What is your Web site’s ROI? When was the last time you heard anyone ask that question?
CFOs are demanding (and marketers are scrambling for) a clear definition of social media return on investment. But Web sites have become so much an assumed part of doing business today that the question never seems to come up. Web sites are an embedded investment, an accepted, on-going element in the cost of doing business.
Yet, for all the acceptance (and assumptions) about Web sites, too many are ineffective. And if they were required to show an ROI, there would be problems.
So what, exactly, is an effective Web site?
♦ An effective Web site positions the company in the visitor’s mind. It focuses on the essence of the company’s value proposition. It tells the visitor – succinctly – why his time is well spent on the site and why the company’s products/services can provide value to his business or personal life.
♦ An effective Web site respects the visitor’s time. Things are easy to find.
♦ An effective Web site brings the visitor back time and again, becoming a trusted information source.
♦ And an effective Web site uses these attributes to make the visitor want to do business with you. It helps turn prospects into customers.
It is really not that hard to create an effective, revenue producing Web site. There are only a few simple precepts to follow, although they seem to be more honored in the breach than in reality.
Just remember that:
♦ The Web site is there for the customer and prospect. It does not exist as a mechanism for you to tell them everything you want to say. It exists to give them the information they want and need so that they will want to talk with you. A “core dump” approach glazes the eyes and numbs the mind. It is not a good sales technique.
♦ The Web site assumes it is in competition for the visitor’s time. It needs to be easy to maneuver, and the menus should be intuitively obvious. Too often, particularly with large companies (and especially in the high tech arena), the visitor needs both a GPS and a Sherpa guide to find what he’s looking for.
♦ The Web site does not use gadgetry just because it can. For example, pop-ups, particularly pop-ups that are difficult to avoid and turn off, are a generally acknowledged source of irritation; people often leave sites because of them. For example, Infographics that take 2 or 3 minutes to describe what could be conveyed in a short sentence or two make an often unwarranted assumption that the visitor will give you those 2 or 3 minutes.
♦ The Web site balances backroom priorities with the visitor’s experience. For example, CRM and lead nurturing technologies need to be used with a keen eye toward how they will be seen and perceived by your site guests. It is never wise to have ROI measurement and enhancement tools impede your ability to actually generate ROI.
♦ The Web site uses key words, page headings, and searchable terms intelligently to enhance SEO requirements.
♦ The Web site is a careful melding of the visual and the verbal. Don’t let graphic designers dominate the process. But don’t forget that how the eye sees something determines how the mind integrates it.
♦ The Web site is an on-going work in progress. You cannot simply put it up and forget it. If you want people to return to your site, keeping you top of mind, then you need to give them a reason to return. Keep your information fresh, and refreshed, and keep your products/services value to your visitor clear.
Web sites are, quite rightly, an accepted business tool in today’s economy and on-line world. At the very least, they are essential for credibility. To be without a Web site raises questions about your seriousness of purpose and your very viability as a company.
But, as with any tool, form must suit function. Design (and maintain) your Web site as a critical customer contact point in your marketing arsenal, and it will serve you well. Ignore the basic rules of Web site effectiveness, and it will be a dull arrow in the quiver. And it won’t produce any ROI at all.