The last two years have taught us a lot about customer engagement, demand generation, and acquisition. One of the biggest lessons learned revolves around your website—the most important sales and marketing tool you have at your fingertips. With limited ways to drive impact due to COVID, one of the biggest takeaways is that your website cannot be neglected. In fact, 38% of consumers will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is “unattractive.” Your website must be a tool that evolves with the behavior of your customers and is built in a way that allows for growth and change.
So, how do you get your website to evolve with you?
We believe it’s by having a product mindset when growing and nurturing your websites.
Looking at your site through the lens of roadmaps and go-to-market will forge the necessary discipline in setting you and your business up for success. Create your own roadmap on how you plan on achieving this based on establishing and building out the right people, processes, and execution in the equation.
The Three Pillars
In order to work out your roadmap muscle, you’ll want to make sure you clearly define the objectives and the goals of the website. What quantifiable metrics can you apply that will dovetail up to the broader corporate goals? And what short-term wins can you establish for the team as they drive towards executing against the bigger goals?
Once you’ve nailed that, you can dig into the three pillars of website nurture and growth.
Step 1- Define your people
Focus on who is involved and what types of skills are needed to drive high-performing websites. A few questions to help you get started:
1. Do you have the right teams inside and outside marketing to help you get the results you need to build, grow, and adapt the right website?
2. What roles are critical to have “in-house” and which ones can you outsource to trusted vendors (creative, development, content, e-commerce APIs, and SEO, for example)?
3. What degrees of speciality and management are required for success? If you don’t have the right people in place yet to be successful, how can you look outside the company to help fill critical gaps?
Once the team has been established, communicate clear lines of expectations amongst staff and vendors, and their respective responsibilities. This enables your teams to be confident in their roles, collaborate cross-functionally, and quickly solve problems.
Step 2 - Define your processes
Now that you’ve built out your team, consider the processes needed to create a new level of excellence. Outline ways in which your team can set up consistent and orchestrated cadences around content, hygiene (content maintenance and growth), branding/creative, A/B testing, and metrics/reporting. Doing so is vital.
Each one of these roles comes with a set of different processes that will enable both your team and your business to be successful. Because there are different workstreams (and processes), identify the people who must be involved in some way and utilize a RACI (Responsible Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model so everyone sitting at the table understands their role. Too often, lines are blurred, and folks “creep” into areas they don’t need to.
Lastly, what deadlines need to be created to avoid bottlenecks? How are you driving communications to all of your constituents (employees, partners, customers) to inform, educate, and drive them to a call to action? Without effective communication and guidance, tasks can begin to fall through the cracks, undoing all the effort done to set yourself up for success.
Step 3 - Define the expectation of execution
As you ensure you have the right people and processes in place, execution becomes paramount. Quickly, you have to ask yourself the following questions to make sure that punch doesn’t land square on the jaw:
1. What type of applications are used to drive productivity, improve efficiencies and deliver quantifiable results?
2. How are you training your teams around best practices to drive productivity?
3. How do you track progress, manage expectations, communicate when things are going well or poorly, and what are course corrections—in real-time—to avoid slowdowns?
4. How do you build a tangible dashboard that aligns with goals and is able to show successes and opportunities both up the chain (at the executive level) and below?
There are many applications that help teams work cross-functionally. Many of our clients have used tools like Asana, Trello, or Smartsheets, while others have just been as diligent and used an Excel or Google sheet to track progress. At the end of the day, the most important factor is staying consistent and disciplined in the approach you use to get things done.
Another key item is defining your company’s “way” of doing things. Everyone has a way to execute, so capture it in written or digital form, and make sure that when you begin a project, everyone knows how the work will get done. For example, at Manual Labor, we have a number of pre-built templates that allow us to onboard our partners, especially when we begin working with them on a website build. This can include starting with a client in the discovery phase by going through our predefined checklist which allows us to begin our work from common ground. That way, we begin with one source of truth and agree on the go-forward plan on how we begin execution of the project.
Lastly, how are you communicating up and across the chain about what is expected, progress, and future asks? Delivering a consistent cadence of communication - whether it’s via Slack or email - will help build new muscle memory around when content is due for updated website pages, when customers will be informed of changes, and what is needed for future website releases.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list to think about how you should treat and manage your website. But it gives you some defined areas around how to think about it when you’re considering a new approach to a critical marketing tool.
If there is anything you take from this, here are three vital lessons for consideration:
1. You must think of your website as a product and treat it with the same rigor as a chief product officer would their portfolio. Put in the time to grow and nurture your website through a detailed roadmap
2. You can’t build the right product without people, processes, and execution. Take inventory of your team, all its strengths, and weaknesses, and tap into outside specialists who can help build your product effectively and efficiently.
3. You must learn how to package and market your success that is directly tied back to corporate goals—clearly define the objectives and the goals of the website, backed by tangible metrics.
Most of all, start. Don’t be afraid to stumble—because you will. Just continue to focus on the three pillars that helped you define what success looks like.