Who Set's Web Site Strategy?


One of the tracks is individual Jupiter Research analysts discussing issues they've been tracking. I'm attending on on optimizing staffing, spending and technology selection in the Web enterprise. I'm not sure what a "Web enterprise" is. I gather its an organization that depends on a Web presence to do their business. The analyst is David Schatsky.

An important first question: Who manages your organization's web site? Your IT department (most companies) or your marketing department? The issue is one of overall Web site governance as well as who's making the final decisions. The problem is that there are often competing interests and optimizing one business line at the expense of another or just leaving them to fight it out may suboptimize the overall enterprise strategy.

One of the key topics is Web site metrics and analytics. Metrics must balance customer and business view. Examples of business metrics include conversion rate, average order size, etc. Examples of customer metrics include satisfaction rate, traffics, etc. Clearly the former is more closely aligned with what most organizations want from the Web site, but you can't get there without the latter. The question is do you track them both and manage them both?

When asked "Why do you conduct usability testing?" 43% of respondents said to "ensure best possible experience" and 24% said "make sure we're considering customer needs," while only 16% said "drive metrics like conversion rate."

Furthermore, most companies are not just making the wrong decisions, they're making it from the wrong data. 59% of respondents make usability decisions from surveys and 44% from interviews, but only 14% made these decisions from revenue metrics and 12% didn't collect any usability data at all.

The truth is, its easier to gather technical metrics over business metrics such as page views, hits, and other visitor technographics and harder to figure customer profiles, registration conversion, realization of marketing goals, etc. Fewer than 25% of companies use click-stream data, recency of purchase, open-rates and click-thrus for email, or other data to drive Web site decisions. 63% of companies do not have a full time employee whose job is to analyze Web site behavior.

So, what to do? First, David recommends that you put a firm governance structure in place. Decide who's in charge of these steps:

  1. Define business goals
  2. Establish success metrics
  3. Identity levers, behavioral inputs
  4. Prioritize investments
  5. Manage, exploit usability

Second, hire an analyst whose job is to turn technographic data in to actionable reports for sales, marketing, and production.

David wraps up with these conclusions:

  • Web operations spending is healthy and rational
  • Complex governance structures can undermine Web effectiveness
  • Identify and track metrics relevant to business success
  • Tune organizational structures to unlock technology value