Who is Responsible for the Performance of Your Website?

On Monday, we tried to answer the question, “what is your website for?” Today, we want to take on the natural follow up to that question.

Who is responsible for the website performance?

Again, this is a tricky question in many organizations. If I ask it, a number of hands might shoot up. The head of marketing says it’s her, or someone on her team. Is it the SEO? The designer? The person in charge of conversion rate optimization?

There are a lot of people in any company who have a stake in the performance of the website. The problem is, there is no one person in charge of strategy and decision making. And without that person to lead, what happens is websites are managed by committee. And that’s where things go wrong.

So let us map out an example of what a website team might look like. This can be used as a guide at your company, or modified to fit your needs.

At the top is the singular person who is responsible for the performance of the website. It doesn’t matter what this person’s title is. His or her role is to set strategy and make the final decisions as they relate to the company’s website.

Which includes:

  • Landing pages

  • Homepage

  • Technology

  • Design

  • Functionality

  • Checkout

  • and more….

At the end of the day, this person will be judged based on the overall performance of the website, as measured by the key metrics agreed upon at the top of an organization.

He or she is supported then by teams responsible for SEO, conversion rate optimization, UX and creative, data and analytics, development, and advertising. Each of these people or teams share some overlap with the person in charge of web performance.

The data and analytics teams are measuring that performance and looking for ways to improve. The SEO aims to make changes on the site intended to earn higher rankings. The advertising team wants to improve landing pages and the overall conversion funnel.

And all of these teams converge on the person in charge. He or she is taking all of the ideas and prioritizing them based on need and value added. They are making the final decisions on what to test, what to change, and what to keep as it is.

A structure such as this leads to maximum accountability, because the individual success metrics for each team that touches the website roll up to those key performance indicators that matter at the highest levels. Strategy supersedes lower level tactics, and decisions can be made across teams in a way that makes clear the priorities of the company as a whole.

Encourage Your Team to Be More Productive

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It’s not always possible to spend more money. And it’s not always possible to hire more people. But your boss, and your company, still expect sales to grow – month after month and year after year.

How is it possible?

As a leader, you have to do more with less. You have to become more efficient. And you have to coach your team to do the same.

Here is a blueprint that you can use to encourage your team to be more productive this year:

  1. Prioritize

  2. Cut

  3. Automate

  4. Outsource

  5. Test

  6. Start

Prioritize

What do you do that adds value to the business? Where is the cross-over between your personal strength’s and the team’s goals? Everyone should focus their energies on those tasks that add the most value, knowing there is not enough time in the day to do everything. Approach each and every day with one goal: make an impact.

Cut

The flip side of focusing only on those items that add value is the need to cut out tasks that don’t add value. These are the kind of box ticking items that fill your day but don’t move the needle.

Can they be automated? Delegated? What would happen if this simply was not done anymore?

It’s also possible to cut time spent on other things that don’t add value. Reduce meetings from an hour to thirty minutes. Turn off notifications. Only check your email at certain times of day.

Automate

Technology has advanced to the point where if you have regular, process-oriented tasks that don’t vary much from day to day, there is a high likelihood that task can be automated. Automating tasks frees you up to focus on more important projects.

Weigh the amount of time it takes to automate something against the amount of hours you spend on it over the course of a month or year. Chances are, it would be beneficial to automate.

Outsource

Most people are not paid to do busy work. Lower level tasks that can’t be automated yet are candidates for delegation. These may be delegated to other departments within your organization, more junior members of your team, interns, or outsourced completely.

Paying an hourly fee for someone else to do lower-level tasks also frees up your time to focus on more important items.

Test

Teams spend far too long analyzing and forecasting before making a decision. That time is better spent preparing and executing. To move more efficiently, we must be willing to test new things. Try them out, measure the results, and decide what to do next.

Don’t waste time debating potential outcomes when it is just as easy to try something out and see what happens. And be willing to fail. Don’t over-invest in things that don’t work.

Start

Do whatever it takes to get started. The biggest productivity killer of them all is delay. We delay for all kinds of reasons.

Block out time on your calendar for intensive projects that require your attention. Tackle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning so you don’t push them to the bottom of your to-do list. Say no to meeting requests if you don’t have the time. Seek out help immediately if you are not sure how to proceed.

What Are Your Key Business Questions?

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On Monday, we posted what has already become one of our most-read posts of the year, entitled “Who is Your Data Expert?” If you have not had a chance to read it, take a few minutes to do so now.

Enough readers have reached out with follow up questions about recruiting and hiring data analysts and scientists that we thought it a good idea to remind everyone of the critical step every company should take before employing your data expert.

You must know your key business questions (KBQs).

