Fixing Your Site, Step 1: Developing Your Action Plan

  |  December 13, 2011   |  Comments

To build a truly high-performing website, you must begin with a solid understanding of your business objectives and know how your landing page or website supports them.

In my last column, I challenged you to do a usability audit of your website and create an action plan for 2012. But you're probably thinking "How do I go from knowing what the problems are to developing a test plan to fix them?" So I'm going to dedicate these next few columns to walking you through the critical first steps.

When we start an engagement at my company, the first thing we do is gather some background information about the client's business and online marketing programs. This framework guides our action plan development and identifies constraints or potential issues early in the process.

You obviously have a pretty good understanding of your own business and online marketing programs. Still, I encourage you to go through this exercise, as it can help you understand the big picture before you start your test, and also allow you an opportunity to get others in your organization on board. So your homework assignment for this stage of the process is to try to answer as many of the questions below as you can, because in the next steps you'll be glad you have the answers readily available.

Pre-Testing Questionnaire

Marketing and External Factors

  • Are there any seasonal traffic spikes or bumps in your industry?
  • Are you planning to launch any significant marketing or PR campaigns?
  • Are you planning to introduce any new products?
  • Are you planning to significantly change the functionality or pricing of existing products?
  • Who are your three biggest online direct competitors?
  • What are your main differentiators and positioning points against your competitors?

Site Performance and Traffic Levels

  • What traffic source(s) will be used for the test?
  • How many conversion actions per day do they represent?
  • What site elements have you tested in the past? What were the results?
  • What site elements would you be interested in testing? Why?
  • Do you have any service-level or response time guidelines for your web servers?

Site Appearance and Functionality

  • Do you have a formal creative brief for your logo and/or site?
  • Are there any technical requirements for your site (screen resolution, plug-ins)?
  • Are any portions of your site design or organization "off-limits" for our test and may not be changed?
  • Do you have access to the original graphical files that make up your site (e.g., Photoshop or Flash)?
  • What kinds of technologies and languages make up your site (operating system, scripting languages, content management system, and databases)?
  • Do you have "staging" web servers for implementing and reviewing the modified web pages?

Use the contents of this simplified questionnaire as a starting point. You may want to create a more detailed or modified set of questions to suit your particular needs and environment.

Testing Tip: Don't Fail to Plan

Here's the bottom line: to build a truly high-performing website, you must begin with a solid understanding of your business objectives, and know how your landing page(s) or website supports them.

What drives your business? Is it sales, subscriptions, leads, downloads, email sign-ups, or advertising and page views? What portion of your business marketing intersects with the web? Is all of it conducted online? Are key parts influenced by offline marketing, or do they require subsequent phone or in-person follow-up? You may not have control over the whole process and may be just a single step in the value chain. Your goal should be to make your piece as powerful and efficient as possible.

You may be tactically focused on hitting your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) numbers or growing your volume by a certain percentage. But you may not have a good sense of your contribution to the company as a whole. Dig for financial information. Go as high up the financial management ladder as necessary to get the numbers that you need. You'll not only build an excellent foundation from which to build your website improvement plan, but you may also impress the higher-ups with your newfound interest in the company's bottom line.

Tags:

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Ash

Tim Ash is CEO of SiteTuners.com, a landing page optimization firm that offers conversion consulting, full-service guaranteed-improvement tests, and software tools to improve conversion rates. SiteTuners' AttentionWizard.com visual attention prediction tool can be used on a landing page screenshot or mock-up to quickly identify major conversion issues. He has worked with Google, Facebook, American Express, CBS, Sony Music, Universal Studios, Verizon Wireless, Texas Instruments, and Coach.

Tim is a highly-regarded presenter at SES, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon. He is the chairperson of ConversionConference.com, the first conference focused on improving online conversions. A columnist for several publications including ClickZ, he's host of the weekly Landing Page Optimization show and podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm. His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.

He received his B.S. and M.S. during his Ph.D. studies at UC San Diego. Tim is the author of the bestselling book, "Landing Page Optimization."

Connect with Tim on Google+.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...