The case for a better website
Website marketing can be incredibly effective yet is an area often severely neglected. When times are good, it doesn’t matter, but when times are tough like they are right now, this can be a critical failing. We come across many marketing professionals who have to settle for underperforming, poor, or outdated websites because the people controlling the purse strings don’t understand the value of a top-class one.
To push for the resources for a more effective website you need to direct your argument to the areas that influence the key decision-makers the most.
What are the key drivers for senior managers?
For most businesses they will be:
- Market share
- Return on investment
As marketing budgets seem to bear the brunt of spending cutbacks when times are tough, it’s obvious that they don’t feel that marketing contributes positively to any of the above.
Let’s examine why this might be the case, and look at ways to convince them that high-quality website marketing is different, and will contribute positively to their key drivers.
Push and Pull Marketing
There are 2 main types of marketing and they differ considerably in their method and effectiveness. The problem pro-website people encounter is that website marketing is often judged on inefficient marketing types.
Push marketing, sometimes known as ‘interruptive marketing’ includes; TV, radio and press adverts, posters and billboards, and ‘junk’ mail. Because audience targeting is often limited, and because to a lot of people the message is either totally irrelevant or not hitting them at the right time, conversion rates here are often very low. With letterbox leaflet drops, for example, conversion rates might be around the 4% mark. This means they are 96% ineffective! It’s certainly hard to justify investment in marketing spend based on those numbers.
However, this is the point at which your argument for a better website should start to take shape – pull marketing, of which websites, along with referrals are prime examples is a different kettle of fish altogether. In essence, it’s ‘Marketing by authority’ – i.e. positioning yourself as an expert in the field and pulling people to you. When people actively seek you out and you can solve their problems, the situation of having to win the sale switches around to the sale being more yours to lose. This is a key point of difference and should be a powerful persuader on its own.
A recent survey of 800 companies across 47 countries, showed referrals as the most effective form of marketing, with websites second. Considering that most of the referrals will then have checked out the website before making contact, the website’s importance has probably been understated if anything.
“But we’ve already got a website and it doesn’t work!”
Unfortunately, simply having a website is not enough. Remember, pull marketing is all about authority, i.e. providing the information that your target market is seeking, and showing them that you are someone they can feel confident doing business with.
To get your skeptical boss fully on board with website marketing, especially if results to date have been poor, he needs to know precisely what is required to get results and where the investment in time and money needs to be directed.
The 3 pillars for Successful Website Marketing
To be effective a website needs to do three things well:
- Be Found. Bringing in potential new customers and bringing back existing ones will increase the business opportunities presented to the business. Too often companies miss out because they are not ‘Front of mind’, even with their own customers. Before buying, most people now research online – seeking answers to a range of questions – very generic at first as they investigate their need, then more specific as they firm up their requirements. It needs to be your site that comes up in their searches and your site that answers their questions. This is essential for SEO (search engine optimization).
- Establish Trust and Credibility. The website is often the first point of contact someone has with a company. The quality of your content, design, ease of navigation, and attention to detail are all important factors in establishing trust and credibility. Success in this area will help drive those key metrics that the senior managers are driven by. It allows you to differentiate from the market, negating the need to sell on price and thereby improving profits. It can also speed up the sales process – after all, often sales stall because the purchaser still perceives a risk greater than the return. Working on trust and credibility reduces this risk in their eyes.
- Convert. This means site visits that lead to positive action, especially actions that lead to business.
When senior managers see that they’ll get a positive return on their investment – when they can see the means to grow revenue, profits, and market share they’ll be happy to invest in your ideas, and on a better website. Ideally, you’ll need to work out the costs and the likely returns and then present your ideas in as simple a format as possible. For example, you might say, “By investing $30,000 in a new website that we then actively manage, the numbers show it will win us $300,000 of new business in year 1 alone and generate a direct ROI of 1000%”. Hard not to get their attention like that isn’t it!
Don’t let the investment in time and money be the thing that not only holds your company back but also your own effectiveness in it. Treat the website as one of the most valuable business assets you have and push for the best one you can, and the resources to run it effectively.