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Optimize Your Online Spend: Web Analytics Can Boost Leads and Closing Rates

If there were a that could help you land more qualified leads and close more deals, wouldn't you want to know about it--and use it--yesterday? There is. And if you're not using Google Analytics, you should be, says Boris Bugarski CEO and president of mUrgent, a company that specializes in franchise websites.

Google Analytics is a free service from Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. It can track where your visitors originated--search engines, display ads, pay-per-click, email marketing, etc.--and be used to help you determine the relative effectiveness of each component of your marketing spend. Essentially, the tool provides a wealth of information that, when understood and applied, can make a significant difference in how effectively franchisors use their websites for recruitment.

This summer, Bugarski reviewed 277 franchise recruitment websites, documenting their strengths and weaknesses for Franchise Update Media Group. He found that although 61 percent had access to Google Analytics, the majority were not logged in. "That means 39 percent do not have analytics. That's a big number of marketers and sales people who don't care about measurement from their number-one lead source," he said.

Further, Bugarski believes that even those franchisors who do use web analytics don't understand how to make sense of the data to optimize their site for higher conversion rates. All the data in the world will not help a franchise organization that doesn't know how to (1) interpret and (2) use it.

A subgroup of 31 franchisors gave Bugarski a peek into the "back end" of their website (as opposed to the pages visitors see online). Since the majority of these 31 franchisors did not program their analytics to track their conversion rates, Bugarski did it manually, looking at their traffic and the number of leads that came through the website.

Conversion rates averaged 1.7 percent. That's too low, he says. "I have seen larger franchise systems with a 2.5 percent conversion rate and even smaller systems in that same range." Using web analytics to track user behavior on your website is one way to boost those rates.

More is less

Bugarski's research revealed that websites with too many pages to click through typically fell below a 2 percent conversion rate; whereas websites with fewer pages to click through typically exceeded 2 percent. Another observation: websites are adding more pages, but the average visitor views only 3.6 pages and spends only 2.3 minutes per average visit.

Bugarski also examined "bounce" rates (a bounce is when someone visits a website and leaves without a single click on anything). He found that websites with more pages and content were experiencing higher bounce rates. "The larger sites were seeing 60 percent-plus bounce rates, while smaller sites with more concentrated information on fewer pages were seeing around 45 percent-plus bounce rates," he said.

"If these websites are spending their dollars to make people visit the site, they should evaluate what is working and what is not in terms of which ads are making people stick and which ads are creating high bounce rates," he says.

Since better marketing equals better ROI, Bugarski asks whether these franchisors just don't know what to look for as the seek to analyze their Internet spending. He says it's very important for franchisors to properly set up Google Analytics and lead tracking: it could make a significant difference in traffic, leads, bounce rates, and conversions.

In the coming months, more data from this study will be available through reports issued by Franchise Update Media Group.

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