With people spending more time online due to the pandemic, it’s no surprise that CMOs are spending 10.4% of their marketing budgets on their website. This gives digital product owners an exciting opportunity to shape their sites to meet shifting customer expectations and demands. But where should these product owners start? We’re often asked the best way of identifying and prioritizing all the potential enhancements for digital experiences and which will provide the highest Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Objective (ROO).
This blog post breaks down three tips we’ve learned from building award-winning websites and advising clients.
Most of you may already have a list of site enhancements on your wish list, while others are just starting. Regardless of where you are in this process, we’ve found that enlisting perspectives from all angles proves the most rewarding.
As a customer experience-driven agency, we always recommend starting with ensuring the needs of people visiting your site and those you’re looking to attract are met.
“Getting user feedback from your customers and potential customers allows you to identify shifting or missing needs,” says VP of Creative/UX/Social Kaylyn Bredon. “There are many ways to gather this feedback, from usability testing, session recordings, A/B testing, and surveys to customer service complaints and social listening.”
A data-driven approach can also complement these efforts.
“Looking at website analytics is an easy place to start, especially if you have proper tracking in place,” adds Amanda Albanese, AVP of Account Services. “Looking at what’s on your site today and how often features, tools and functionality are being used can help guide your thinking.”
Let’s not forget about your internal stakeholder needs either. Having conversations with key business leaders to understand missing features and future business priorities will ensure the end result meets the needs of the business, while also gaining consensus early and securing funding down the road.
"Sitting down with your site authors and looking at your site’s ticket log can also help you understand pain points to get new features launched quickly,” says Albanese.
There are often table-stake enhancements that get overlooked, such as regulatory requirements placed on websites over the years (ADA, CCPA, GPDR).
Senior Director of Technology Bart Skinner says in addition to these regulatory requirements, ignoring technology maintenance costs of vendor platforms will have ramifications down the road. Such consequences include the need to re-platform at a larger price tag and slow down progress of updates.
“Not addressing things like performance issues on your site can impact organic search and user experience,” Skinner added. “Maintaining your site is similar to maintaining your car – you have to give it a check-up and change the oil once in a while.”
With nearly 44% of CMOs facing midyear budget cuts as a direct result of COVID-19 and their C-suite counterparts building scenario plans that include a second wave of the disease outbreak, Gartner recommends distinguishing between the investments that must be protected and those you could afford to lose if budgets were cut.
To accomplish this, we recommend tackling low level-of-effort and high-impact changes first. In our Site Enhancement Prioritization Workshop, we guide client-side teams in prioritizing lists of enhancements while gaining alignment across the business. Individual client teams score each enhancement with the following criteria:
From there, each enhancement is given an Impact Score and ranked from highest to lowest.
“We’ve found the Impact Score helps gain quick alignment between marketing and technology teams, and it starts a conversation around compromise and working together,” says Bredon. “The level-of-effort conversation also gives the technology teams a voice at how challenging it might be to make certain enhancements and sits well with the product owner who is looking to justify the investment to others within their organization.”
This list ultimately culminates into a tactical roadmap of enhancements with a high-level timeline.
When considering enhancements, teams should also assess how easy they are to maintain and update. For example, the workshop has uncovered things like infrastructure needs to support the enhancement.
“During a workshop, we ran into a scenario with a client where their CMS and server needed to be upgraded to accomplish many of the items on their list. Having budgets set aside for the upgrade was then planned,” says Albanese. “This also helped in reinforcing the importance of keeping their system current to prevent lagging behind. Next time, enhancements will be able to go to market more quickly.”
Knowing market volatility will persist in the year ahead, building flexible plans to change with the environment is important.
“Instead of planning for site enhancements once a year [during budgeting season], consider rolling them out in sprints and then testing in market,” recommends Bredon.
Albanese advises to take a deliberate approach to testing by starting with measuring what was on the site before the enhancement. From there, set specific goals for each enhancement.
“For example, if you’re making a technology upgrade to improve site speed, ask yourself what you’re trying to gain from this. Is it an increase in organic traffic? Keeping people on the site longer? More engagement on mobile?”
Once the enhancement launches, give it 60-90 days to be in the market (timing should be dependent on the type of enhancement), and then measure the results.
Knowing testing every single enhancement is not feasible, Bredon recommends grouping your testing plans into two buckets: (1) smaller enhancements that you may rarely test and (2) larger enhancements that can greatly improve a business KPI, like site conversion. These are the enhancements that should be more regularly put into a testing scenario.
There are many signs that it’s time to get started or even adjust your enhancements planning strategy. Many clients come to us for help when:
Ready to move the needle on your digital experience quickly? Contact us, and we will get back to you to schedule a personal consult.