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Thursday, 13 July 2017

How To Turn Around A Failing Web Site - Proven 6 Step Plan

For the 3rd time in two months you are standing in your boss’s office as he explains to you that one of your primary responsibilities is to turn around the failing company web site. You can tell his patience is growing very short with your performance. He shows you a number of emails from the sales and marketing departments illustrating various criticisms that have been leveled against you.

The marketing department is upset because they can’t find the company web site listed anywhere in Google, Yahoo, or any of the other major search engines. The sales department is upset because they have not received a qualified lead from the web site in months. The boss candidly tells you that he cannot protect you any longer. Things have to change or you will be looking for a new job very quickly. What do you do? Where do you start?
This type of situation is played out in companies all across the nation. Almost every company realizes the Internet can or is a huge frontier of possibilities for sales growth, developing cost savings, effective communications with customers, marketing research, and many other wonderful possibilities. However, when a web site is not delivering any of these promised benefits and you are the person in charge of the company site, you can find yourself in a very difficult position; especially if you don’t know how to turn the situation around.

Fortunately, turning around a failing web site and Internet marketing strategy can be much easier than it sounds if you start with a logical plan and approach the required improvements in a systematic fashion.

Problem Identification:
Identifying exactly what is wrong is the first big step you can take. If you are not sure what the problem is before you start trying to fix it you will end up spending a lot of money, time, and resources going in the wrong direction. The problem with a failing web site falls into three basic areas…

Traffic Generation:
Getting people to your web site, regardless of how they get there, is the first key item to look at. However just getting any traffic to the site is not helpful; you must be attracting your target audience and prospects to the web site.

Most marketing experts would say that this only applies to eCommerce sites, but in the context of this article I am using it more broadly. Conversion is simply the performance of the web site. When traffic arrives at the web site what do they do? Do they immediately leave? Do they explore a couple of pages and then leave? How long are they on the site? What percentage of visitors to your site buy or take action on something? What features or areas do they spend the most time browsing? These factors as well as others determine how effective the site is.

How often do previous visitors come back to the site and how much repeat business do you get from your site if it is an eCommerce site? Most sales professionals will tell you it is much easier to get a sale from an existing customer than from a new customer. If you must constantly attract new people and new sales to achieve all of your sales goals and cannot depend on any repeat business you are going to quickly develop a problem.

Outside of technical IT issues or malfunctioning web pages, all of your problems with a failing web site from a sales & marketing perspective will fall into one or more of these 3 areas and will vary in terms of their severity. Interestingly, many of these issues are interrelated so fixing one issue can have a positive effect on the others. Conversely a problem or shortcoming in one area can have dire consequences on other areas.

Here is a simple plan of turning around the failing site:

Identify the Problem(s):
Of the three areas above know exactly which areas are experiencing the problems. It could be only one area or it could be all three, but know exactly where the problem is.

Rate the Severity:
Any experienced manager will tell you that you can’t fix everything so it is important to prioritize the problems. Of the 3 areas above rate the severity of the problem in each area on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very severe.

Identify Sub Problems:
Within the areas above will be specific problems that are contributing to the overall issue. Identify and rank them as you did with steps one and two above. Again, you can’t fix everything at once so a task list and prioritization will be critical to your success.

Create a Realistic Benchmark:
Once you know where the key problem areas are and where the specific sub problems are, be sure to create a realistic benchmark of where you would like to be. The benchmark can be based on a competitor or on internal factors, but have a benchmark and make sure it is realistic given where you are staring from and the resources you have to work with.

Create a Task List:
Create a task list of items that need to be addressed to fix each of the sub problems listed above. It may be helpful to be very specific in this step and also include additional documentation of resources available and timelines to fix.

Create a Tracking Mechanism:
Find a realistic way of tracking the completion of tasks, the corresponding improvements (or lack thereof) and meet regularly with a team or management to discuss these reports. Use this step as a way of correcting your course or refocusing your efforts on things that are generating positive results.
Fixing a failing web site is not an impossible task, but you must approach the problem in a logical and realistic fashion. Trying to tackle a huge problem that seems to change daily will get you nowhere. Once you identify the problem areas and break down the tasks to complete and set up benchmarks and tracking mechanisms you will reduce a huge problem into a manageable problem.

Unfortunately the sub problems or data gathering phases of the above steps can be fraught with problems, internal politics, and lack of resources and/or knowledge. If you discover that be true in your company an eBusiness consultant can really help you get on the right track by facilitating the process. However regardless of your choice to use a consultant or not the 6 step process above will definitely help you identify and more importantly focus your efforts to turn around the failing web strategy.

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