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Building a Business Around Your Website: Post-Launch Learning for Growth

This piece is part of a series surrounding website development best practices as followed by Marketo’s web development team. You can learn about the pre-planning process, how to create an actionable plan, setting your team & project up for successmanaging your team throughout the build process, and finally how to manage the go-live process in our previous posts.

From your website to any apps you’ve developed, any digital product that touches your customers during their journey from sales to delivery should be seen as a child that requires constant attention and instruction. Imagine having insights into the three things per day your child should learn. What if those three things would increase their chances of achieving their dreams of becoming an astronaut or professional athlete by 400%? Or what about the three things that will help them avoid nasty diseases like cancer and diabetes by 1000%? Unfortunately, this platform does not exist—though I’m sure many parents would pay millions to have these insights. But with the proper set up and process you can get this type of insight to create the optimal plan for your digital child’s health.

In this blog, we’ll prepare your website to be a source of continuous learning for your company. We’ll cover tips for teams, goals, timelines, data, tools, insights, and angles. Sorry, there is no great catchy acronym for this yet, but if you come up with anything to help you remember it, please let me know in the comments below.

SCRUM Team

These are your stakeholders. This should not look that different than what the stakeholders activated for product ROI planning except there may be different team members depending on the size of your team.

If any function or department was missing from that initial set of stakeholders, make sure to plug that hole now. For true continuous learning, you need a representative from each aspect of the business. Representatives from support, sales, content marketing, social media, SEM, SEO, training, user experience, engineering should be included to get a more holistic picture. Each team member has a different view of what’s important to the user journey and what defines success and failure. Miss any piece of this puzzle, and you will be missing opportunities to improve the business outcomes possible with your digital products.

This might sound like a lot of voices in the room, but a complete view is necessary for success. With this many voices, it’s important to have tight agendas that include strict guidelines and scheduling.

Setting an Agenda

Here is a sample agenda and the process to manage it:

  1. Introduction and reminder of the OKRs, available resources, and process that will be followed. Any questions for newcomers are fielded now: 5 minutes

  2. Department lead presentations: 10 minutes each

    • Learned from last week: 5 minutes

    • Want to learn/test this week and suggested ways to learn: 5 minutes

  3. Recommend presentation order

    • Customer support

    • New customer marketing

    • Sales

  4. Resource Q&A to clarify design, development, or other resource estimates: 10 minutes

  5. Voting: 5 minutes

Managing the Agenda and Process

Presentations: Each department gets a total of 10 minutes to move through their initial presentations. The short presentation window keeps things focused. All questions are left for the Q&A period before voting. Each team member must come prepared with:

  • What they learned and how. For example, 33% of visitors are requesting demos on how to use the email service provider (ESP). They found the website confusing and couldn’t find details on how the ESP worked. We discovered this through demo request tracking and surveying 10 visitors that requested ESP demos.

  • Want to learn/test and how. For example, how a video demo and new landing page with a feature comparison can reduce support requests and increase premium conversions. Our goal is to reduce the number of customer support requests by 10% and increase the premium conversions by 5%. We believe these are reasonable benchmarks due to the percentage of visitors that submit support or more information requests related to the ESP.

Filling in the Planning Chart

While departments are presenting the SCRUM leader fills in the chart on the whiteboard:

  • Learned Section:

    • What was impacted

    • Why

    • By what percent

  • Suggestion Section:

    • Type of suggestion (Content, tool, feature, other)

    • Percent of audience it would impact

    • Size of audience they would like to test with

    • Expected impact

    • Time/cost/resources to implement

Voting

At the end of the meeting, the team will vote on each item. If there is a tie and not enough resources to execute on the top results, then there is a short open discussion and final vote by the product owner.

Note that this data is also key in helping management identify the ROI of expanding the team. It is difficult to ask for more resources.

Managing the Process

Start by getting your whiteboard set up. I recommend doing the following:

  1. On the left: the OKRs established for this quarter or month to keep the team focused on priorities when voting.

  2. Underneath the OKRs: the available resources critical to implementing optimization strategies including the number of hours of design, engineering, or content creation.

  3. The chart to capture highlights and suggestions from each department presentations, listing each of the departments speaking in order, so they know when it’s their turn.

As the presentation process becomes a fluid part of your planning you should be able to reduce presentations down five minutes, if possible. If it is taking longer than 10 minutes there are too many objectives per week, the results and suggestions aren’t prepared, or you’re allowing for too much Q&A. Remind everyone of the strict guidelines: if they aren’t prepared, they will not present.

Objectives & Key Results

Objectives and key results (OKRs) gives you a north star. These are sometimes also referred to as your company goals. There has to be some sense of where you are headed and why. How much profit do you need to generate to cover your monthly expenses? How many customers do you need to convert per month based upon the average monthly profit per customer to meet that monthly minimum? How many new leads do you need to generate to convert the number of required customers? You can see how setting the north star makes all of the other OKRs fall in line nicely—right down to measuring how one campaign performs against another.

It doesn’t matter if the numbers you start with are exactly right. What matters is they are grounded in what’s important to your business. Start with what you know and back out from there. You know how much your monthly overhead is? You know how much an average customer generates on a monthly basis?

