It’s a question we hear all the time… Clients come to us with big marketing goals and, as we chat through our recommendations, they inevitably ask if it’s time to update their website. First, it’s a good question. Your website is basically your company’s digital headquarters, and it’s got to be inviting and strategic to make anyone want to stick around. But second? There’s not a simple answer to the question. If you’re thinking about updating a website or launching a new website, there’s actually a lot to think through. Here’s where we recommend starting.
Quantitative Research (Data)
All of the best decisions in business are made based on three things: quantitative research, qualitative research, and instinct. If you can access and merge all of them, you can feel a whole lot more confident about the direction you choose to go. To begin answering your website redo question, look at your data. Pull up your Google Analytics and your marketing automation system (and any other relevant tools you have), and dig into the reporting.
Specifically, check out data that indicates engagement and check it against industry benchmarks. For example, one source found that the average conversion rate for the health and wellbeing market was 3.44% in February 2020. If you’re in the same space, review your own data and compare how it stacks up. A conversion rate around 3.44% is solid, and shows your website is doing what it’s supposed to. A higher conversion rate, of course, is even better. But a lower rate may mean your website is breaking down in key areas needed to convert customers.
Other quantitative data to evaluate will vary based on your offerings and what you have on your site, but could include the number of downloads you get on a price list, number of quote requests you receive, and the average time visitors spend on each page and/or each visit. Look at the numbers where they are today, and also compare them against the same numbers six months or a year ago. If they’re trending downward, see if you can make an informed assumption about why. Did COVID-19 hit your customers hard, and therefore reduce their ability to purchase what you sell? Did you roll out a new product that hasn’t been well received? Do the same with positive trends. Maybe you updated your messaging a few months ago and see a correlating spike in time spent on your pages around that same time. This may show your new messaging is working.
Qualitative Research (Secret Shopping)
Once you have some idea of how your website has been functioning to date, it’s time to conduct qualitative research. We’re big fans of surveys, and recommend sending out a survey to your existing customers to ask for their feedback on your current site. But in addition to this, you can gauge a lot about potential website ROI by enlisting the help of secret shoppers.
You can ask for an agency’s help with this (we do it all the time for clients), or even start with your family and friends. But the point is to have people who are unfamiliar with your website navigate through it, and report back about their experience. Ask for specific insight into user experience (UX), intuitiveness, ability to find what they’re looking for (give them pages to find or tasks to perform), and overall aesthetics and functionality.
You might find that nine out of 10 secret shoppers tell you they couldn’t find your product page, and were confused by the navigation menu. This is obviously a huge red flag that your site architecture must be fixed. Or, you may discover that most of your secret shoppers found your site pleasant and well laid out. This, coupled with the quantitative data you’ve uncovered, can help you figure out where your main problems lie as well as what is working well on your current site.
If all of this research makes it clear your website is underperforming, there’s no shame in it! Most companies start out with a bare bones site that covers the basics and then update it or overhaul it when it’s necessary. Now that you know your website can do more for you, you have to then decide if it’s feasible. Discuss the following with your fellow leaders:
- Size of the project – Will you need to simply make some tweaks to your site (e.g. optimize it for SEO) or do you need a complete redo? Do you have photos, videos and graphics that are current and can be used on the new site, or should you plan to invest in new imagery and media elements?
- Available budget – Can you free up enough funds to hire an external agency or bring in some sort of experienced help?
- Internal resources – A partner will handle all the heavy lifting with a new site, but you will still need at least one or two internal points of contact who can answer questions and sign off on concepts. If no one has the time to commit to this, you should wait until they do.
After you talk this through, it should be clear whether you can comfortably afford and participate in launching a new website. If the answer is yes, awesome! Now you just need a qualified partner to help you execute your plan. Hmm… where to find such a partner… Chat with us today. We’re ready and eager to help you get started.