One of the many benefits of advertising using the internet is being able to track where your sales, inquiries, and traffic are coming from. Tracking sales is nothing new to those who have been involved in mail order, but the internet allows you to measure results to a much higher degree.
The premise is this: You've GOT to know where your sales are coming from and what is generating those sales so you know where to focus your efforts. It's a trial and error process to put together the puzzle of what sells best. You've got to find the right product, find what price sells the best, what headline gets the most attention, which advertisement is most convincing, which free bonuses increase sales the most, and where to search for prospects: What is getting the most results? Search engine listings? Newsgroup postings? Links from other sites? Opt-in email? Advertising in electronic newsletters?
FISHING IN THE DARK
Those are a lot of variables to check, and without tracking the results of each change you make or each place you promote, you are fishing in the dark. Suppose you went out fishing every night for a month: You tried 30 different baits (but didn't pay attention to which ones you were using), and went to 30 different lakes at random times of the day without paying attention to which ones you went to.
The results: 29 of those days you never got a nibble. But on one of those days you caught 10 of the biggest bass you'd ever seen. Wouldn't you want to make a note of which lake you'd been at that day and what specific bait you were using? Because the odds of catching another fish using the same combination are much, much higher than just continuing on your random fishing expedition.
The same goes for advertising (which is what internet selling is). It is crucial to note every change you make and every different place you advertise so you can track your results.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Let's start with the basics: The most obvious one (and most limited) is to put a counter on your web site so you know how many visitors have come. At the very least, it allows you to figure out what percentage of people buy from you. If one person out of a hundred orders, your 'conversion ratio' is 1%. If the item you are selling has a $25 profit margin, you make $25 per 100 visitors, or 25 cents per visitor. Some of the web sites I've created for my customers actually earn as much as $3 - $4 profit per visitor. - An astounding fact I wouldn't know if I didn't track visitors and stats.
A counter also lets you do the rough figuring of what you need to improve: traffic or sales letter. If no one has bought your product in a month, you need to know how many visitors you've had. If you've had 10,000, it's time to improve that sales letter. But if you've only had 3 visitors, you can't judge whether your sales letter is effective, because not enough people have read it to give you any feedback yet.
FREE COMPLETE TRACKING SOFTWARE
At http://www.extreme-dm.com you can get a free full-featured tracker for your web page that counts # of visitors per day and month, where they entered your web site from (search engine, other web site, newsgroup, etc.) - and if they found your site on a search engine, what keywords they were searching under when they found you. In addition, it lists what browsers your visitors use, their screen resolution, and more.
This is a VERY useful tool for keeping track of where people are finding your web site. For a nominal fee ($5/month or more) they'll give you an even more involved tracker that tracks through your entire web site and is 'invisible', not allowing anyone else to view your stats except for you. It's easy to sign up - You just follow through the steps and then cut and paste the HTML code that is generated to put on your site.
USING MULTIPLE RESPONSE PAGES
If you posted 10 different ads to newsgroups directing the reader to go to your web site or to send email to an autoresponder, how can you tell who is responding to what ad?
You can set up a different web page with it's own counter for each ad. They could be:
. . . Etc. The same goes for autoresponders. Many hosting accounts provide unlimited autoresponders, and you can capture the email address of whoever requests it as well. So in each ad you could list a different autoresponder to reply to so you could count how many responses you got, plus capture the names to do a follow-up mailing a few days later.
Other sites that provide tracking information are:
http://www.extreme-dm.com - As discussed above, it's free and easy to understand. Their small logo is displayed on your site but it's unobtrusive.
http://www.gumball-tracker.co.uk/index.htm - Free and invisible (no banner or link) but the information presented isn't as easy to interpret as extreme-dm.com
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