Ask any business leader and she’s likely to tell you the same thing: Our website is critical to our success. But the harder question is the one that comes next: Okay, how?How does your website drive revenue and business growth?
For all their acumen and foresight, C-suite executives might not know exactly how their site will contribute to the organization’s bottom line. If you ask your sales team, they might think of the website as something that only belongs to (and is used by) the marketing team.
This is a problem.
For many companies, the website — this vital aspect of the business — is understood by and used by only a handful of the team members.
Agencies will eagerly sell you a site you might not need
Even worse, the agencies who are eager to sell you a fancy new website with all of the bells and whistles, don’t really care that there’s so much misalignment among your team members. Their job is to sell websites, and you’ve got money to spend. They’ll take your money and build you a website, but it’s unlikely to be the site you actually need.
When businesses see their traffic or their leads fall off, they are tempted to reach for the biggest lever in front of them: a new website. They think this will solve all of their challenges, and they’re ready to invest heavily to do so.
But this is a good time to be skeptical and to move slowly. Sure, you think you want a new website as soon as possible because you need more leads and revenue as soon as possible, but speed is not the best strategy here.
After all, what’s going to make prospects find your shiny new website?
Are they coming to you through organic search? Then you need a robust content strategy to produce and publish the content that will rank in search results and be valuable to customers.
Are these prospects coming through PPC? Then you need dedicated, effective landing pages and conversion paths that will speak to their challenges and present your solutions.
In any case, you need a strategy for how you (and your customers) will use this new website — and any agency not talking about strategy is unlikely to deliver the site you need.
Now, most agencies do talk about strategy, but they’re talking about a website strategy, not a marketing, sales, or business strategy. This means you’re not having the conversation you need to be having.
Business strategy and website strategy: Why you need both
Every agency you talk with will tell you about strategy. In fact, you’ll have a dedicated strategist who works on your project. However, there is a difference between website strategy and business strategy. Both are critical to getting the website you need, and neither is sufficient on its own.
Agencies offer website strategy, but very few put any focus on business strategy. Here’s the difference:
Your website strategist provides the thorough, detailed direction for your entire website redesign project.
Mary Brown is a website strategist with IMPACT. “As a strategist,” she says, “I’m working with clients week to week on page strategy, SEO, UX, and the customer journey.”
This means site architecture, traffic tracking, and measurement tools all fall under your website strategist, who ensures that the work of the designers and developers comes together to build a site that is functional, fast, aesthetic, and user-focused.
However, your website cannot be seen as simply a marketing asset. Rather, your website should be a dynamic sales tool, an educational resource, a community-building platform, and a customer service asset.
These possibilities are limited if the site is not part of a larger business strategy.
At IMPACT, every website redesign project has a coach who helps your team position its new website within a larger sales and marketing strategy. If you don’t have that strategy in place yet, we help you build one.
The coach brings everyone into the discussion — sales, marketing, leadership, service, operations — so that the website is truly seen as a company-wide asset.
As a result, the website becomes exactly what every part of the company needs.
Together, a full strategy
Together, these two strategic directors (your coach and your strategist) offer detailed and big-picture thinking that results in a better website.
Your strategist makes sure every aspect of your site is aligned together, and your coach makes sure your site is aligned with your larger business objectives.
When we synchronize your website strategy and your business strategy, you get a website that’s attuned to your goals and your customers’ needs.
According to Dennis Lomonaco, director of web services at IMPACT, “Your website strategy should be a direct translation of your business strategy and answer the questions that your customers want to know.”
You don’t want to mess this up. The more daylight between the two — between website strategy and business strategy — the more likely you’ll end up with a website that doesn't serve your needs.
“Your website really does need to be used by the entire organization,” says Dennis. “Without top-level buy-in, you end up having a website that marketing will create and sales never uses — and this is not the website you need to drive growth.”
When we bring website strategy and business strategy together for our clients at IMPACT, we call it Website Mastery. We believe this is the best way to give our clients the site they need. A website that will grow with them and serve their business today and years into the future.
A website without the right strategy is a waste of money
If your leads and revenue are down, it’s tempting to divert budget towards the biggest marketing asset there is, but a new website might not be the solution you need.
The most beautiful website in the world is not going to give you ROI if it’s not part of a larger business strategy that drives traffic, converts leads, and builds trust with your customers. If your agency isn’t talking about how the website can help you do that, you should be skeptical.
Dennis puts this very succinctly:
“If the agency who’s trying to sell you a website is not asking what your business goals are, then you’re not going to get the website you need.”
Your website goals and your business goals need to be connected. The best website will be a continuous revenue generator for your business. The worst website will be a money pit.
Make sure you’re getting the site you need by walking away from any agency not willing to address business strategy.