I’m convinced that you can achieve some big improvements with your website marketing just by spending an hour a week – for say a couple of months – completing the right tasks required for your situation. This is great news for those of you who have limited time to spare – but not so hot for those not knowing what to put on their list. If both of these points accurately describe your situation then this article should get you started.

But first, it may help to realise that you are not alone in your plight. This month I met a number of people struggling with the understanding of what website marketing task they should start off with. All this made me think of a simple way to guide their planning. Ideally, it needed to be short and succinct – something that could be described, say, on a restaurant napkin – but nevertheless, a handy guide that would accurately point them in the right direction.

Here’s what I came up with. To begin, let’s help all those troubled marketers with e-commerce aspirations. Here’s a simple financial model to kick things along. An online shopping site should expect to convert between 2% and 4% of its total visits into orders. So if you own a site like this first take a look at your monthly visit count, reduce this down to 3% of its total and then multiply this by a conservative average order value. This should give you a budget gross sales value for your site.

How does this differ from what you already achieve? If the budget gross amount is above your normal monthly value by a reasonable amount (i.e. your figures reveal your own site has a conversion rate of below 2%) then most of your problems are inside your website. You can double check this theory by locating the search terms people are using to find your site. If these keywords match the ones you would expect ideal prospects to use then your problem is not in attracting the right people – you seem to be doing this already – it’s all about doing more with those prospects you already have.

Shopping cart design, product selection and general online merchandising work (and I realise the last one is a large catch-all) are areas in which you need to spend your time. Who said it was going to be easy? It’s just like opening a physical shop, laying out your wares and then expecting all the customers that arrive to buy what’s on offer. At least when you have some physical walls you can corner your visitors and not let them leave before they purchase something! Online visitors, however, can effortlessly flit from yours to a competitor’s website in seconds. Nope, get used to it – owning a successful e-commerce site is one of the hardest things to achieve online. OK, the rant is over for those who expect success here to be easy – now let’s talk about those who are doing well.

If the budget gross amount you have on your napkin is below your existing site sales value by a good margin then things are looking up. For you, the task is to bring more traffic to your site to make this ‘shopping engine’ crank even faster.

But how fast can it go? Here’s a quick tip on how to find out. By running a Google AdWords campaign you can see how often your main keywords are searched on (impressions) within Google. As a rough rule of thumb for a business category of medium competitiveness and after you have completed some solid Search Engine Optimisation, I would suggest you can allow for up to 10% of this total traffic to arrive on your website.

Now take these revised figures and run them through your conversion model to see what top-end revenue figures your site could achieve. If it all looks very promising then push on and start along the optimising route. At least now you have some way of coming up with a cost justification argument for the consultancy work required. Call if you need more help defining this justification model for your website.

So what about those owning lead-generation websites? Well, compared to their e-commerce cousins, they require fewer tasks to be achieved to ensure their success. But, like them, your work begins with some percentage point comparison. Just as I did for e-commerce, I want you to take your monthly visit count and reduce it to just 6% of its total. Roughly speaking, this should represent the total number of leads your site should be delivering you. Some sites we manage achieve 5%, others a whopping 36%, but to start go with 6% and see how you fare.

If you are way down and your search keywords match those of ideal prospects then, as mentioned before, your work lies within your own pages. If you are way down – say sub 2% – then you are not offering the right content to tempt people enough to become a lead. Not everyone visiting will want to make a purchase decision when they arrive on your site – many will be interested in learning more before they buy. Offer up the right content to these folks and see your lead conversion rates rocket through the 10%, 20% and 30% mark. Yes, they will need some further nurturing to convince them to make a purchase decision but at least you now have their details to work with.

There you go – that should fill up the napkin for now.

Remember, our monthly coaching group includes owners of both e-commerce and lead-generation websites who are just like you. Each of them faces the same time challenges you have when it comes to improving their website marketing. The difference is that, now that they are coaching members, they have both me and the group to call on to guide them through their task list. Why not join us for a trial month and see how we can help?