David Gammel's Web Strategy Report, Volume 2, Issue 3

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Thoughts On Strategy: Changing Web Strategy without a Redesign

Did you know that you can adjust and implement your web strategy without a complete web site redesign? It’s true!

That’s just what Kevin Holland at Air Conditioning Contractors of America did when he shifted a webinar series from individual registration events to a monthly subscription. A few tweaks to their content and functionality and they launched a revamp program that is easier to market and creating a greater return for the organization. You can read Kevin’s write up on what they did here.

My boldest clients are forging ahead and repositioning themselves to be prepared to provide maximum value when better times inevitably occur. Even if your budgets are tight this year you can still make modest changes to your online presence to bring it in line with your operational goals without starting from square one. (In fact, this is ideal since you get the most return on your investment if it’s feasible.)

Your next question is probably, well, how do I get there? Here are three steps to take:

1. Review your primary web site outcomes and audiences.

Your web site exists to serve higher level business goals. Have those goals changed? If so, are there different outcomes your site should be contributing?

The audiences for your site are driven by your overall market. Has that market changed? Are the people behaving differently? Are there entire new people or groups that have dropped out? Determine what has changed about your existing audience’s needs, desired and perceptions as well as new audiences you should add into the mix.

Getting a handle on changes to your online outcomes and audiences enables you to take the next step.

2. Which strategic web site outcomes serve those business needs and audiences?

There are seven potential strategic outcomes for any web site. (You can download a white paper on these strategies here.) The trick is to pick the right mix to best serve your desired web site outcomes and anticipated audiences. Compare your current strategies to your outcomes and audiences. How should the mix change to better serve our needs?

If your outcomes are the same, how can you shift strategies to better serve them? The ACCA example above is a great sample of shifting strategy in pursuit of the same outcome.

With those answers, you can then go on to the next step of making changes to your site.

3. Adjust the content, design and functionality of your site to better support your strategy.

A good web strategy helps you decide what content, design and functionality will best serve your needs and create the most value for your organization. While avoiding a full redesign, consider what tweaks and changes you can make to what you have that will incrementally move you in the direction set by your updated strategies.

At all costs, avoid what I like to call ‘big projectitis’ where the web site is placed into stasis while you wait for the budget and capacity to free up for a full redesign. It’s unnecessary and counter productive in the extreme.

Be bold! Shake things up and try something new to goose the value your site is contributing to your efforts. If you don’t do it, who will? If you would like to discuss likely areas to improve your site, drop me a line.

Case Study: Expanding Webinars Beyond the Event with Podcasts

I have been conducting a lot of webinar events over the past six months or so. Lately I have tried something new that I want to share with you in this issue of the newsletter.

Boston Conferencing invited me to conduct a webinar for them on increasing participation in association social media programs. I recorded a short piece of audio promoting the event that BC placed on their site and that I posted to my site as a podcast. The week before the event, a person I know on Twitter who had signed up for the event let me know they were looking forward to a particular part of the content listed in the promo. The event was such a success and drew so many questions that I was unable to get to that bit of content by the end of the program.

I promised, live at the end of the webinar, to record that part of the content and post it as a podcast to my site. We also had dozens of unanswered questions we couldn’t get to, so I answered those in a podcast as well. Both were posted on my site, promoted on Twitter and attendees were notified by the organizer to access them.

The podcasts probably took less than an hour total for me to put together. The benefits of creating them include:

  • I kept my promise about the content we announced we were going to deliver;
  • Every question was answered;
  • People who didn’t attend the event could sample some of it via these podcasts and follow a link to get the archive if they wanted more;
  • Approximately 50 people signed up for my newsletter, which they saw after coming to my site for the podcasts.

You can achieve even greater value for your online educational events by applying similar techniques. Be nimble, be creative, and don’t hesitate.

I’m now receiving regular requests for Q&A podcasts from people who didn’t even attend the event. Nice buzz!

You can find all of the podcasts mentioned in this article here.

High Geekery: Two Cool Tools and One Great Process

Here are two tools I’ve learned of recently that are very useful in their own right but even more so when used together.

First up, is UserFly. This service lets you track how someone interacts with your site, down to the level of where their mouse is pointing and how they scroll the page. Each session can be replayed as a movie, making it very easy to see how they used your site. In my experience, viewing real people using your site rapidly identifies numerous improvements. With UserFly, you can do this with anyone coming to your site without scheduling an appointment or them even being aware of it. (Be sure the terms of use on your site covers data collection and analysis.)

Next, is an interface mock-up tool called Balsamiq Mockups. Mockups makes it dead simple to create mock-ups of application interfaces for the desktop or web. This kind of activity is great when determining how to brainstorm interface design before developers code it. This often saves a lot of time and expense because it takes seconds to change the interface in a mock-up while it can take hours after it is actually coded in an application.

Here is how to leverage the two together. Review several UserFly sessions on a critical web application (such as a membership application) with your programmers and designers. Note where users tend to hesitate or generate errors or simply give up. Based on those issues, work together with Mockups to sketch out a new interface that solves those issues. Get agreement right there on the changes you’ll make and then your technical folks can go forth and make it happen. This could dramatically improve key parts of your site while shaving a few weeks off of more traditional processes.

Offerings from David

Webinar Archive Available!
They Built It and We Were There
Is your social network anything but? Do your blog entries draw more crickets than comments? Are you tweetless on Twitter?

If so, purchase the archive of my webinar with Boston Conferencing on how to best achieve participation and member value with association social media programs. This session will zero in on topics such as:

  • How you can use social media to engage with members anywhere online, not just on your own site
  • How to use social media to create valuable outcomes for members and the organization
  • The power of social media when used as a long term engagement strategy
  • The top three ways to accidentally kill an online community and the one key requirement for success

Purchase the archived audio and slides here.

New Service
Achieving Breakthrough Results with Social Media
I am launching a new service for membership executives who want to create breakthrough results with social media for their organization and members. You will receive an e-mail announcement about the service next Monday. Stay tuned!

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