How’s your website lead generation working for you?
If you respond to that question with something like “I wish it were better. A LOT BETTER.”, continue reading…
I meet a lot of marketers, and the common question among almost all of them is “How can we generate more leads from our website?” And more often than not, I find that they are missing the boat in two key areas:
- They are not taking an objective-driven approach to web development
- They are not taking an inbound approach with their content marketing
In this article, I’m going to focus on issue #1, objective-driven web development. I’ve written plenty about #2, inbound marketing, and I will address it in further detail in a future article, but today, I’m going to focus on objective-driven web development as a means to generating more leads from your website.
Side Note: If you want to read a high-level piece on inbound marketing, read this.
Before I dive into the details of objective-driven web development, let’s step back for a moment…
When it comes to websites, I find that many organizations go into a web development project thinking that they can redesign their website and, voila!, the performance will improve and all will be grand. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works. (Anyone get the TV commercial reference? I know, I’m a nerd.)
But, seriously, often what ends up happening in a web development project is decisions are made based on emotion — “we like this design over that design” or stakeholders will use anecdotal information to justify things like “this element needs to be up higher because nobody scrolls.” When decisions are made based on this kind of logic, it’s really just guessing. And that’s OK for some of the decisions, because you’re really not going to know what’s right until you get the thing launched and then let the data tell you what’s working and what’s not. That’s why taking an objective-driven approach to web development is so critical.
The objective-driven web development approach is a mindset that says this:
“Let’s get the core development project done quickly, so we can get it in play and then make ongoing adjustments based on real data instead of emotions and guesses.”
You can, also, sum it up as:
“Progress matters more than perfection.”
When we say “quickly,” that’s not to suggest that you slop it together. But what we are saying is that web development projects should be swift, relatively speaking.
A real life story about the importance of being swift.
I once had a client that took two years for their web development project to complete instead of the planned one year time frame (this was a very big website). The problem? Everybody on the marketing team wanted to make sure everything was perfect for every stakeholder and they were ineffective at making swift decisions. One small example: the homepage “carousel” went through 28 iterations because their CEO wanted to weigh-in on how it should look, what it should say, etc. And this changed from week-to-week. At the end of the day, nobody wins when you deliberate a homepage carousel for two months. Nobody.
Of course, we learned a valuable lesson as a company — the decision making culture within an organization will make or break initiatives. Think about your own decision making culture — generally, do you move or do you deliberate? This is not meant to be a culture lecture, but I find this to be one of the core reasons companies grow or shrink. And this, let’s call it a core value, will have a direct impact on the success of your web project.
Back to objective-driven web development…
OK, now that we understand the importance of getting the website launched, we need to understand that launching a website isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. This means that we have to shift our thinking from project to program. That is, your website is an ongoing, objective-driven program, not a finite, static project.
The first step in an objective-driven program is to establish primary objectives for key webpages.
First off, what are key webpages? Key webpages are webpages such as your homepage, services, products, about, etc. And these pages, they’re supposed to perform for you. “Perform in what way?” you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked…
Every key webpage needs a specific primary objective at any one time. For your homepage, it might be clicks to the services webpage. For the services webpage, it might be clicks to the case studies section. For the pricing page, it might be clicks to the pricing calculator.
The idea is to define the small interactions that lead to moving users along their buying journey relative to your website content. Let’s face it — a prospect who visits your site for the first time will not be ready to “contact us” immediately upon their first page view. No, instead, their experience needs to be nurtured so that you help them move along their buying journey based on where THEY are at. And that’s really what we’re talking about — helping prospects move one step closer to that critical point of “contact” where the sales process begins (or whatever that looks like in your organization).
Let’s take a look at how this works.
Now that you’re, hopefully, convinced that you should be taking an objective-driven web development approach to your website, let’s look at how you tactically execute…
Let’s start a simple journal spreadsheet with the following columns:
- Begin Date
- End Date
Let’s go through each column…
Status — the status of the experiment. This allows you to sort and filter your journal. Use the following options:
- Pending — an experiment that hasn’t started, but you want to get it on the list
- In Process — an experiment that is currently in process
- Completed — an experiment that has fully completed
Webpage — the URL of the webpage you’re experimenting on. Be consistent with how you enter this data so that you can group your spreadsheet by this column later to see all experiments related to this webpage. This will help you understand a webpage’s history (what worked, what didn’t).
Objective — the specific metric you’re watching and where you’d, ultimately, like it to go. Example: “5% clicks to Services webpage”.
Experiment — describe the adjustment you’re making. As with any good experiment, adjust only one thing at a time! Example: “Change the call-to-action button color from blue to orange.”
Begin Date — the date the experiment began. Self explanatory.
End Date — the date the experiment ended. There’s no hard and fast rule as to how long an experiment should or shouldn’t be. The main thing is to have enough traffic to the page so that your data is meaningful. 200-500 visits to the webpage in question should be enough. Once you have meaningful data, end the experiment — that doesn’t mean you revert your adjustment, that just means that you’re going to consider that the adjustment you made has now had all of the impact it’s going to bring.
Result — at the end of the experiment, the final measurement of the metric you’re watching. Example: “4.8% clicks to Services webpage”.
Efficacy — your rating of how effective this experiment was. Use a 1-10 rating, 1 being the worst, 10 being the best. This can be your personal assessment or you can base it on the actual performance data. For example, if you were trying to go from 3% clicks to 5% clicks on a given element, and your experiment took you to 4%, you achieved 50% of your objective (half of the 2% increase you were after). In this scenario, your Efficacy rating would be 5. This data will allow you to sort and filter later to see if there are trends in efficacy.
Side Note: Beyond your website technology for managing the website and your production team, the only other resource you’ll need is decent analytics software. Chances are, you already have Google Analytics implemented (most web development efforts include this, kind of as an industry standard). If you don’t have any analytics software implemented, have your team do that NOW.With your journal in place, start with one simple experiment as a way to get your feet wet. Enter the data for the experiment, make your adjustment, and then take another measurement once you have enough data (see End Date above). That’s it. It’s, actually, a much more streamlined approach to driving performance increases than a long, tedious web development project. It’s fast. It’s nimble. And it’s guaranteed to increase performance.
What happens next?
And if at the end of a given experiment, you don’t achieve your objective, start another experiment, keeping the same exact text for Webpage and Objective. The reason for this is that you will want to be able to group your journal by Webpage and then Objective later (as I mentioned above, for understanding the “history” of experiments on a given webpage).
When you start another experiment on a given Webpage with the same Objective, you can focus your experiment on the same element upon which you were experimenting (the call-to-action button, as in our example), or you can focus on another element altogether. Maybe you feel that you got all of the juice out of the button color and now you want to move on to button text.
Once you achieve the primary objective on a given webpage, you can then move to secondary objectives. For example, maybe the primary objective on one of your service webpages is to “request a quote.” Your secondary objective on this page might be to click-through to a case study. Be careful, however — working on secondary objectives can have an adverse impact on primary objectives. If this happens, reverse your experiments until you are back where you need to be with your primary objective. Of course, you may learn that you were misguided in what your primary objective was in the first place and that another objective was actually the most logical ideal next step for your visitor. The key here is to keep experimenting.
Of course, the concept of objective-driven web development could be a very lengthy training beyond this article. Additionally, there are a number of tools that you could employ to help you with your experiments. But, if you’re doing none of this now, using this simple journal and starting an objective-driven web development approach will do wonders for your website performance and your visitor-to-lead conversion, specifically!
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