Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting to ROI on Your Next Web Redesign Project

A marketing colleague and I recently had an interesting dialogue.  How can we calculate a Return on Investment (ROI) of a business-to-business website redesign project?

The Key to ROI
A clear ROI involves setting the goals of the website redesign project well before the redesign takes place.  ROI involves setting and calculating key web performance measurements, usually reported from Google Analytics.

Many Factors
Note that many elements factor into web redesign ROI.  

Search Engine Optimization (making it easier for prospects to find you); an intuitive user experience (making it easier for prospects to navigate your site); improved content (making your site ”sticky” so that people will want to return or value your thought leadership); and “call to action” on the site (making it easier for prospects to download a form or fill out a form) all work to generate performance improvements. 

Critical Measurements
Each web performance measurement must support the overall objective of the redesign project. A typical business sets a goal of an increase in website lead generation performance.

  • Number of non-paid web visitors (those visitors not driven by pay-per-click (PPC) programs such as Google adwords or MSN)
  • Conversion rates for lead generation of non-PPC visitors filling out “contact us” or forms for papers, offers.
  • User performance such as number of inbound sales-related phone calls.
  • Average page views per visitor.
  • Bounce Rate or percentage of initial visitors who "bounce" away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the b-to-b site.
  • Time on site
  • Overall sales growth including increased revenues and business expansion.

Sample Success Story
Here’s an example of a web redesign success story, coordinated with my colleagues at Markit Strategies and PR a few years back.

·     Conversions: Since launching a b-to-b client’s new web design and content, conversions in a typical 60 day period (the amount of non-PPC visitors who visit the website and take an action like filling out a form to obtain a white paper or contact us) increased by 33%

·     That means the amount of leads generated by the website increased due to the ease of downloading a paper, or requesting the company contacts them.   Optimized contact form and landing pages played a role in this increase in conversions.

·     Inbound Calls: The percentage of site visitors who contact via the 1-800 phone dedicated to sales doubled since the redesigned site launch

·      Average Page Views:  In a 60 day period, the Non-PPC Average Page Views per Visitor grew by 41% since redesign, which is a good indicator of the value of the content. 

·      Visitor Bounce Rate: The rate of visitors who land on the site and immediately leave, dropped by 50%.

·     Average time on site: In the same 60 day period, average time on site rose by 45%.  This means the site is easier for users find info pertinent to their own industry.

Not There Yet….
The metrics above are not the complete story when it comes to ROI.  It's important to track the following pre- and post-website design benchmarks.
Pre-Redesign metrics
                Average monthly visits
                Average conversion rate (leads)
                Close rate (leads to sales)
                Average order price

Post-Redesign metrics
                Average monthly visits
                Average conversion rate (leads)
                Total cost of web redesign project

Assuming ongoing maintenance and marketing costs of the new website don’t change, and assuming close rate and average order price remain the same, the Return on Investment of the redesign is found as follows:
Step 1:  Calculate the improved Sales Revenue as a result of Improved Conversions, using the percentage of conversions of new monthly visits multiplied by the average order price of closed sales.
Step 2: Subtract the result of Step 1 (Improved Sales Revenue as a result of Improved Conversions) from the fixed cost of redesign in dollars.
Step 3: Divide the result from step 2 by the fixed cost of the redesign in dollars.
Step 4: Multiply the result of step 3 by 100%.
There you have it – a percentage ROI of your web redesign project!  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three (More) Marketing Red Flags

The author, marketing pro Susan Gunelius, suggested that if a business or organization identifies any of the five marketing red flags offered up in the post, then it's likely time to retool the company's marketing strategy.

The five red flags suggested by the author included (paraphrased here by your truly):

  • There is a mismatch of “look/feel” in branding and collateral
  • There is a distinct lack of goals and marketing strategic direction
  • The marketing department only has a hazy guess as to how to connect with customers
  • Marketing materials talk only about the product or business, not the customer or prospect
  • The organization is consistently outperformed by competitors

Amen to that! There’s no doubt these five red flags offer up valuable information to business marketers.

Redder Flags
Funny, not sure how I missed this post from last year as Entrepreneur is a regular haunt.  

