Improving Your Value

The author suggests that "if you're concerned about measuring the return on investment of your Web site ... you're asking the wrong question." Such measures have never been applied to traditional customer service departments - and even when they are, dollarizing the value of customer service takes a leap of logic. One might as well ask the ROI on a fax machine or a stapler, or the carpet in the executive suite.

Arguably, you can fudge up some figures by comparing the cost savings of the Internet versus traditional channels: for every e-mail, you've saved the cost of a letter; for every Web page, a printed brochure - but there is little direct correlation to show the revenue generated by the number of customers you acquired or retained as a result of working though the channel, with the possible exception of turning it off altogether and watching your revenues spiral downward.

And so, what does one measure to suggest the value of the company's Web site and internet-based operations?

The conventional answer is traffic: hits, page-views, and visitors. The author provides an overview of the various measures that can be collected anonymously (through server logs and cookies) as well as those that can be associated with a specific individual's login account.

You can also look at interaction measures: the number of users who accomplished a specific task on your Web site, like submitting a request for more information, consulting a product manual, signed up for a newsletter, etc.

There is also the "softer" measures of success: a list of the specific objectives your Web site accomplishes, and how it supports the company's mission (and profitability).

Finally, the author suggests a competitive comparison: look at your competitor's Web sites to show where your Web site leads (or lags) the competition - and draw specific conclusions as to why these features are important to customers.