Don't spend money on your marketing until your website works

When you were young, in a more innocent time, you may well have found yourself singing ‘There’s a hole in my bucket’ in your education setting of choice. 

The song tells a simple tale of a character (Henry) who needs to do several tasks, but can’t because he has a hole in his bucket. The song winds round different situations with another character (Liza) reminding Henry of what he needs to do, before returning to the fact that none of them are possible without fixing the hole.

You may not sit in front of your computer screen today singing ‘There’s a hole in my bucket’, but the song serves as an appropriate metaphor for your marketing.

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The bucket is your website and, unfortunately, we see a lot of websites that have holes in them.

Your marketing department may be doing a great job generating relevant website traffic from a whole range of sources, but once it arrives onto your website, your relevant traffic runs straight through a metaphorical hole, never to be seen again.

As with the song: fixing the hole in your website needs to be your top priority. If you don’t prioritise making sure that your website works all of your marketing efforts are handicapped at inception. The end result is a scenario where expensive marketing investment goes completely to waste because you are sending people towards part of your marketing ‘kitbag’ that is not fit for purpose.

You have turned on your ‘marketing tap’ only for your efforts to run straight down the drain.

Understanding your website’s current performance

To fix your hole, you first need to understand how your website is performing. To do that, you need to understand conversion rates.

Conversion rate calculation

(Leads Generated / Website Traffic) x 100 = Conversion Rate %

Let’s say your website generates 2,000 visitors per month, resulting in 20 leads. Your conversion rate would look like this.

(20 / 2,000) x 100 = 1% Conversion Rate

Now let’s say you have a target to generate 40 leads per month. You’re some way behind that, but you have some options when it comes to how to fix the problem. 

You could increase your traffic, for example. At your current 1% conversion rate, you would need to increase your traffic to 4,000 visitors per month, in order to hit your target.

(40 / 4,000) x 100 = 1% Conversion Rate

That’s likely to be quite an expensive undertaking and it doesn’t address the underlying issue. You’ve hit your target but you may have had to double your current advertising spend, for example, to attract the traffic you need. What’s more, you haven’t fixed your ‘hole’. Your website is still allowing too many visitors (99%, in fact) to exit without converting into a lead. 

If you improve your conversion rate, however, then you could achieve the number of leads you need from your current traffic level, without upping your advertising spend.

(40 / 2,000) x 100 = 2% Conversion Rate

You’ve increased your conversion rate by just one percent, but you’ve hit your target. And you’ve done that without increasing advertising costs. All you’ve done, in fact, is to get more out of the traffic you currently generate anyway. So how do you do that?

Making changes

You’re now into a process called Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). This is a methodical approach to fixing the hole in your bucket, changing one thing at a time and measuring the results.

The end goal at all times is to increase your conversion rate. There are multiple ways you can change your website or individual landing pages to do just that, so consider some of the following, make the change and then test to see if the change has had an impact.

  • The position of forms - where a form is on a page can impact how many people submit that form and convert through your website. Adjust where your form sits.
  • The information you ask for - asking for a phone number on your forms can reduce conversions. Different studies put the specific figure at different levels, but most agree it is significant. Findings of 37% drop off and upwards are common. Adjust what you ask for and see what impact this has.
  • Design changes - did you know more people click buttons that are a contrasting colour to your main website colour scheme? Or that people prefer to click buttons with rounded corners? Small design changes can make a large difference.

Turn on the ‘marketing tap’

Once you’ve made a change on one page and tested the impact, roll the change out site wide. Make all your forms have rounded corners if you find it improves conversion rate. It’s not uncommon to see changes exactly like that produce several percentage points of improvement. In our example you need to see only a one percent uptick.

Imagine where your marketing could be if you hit on an improvement that changes things by 5% or more?

When you’ve ‘fixed the hole’ you’re ready to ‘turn on the tap’. If you know your website will convert a relatively high percentage of the traffic that you send to it, why would you not send more traffic? Boost your advertising spend, invest some time in SEO; do anything it takes to get that traffic to your site.

But if you have a website that doesn’t work - a leaky bucket - then don’t start by sending more traffic to it through expensive advertising campaigns, PR efforts or other activity. Your website must be your focus, either by methodically applying CRO practices, or by ripping the whole thing out and starting again. Your marketing performance - as measured by the leads and clients you generate - will reap the benefits.