In my mind, the following three red flags are equally as important as the points summarized in the article.

You haven’t asked your prospects to review your marketing messaging and materials. I’ve said this before.  I get tired of hearing it myself.  What’s the point of marketing messaging (or a website; a brochure; a case study; etc.) if nobody ran it by key prospects or customers?  The keynote address from Kristin Zhivago at last year's Marketing Sherpa conference covered this same ground. It’s all well and good to come up with pithy and clever marketing language and slick looking design work, but does it resonate with the target audience?  Would your customers have any interest? There’s only one way of knowing:  ask them!  

You don’t pay attention to relevant marketing metrics. Here again, post after post in this blog talks about results, outcomes and metrics.  If the web team can’t quickly answer how many non-paid visitors found the website, or how much time they stay on the site, or the site's bounce rate, is the team effectively managing the website?  If the PR team can’t figure out how many folks read a media placement or press release, what’s the point?  If the direct marketing team can’t measure the amount of qualified leads turned over to sales, that’s a big red flag in my book.

You don’t engage with your company’s direct sales force.  I’m recently concluding a lengthy engagement with a bob client, and have learned a key lesson during my tenure:  the marketing department must act as a sales department service center.  It’s paramount to keep a direct line open with the key sales team and lead qualifiers.  What are prospects' top concerns?  What information is most valuable to those late in the sales cycle? What are the objections the sales team has experienced with missed sales opportunities?  If marketing exists in a vacuum, and doesn't receive this mission-critical feedback, and makes no effort to check in with the sales team, what’s the point anyway? Are we marketing for our own amusement?

Oh dear, this sounds a lot like a rant! Red flag! Red flag!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Top 5 Things to Know about PR and SEO

Here’s a disclaimer before you read this post:  I am not an expert in the science and art of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

So don’t expect technical 'ins and outs' of improving the visibility of a website or web page in search engine rankings (the “natural” “organic” or unpaid search results you see on Google). 

Like other areas in my life (like banjo playing), I know just enough to be dangerous.

A Case for PR
However, business-to-business PR is familiar territory.

And no matter the client or organization, one is reminded time and again that a simple PR strategy, when effectively put into practice, goes a long way in improving SEO results - or how high In the rankings you appear to an interested prospect.

One Non-Profit's Challenge
This struck me recently when consulting with an arts-related non-profit organization. 

The organization is interested in attracting more members who search the internet to learn about arts offerings.

A simple but strategic PR effort can help them in their pursuit.
SEO and PR
This means issuing timely news, press releases, blog postings and other timely and strategic content about the arts program. A regular cadence of PR content will help improve online visibility for indexing by Google and other search engines, and spread the word about their services.
To get started, the non-profit (or any organization) must keep in mind these 5 considerations about PR and SEO:
1) Write concise and timely press releases or articles.  A previous post considers the “one sentence” press release, which is drastic, yes, but serves as a good reminder.  Make news easy to understand, timely and concise.  
2) Put the most powerful keywords in the title. Choose keywords that customers and prospects are likely to enter when they search for sites like yours. Keywords should appear in the titles of press releases, articles and blog posts – and high up in the content.  Not sure how to figure out what words folks search?  Check this free Google keyword tool.
3) Share content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. This non-profit organization already has a Facebook page, but recent updates and timely news are spotty.  They should also develop a Twitter and LinkedIn presence.  Posting news on these outlets provides a big lift in SEO results.
4) Keep the Web site updated with news The frequency with which the content of a Web page changes is important to SEO. New, timely press releases, blog posts, articles or other content helps keep the site fresh, and helps with Google rankings.
5) Spread the word via distribution. Seek out the appropriate newswire service, online newsroom and other distribution methods to optimize search engine results.  This provides links to your content– the more the better in SEO!  This non-profit has a very limited budget. They can post a press release for free (or nearly free) on sites listed below.

Final Words
Remember, you can spell S-E-O with the letters P-R!

Press releases,  feature articles, case studies and by-lined articles all help to raise your company or organization in search engine results. 

When that content is created with relevant keywords, the search engines prominently display that information just as your prospects are actively seeking it.