How can I determine the return on investment for Internet advertising?

Determining the return on investment for Internet advertising should be easy. Depending on where you are advertising, the site should be able to give you exact statistics on the clicks and site visits you have received over a specified period of time. One of the beauties of electronic advertising is that it is among the most measurable of all marketing efforts.

Aside from seeing the data on how many people have viewed or clicked your ad, you still need a goal regarding these new visits or viewers. You want a professionally developed site, as Internet ads are generally designed to drive traffic to your website. To evaluate the effectiveness of your site's capacity to convert visitors into clients, your site should be set up to capture statistics on visitors' surfing habits while they are on your site. After a designated period of time from the launch of each promotion or ad campaign, use these site statistics to analyze how well your site satisfied the needs of visitors and the sort of new business that resulted.

For instance, if your link delivered visitors to a specific page on your website and the abandon rate was high (those who left after seeing this page only), then you know that the message and design together did not satisfy the needs of your prospects. In contrast, if those who clicked on your ad spent an average of five minutes on the site visiting more pages, you have captured the attention of more people and can determine what they are interested in knowing about based on the pages they visited.

Keep in mind that some of your traffic may be current customers who are not showing up as new clients; however, you are clearly serving a need for them, as they have turned to you as their source of information. This further bonds them to you, but will not necessarily show up in the statistical information you are capturing. There are lots of factors to evaluate, and as always, working with a good marketing firm can help you make sense of the numbers. (Also see Question 83 for return on investment from websites.)

How do I figure out the return on investment on my website?

It is difficult to gauge a specific return on investment, but many tools can help you evaluate how your site is being used. Because your website is probably the single most frequently accessed area of information about your practice, it is vital that you devote time and attention to creating one that is professional, attractive, easy to navigate, and designed to make your clients' lives easier.

A knowledgeable Web development firm can help you get set up with Google Analytics, a free service that assists in tracking which pages on your site are accessed, how long visitors stay on your site, which page they leave from, and so on. In this way you can work with the developer to determine which areas of the site are working and which could use improvement to meet the needs of your clients.

These stats can and should be used to help you evaluate the effectiveness of other marketing initiatives. For instance, every time you send out an electronic newsletter, there should be links to your website for more information. You should see a corresponding spike in traffic to the site and specific pages for a period of time after the newsletters go out. By analyzing this information, you can learn a lot about your clients' interests, the topics you may want to expand upon in future communications, and so forth. You can also see how other types of programs are working.

Keep in mind that a website's purpose goes beyond generating income. Of more concern is the number of people who are not choosing you because of a poorly designed or unprofessional-looking sitesomething you can't measure. You will never regret putting time and energy into your online image because your site is doing most of the heavy lifting previously done by your staff. Give your website the investment it deserves and it will return your investment many times over.

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