If you were to ask most business people why they have a website, some would say “just cos I need one“, some would say “because I need my phone number and address available somewhere on the Web” and some would say “because with the right management my website can be home base for all of my business marketing strategies“.
Here’s the thing, even if you are in the third group (need a site for marketing purposes) there is a good chance you don’t actually need a new site at all. Seriously, don’t jump on the band wagon of the latest fads and convince yourself you need to shell out a big chunk of cash for something you haven’t seen any value in yet. Would you do that for any other part of your business?
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To make an analogy, if there are a lot of spiders living around the outside of your house and the bug-terminator guy advises you to spend several thousand on the off chance that those spiders make it inside your house, you are going to tell him/her that you don’t quite see the need for that just yet. Truth is you might be better to spend just a little cash here and there plugging up obvious holes and maybe even trying out a couple of alternatives to see if that fixes the problem first (spraying the bugs in the yard with a $50 can of spider-be-gone).
Enough about spiders, the point is, your approach to what you do with you web presence should be based on return on investment.
We had a client come to us at one time asking for a complete redo of their existing site because even though they actually had good traffic, they weren’t seeing any value in it – nobody was making contact with them through the site. Although websites can have many different purposes, for the most part, website owners simply want a phone call or similar contact from potential customers (or purchases on ECommerce).
If you just rebuild a site from scratch using your favorite shade of pink, because you like the color pink, you are in no way guaranteed that the money you are spending is doing anything at all for your business. If you don’t use the right approach to developing the new web entity, you could quite literally be creating a site that although pretty in pink has the same value in terms of ROI as your crappy old one. What have you just done? You have spent money blindly without really asking yourself WHY people weren’t contacting you previously via the old site.
Now I will say this, if your site is TOO old then you may still need a new site and most sites have a shelf life of maybe 3 years? For example with the huge push towards mobile technology use now it’s probably a good idea that you convert to a mobile responsive theme, otherwise you run the risk of losing a large mobile viewership.
So why no to building a new site?
Up front cost
To build a new website right it can cost several thousand dollars if building it from scratch. Why build a new site from scratch if what you have already can work perfectly fine with a few important tweaks.
Other more pressing things on which to spend your hard earned money
Seriously? You can’t think of a single thing more important than a new website? Not one?
It can take ages to build content
In the past we’ve seen folks “hate” their current site and think it a great idea to start from scratch entirely. Getting rid of existing content is just a bad idea. It takes some time for the search engines to digest the content you already have, removing that content and replacing it with new content will take ages longer.
If you simply junk your current website and don’t properly handle existing search engines listed URLs, you could be punished for it and that’s not good either.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): the alternative to building a new site
No upfront major cost chunk
With CRO there is no exorbitant upfront cost. You pick an affordable monthly budget and aim for specific ROI. You measure the value of what you’ve got in real terms (increase in form submissions, phone calls, emails, downloads, support chats etc.). Your analytics will show you that only certain key pages are where the majority of folks visit – focus on them at less expense to you and with the hope of driving conversion.
How does one go about doing CRO?:
There are a few different tools/techniques one can use to go about doing CRO. They include:
User testing: It helps to have a set of goals and expectations that allow you to test how people interact with your site. There are commercial tools available or simply a group of friends and associates can be used to test these goals and expectations.
Analytics work: You can use Analytics to measure who comes to your site, where they go, where the leave and how they interact with your site in general. This data can be extremely useful in determining what enhancements need to be made to drive conversions.
Heat maps: Heat maps help you visualize the areas of your site users are most active. Mouse movement tends to be a good indicator of the areas of any given page that the user is interacting with the most.
A/B testing: If you are getting results that don’t make sense, getting less conversions than your old page did for example, it can be useful to do what’s called A/B testing to compare pages. For example you might show 50% of your visitors the new page and the other 50% the old page – with sufficient traffic, over a period of time you can tell which page gives you better ROI.
Incremental measured improvements: Using a combination of some of the methods previously mentioned, you can make small improvements to your site and measure how effective they are over time. For example does your site currently have a phone number top right of the page? How about an email? How about a web form for people to submit questions? Many sites benefit greatly from having a chat box available also.