This is going to be a relatively short blog post this week, but the impact should be powerful. It all centers around a question I ask of almost every new customer I speak to, either during an introductory call or during the discovery process: How can this project pay for itself?
The answer inevitably is one of two extremes. Either they have a formulated plan that outlines how the project will produce a return on investment, or they shrug unknowingly when prodded because they don’t know what the answer is. For those who have a detailed approach to how their project will pay for itself, I applaud you, because having that understanding of how you will monetize your efforts makes the entire undertaking easier. It’s easier to take the calculated risk in designing and building a site if you have a clear understanding of what you need to do to move the needle for your business. And, it’s easier to make decisions about project-specific items such as design when you have your priorities in order.
For those who have no idea, it’s time to start thinking because every project needs to be completed with a sense of what the value of the work is and what the desired future state looks like from a monetary perspective. If you don’t have this principle serving as a north star during your journey, you will be lost.
There aren’t many projects we see where the potential value of the effort can’t be determined. And, there aren’t many projects people are looking to complete just for the heck of it. Every project can be traced back to a goal or outcome that a client is trying to achieve. Even those who want to redesign their website due to a reason as simplistic as “it doesn’t look good” can figure out how the end result will impact their bottom line. The trick is, you need to assign a VALUE to your property – that is your first step.
How can you determine value? Well, that’s something that is somewhat specific to each individual company. For some businesses, it’s easy. If you are selling online, you can easily calculate all sorts of metrics to see if you are improving or declining. Often you can study the effects on data literally hours after making a change. However, determining value for other types of companies can be difficult.
I recommend that companies dig into what their most valuable products or services are, and then work backward to see how their digital presence assists in closing that type of business. Regardless of if digital is 100% of your business flow or 10%, you can always figure out the value of the leads or sales that your digital properties generate. Then, you can determine what amount of improvement is needed to create a return on investment.
Once you have calculated the value of your products or services and have an understanding of how important your website is in terms of overall sales, I believe the best way to see a return on your investment is to be very clear with yourself about what your goals are. I still recommend the tried and true concept of SMART goals as the key to success. SMART in this sense stands for:
• Specific: Your goals must be something specific. It isn’t enough to say that your website is “ugly.” Rather, your site may be outdated, and you believe you can address a low conversion rate via a redesign campaign. This is a much more specific diagnostic and prescription.
• Measurable: Your objective is to be able to track your progress versus an initial state, and to do this there needs to be a specific measurement. So, if conversions and lead generation are your issues, you need to be sure you can track exactly how this metric is changing before and after a project. Same goes for overall sales, bounce rates, or whatever else it is you care about in this instance.
• Achievable: A goal must be something possible. It’s unlikely you can convert 100% of visitors. However, maybe you can aim to convert 5%, or maybe even 35% on a landing page. Make sure you have reasonable expectations from day one.
• Relevant: A goal of “improving our time on site” is irrelevant if people stay but don’t become customers. Your goals must be relevant to your overall business operations and objectives. Don’t get distracted by buzzwords or other trendy statistics that don’t matter – focus on what affects the bottom line.
• Time-Based: You need to have the pressure of time to achieve your goal. If you want to improve your lead generation campaigns by 50%, then try to do it by X date in the future.
With all of that said, if you have determined value and then set smart goals to achieve desired results, what is the upside during a website redesign? Having this clarity will aid in countless ways:
• Your team will be more solidified in their approach to the problem, as it has been defined early.
• Your decision making will be more precise when it comes to design, development or other areas of concern.
• There will be less sweating over the “small” stuff such as a line of copy or color or typeface – it’s all about what will perform best given the goals.
• Timeframes will become easier to abide by as your goals are dependent on them.
• Agencies and clients are aligned as opposed to working towards independent milestones and goals.
Sure, accuse me of a slightly misleading title today. But, it got your attention and put a focus on what is a problem I see regularly. The fact is, the majority of website redesign projects that come our way are not focused on performance – they are still focused on a pretty coat of paint. To be an educated consumer, come with a series of SMART goals. You’ll get the most out of your agency, your team, and your project. And goals that are achieved are the basis for return on investment