This post originally appeared in Website Magazine’s December 31, 2012 issue.
Resolutions are all about action – pushing ourselves to achieve ever greater results in our personal, and yes, professional lives.
As Horace Mann once said, “I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.” But as a Web worker – be it in interactive design and development, or digital advertising and marketing – what actions (and acts) should you concentrate upon and on which should one’s efforts be focused?
Here are just a few digital New Year’s resolutions for Web workers, along with a few “actionable” tips, to ensure 2013 is the best year yet for your ‘Net business.
Add new dimensions to your analytics
The more you know about the performance of your website and the interactions that occur on it the greater results will be achieved. While many interactive/digital departments are content with a particular set of analytics, adding in new dimensions to analytics enables enterprises to understand how they can make better use of resources (both time and financial). For example, instead of tracking unique visitors, consider exploring how and when each unique source of traffic sends the most/best traffic. Marketers may discover that one source drives the most traffic early in the morning, or that a substantial number of users come from a particular source across the globe. Developing promotions with these insights in mind are near sure-fire ways to have a merry year indeed.
Reduce the barriers to entry
It’s not uncommon for there to be barriers to the engagement of a website visitor. There are both experiential barriers, such as poor navigation and barriers to engagement which prevent website visitors from becoming product or service buyers. For example, if there is not a clear path for a user to take (with detailed navigation and a strong call-to-action) how can they ever be expected to purchase anything or move further through the conversion funnel. And if there are barriers to converting (such as forcing registration or high shipping rates) then perhaps a campaign to test ease of entry should be implemented. Post-visit surveys are a proven way to capture information from departing visitors about their experience and why they did or didn’t engage with the site’s unique selling proposition.
Minimize the performance problems
It’s impossible to convert a user if they aren’t around long enough to convert. In several frequently cited and well-publicized studies several years ago, for each additional second of load time, the conversion rate falls by a certain percentage. In 2012, 56 percent of consumers who spend more than two hours per week shopping online have canceled an order due to an error or slow response time. With more third-party integration’s than ever before and a greater reliance on others to host and integrate features on our own sites, performance problems will inevitably arise. Minimizing the most significant performance issues is a proven way to ensure that it is even possible to put your best foot forward with design and expose visitors to the Web businesses’ core products and services with creative promotions.
Accelerate the promotions
When the website has been optimized to provide a smooth and seamless experience (one without performance problems or outrageously high barriers to entry), it’s time to accelerate promotions in the new year. Armed with more meaningful insights (see the resolution above related to adding new dimensions to analytics) Web workers will find new ways to accelerate promotions. From posting fewer, but better, updates on social profiles (or switching a social strategy entirely to accommodate a new approach; one perhaps that is more focused on customer service than marketing) to employing more integrated advertising and marketing promotions on the Web and mobile (see below), there are myriad ways to accelerate digital promotions, and have a brand – and its products or services – seen and experienced more regularly.
Push the mobile strategy
2012 has been the year of mobile, and 2013 stands to bring the same amount of attention to the channel. Whether you are currently investing in implementing a mobile Web design or deploying a shiny new mobile application, even starting additional local-mobile marketing campaigns, there are plenty of mobile best practices and tactics available for digital-centric enterprises. In fact, most leading enterprise and even mid-level Web content management systems have made available features, which makes brands increasingly compliant with consumers’ evolving digital expectations. Pushing mobile in 2013 won’t be hard, but taking those first few steps are crucial.
Maximize local investment
Unchanged for many years, most queries conducted on search engines are of a local nature and the percentage is actually far higher on mobile devices. That alone should make an investment in any and all things local (even for the largest businesses in the digital landscape) a good use of time and dollars. From expanding local advertising and expanding a local footprint on the Web, enterprises will be in front or users more likely to buy and do so at a lower cost than ever before.
Rethink Social Participation
Of all the resolutions that readers will find herein, this will likely be the most controversial. While there is an ever-expanding list of social media destinations clamoring for consumer attention and brand investment (from bookmarking to networking sites), the role that brands (both B2B and B2C) play on these networks is changing. Today and likely for the foreseeable future, brands will have to work harder or pay more to achieve the same level of awareness on these networks.
End the Laggards, Focus on Winners Alone
Resolutions aren’t just about adopting new actions to achieve success (or perfection) but also to end those practices that are preventing success. One of the savviest practices in business is to kill laggards, those products, services or feature, which don’t lend an assist to conversions or experience low usage in general. For example, say for instance that of the 10 features rolled out last year on a Web property, one receives far less usage than the others. While it’s not uncommon to keep features because someone within the enterprise has some virtual connection to it, eliminating them should they be preventing improved usage (as determined by conversion) should be the focus.
Remember, resolutions are all about action. You might be saying to yourself that these resolutions are all important but how should an enterprise actually start following these resolutions. Simple – just take the first step. Once you get started, you’ll be glad you did this time next year.