What is a Key Business Question

Key business questions are the questions that your data expert will be tasked with answering. They are the questions you have about business performance that are central to the overall strategy you are deploying, or considering deploying in the future.

The best way to define key business questions is to look at a few examples…

A key business question for Netflix (and most subscription-based businesses) is, “how long does each new customer stay with us?” The answer to that question will guide marketing and acquisition strategy. It will tell the marketing team how valuable each customer is, and what the return on investment is for each campaign.

Going a step deeper, another key business question could be, “what causes a customer to quit the service?” To become more profitable without raising prices, Netflix can lower the cost of acquiring new customers, or it could build strategies for keeping customers longer. It is only by knowing what causes a customer to quit the service that they might develop interventions that affectively keep people subscribed.

In this way, KBQs are the questions you ask to derive the key metrics you need to operate your business successfully. You may know the answers already, and you may not. But two things are supremely important:

  1. Knowing the answers without knowing the question doesn’t help you. This is like looking at a business dashboard that is overly complex and does not drill down into the key performance indicators that truly matter.

  2. Once you can agree on your KBQs, you need to ensure that you get accurate answers to those questions. Those answers are going to be what you use to drive strategy going forward.

Identifying Underutilized Talent in Your Organization

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When it comes to hiring, there are three common complaints you are likely to hear if you spend any time with management teams in small and medium-sized businesses:

  1. Hiring the right people is one of the most difficult challenges we face,
  2. It is hard to find people with the right set of skills to accomplish our goals, and
  3. We do not have the budget to hire all of the people we need.

But often, there is a solution to these problems hidden in plain sight. And that is your current workforce.

Many smaller businesses do not have the same hierarchical structure that most large companies have put in place. This is a good thing when it comes to managing a team, but it can create functional boundaries that make hiring and professional development more difficult.

Because there is no clear upward path to new roles within the organization, your people often reach a plateau, wherein they can either look for new challenges outside of the organization or they can stagnate right where they are.

But new project, new priorities, and new strategies bring with them an opportunity for you as a manager to rediscover the talent on your current roster. Rather than immediately planning for an external hire to fill the new role in your plans, think about who you can tap internally.

Chances are, there is underutilized talent in your organization just sitting there, waiting to be discovered.

The following are some ways you can tap into that talent:

1. Cultivate it over time.

In order to encourage the talent that you already have to continue to grow and develop professionally, you should make that a regular part of working for your organization. Give people access to professional development opportunities throughout their tenure and follow up with those that take advantage to find out what they learned and how they enjoyed it.

2. Be transparent about future plans.

In order to give people the best chance of future success, it is important to be open and clear about where the company is going. When people know the types of roles and positions that are likely to be necessary in the future, they can begin to prepare and adapt to those roles today. This kind of thinking can guide their professional development, ensuring that they end up with the right types of skills the company will need tomorrow.

3. Incentivize internal moves.

Don’t sit by and assume that people will on your team will raise their hand and volunteer to take on new tasks. But incentivize them to do so. If your company does not have a traditional path to promotion, you need to motivate people to think outside the box. Encourage moves within and across departments with financial and non-financial incentives.

4. Establish cross-training norms.

To ensure that you don’t lose institutional knowledge when someone moves to a new position, it should be a regular practice within your company to make sure at least two people know how to do any one task. This also creates a sense of shared responsibility which can help teams grow closer. When each person is responsible to making sure that others are knowledgeable about their roles and assignments, we can eliminate some of the boundaries that make hiring and training so difficult.

How Do You Handle Business Failure?

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No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. And because companies are made up of people, they make mistakes too.

One would hope that with enough planning and preparation, with enough people there to add their opinions and check our work, that companies would always get things right. But, alas, there is not a company out there who has not experienced at least one significant failure over the years.

So the question is not if your business will experience a misstep, but when. And what will you do when those inevitable failures come?

Don’t Plan to Fail, but Prepare for the Possibility

We never want to plan to fail. But knowing that failures do happen, it is a good idea to know exactly how to handle it when it happens.

Preparing for the possibility of a failure means doing a few things:

  1. Have a plan B. No matter what you are working towards, always know where the exits are. When you have a plan B that you can easily pivot to, the failures can turn into successes.
     
  2. Develop a communication plan. Put people in place to analyze and determine whether or not something is working as expected. If not, create clear lines of communication for those people to let the company’s decision makers know right away.
     
  3. Be honest with yourself, and with your staff. Sometimes, when we decide to go down a certain path, it can be hard to admit when it’s not working. But in order to rebound from failures, we need to be able to honestly evaluate our decisions after the fact and be transparent about all decisions going forward.
     
  4. Learn and grow. Part of being transparent means learning from past mistakes so that you don’t make them again. Companies that have processes in place to examine what went wrong and why are better prepared to succeed into the future.