Your Business Website: Where's the Management? Part 2

Part 1 of this article discussed the first three factors. Here's the conclusion.

Lack of Cohesion between Departments
One of the key messages that I always emphasize is that it's crucial to have compelling calls to action on every page of your site. If you don't direct visitors to the next step that you would like them to take, there's a better than 40% chance that they'll leave or do something other than your desired outcome.

Since this is a “web” and visitors enter and progress through your content in many different ways, it's important to leverage all possible opportunities to cross-link between pages.

Online press releases are often a prime example of this issue. They attract a lot of traffic because their content is naturally full of keywords, but they fail to link to other pages on the site where the visitor can find more information or buy the products and services that they highlight.

Again, a higher level review of the whole site would identify the instances where they were failing to fully capitalize on their investment or achievements.

Lack of Management Oversight
Somehow “gremlins” can creep into even the best and most professionally designed sites, even those that tested fine last week!

Many of the issues discussed in this article can be detected by informed analysis of your Web traffic reports, which are generated by Google Analytics and similar programs.

The key word here is “informed”. These reports can contain a huge mass of data, pie charts and graphs, and can certainly appear very daunting to the untrained eye. I've seen many situations where excerpts are distributed to relevant personnel who immediately glaze over. There is a major temptation to look at the “dashboard” executive summary, and if the number of overall visits is higher than last time, to assume that this is a good sign, and ignore the rest.

The most effective way to gain actionable information from the traffic reports is to look for answers to specific questions. Examples of these might include:

• Which are the main landing pages for the site (i.e. the first page that a visitor sees)? Do visitors progress from these pages further into the site, or do they leave immediately?
• What keyword searches bring visitors, and to which specific pages? Are there keyword searches that consistently generate high numbers either of visitor responses or of immediate exits?
• What proportion of visitors comes to your site from mobile devices? Do you know what your site looks like when viewed through a Blackberry, Android or iPhone?

It can also be helpful to break the reports into relevant sections for each department, rather than expecting staff to look at data that they don't necessarily relate to nor have responsibility for.

However you approach interpreting your analytics, it's important that key personnel are able to see them so that they can perform their tasks around the Website as effectively as possible.

Who's your “Web Ambassador?”
My recommendation to ensure appropriate oversight and maximum return on investment for any Web and social media presence is to appoint a “Web Ambassador”.

This person should be a member of the senior management team, ideally reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer, with sufficient authority within the organization to be a respected voice at the table, and to be heard during budget and spending decision-making discussions. They should have a complete understanding of the organization's ongoing strategy, marketing and patient service plans, etc. so that they are always well positioned to advise on how the Web can support, enhance and grow the business goals.

This understanding and authority will allow them to ensure that traffic reports are appropriately analyzed and acted upon across all departments, and that optimum use is made of cross-linking and other online revenue-generating opportunities.

I also recommend that the Website and social media presence be placed on the management meeting agenda at least every quarter. At this time, the Web Ambassador can report on their evaluation and suggested improvements, with possible costs, projected benefits and appropriate priorities for each one.

There are many excellent tools and utilities available to help you to maximize your return on your Web and social media investment. One of the most critical factors in your success will be your willingness at a management level to take a serious and ongoing look at the resources that you're expending and the results that you're generating. This may require some departures from traditional activities and organizational structures, but the ensuing gains are available and potentially significant.

© 2010, Philippa Gamse.

About the Author:
Philippa Gamse, CMC is a web strategy pioneer, consultant and speaker who has critiqued over 5,000 websites in North America and Europe. To learn more about how Philippa can improve your website results visit http://www.websitesthatwin.com.

No. of Times this article has been viewed : 10
Date Published : Feb 9 2011

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