Most companies invest in a website redesign every 3-5 years. The reasons a company redesigns or rebuilds a website can vary, from needing a site that better matches business needs, wanting a refreshed visual or user experience, or keeping up with rapidly changing technology.
No matter why you are planning to redesign or rebuild your site, the chances are that sometime in the next few years you will be tasked with planning a site redesign and will need to ask your boss for a budget. And what is more compelling than asking for money when you can actually prove that the project will result in ROI? Now that we have your attention…
A website can be a measurable investment
While a website is widely understood as key to any business, it’s also an expense that marketers often feel they need to justify. The good news is that unlike some other marketing tactics, it’s very possible to measure the ROI from a website because nearly every interaction can be tracked. This is a complicated topic that begins with the strategic planning of the website well before the look, feel and technology are considered. So let’s dive into what you need to do to be most successful.
Establishing measurable goals
When approaching a website redesign, you will likely have a mix of qualitative and quantitative objectives. Just like any other marketing tactic, starting with a defined set of goals is the first step, and these goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound). In other words, “a better website” is vague and challenging to measure, but “a 10% increase in mortgage loan applications within the first year” is a goal you can work toward (as long as you actually have a business plan behind, but more on that later in this article).
Tracking your “before” activity
While this may seem obvious, an important piece of this plan is to have current data for comparison purposes. All too often a business will include a quantitative goal in an RFP but isn’t actually measuring that information now, making it hard to understand the impact of a new website. Therefore, any goal that you would like to measure after launch should also have baseline data before launch. Do you want users to stay on the site longer? This is something that is captured by default in Google Analytics so is easy to measure before and after. But do you want to know what percentage your mortgage loan applications increased? Then you need to track form submissions before and after launch, have a system in place to evaluate the consumer journey, and attribute closed loans to the lead source.
Most sites need custom analytics tracking
The vast majority of site owners use Google Analytics which is a great analytics platform that can track plenty of valuable data. However, there is a level of customization that is required in order track the conversions you really care about, like clicks on calls to action, application activity and more. This involves a combination of event tracking in Google Tag Manager, goal tracking in Google Analytics and better visualization of that data in Google Data Studio. While some businesses have this skillset in house, most outsource this work to analytics experts. Notably any sites with custom tracking in place now will need to make some updates with the introduction of GA4.
What ROI can be expected
There is a lot of quantitative data that can be measured on your website in order to track awareness, engagement, conversion and even re-engagement. This includes tracking:
Time on the site or specific pages
Button clicks to pages within the site
Clicks to third party sites (using cross domain tracking)
Conversions from third party advertising efforts
You will want to first determine which phase of decision making you are wanting to measure and then determine what tracking will need to be in place to do so. Once this tracking is in place, you will be able to fully measure how visitors go to the site, what they did and how that supports your business goals.
Qualitative data is just as important
The qualitative benefits of a website redesign can often be just as important as the quantitative data. Creating an enhanced user experience can dramatically improve how visitors feel about your brand and its trustworthiness. Today’s consumers – especially the coveted younger generations – aren’t particularly brand loyal and they are extremely digitally savvy. Many prioritize their decisions on what a brand represents, so a redesigned site that shows a modernized brand, support for local communities, a unique personality, and relatable values can go a long way toward creating a positive brand impressions and loyalty. What’s more, surveys of this before and after a redesign can in fact yield some impressive and yes, quantitative data.
Build it, but market it too
Many businesses expect a website redesign to also inherently attract the right audiences. While a site redesign should certainly include SEO best practices which should help in organic search ranking, there needs to be a coordinated marketing effort that runs alongside the new site to boost overall online visibility, engage consumers and drive meaningful action.
If you’re looking to increase mortgage applications, your new site’s job is to support decision making and encourage conversions once visitors get there. Use a mix of marketing tactics like paid social media, paid search, email marketing and more to attract specific audiences, and then let your new powerful website do the selling. Your analytics strategy will then help you understand what’s working, what’s not and allow you to make data-based decisions going forward.
Redesign the smart way
Today’s websites should be highly sophisticated digital platforms capable of portraying your new brand, offering a modern user experience and allowing for tracking of all interactions. Once you see them as an investment and not an expense, you will be excited about planning for your next redesign. Let's discuss your next website redesign.