There’s a phrase that my team has heard me say over and over again: “If we have facts, we’ll use facts. If we have opinions, we’ll just use mine.” As smart as I think I am, my preference is to make business decisions based on quantifiable data. If that data is not available, it’s time to create a baseline by firing bullets not cannonballs to make sure you’re aiming accurately before wasting all your gunpowder (gunpowder, in this case, represents budget development time and lost opportunity cost).
Make sure all stakeholder goals are aligned
It’s not plausible to develop a website that will accomplish goals for multiple people whose visions are not in alignment, or – even worse – their objectives conflict or contradict each other. You’ve got to have clarity of vision when writing the RFP as well as during the discovery/inception phase of the project. This might make multiple meetings painful, (in some cases you may need to bring in a consultant to help clarify some points), but without this essential step, it’s impossible to have a successful end result.
Clearly identify KPI’s based on SMART goals
Once we receive the clear vision from all stakeholders, we now have our marching orders. The next step is to identify the current baseline by using analytics. One truly beautiful thing about digital marketing is the fact that you can measure literally everything. The caveat, however, is that you can waste a lot of time measuring the wrong things. Set up realistic KPIs (key performance indicators) that will be leading (not trailing) business indicators. Make sure to establish SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic & Time-based. An example of one of Zenman’s SMART goals was to increase overall traffic to our website by 25% in the next 90 days.
- Specific: we’re going to increase website conversions on our Consultation form
- Measurable: by 25%.
- Agreed upon: by all key stakeholders that this is the target we want to hit.
- Realistic: this an attainable goal (I picked 25%, not 250%).
- Timely: over the next 90 days.
Understand any potential risk
There is a risk to anything. An example of a risk with a website redevelopment project would be losing organic search rankings after the new site launch. At Zenman, our website ranks first in the highly competitive Denver marketplace, so when we roll out a new website every couple of years it’s essential that we maintain our organic rankings. By clearly identifying risks at the beginning of projects, we can mitigate the potential impact on the success of the project.
Design to your buyer personas
It’s more important that the design and messaging are geared towards your customers and solving their problems in your persona outlines. Consider trying to sell a house to a billionaire who made their money selling pizza. The marketing to get that person to buy a $30 million dollar second home is very different than the design and messaging directed towards somebody who lives on Top Ramen. By designing to your customers’ needs you will increase your chance of conversion.
When you’re the coxswain of a rowing crew, it’s important to know the direction you want to go so everyone can be rowing in the same direction. The development of the website is no different-everyone needs to know where you’re going, why you’re going there, and what the plan is to get there. With a clear vision, SMART goals, and data-driven business decisions, you can create a roadmap that includes timeline and budget for building a website that is the mechanism you’ll use to accomplish your objectives.