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As marketers focused on helping SMBs, we have developed a large of toolbox of tactics geared toward driving traffic to a company’s website.  These include SEO, paid search, social media, online display, online listings, email campaigns, reputation management, traditional media and many more.

The traffic generated by these tactics may arrive at your website for a variety of reasons.

However, the largest challenge is guiding the website visitor toward completing specific actions such as purchasing a product, filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter or email list, scheduling an appointment etc. These completed actions are often referred to as conversions.

Digging deeper, metrics, goals and return on investment calculations are created to evaluate and track these conversions. For example, a business might ask: how much can we afford to pay in marketing cost to get a sale, a completed contact form, an email sign-up, and so on, and how much revenue will that generate for our company?

As you can see, a tremendous amount of thought, energy (and money!) is focused on funneling website visitors through specific paths.

It’s no wonder many advertisers rely on their digital marketing partners to help with this in-depth analysis.

While this is important, the unspoken secret is that these conversions actually represent only a small portion of the total traffic to most company’s websites.

So, what about all that other traffic that comes to your site?  We are talking about the people who are researching a future purchase, seeing if you offer a particular service, looking for your hours or directions to your location, reviewing your job openings, checking if their ex still works there and more?

What are those visitors worth? How much would you pay for someone to look at your website?

Certainly, they are worth something. The act of looking at a website is often the first step in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s a pivotal moment—the moment a visitor decides whether your business is worth thinking about and finding out about.

So why do so many small businesses disregard it?

Eyes and fingers, brains and metrics.

In our experience, small businesses tend to focus on what visitors do with their fingers. It’s all about clicks and swipes, typically the ones that involve checking out, adding to cart, or contacting sales.

But fingers don’t move on their own. You can’t understand where clicks and swipes are coming from unless you know a little about the brains sending nerve signals to the fingers. And while you can’t read a website visitors’ mind, you can (sorta, kinda) track the optical organs attached to it.

Any business with a website can measure things like…

  • how many people visit the website,
  • when they visit the website, and
  • how long they spend looking at the website.

All of these are important metrics. Their relationship to sales might not be immediately apparent, but if you think critically and analyze them against other numbers, interesting patterns can start to emerge.

  • Maybe your website averages 5,000 visitors a month, but only converts about five visitors each month into customers.
  • Maybe people tend to visit your website early in the morning or late at night.
  • Or maybe most visitors spend approximately 30 seconds staring at your homepage before leaving.

Within every trend are opportunities to improve visitors’ experiences—and, yes, turn more people into customers.

  • Perhaps a big ol’ “Contact Us” button would improve conversation rates.
  • Maybe live chat with availability outside conventional business hours could help those early-morning and late-night visitors.
  • How about adding a video to your homepage to make the most of visitors’ limited attention spans and possibly extending the time they spend on your site?

There are so many ideas to play with, tweaks to make, and levers to pull!

Which switches should you flip?

This is the fun of digital marketing—you can change anything and everything about how your website looks, feels, and functions, whenever you want. It’s like being able to move the front door of your business or adjust the size of your lobby at will.

But you can’t just start flipping switches at random. In order to make constructive changes—the ones that lead to demonstrable results for your business—you need to know what switches are worth flipping.

Every digital marketing decision should have a reason and a rationale. Guessing, assuming, or acting on incomplete information can result in wasted time, money, and effort—or worse, a negative impact on sales. Instead, you need to identify the most important website elements for your business by testing different approaches and noting the results.

If this sounds like science, that’s because it is. It’s having people visit your website for the purely scientific reason of learning about them. You need to learn about visitors today so you can sell more effectively to them tomorrow.

Which brings us back to our original question…

How much would you pay for someone to just look at your website?

When we ask about the value of eyeballs, what we mean is:

How much are you willing to spend learning about your visitors, regardless of whether they generate sales right now?

How much money and time can you dedicate to observing visitors, analyzing their behaviors, and running experiments?

There’s no right or wrong answer. Some businesses can afford to spend a lot here while others have to be more careful with their budgets. But every successful digital marketing effort includes some room for observation, analysis, and experimentation. Growing your business takes continual improvement, which demands constant learning and patience.

Remember: every website visitor’s behavior matters. Don’t discount the value of a few eyeballs.

After all, the eyes are the window to the sale.

…Or something like that. We’ll have to keep tweaking it.


David Lambert is Senior Growth Marketing Manager at Ruby.

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