Brad Shorr, B2B Marketing Director, Straight North
From the CEO’s point of view, the company website can go one of three ways: it can benefit the business, damage it, or have no impact whatsoever. While the latter two outcomes are clearly unattractive, they are often exactly what transpire — ironically because of misconceptions held by the CEO. Here are three common and serious misconceptions CEOs have about Web development:
Misconception 1: Web development can be delegated to technicians.
A productive company website has a purpose and a strategy. These characteristics come to a website when the CEO is involved in the Web development strategy. Why is the website being built? What is its job — to generate leads, establish a new brand identity, etc.? How will success be measured? Who is accountable for achieving the desired results? If questions like these aren’t asked and answered early in the Web development process, the end result will be a website that just sits there without making any particular contribution to the organization. Technicians — IT departments, Web developers, Web designers and sometimes even marketing departments — cannot be relied on to drive strategic decisions. Strategy starts with the CEO.
Misconception 2: Website performance cannot be measured.
Perhaps misconception 2 leads CEOs to ignore strategy in the first place: if a CEO thinks website performance cannot be measured, what’s the point of having a strategy? Yet the fact is, website performance can be measured, and depending on the objective, can be measured with a high degree of accuracy. For instance, if the website is built to generate sales leads, and is to be supported with paid and organic search marketing campaigns, lead sources can be tracked with great specificity, allowing the organization to know precisely which sources (e.g., Google paid search ads, Bing organic search results) are contributing the most leads and the best leads. Even “soft” website objectives such as brand awareness can be monitored and measured, for instance in terms of social media shares, social media mentions and independent reviews.
Misconception 3: Web development is a one-and-done activity.
CEOs frequently see the company website as a one-and-done chore that, once completed, needs only minor tweaking from year to year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because of rapidly changing technologies, rapidly changing best practices for paid and organic search marketing, and rapidly changing user behavior, the lifespan of a website is probably on the order of two years. Consider mobile-friendliness. As recently as a year ago, having a mobile-friendly website was a novelty; sort of a nice thing to have, but adding value only on the fringes. Today, having a mobile-friendly website is imperative. Why? Because mobile search engine volume on Google now exceeds desktop search volume, because Google is now rewarding mobile-friendly Web pages in organic search results, and because mobile phone Internet access is skyrocketing with no sign of slowing down.
This last example of mobile-friendliness is only one of many that could be cited. The point for the CEO is, it’s important to keep a strategic perspective on the company website. Stay connected to the big picture of how Internet marketing and user behavior are evolving, and also the smaller picture of how your customers are changing, both in terms of what they want your website to do, and also how they want to interact with it. The answers today may be drastically different from those you hear six months from now. By staying tuned in and involved, you give your company the best possible chance of outflanking competitors in website performance.
About the Author
Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, a custom web development agency serving middle market companies throughout the U.S. You can learn more about responsive web design by reading the Straight North Insights blog.