Leveraging the Weak Economy

If your company didn’t encounter tightening budgets over the past year, get ready. You surely will.

Most Web teams already work with limited staff and resources, plus they have plenty of projects and potential ideas. Prioritization is always a problem. Think about your Web team: how long will it take to roll out a new idea introduced this week? Can you even get a basic change (other than copy) made within a few weeks? For large organization, new opportunities often go to the end of the list — which could means it will take months to a launch.

Now think about this issue getting even worse as resources tighten up more. And this will combine with the need for greater accountability, meaning more work justifying the potential impact of initiatives.

All this adds up to more work with fewer resources and much greater accountability. But there’s a potential upside to the market challenges: focusing on analytics and site optimization to increasing your Web channel’s ROI (define).

If you’ve been struggling to get people within your organization to really integrate Web analytics and optimization into the daily decision-making process, the economic downturn may be the motivation your company needs. Analytics and site optimization can truly help companies better understand the impact and ROI of the dollars they spend.

The following outlines a few ways to get your organization to enhance its focus on analytics and optimization. I have written about many of these things in past columns but will examine how to position these and build enthusiasm about moving in this direction:

  • Define site goals. If you have not been able to get all the powers that be to sit down, discuss, define, and document what success means through your Web channel, now’s a great time to start. Don’t let people take the easy way out and define only one or two successful behaviors on your site. Even at a small company’s Web site, there are typically a handful of activities that people can do. Remember, there are different phases in the consideration/purchase process and different customer segments that will affect how your customer and your business define success. As you work as a team and define and document the goals, be sure to share them and make them a top priority for improvement by all members of your Web team during these difficult times.
  • Create a monetization model. Understand the value of those different successful behaviors. As everyone will be focusing on cutting costs and returning ROI, you must have a consistent method to determine the impact of changes to your site. Assigning a dollar value to those different behaviors is imperative to truly understand the value of your Web channel and calculating ROI. Get the right people involved in this process; get the most senior people in your organization excited about monetization. For more on monetization, please review many of my past columns on this topic.
  • Forecast the potential impact of site changes. Again, we are all facing reduced resources and greater demand on those resources. Work with your team using the monetization model to go through your current initiatives and determine the potential impact that each can return. Overlay the estimated cost of each initiative and you can begin to determine the ROI for each initiative. Now prioritize those initiatives based on the highest ROI. Focus on the ones that are going to return the greatest impact.
  • Start testing. Don’t wait for larger site launches. Start testing the drivers to success on your site. Try different calls to action. Try different headlines or a button! And most important, test a few different ways of solving the highest potential ROI opportunity based on your top priorities.

Yes, times are tough. Yes, they may get tougher before they get better. Now is the time to focus on smart spending, prioritization, and ROI. Take a shot at turning lemons into lemonade. As we emerge from these tough economic times, you will have helped improve ROI and set your Web channel up for greater success going forward.

Focusing on the four items above will help greatly improve the success of your Web team and can positively impact your overall business.

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