The Give and Take of “Agenda Blending”

Great relationships are built on healthy, two-way communications and mutual respect for each party’s needs. The same principles apply to your Web site and how you use it to communicate with customers. Effective use of Web analytics can help you create a site that fulfills your business goals while meeting the information-gathering and transactional needs of your customers.

Look at the Drivers

In many cases, when companies define their site goals and metrics, they focus too much on the site’s final goal and ignore drivers that motivate visitors to take the desired actions that will fulfill this goal.

Everyone who visits your site has an agenda. In many cases, the visitor’s agenda differs from yours. A lopsided focus on either agenda will lead to the site’s failure.

When working with a client to define site goals and metrics, we consider the visitors’ purpose for visiting the site and the company’s business objectives. We call the process “agenda blending.”

A Balancing Act

Let’s consider a lead-generation site. This could be an enterprise software company, real estate developer, financial institution, or any other company that uses the Web to drive visitor interest, which ultimately results in an offline contact to complete a transaction.

On one end of the agenda spectrum, your site may simply post a form on the home page, asking visitors to submit their information to learn more about the company and its offerings. The page provides little other information. Though this example is extreme, many large corporations have sites, or portions of sites, that lean in this direction. They expect visitors to provide information without giving them anything in return. The company focuses only on what it wants from the site visitor.

On the other end of the spectrum, some sites offer a great deal of information and detail but only ask for the sale in a small text link in the page footer. In this case, the company focuses too much on visitors and not enough on trying to convert them to a lead (or sale) when the opportunity is hottest.

With lead generation, where convincing visitors to make contact is the initial goal, an overly informative site may negate the need for the visitor to talk to someone. This may screen out some unqualified leads, but more often it prevents the sales rep from talking to genuinely qualified leads.

Anticipate Needs to Drive Behavior

A number of months ago, I visited a few telecommunications sites. Many didn’t offer full e-commerce for business products. Typically, they encourage visitors to contact a sales representative via email or phone.

Some sites require visitors to fill out an extensive form before providing any contact or business product information. These sites lack any form of value proposition for the visitor.

Others provide an overabundance of high-level information on the company, service offerings, and products and great detail about why visitors should consider them in the buying process. Those sites can overwhelm visitors and not provide them with compelling drivers to make contact.

Agenda blending helps companies understand and anticipate visitor needs and use this information to create a site that will drive the desired visitor behavior.

Use Analytics to Identify Drivers

Web analytics can help identify what drives site visitors to make contact or submit a form. Analytics can also help determine the type of contact people find most (or least) helpful. By looking at which pages drive site exits versus which drive people to make contact, a site owner can determine which pages should be more aggressively pushed to improve overall conversion.

A successful site requires meeting your goals as well as your customers’. If you only focus on one or the other, you’re leaving opportunities on the table.

Nominations are open for the 2004 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards.

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