Web Strategy and Why You May Need It

I often get asked what is Web Marketing Strategy. Wikipedia does a good job of explaining… “Strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often “winning.”[…] Strategies are used to make the problem easier to understand and solve. […] Strategy is about choice which affects outcomes.”

In terms of Web Strategy, if we plan ahead our vulnerability to variables is greatly reduced.

After the dot-bomb in 2001, many Fortune 1000 C level exec’s believed the Internet was a fad (I know because at Organic, we pitched all of them:).

Wait-and-see companies had communications websites. The leaders invested well, but handed over leadership to IT teams which created it’s own complications.

Now organizations are maturing their Web Channel by looking at it from a business perspective. As a result, strategic planning is critical to increasing productivity, creating value for your customers, retaining talent, generating more revenues and cutting costs.

Unfortunately, because many exec’s see themselves as non-technical – small, medium & large corporations seem to be approaching Web Channel Marketing from a tactical perspective. For example:

  • The Board of Directors wants management to reduce costs and increase revenue by growing eCommerce sales/or reducing costs, but are not willing to make a significant investment due to lack of ROI
  • Our website is confusing and hard to navigate – we’re not sure if our website is a communications tool or a sales/transactional tool – our BRAND is suffering as a result
  • We have a channel conflict in terms of pricing and our Web supply chain is separate from our Retail supply-chain
  • Management doesn’t understand the technology in place or realize how underlying Web infrastructure will impact the overall business
  • We have too much content, too much demand for publishing content all over the place – our website reflects how our organization is structured, not what our customer wants
  • Business teams complain that IT can’t get it done
  • The Call-Centre CRM is separate from our website Customer Care and “My Account” support systems
  • Sales and Product Marketing teams are focused on off-line product launches & marketing – there’s little common vision between the website and what’s being communicated on the street
  • Processes are a mystery and things get done by a small group of people with next to no documentation
  • We don’t understand the online customer experience – we’re lacking customer insights
  • I’m sure I’ve missed a few…

If your company’s had a website for a few years, you know your website has become the confluence of your organization. If you’re going to WIN, teams must work cross-functionally because you’re talking to every type of customer you have, directly, one-on-one, every day via your website and you have everything to loose.

Often, in our haste to fix these problem we miss the opportunity to look at solutions in the context of a long term plan of action designed to WIN aka: Strategy. Here are a few tips:

  • Start thinking about your website as a “Web Channel” and build it out with the same strategic thinking and investment you would for a new channel
  • Integrate your Web Channel Strategy into your overall corporate strategy – don’t use the website simply an execution of your corporate strategy
  • Set realistic short term and stretch targets – then measure everything!
  • Plan to hire a VP or GM with Digital Marketing and IT experience – without a senior exec at the helm making change and WINNING takes much longer
  • Organize your Web related IT staff under your new VP – otherwise, you’ll spend too much time and money on territorial wars and bad infrastructure decisions that cut deep into the bottom line
  • Appoint a cross-functional Web steering committee and an operations evangelist who’s job is to facilitate processes across the organization – don’t let your VP get sucked into this job, keep her focused on strategy and driving Web Channel ROI
  • Hire one or more Interactive Agencies – by keeping your Web team focused on the BRAND and managing Agency partnerships – you’ll reduce costs and get to market faster
  • Invest in User Experience expertise, do User Testing and make everyone in your organization a Quality Assurance agent

If you’d like some research on how companies like Target and Macy’s have organized their Web Channel Strategy and Operations, email me marina at marinamann dot com and I’d be happy to share data.

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This website and blog is about digital marketing, web development, social media marketing, advertising, mobile advertising, cross-platform content and consulting. This material is for personal use only. Contents copyright © 2009 marinamann.com. Creative Commons License granted providing the following attribution: Marina Mann www.marinamann.com