In this episode of “What’s Your Edge?”, we’re discussing how to keep from getting out over your skis when making website changes.
Over the past few months, we’ve probably heard phrases such as these more times than we can count: “We’re heads down revising our website.” “We’re revamping our website.” “We’re relaunching our website.” “We’re redesigning our website.” Perhaps these are familiar refrains to you too.
Without a doubt, the website is every organization’s primary platform. In fact, a study by FocusVision found that two-thirds (65%) of B2B buyers cite vendor websites as one of their most highly influential content types. This is compared to the 48% who say the same about third-party websites and the 39% who find third-party articles by independent publishers influential.
Therefore, sooner or later, your customer are going to make a visit, maybe several, as they go through the process of investigating, evaluating, and selecting your solutions.
In some of these conversations we have an opportunity to ask questions such as these:
· Why are you making a change?
· Is your website anchored to your message map?
· How does your website help you bring your strategy to life?
· How are you connecting the behavior on your website back to your marketing metrics and KPIs?
Often when we ask these questions there is a pregnant pause in the conversation. If you are revising your website without answering these types of questions among others, it’s possible you may be leaning out over your skis.
If you’re not familiar with this metaphor, it simply means you may be getting ahead of yourself. For non-skiers what you need to know about this position, it that it can be precarious. When you lean too far forward over the front of your skis, your balance is off. Lack of balance can lead to face down in the snow.
If your website revamp has you getting ahead of strategy, competitive analysis, customer journey mapping, message and persona development, you’re downstream is in front of your upstream. You’re out over your skis. You might recall we’ve previously distinguished upstream and downstream Marketing based on the work by Dr. Ram Charan who refers to upstream as “the strategic process of identifying and fulfilling customer needs.” Developing clear customer segments along with analyzing how the customer uses your product or service and your competitive advantage is the focus of upstream Marketing.
Downstream Marketing includes efforts such as advertising, promotion, brand building, and other forms of communication and engagement such as PR, events, and content.
Consider Three Elements To Support Website Revisions
To keep from ending face down, there are three important elements in skiing that also apply to Marketing and your website.
1. Stay in control. Skiing fast is good as long as you’re in control. When it comes to your website, strategy first then planning. Strategy is your beacon, your guide. It is what enables you to stay on course and in control. Pushing to have a better website is admirable as long as it reflects the strategy, positioning and messaging. Be clear about how your website is connected to each of these. Document what the website changes are intended to achieve in quantifiable terms. For example, if your strategy is intended to help you expand into a new market, how will your website revisions support this initiative and how will you track progress? The same question applies if a key strategy is to expand within a market or a particular set of customers. Avoid revamping your website if you’re unclear about your strategy.
2. Complete your turns. In skiing, turning is what sends you in the direction you want to go. You want to make sure that your website supports where you want to go. To make sure you are heading in the right direction, complete all the preliminary steps before you start revising and redesigning your website. For example, one preliminary step is due diligence. This work includes evaluating your top competitors and their websites. It also includes understanding the current behavior flow on your site, how the visitor behavior matches to the customer journey, and what changes if any are needed to the site to support this journey. Another preliminary step is clarifying, developing and documenting the personas you’re hoping to engage. Defining the tactics that will be most compelling and resonate with your intended visitors reflects another crucial preliminary step. Document specifically how you will measure the success of these tactics.
3. Distribute your weight. How you distribute your weight between your skis determines how much each ski will influence your movement. This is about the transfer of energy. Your website is a destination. As such, it needs to be easily discovered by visitors and properly stocked to make their visit worthwhile and influence their decision. Because your website is anchored to your strategy, messaging, and positioning you will be able to more easily address navigation, links, key words and site copy to support discoverability through organic search and engagement tactics. Because you’ve accounted for the customer journey and different personas, you’ll be able to stock your site with appropriate content. As a result, you’ll be able to employ both push (what offers you will promote) and pull (how you will draw visitors), efforts using social, email, paid advertising, influencers, and other tactics to impact visitor behavior.
Maintain your balance and control by implementing these three elements before you begin revising, redesigning, or revamping your website. Taking this approach will help you maneuver all the bumps, jumps, and hurdles. Are you thinking about making website changes? Have you addressed these three elements? Is your website at a minimum anchored to your strategy, positioning, messaging, customer journey and personas?
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