How do you track the relationship between your website and sales in your 'bricks and mortar' business?
There are a number of ways of tracking how your customers use your website. Even where the visitors are not specifically buying online, but contacting you or coming to your store. The method that works for you will depend on your business and how much you want to spend to gather information.
Too many business sites rely on simple devices like 'hit counters' for their website analytics. These vary in relevance from almost useless to completely useless. 'Hits' don't tell you anything about where the visitor was from, how long they spent on each page, or where they abandoned your website to go somewhere else. With the wide range of analytical tools available, drop the 'hit counter'.
Tracking visitor movement through your website can be done with a number of analytic tools. They range from Google Analytics, a free but powerful tool, to RobotReplay which lets you see every movement the visitor makes as they view your website. The amount of information you can gather about visitors to your website is incredible. And, in many cases this is enough. Just knowing the visitor spent over 30 seconds viewing your contact information or your price list may be enough for your business.
Any 'bricks and mortar' store has one huge advantage over a web only business - personal contact with the customer. A huge amount of information can be gathered during the sales process. With so many of us paying by credit card - knowing a person's name is almost automatic. However, look for other information gathering opportunities during the sale.
One thing that is often overlooked is simply asking your customer where they saw your product. Doing this at the time of sale should be part of your advertising data gathering. This works for all forms of advertising and is one way of helping you decide where to spend your advertising budget.
For those wanting a bit more information - and willing to pay for it, get a second phone number and only advertise it on your website. Second numbers with a distinct ring are available for businesses with only one phone line. If you have two or more lines, arrange with your phone service provider to have a separate number for one of the lines and limit calls on that line to times when the other lines are in use. While not as accurate as having a completely unique number to advertise on the website, it is adequate in most cases.
Consider the same technique for your email addresses. For no extra charge you can setup unique email addresses for all your different forms of advertising. Or, if that is not possible, add a contact form to your website. Not only does this allow your visitor to easily contact you, information from forms can easily be entered into customer relationship managers (CRM) - allowing you to better track your customers.
Web coupons may be the ultimate weapon for businesses tracking the relationship between the website and in-store sales. Even small discounts or a bonus gift can be effective. Coupons are great promotional items. Even low cost coupons such as "Bring this coupon to our store for a free pen." will generate store traffic.
Offering online coupons not only lets you track the relationship between sales and your website, they also give you valuable links to your website. Many websites list stores with web coupons. And, while they not result in many sales, the link alone can increase your sites visibility to search engines.
Again, Google is one of the best free sources for adding an managing your online coupons. Others such as Coupon Builder offer management tools for your web coupons.
Tracking the relationship between in store sales and your website not only lets you budget your advertising more effectively, it helps identify and fix problem areas on your website resulting in even more sales.