<![CDATA[The difference between good marketing and great marketing is not in the abundance of winning ideas -- it’s in the execution. Paying attention to the details is a big deal when there are many companies competing for the same customer. So how can your business come out on top? One way is to create benchmarks that measure execution. A benchmark is a measurable outcome that can help you compare the effectiveness of your current efforts with past results. Every marketer should be able to quickly communicate the impact of the work they do. One common marketing task is evaluating a website’s effectiveness and testing changes that might help engage more customers. But don’t rush into it—website changes require planning and careful measurement. Beyond gathering important metrics like the number of visitors and sales conversion, it’s helpful to be able to visualize your existing site. Let’s examine the site layout of lucidchart.com, our own website. We follow a fairly conventional approach for a SaaS website, including top-level links for pricing, login, and product tour. By using Lucidchart’s visual sitemap creator and asking key questions, we can determine whether this site layout is successful. Here it is: Does the organization of my site make sense? With most websites, content creation and development happens over long periods of time. If there isn’t anyone actively managing the property, organic growth of a website can occur in unexpected ways. A disorganized site can confuse new visitors and discourage search engines from frequently indexing new content on your site. The good news is, Lucidchart’s site hasn’t become too unwieldy. It has a simple structure that is easily navigable, with child pages that are attached to the appropriate parent. Making a visual sitemap lets you quickly view your site structure; no need to slog through XML files whenever you have a question. You can also enhance ease of access by embedding links to individual pages and exporting the chart as an iframe, as we’ve done here. Am I effectively promoting the most important pages? Web analytic tools can help you figure out what people do when they reach your website. You’ll want to understand which pages are most effective at driving the desired action. Once you know that, you can make intentional changes that will help more people find that page. A visual sitemap can be a good way to mark and remember the pages that do well. For example, here at Lucidchart we use the Demo page to invite potential customers to try the tool. On pages throughout the site, we’ve strategically placed buttons that link to the Demo environment, which gives visitors a fast, easy way to try the product. When you treat your website like a funnel that moves visitors from potential to paying, your marketing becomes more sophisticated and effective. How can I get more traffic from Google? Every business owner, even one who doesn’t know much about online marketing, understands the importance of ranking well on search engines. There are many factors that let Google know your site is important. Having well-organized site information is a big plus, and as we showed earlier, diagramming out your sitemap can help evaluate that. As part of figuring out what your site is about, Google also wants to know what you think is most important about your site. One way to determine that is to look at how many times a page on the site is referenced by other pages. Are you making sure Google knows what your most important pages are? With visual sitemaps, you can use lines to map out how many pages link to any other page on your site. Once you’ve created this map of internal linking structure, you can determine whether the site is properly signalling your most important content. What am I missing? The real question here isn’t, What mistakes have I made with my site? The question is, Are the mistakes I’m making costly enough to fix? Because there are always improvements to be made, you need to tackle the low-hanging fruit first. One worthwhile task is identifying holes in your content strategy. This is a lot easier with a visual sitemap. In the case of Lucidchart, we could benefit from a refined tour page experience that allows visitors to explore features related to their field of interest. We could also add a page explaining how to use our program on mobile devices. I created a sitemap of what the Lucidchart website might look like with these proposed changes. In fact, some of these changes are already in the works. By the time this post is published, we’ll be testing most of the proposed changes. To learn how to do the same for your website, check out this guide on how to make a site map. Improving your website takes considerable time, but it’s worth it. When you see how far you’ve come—and how much easier it will be to move forward—you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Brad Hanks directs marketing efforts at Lucid Software and loves writing blog posts that his mom will probably never read.]]>