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How to Make Better Digital Budget Decisions

By Shaun Tinney
6 minute read | Last Updated: March 23, 2016

Understanding the process required to arrive at sound digital budget decisions can help ensure the maximum return on digital investments for brands serving online consumers.

The year is coming to a close and the upcoming fiscal year’s digital budget planning has begun. Here’s what you need to do to help ensure budget decisions lead to the right budgets in the right places for maximum return on your digital investments.

Be clear on what a high performing brand site is supposed to do and exactly how it does it.

Your website is a business asset. It is an employee of your company, a digital sales rep whose job it is to help guide and serve your current and potential customers. It has two objectives: Help customers with the research and evaluation process and guide them to purchase.

It does this via content designed to inform and ultimately increase sales. To get a sense of where to beef up or reallocate digital budgets in the coming year, take a look at our top 5 indicators of brand website value.

Top 5 indicators of brand website value

1. Site content and performance

The content on your site is either converting visitors into buyers, helping current customers, or turning them both away. Evaluating content performance comes down to understanding customer goals and tracking how the site helps them accomplish them. Two ways to uncover this are through analytics (evaluate pages with high exit / bounce rates) or directly involving your Customer Service team.

Analytics and customer service feedback are key to developing a clear process for identifying ineffective content that is costing money in lost sales — so you can revise or eliminate it. You also will want to make sure your category structure matches the way consumers approach your products. And don’t forget to evaluate your product detail page content; is all the most important and differentiating information up front and easy to understand?

Analytics and customer service feedback are key to identifying ineffective content. Click To Tweet

Important and differentiating doesn’t mean pulling forward marketing jargon that effectively makes all products sound like they’re the best at everything for any situation. What customers really want to know is what exactly your product is good at, how it will help them, and what they can evaluate to make the right purchase.

2. User experience

Your brand site is a major touchpoint that consistently moves consumers closer to or further from your brand. If customers have a bad experience on your site 90% won’t come back, and they won’t feel good about your brand either. Simply put, you can’t afford to provide anything less than an excellent digital experience.

Keys to being able to offer a good experience are:

  • Understanding what your current and prospective customers are looking to your site for
  • Tracking unique purchase indicators and tailoring your content to each customer
  • Ensuring the site is easy to use and representative of the brand

3. Performance benchmarks

When it comes to speed on the web, time really is money. Lower site load times lead to higher conversion rates. The mobile and tablet experience is especially sensitive in this area. If you’ve only designed for desktop computers on fast connections, you’re already losing market share to brands that are better prepared for all traffic.

Additionally, redesigning a site to look new and flashy may net a temporary 10% bump in time on site stats, but in order to see a performance increase of 350% or more (like Bell Helmets and Easton have seen for all stats leading to revenue), you’ll need to serve all browsing devices through responsive design.

When it comes to speed on the web, time really is money. Click To Tweet

Finally, constant calibration leads to consistent improvement. It’s absolutely critical to pay attention to site performance and make things better. Benchmark speed and site performance. Identify multi-screen enhancement opportunities. You wouldn’t plant a garden and expect it to grow without water. Calibration is the “water” than enables your site to continuously grow in its ability to help customers and increase revenue.

4. Search engine positioning

If you’re not on Google, you don’t exist. Most brands rank highly for their branded terms but are missing huge sales potential by not showing up for terms used by consumers in “research mode.” For example, one thing that can keep brands from ranking well for top keywords is focusing too much on tracking with what competitors are saying.

What you can do: Review on-site search terms vs organic keywords and see where you can improve, curate, or create content to help your customers and potential customers get answers to their questions. People rely on brand websites for trusted information from the source, do everything you can to be that trusted source of information and content for your brand, sport, and community.

That said, try not to get caught up in the “search engine optimization” game. Remember that what the search algorithms are trying to do is help people find what they’re looking for. If you create quality content that answers questions and helps customers make decisions, chances are good you will be ranked appropriately when someone searches for a product in your category.

5. Social media effectiveness reach and approach

Brand engagement, participating in the conversation, call it what you will, social media is here to stay. The most important thing brands can do is to be authentic.

That means when things go wrong with your products or services, and customers speak out on social media, your brand has to participate actively on both sides of the conversation. Not only recognizing but also acknowledging opportunities to better serve customers — whether it’s replacing a faulty product or touting a success story.

Evaluate your current approach and your organizational structure for serving customers through social media. Are you passively pushing out links, photos and brand storytelling material, or do you have someone “of sport”, deeply connected with your customer base, interacting in real time?

Gain an edge on your competition

Make sure your active lifestyle brands is a few steps ahead rather than behind customers when it comes to providing the content they are looking for, in the way they’re trying to find it. Increasingly, that means video content delivered on mobile or tablet devices. It also means offering access to helpful user reviews, high quality photos, and descriptive content that differentiates products.

Make sure digital is more than just a checkbox on a long list of budget items because customers have already made the shift. They want everything on demand. Whether it’s instant streaming or same day delivery, be prepared to serve up what your customers are looking for when and where they want it, so your brand doesn’t lose them to someone who will.