• March 29, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

The Top Online Makeover Target

Delivering more or better product or service information was the foremost goal of the largest Web designs worked on in 2005, a Forrester Research report contends. Ninety-five percent of 95 respondents to Forrester's Customer Experience Peer Research Panel Survey, Q1 2006, noted that as their primary motivation, according to "The ROI Of Web Redesigns Made Simple," which also presents examples of simple ROI models for retailer, manufacturer, and financial service institution sites. That near-perfect percentage is indicative of the importance of information to virtually everything that an organization can do with its Web site, says Harley Manning, vice president at Forrester Research and report author. "If you're trying to sell you have to provide information about the products. If you're trying to cut customer service costs by getting people to answer their own questions you have to provide service information," he says. "Everything comes back to dependence on information." Building greater brand loyalty received 86 percent of the votes for the most important business goal of the largest Web design projects worked on in 2005, followed by improving customer service with 85 percent. Increasing online sales garnered 57 percent and generating more leads or better-qualified leads for other channels received 38 percent. Overall, the bulk of respondents felt they had been successful at achieving their most important business goals, while with the exception of increasing online sales, more panelists did not know what results were produced than those who felt they failed, according to the report. Perhaps more striking, however, is that more than one-quarter of respondents-28 percent-who sought to build brand loyalty with their design projects didn't know whether or not they met that objective. Much of this is the result of the difficultly associated with measuring brand loyalty, according to Manning. "While everybody agrees that brand is important, including us, people often disagree on the meaning of brand," he says. "Brand for us is the total set of experiences that your customers have with your products and services." Most Web-design projects took less than a year to finish. Twenty-nine of the 95 respondents completed their largest Web-design projects in 2005 in six to nine months. Twenty-seven respondents did so in nine months to 12 months, while 14 did in three months to six months, and seven did in less than three months. Of the remaining respondents, just 18 took more than 12 months to complete the project. Fifty respondents spent more than $500,000 while 42 tallied less than $500,000, including 22 that spent less than $100,000--the most common cost bracket among panelists, according to the report. Forty-nine respondents revealed that their senior managers expect Web-design investments to be paid back in 18 months or less, while just four said that their senior managers would wait more than two years. However, 10 admitted that they did not know when senior management expected a payback. To justify a site design or redesign, Manning recommends benchmarking business performance of the current site and using the same sort of ROI model that your organization currently uses. "You know you've to a certain extent...succeeded in creating an ROI model for your site when people have agreed on [the kind of ROI model], and are just debating the specific numbers to plug into the model," he says. To realize ROI from the design, Harley suggests starting by setting measurable business goals. "You can change conversion rate by a small percentage, but a small percentage of a big number, you can quickly make big bottom line changes to your profit from your site." He also recommends following methodologies that are known to solve common site design problems. "Don't try to reinvent the wheel," Manning says. "If you follow known methodologies and guidelines for the solved problems [like product descriptions], that will allow you to spend the bulk of your time addressing harder problems like how do I deal with personalization." Related articles: Customers Are Checking Out of Hotel Web Sites
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