Timelines

If you’ve never heard the phrase “time-based goals”, learn it. OKRs have this inherently built in. Every goal must have a time frame. Otherwise, there is no common unit of measurement. How much will it cost to acquire 10 new customers in 30 days? Without the 30 days, your entire plan changes. Time is the most important and consistent unit of measurement to ensure you’re meeting goals. Your bills won’t wait for six months. Your goals to grow the business and pay your bills can’t wait either.

Data

What data do you need to see what’s working and what’s not? Examples include click-through rates, cost per click, conversion rates, average enterprise value of a customer,  and lifetime value of a customer. Identifying the different data points needed to gain insights into what’s working is the foundation for a solid analytics plan.

Tools

What tools will you use to measure the data? Tools include Google Tag Manager, chatbots, tracking codes, tracking pixels, and lead gen forms with built-in analytics. These are the tools you’ll need to capture and organize the data that will give you insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Look at tools as an open field and choose what works best for you. From my experience, you can often get a better result using google tags to track data and the Google API to build a custom analytics dashboard providing the exact insights your team needs on a daily and weekly basis.

Insights

A solid insights (or analytics) dashboard will give you insights into where to double down and where to fold.

Insights should highlight behaviors such as a measuring the amount of time spent on the site and the bounce rate based on persona. For example, you might see an average of three minutes on-page with an 80% bounce rate for a given personayou’re seeing. The insight from this is that a specific type of user (persona) spent three minutes learning about your product, then exited on the registration page. This could mean that this persona is a window shopper or there was something specific they were looking for in the pricing and features chart that wasn’t included.

If I saw an 80% bounce rate with three minutes average time on site, I would do the following:

  1. Review the current customer data to identify the number of customers that fit in this persona. Perhaps this persona is not the ideal customer profile.

  2. Conduct interviews with customers to find out why they converted and what would have created frustration or made them leave.

  3. Create two to three premium registration page options to A/B test which has a higher conversion for the same persona.

  4. Create an exit survey that offers 90 days free for insights into why they decided not to buy.

Insights Improve ROI

Insights should tell you which campaigns are providing a better ROI. Assume an example where there are two campaigns with a total of 100 new leads generated per campaign.

  1. 25% click-through rate, $1 cost per click, 1% conversion rate, with an LTV of $100 or a = $75 Loss

  2. 5% click-through rate, $3 cost per click, 15% conversion rate, with an LTV of $1,000 = $450 Profit

If just the click-through rate or cost per click is used to make a decision on which campaign performed better, you’ll be losing many thousands of advertising dollars per month.

From this insight, I see that the issue is product-market fit. In the first campaign, there’s a high level of interest in the message but very little interest in the product even at a low entry price of $100. Reasons could include: the person doing the research doesn’t have decision making power, they are just window shopping, or the campaign was misleading, and the user landed on the wrong page.

You may be thinking, how do I parse through all of these “insights” to figure out what’s working and what’s not? Hire a VP of Angles.

VP of Angles

This person’s sole job is to find the opportunities in your data. Their essential function is to identify where and how to make improvements by doubling down, where and how to test further to identify the triggers driving identified behaviors, and what to kill.

A good VP of Angles will have a CRO (or conversion rate optimization) framework that they use to analyze opportunities and risks to meeting OKRs. They will also have an MED (minimum effective dose) approach to optimization.

Here are summaries of the two CRO frameworks I use and how I implement MED: 

AIO (All in One) Framework

What How Why

Start small with low hanging fruit driving immediate impacts

Focus on key pages in the user funnel:

 

. Top 5 high bounce rate pages

. Top 5 high exit rate pages

. Top 5 lowest time spent pages

. Top 5 figurehead pages

. Top 5 highest time spent pages

. Top 5 delayed page loading

 

Use data and interviews to identify optimal solutions for identified problems such as:

. Google Analytics

. Lead forms

. CRM

. User interviews

. Incentivized exit surveys

. Incentivized entry surveys

. Chatbot interactions

. Email surveys

. What is the revenue potential?

 

. What are the cost savings?

. Are the gains incremental or game changing?
. What will it cost? (team, time, costs)

 

PMI (Plan, Measure, Impact) Framework

What (Plan) How (Measure) Why (Impact)

. Who are we trying to persuade?

. What action do we want them to take?

. What action do they want to take?

. The actions we want them to take

. The pages we will test

. Benchmarks for success/failure

. The required sample size for accuracy

. What is the revenue potential?

. What are the cost savings?

. Are the gains incremental or game changing?

. What will it cost to run tests? (team, time, costs)

Rating Systems

Each of these has a simple rating system to judge the options. Rate each impact on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the test with the greatest velocity, impact, and lowest resource cost. Each score is multiplied by five, and the resulting total is used to identify the top performing tests.

I personally like to use the MED (minimum effective dose) as a super vote.

MED is the smallest input needed to produce the desired outcome. For example, if you want to boil water, the MED is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasing the temperature above 212 degrees will not produce a better result, it will just waste resources.

Example: what is the MED to generate $1 million in new revenue next quarter?

Option Time Cost Proven ROI

Insider event for top referrers

30 days to plan

$10,000

$2 million in new business leads

Launch a new referral bonus program

1 day to launch

 

30-day awareness and activation campaign

$0

Unknown

New content marketing program

2 weeks to build

 

30-day awareness and activation campaign

$25,000

$1.5 million in converted new business

 

You now have all of the tools and processes you need to successful measure and manage your web development process. What you do with it is up to you. I’d love to hear about your web design process in the comments below.

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