Working on the business development side in the web & digital space, it seems as if every other week I talk to a marketing executive who knows their website needs help, but doesn’t really know what to do about it. If that’s you, know that you’re not alone. It can be challenging to convince senior leadership and other internal stakeholders that your web presence needs attention, particularly if “attention” equates to “spending a lot of money” in their estimation.

Getting internal support for a big project is going to be harder for some organizations than others, and there are a lot of variables to consider. And depending on the size of your company and the complexity of your website, you could be looking at a fairly sizable investment for refreshing your online presence. 

In my experience, worrying about big numbers or what feels like an uphill battle for internal consensus is not going to accomplish anything and might actually make your head explode. Instead, I suggest focusing on a few baby steps, which I’ve outlined below. Here are a few actionable items you might consider when you’re ready to start planning an enterprise website overhaul project:

(Small caveat: this process might not be a perfect fit for every organization; then again, it might be a perfect fit for your organization so keep reading!)

  1. baby stepsForm a small committee – keep it small, and try to pick people who (a) have some skin in the game (i.e., the website could actually impact their part of the business), and (b) have some sway internally. For instance, if you’re the head of marketing & communications for a university, pick someone in charge of admissions/enrollment, and maybe the person responsible for fundraising. The goal here is to pick a group of people who are representative of the organization’s goals and interests, but a group that’s small and agile enough to be decisive (maybe 4-6 people).
  2. Set a regular meeting schedule – don’t let this project fall through the cracks. Agree to a regular meeting schedule (maybe an hour every other week at first), set some milestone goals, and make the committee meeting schedule a priority. Treat it like a real project, even before it “has legs”, and use a tool like Basecamp to track your notes and progress.
  3. Define critical business goals – work with your newly formed committee to identify 3-5 critical business objectives that you want to achieve (or problems you want to solve) by overhauling the organization’s web presence. If you’re a membership association, these goals might be something like “increase membership”, “increase sales revenue from existing members” or “reduce the membership attrition rate”.  It’s going to be really hard to get support from leadership for a big project investment if you can’t tie the project to a few critical goals.
  4. Define vision and requirements – when you’re making the case that the website needs to be redesigned, it helps if you can articulate a vision for the site—specifically, how will it engage and motivate your target audience? How will it distinguish you from your competition? How does your web presence need to look and feel? Why/how is it falling short today? From a requirements perspective, what does the site need to accomplish at a bare minimum? What technical requirements ought to be considered (e.g. hosting, using a web CMS, etc.)?
  5. Identify success metrics – let’s face it, the powers that be love objective metrics, so if you can show them a few ways you plan to measure and track the success of your project, you’re more likely to get support. For a website, these could be simple tactical goals like increasing web traffic, reducing drop-off rates or increasing online leads (e.g. online inquiry form submissions, demo requests, etc.). Or, you could think more broadly and strategically by shooting for measurable goals related to sales revenue, market share, etc.

Converting Momentum to Action

Let’s say you’ve formed your committee, pulled together some great ideas on your business goals, vision and success metrics, and then presented all this information to other internal stakeholders. If everything goes well and you earn a lot of credibility and support, you’re still going to run into the question, “how much is this going to cost?” That’s a tough question to answer, because it really depends on what kind of web presence you have today, and more importantly, what you want or need to have going forward.

I’d recommend doing some informal research to get an idea of what’s out there and how much you should be prepared to invest. Interview a few web/digital companies and get them to provide you some ballpark estimates; (to identify those companies, spend some time searching online, ask friends and colleagues for recommendations, or just click here :).) You might also consider sending out a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) as a more formal means to compare potential partners.

If you found these steps helpful, please “like” this post, share it or leave a comment. Alternatively, if you’re looking for more information (e.g. an RFP template, a suggested scope/approach for a website redesign project) please message me and I’d be happy to connect you with some more tools.