Creating and sustaining a website that gets results is not an accident. Results don’t occur because the new homepage is pretty, strokes the executive ego, or because the latest tactic has been executed. Results require more than a long term vision, they happen through a well executed strategy.
Developing a strategy for long-term positive results is difficult. Often it requires paying lip-service to executives who cannot or do not want to understand the true nature of digital; that what gets long-term results aren’t tactics like the latest social campaign, video, blog post, email, or site overhaul. No, lasting results require creating a vision that sees beyond short-term tactics. It requires a long-term, customer-focused, strategy.
Developing your strategy
To develop a winning strategy, companies must first understand the purpose of their website and the people who use it. Look at the specific internal goals of the company:
- What purpose does the site play for the company?
- Is the site a revenue driver, a source of sales leads, or a public relations hub?
- What resources are available to support the site internally?
- Is there a team of five or one?
- Is there even budget to support a short-term strategic vision?
- Does the executive team value the site or are they content to watch it wither and replace the person or team who is in charge every two years when they decide the site needs a face-lift?
Next, research the specific goals of the people who use the website:
- Who, specifically, are the people using the site (often the perceived site customer and actual site customer are quite different)?
- Are they consumers looking to research and buy products?
- Are they businesses looking for a new vendor partner or sales and product information?
- Do customers buy seasonally, all year long, or in large quantities?
- What content are they looking at before, during, and after they complete a sale?
- Do sales lead submissions occur primarily on product pages, homepage, or through white paper and case study downloads?
Once a thorough analysis of business and consumer goals is done, it becomes easier to compare business and consumer goals and see where there are overlaps. Use the goal overlaps to clarify the purpose of the website and guide the development of the long-term strategy.
Pie in the sky?
For many, this may seem like wishful thinking because there is no way the executive purse-string holders would understand nor have the patience for waiting on a strategy to resolve itself. They need results now! Your job may depend upon these immediate results, but the company’s viability and your career will depend upon a commitment to long term results.
So be it, but having a short-term tactical mindset always leads to the same place, another redesign, another band-aid, another whatever the flavor-of-the-week tactic. The long-term viability of a short-term strategic plan is more expensive and more painful than getting the long-term strategy right first.
In order for results to occur, change must happen. Change requires vision, courage, and a long-term mindset. Quick results are great, but fleeting. But real results that bring long-term health and viability to a company require a courage to see beyond the immediate and the ability to handle temporary pain and struggle to arrive at real, sustainable long-term growth.