you’re a home improvement dealer, the Internet has hit your business like a sledgehammer. Like it or not, your customers are going online to make home improvement decisions in ever larger numbers – and they’re not going to stop.
And while most home improvement providers have responded by building a Web site, a number of myths have cropped up about they should judge their success. Are the total number of visitors to the Web site the most important? What about the number of phone calls? How about form submissions?
After monitoring traffic to thousands of home improvement pages over the last five years, I want to offer a brief explanation of metrics that will help you to understand how well your Web site is performing.
Good: Total Traffic
The easiest metric you can look to is total traffic. No surprise there. Using any simple analytics tool, you should be able to see how many unique visitors have come to your site in a given month. Look at that same statistic from month to month, and you’ll see hopefully more ups than downs. Rising traffic signals that you’re doing something right. Lower traffic means there’s something rotten in Denmark.
Better: Geo-targeted Traffic
A better sign of the true health of your Web site (and your brand incidentally) is the number of visitors to your Web site from the geographic territory that you serve. On the Internet, visitors can come from anywhere. Search engines. Other countries. Mis-typed domain names. All sorts of sources that won’t put dollars in your pocket.
But as a home improvement dealer, your goal is to sell and install product in your particular area. If your company refinishes basements within a 100-mile radius of Cincinnati, visitors to your Web site from Orlando won’t help your cause.
Many of the latest analytics programs – including Google Analytics (it’s free!) – offer strong geo-tracking and can help you see on a virtual map, where your Web site visitors are coming from.
Good: Total Phone Calls
I strongly encourage all home improvement dealers to put a dedicated tracking phone number on their Web sites. With a few clicks, you can generate a report for these phone numbers that will show you total call volume for any given time period. Much like overall Web traffic, you want to assess the volume of phone calls on a month-to-month, or week-to-week basis. Nothing magical here. Up tends to be good. Down tends to be bad.
Better: Number of Phone Calls That Convert Into Leads
Again, you’re in the business of selling and installing home improvement products. So while a phone call is nice, we all know firsthand that many calls to your business have nothing to do with homeowner interest in a new product. You get calls for customer service, and from job seekers and advertising sales people. these are all calls that can easily distort the “Total Calls” metric. In our experience, 60%-70% of all calls generated from a home improvement company’s Web site are not real sales opportunities.
But if you’re capable of tracking the number of calls that actually become leads, well, now you’re really onto a strong metric. This is the magic number, because these leads become revenue. Now, doing this sort of tracking can be taxing and require some investment. But assessing the number of calls that turn into leads is a metric that large (read: “successful”) home improvement companies have all learned to do well.
Good: Type-In Traffic
This could really qualify as “Better” but I’ve got to keep a consistent format here. “Type-in traffic” (also known as “direct navigation”) occurs when a consumer goes types “XYZbasementrefinishing.com” directly into the address bar on their Web browser program. The number of times that happens every month is a great barometer of the strength of your brand, and your offline advertising efforts. The more your audience types in your direct URL, the stronger your brand is, and the more well-known your name.
This particular metric is why you put your domain name on all of your marketing materials. You want homeowners to ignore the competition and go right to you. Any of the typical analytics programs should be able to show you how much Type-In Traffic your Web site gets.
Better: Search Engine Traffic
While type-in traffic is great, the reality is that many more consumers are going to find you via the search engines. Google, Yahoo and maybe Microsoft’s new Bing (formerly MSN) are the major drivers of traffic on the Internet. When a homeowner begins searching for a home improvement solutions, they start at one of those Web sites. This type of search engine traffic offers you the biggest opportunity to generate new business.
A simple analytics program will tell you how many of the visitors to your Web site arrive from the search engines. You can also learn which phrases or keywords consumers are using to find you and land on your Web site. Just as importantly, you can see which phrases you’re NOT being found under. If you see that your Web site is found only under variations of your company name, you have a problem.
On the other hand, if your Web site can be found on the search engines under a variety of terms and products that relate to the products you sell, you’re winning the war on the Web.