It isn’t just retailers that make money from their websites. Every web asset has a value, and here are six ways of increasing it.
The following tips should make it abundantly clear that exploiting this value to the full is about more than just boosting your e-commerce capability.
1. Rethink your angles of revenue
How do you currently generate revenues from your website? It’s unlikely (but by no means impossible) that your organisation doesn’t offer the kinds of goods and services that can be ordered, experienced, accessed or just plain paid-for via the web.
If your website isn’t doing these things – but you suspect it could – then what are you waiting for?
Or go further and evolve your business model to accommodate new, multiple sources of revenue. Learn from the tangential thinking of software startups who dream up alternative ways of extracting value from the fact that customers use their service. Things like:
- Freemium models, where you give some aspects of your offering away for free but charge a premium for full capability or unusual requirements.
- Resale of customer data, where you cash-in on the value of understanding and recognising your customers (being careful to follow the appropriate data protection safeguards accurately and efficiently).
- Partner content, where you charge other non-competing organisations to promote content that is valuable and relevant to their experience.
2. Work out how to push more revenue over the line
You can’t count revenue until sales have been closed and cash collected. A better website can benefit both of these processes.
Converting online visitors into sales is an automated art-form practised by web developers who have studied the behaviour of your target customers. A precise spoonful of suggesting extra products they might need here; just the right pinch of signposting them to the checkout there… Experienced web developers will be able to give you loads of specific tips on how to increase your conversion rates.
How about reducing debtor days and encouraging faster payments too? Regardless of your business, you can find ways of leveraging your web assets to help if this is a key business priority.
3. Make your marketing weaponry automated and integrated
Your website is a powerful marketing tool for new revenue, and must be properly integrated with other strategic marketing elements such as:
- Brand Social/PR communications
- Targeted campaigns
It’s also a critical element of your customer experience, operating as the funnel through which uninitiated/unknown visitors progress to become revenue-generating customers and full ‘users’.
4. Getting smarter
Consider the following when looking to align your website/s with marketing strategy:
- Non-intrusive ways of capturing data to recognise users who’ve visited previously.
- Understanding where users have come from and what they want, to develop next steps in the optimum customer journey.
- Enabling remarketing via third party web properties.
- Development and integration with applicable mobile apps, and enabling user recognition (single sign-on) across all web assets.
- Using ‘marketing automation’ principles to integrate with back-end CRM and marketing databases.
5. Achieve customer delight by aiming for an effortless experience
A reputation for keeping customers delighted is a sure-fire way to assure revenue and attract new business. If your customer experience is going to be defined by one thing, make it effortless.
Of course, the only certain way of knowing how to achieve this is to invest the time in finding out every conceivable facet of how your customers behave, react and – ultimately – what they need!
It’s always a mistake to second-guess customer behaviour. For instance, assuming that ‘self-service’ – where customers/users are enabled to guide themselves to their own solution to their problem rather than phoning/emailing your call centre – is the antithesis of an ‘effortless’ experience and a cop-out that customers will greet angrily.
Knowing how much self-service to provide, how, where and for who, requires precision rather than gut-feel. Intensive customer research often finds that customers say they don’t like the idea of self-service, but the reality of using it provokes a very different response!
6. Target loyalty and ‘no returns’ with web-driven aftercare
Revenue isn’t revenue if customers ask for a refund, or bail out during the cooling off period. This places significant onus on the aftercare performance of your website to ensure customers aren’t left ‘hanging out to to dry’ once they’ve committed to spend.
After-sales needs to be part of a continual customer journey that starts many steps further upstream in the sales process. Look to explore:
- How to present clear delivery options and expectations for given customer groups.
- Maximising available geo-location/IP address data to estimate delivery times.
- Optimum scheduling of follow up customer communications (including hand-off to the applicable ongoing marketing process).
- Comprehensive self-service resources to reduce the costs and revenue loss associated with ‘fault not found’ returned goods
Strip away business costs by optimising back-end business processes and migrating customers and partners online
Moving away from pure revenue and into the wider issue of ROI, we find the challenge of using your website to reduce costs.
Organisations that offer new online services as an adjunct to their traditional business invariably end up trying to migrate customers from one to the other in order to further minimise costs of sale. Often the traditional business eventually becomes the adjunct to the online equivalent.
Find even greater savings by rethinking the role of the website, not as merely a ‘shop window’ and payment processing vehicle, but as a means of interconnecting internal business processes across your distributed organisation, and externally with supplier and partners.
The opportunities for using software to dramatically enhance the performance and efficiency of business processes are far too numerous to list here, but safe to say – when a professional software development process, incorporating software scoping and user research, is followed – the ROI of these initiatives continually justifies the endeavour.
So while it’s true that a John Lewis or an Amazon relies on massive, specialised e-commerce software investments to achieve competitive advantage, even they don’t stop there. Smart organisations use software to keep the marketing funnel full, to convert visitors into sales, and to assure the collection of revenue and the loyalty of customers. Does yours?