Home Business Do you want your website to actually generate sales? Here’s what to do

Do you want your website to actually generate sales? Here’s what to do

by Ana Lopez
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That is estimated more than 218 million Americans will shop online this year. Countless others will research products and services, connect with brands, and begin their customer journey on a company website, even if they end up buying offline. For marketers, it has never been more urgent to be able to use the website to fill lead pipelines and convert them into customers.

And yet so many struggle to implement the elements they need to do so: digital campaign assets or tool integrations, A/B testing of digital strategies, or even new product pages or content. Our recent survey of marketing and IT leaders revealed that two-thirds of all website changes take more than a month to implement, and a quarter of all changes can take more than four months. Imagine having to wait four months to launch a mission-critical campaign.

While websites have become a central communication and commerce tool for brands, the way we create and manage them has not kept pace with business needs. In fact, our research found that web team collaboration is by far the biggest obstacle to a website’s performance, and the spate of recent team cuts and budget cuts hasn’t helped.

But even in well-equipped environments, the reality is that today’s decentralized workplaces make it harder for marketing and IT teams to collaborate. A website’s success depends on a group of passionate, multi-purpose champions who can get the right things done quickly. In this economic environment, collaboration has truly become the new lever for success.

As chief marketing officer, a large part of my role is to facilitate web collaboration to optimize and align website performance with business objectives. Here’s how I do it.

Related: Websites are more important than ever. So why are many still falling short?

1. Search for the website champions

When I come into a new organization, I have a short list of priorities I want to address in my first 30 days. One is to review the web strategy and determine if it is delivering business results. As I meet with people from across the organization – in marketing, IT, sales and other business areas that have a stake in the website – my goal is to identify who owns this critical asset.

We already know from our research that ownership is often equally claimed by marketing and IT. But I like to go further and identify specific team members who really support the website. Those are the people I know I can talk to. I prefer this distributed accountability model because I’ve seen impressive results from cross-functional teams owning their own strategies, priorities, goals, and even their own definitions of “website performance.”

Using this multiplier effect ultimately means that the more people invest in the success of the site, the more opportunities there are to improve performance. Because when they work together well, cross-functional teams can break down silos, increase efficiency and innovation, and collectively advance an organization’s goals.

2. Encourage performance-based iteration

I recently found myself in a room full of CMOs discussing the website changes they’ve made in the face of the economic downturn. One after the other, they all described an almost identical playbook: their pricing pages change. This approach piqued my curiosity and I asked them if their pricing pages were among the most visited pages on their respective sites. To my surprise, no one really knew.

Now I’m a big believer in agility and iteration – and optimizing your pricing page can definitely result in more conversions. But as a performance marketer, I also believe that changes should be supported by data. After all, if you’re going to invest time and resources in updating the website, you want to make sure you’re repeating the right elements.

Building a culture of agility and iteration means allocating resources to testing, measuring and understanding what works – and what doesn’t. And that requires the right tech stack and the right processes. But it’s also about empowering people to build an evidence-based understanding of what needs to change — and feel comfortable speaking it out.

Related: Struggling to acquire customers online? Your website may be to blame. Here’s how to fix it.

3. Lead with empathy and empowerment

Optimizing marketing resources means making changes to work or processes that are close to someone’s heart. Frankly, any change can be hard to swallow, especially if it comes via a bitter pill. So whenever I find myself being more salty than sweet, I think back to one of my daughter’s childhood basketball coaches. This woman had a great way of pulling the kids aside when they made the right move, and praising them for it at the time. Of course, she delivered constructive criticism as well, but she made sure it was always sandwiched in a positive way.

Fostering effective collaboration requires a similar combination of empathy, encouragement, and fairness. And while I lean heavily martech and workflows to facilitate and automate collaborative processes, I also believe that creating a positive, caring culture is important to bring people together to work towards a common goal.

At the end of the day, we are all people building websites for other people. And to get the best results for everyone involved – including our employees – we need to make our internal collaborative experience as rewarding and frictionless as our customer experience. In today’s competitive digital environment, we simply cannot afford not to collaborate effectively.

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