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By Linda Rigano

For today’s industrial business, a website is no longer just a place to post company information. Online, your website is the first point of contact for a potential customer.

With research showing that nine out of ten industrial purchasers start their buying process not by picking up the phone or consulting a supplier’s catalog but by searching the Internet, your website could easily be the most critical tool in your marketing arsenal. Aim it accurately at the right targets, with your online marketing efforts, and a well-crafted website can be the vital link to a world of new customers and business opportunities. Shoot blindly and chances are good that your competitors will reap the bounty. And thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, you’ll never even know it.

So how do you know if your website is engaging your targets or just shooting for the moon? The key lies in an astonishingly simple concept: measurement.

When it comes to doing business online, the old saw that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” couldn’t ring more true. Yet the same business owners and managers who meticulously analyze every other aspect of their business often leave the performance of their websites entirely to chance. With the right tools, analyzing the quality of traffic to your site and what prospective customers do on it is a relatively simple process. It’s also the only way to make sure your website and related Internet marketing efforts – and your online marketing investments therein – are pulling their weight when it comes to driving sales.

An effective monthly, online measurement program can provide answers to the six most critical questions:
• How many visitors came to my site?
• Where did they come from?
• What key phrases did they use?
• What pages did they view?
• How many took an action?
• How long did they stay?

The answers to these and other questions make it possible to fine-tune a site and make sure that it provides the product and service information that prospective buyers expect and need to find in order to buy from you.

Many companies still measure marketing performance by a “cost per lead” metric. But today, based on search activity and online marketing techniques, a truer measurement of performance is the “cost per sale” metric. Again, this metric is a truer indicator of how well the marketing program is doing to bring in revenue.

There are many instances when a certain program may bring in a very low cost per lead, but have a very high cost per sale. The number of leads do not always equate to quality of sales or larger sales.

Most importantly, the cost per sale metric helps you determine the quality of a marketing program – the return of investment of it to your business.

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Linda Rigano is the Director of Strategic Alliances for ThomasNet.
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