Inbound Marketing Gives You The Tools And Agile Marketing Gives You The Methodology
We’ve all had to endure that six-month website rebuild that takes longer than expected, is missing some key functionality, goes over budget and is flat-out painful for you and your agency. It’s no one’s fault. These projects are usually complex and expectations are often misaligned.
But I have some very good news. You never have to go through that again. Today, leading digital marketing agencies don’t do big website rebuilds like this anymore. Inbound marketing and Agile marketing have provided the tools to create smaller website launches that can be done in 30 days, with new features and new pages launched every 30 days.
This allows the site to launch sooner, start generating leads sooner and generate ROI sooner. Plus, this approach allows the site to get smarter immediately, as you use data from the site to prioritize new pages and features month over month — forever. Never rebuild your site again!
Here’s how you should be planning your website rebuild project.
Website Strategy Must Include Search, Content And Conversion
We do website evaluations every day and what we see most often are sites without proper on-site search engine optimization assets, without the right content (or any content) to turn visitors into leads and no thought as to the buyer journey through the site.
I’m not surprised. Website design and development shops make websites that look great. But the ultimate goal is a website that works great, increasing website traffic and new visitors with qualified leads for your business. This extra (but mandatory) work also adds cost to the project. Keep that in mind when reviewing proposals for your website re-launch project. Comparing apples to apples can be challenging.
Marketing has only one true goal: to generate leads and grow company revenue. The website is the cornerstone of your marketing, so if you’re thinking its goal is anything different than helping your company get found, turning visitors into leads and then helping you nurture those leads until they become customers — think again.
Build For Your Prospects, Not You
Your prospects have to like the site, not you. I’m making a point here. If your prospects like the site, you’ll love the site. But we don’t build the site, write the pages, design the flow and create offers that convert visitors based on what you need. We do all that based on what your prospects need. This is important. Your perspective as a CEO, VP of marketing or owner is skewed. We need to look at the site like your prospects look at the site.
When we do website designs for clients, we give them very specific advice. Do NOT show these designs to employees, to friends or to family. Do NOT ask people if they like the site design. Feedback is great, but to get the right feedback you need to show the designs to prospects, to customers or to former customers.
Then, ask them two simple questions: Do you know what we do from this page? Would you click on one of the offers to learn more about what we’re offering? That’s it. If the answer to both questions is "yes," you’re on your way to a lead-generating website.
Use Data To Prioritize Pages And Features
Every site seems to have features like the site-wide search box you needed to have or the team page that lists every single team member. Maybe it’s the company history page or the detailed catalog of every product you’ve ever sold just in case someone is looking for that obscure item.
Unless you have an unlimited budget and an unlimited amount of time to rebuild the entire site, going through a prioritization exercise is critical to making decisions about what definitely needs to be done and what could potentially wait to be done.
Since these types of decisions are often 100% arbitrary, it makes sense to use data to make these decisions more quantitative. For example, if your 40-person team page is infrequently viewed, perhaps you can wait to get that page done. If that search feature is rarely used, maybe you don’t need it. Or maybe you don’t need it at launch.
Remember, this isn’t about whether you can have your team page or search feature, it’s about the order in which you get it and whether putting in high-value, highly visited, lead-generating features first is going to produce better results and higher return on investment.
Create A Set Of Minimally Viable Launch Requirements
The key to getting your site done faster is defining any features or pages that are “must-haves” at launch and then negotiating with the team responsible for building all the “must-have” features. Perhaps you’ve heard of the "golden triangle" of software development. It says that you can have fast, you can have features and you can have cost, but you can’t have them all.
That means if you want to complete the website faster (shortening the time), then there is an impact to the project scope or cost. It means either you have to increase the project resources (increase cost) or decrease the project scope (cut the scope that is possible to be completed in the specified time with the available cost/resources you have).
Most of the time, 30-day site launches are managed by reducing the scope of work, or the features and pages to be ready at the 30-day mark. This almost always produces a perfectly professional, well-designed, ready-for-prime-time site. Then, month over month, we add to the site to optimize its performance from a search and conversion perspective. While this might sound unconventional to some, it’s the optimal way to avoid the big painful website rebuild.
Prioritize Future Pages And/Or Features To Be Added
Going forward, the key to continuing to build the site is the prioritization effort. Every month you and your website team should be looking at the backlog of features and moving to the top those features or pages that will produce the most results for the least amount of effort. Take your search feature, for example. It will take work to build a custom search feature. Is this more important than adding more pages that might take less effort and produce better results?
Use Data To Make Optimization Improvements Every Month
Additional optimization upgrades will become obvious after just a few months based on actual visitor data. Perhaps your home page isn't converting as highly as expected. That could be due to messaging, length of the page, the offers or visitors' flow through the stories. You need to get quantitative data to help you prioritize and then create a list of upgrades based on the data.
Now you have optimization tasks and new feature page tasks being prioritized at the same time. Again, you want this done based on the impact to site performance, not based on anyone’s personal agenda.
Use Leads And New Customers As Your Measure Of Success
The true measure of a website is its ability to be a lead-generating machine for your business, so measure it based on that simple criteria. If it generates leads and you turn those leads into revenue, you have a site that’s working. Be realistic, of course. If you have a 12-month sales cycle, don’t expect your site to produce customers on day one. Also, don’t expect your site to produce 80% bottom-of-the-funnel leads. Most websites produce 10% of their leads as bottom-of-the-funnel leads.
This means that nurturing all those top-of-the-funnel leads and middle-of-the-funnel leads is equally as important as the website and should be a major component of your inbound marketing program.
Fair warning: This might feel strange, especially if you have a medium to large website. However, many of the sites we see have ballooned into sites that are far more massive than necessary, painfully bad at helping prospects know what the business does, woefully weak at turning visitors into leads and challenging to maintain on a daily basis. What we’re suggesting is healthy.
Put your site on a diet and then use data instead of opinions, assumptions or guesses to rebuild it with your prospects' experience in mind.