What’s measured improves

― Peter F. Drucker

Stick in the mudBut I want to take that a step further… What’s measured and evaluated, and acted upon, and measured again, and changed, and evolved… IMPROVES!

I see it all the time. People and companies treat online stuff like a brochure. They work tirelessly on the design, the wording, the paper, change this image for that, the colors, and after countless hours it’s perfect (or they just give up to ‘Good Enough’). Then it’s printed and mailed, and handed out. “This tells our story better than anything else ever could”.

What’s missing is feedback. “Oh No… It’s perfect, and we printed thousands to save pennies each and we are using these until they are gone!!!” In this digital world where changes can happen instantaneously, people could benefit from a strategy of continuous change. Not change for the sake of change, but change based on feedback from those consuming your messages. Design by committee is not one of my favorite methodologies, but it can’t hurt to ask “What do you think?”

iStock_000008966297MediumAdaptability IS a Strategy!

Change (or insert a subject or noun here) happens, quickly. If you want to manage your subject or noun, you have to learn to measure it. You can’t just set it and forget it. Nothing says you are hip like “©2009 My Company Rocks” in your footer. Far too often, websites are made and analytics added, and then only looked at once a quarter or worse. Can you tell what is driving traffic to your website? What pages are people going to on their 2nd and 3rd clicks?

So what can you do with that knowledge? I suggest you start by asking your viewers or audience questions? “Is the text too long? Does it meet their needs? Is the call to action to harsh or non-existent? What do they like or dislike?” Again, I am not a fan of design by committee but without real feedback you could be pulling at straws when it comes to making meaningful change with your messages.

Manage Change Before It Manages You

I set a calendar event for every Saturday morning that says “Update Website Content.” It does not mean that I rewrite my entire website, but look for ways to improve it and remove outdated content. Last week I added calls to action on appropriate pages, and updated work samples (some of those past clients have changed or reworked the work I had done for them). Just by doing this on a regular basis, my website traffic has more than doubled and yes it has converted to real business. Here are some tips to help you keep up with your change:

  1. Spend some time every week looking at your content. If you can, get some of your friends or clients to do the same. Ask them for their feedback and suggestions. Use that feedback to do a second review so you can see the content through the eyes of others.
  2. Review your Google Analytics (or what ever analytic program you choose) weekly or more. Don’t just look at you basics (Visits, New Visits, Bounce Rates). Dig deeper into behaviors like which pages get visited the most and what pages are people entering and exiting your website. If you have a blog, the landing and exit page may be a blog post so make sure your call to action is visible on all posts.
  3. Google loves change and rewards you for it. People love change also. New and updated content gives them a reason to return to you website. Common wisdom says that people need 3-7 impressions before they make a buying decision. Get them back to your website by getting them to sign up for your email lists. Then give them fresh new content to check out every week. Use those reviews and analytics to make educated decisions on what to write as posts or what pages to freshen up.

The Leaky Bucket

Every business has a leaky bucket. Some people spend time trying to plug the holes, while others spend their energy trying to fill it up faster than it leaks. Ultimately you can benefit from doing both, but paying attention to your content, traffic and audience behavior, can help you keep that bucket from running dry.

How often do you review your website and update your content? Any comments or stories you care to share?