Did you know that good user experience can boost your website's conversion rates by up to 400%? That's according to Forrester Research, one of the most reputed research and advisory companies in the tech space. But what does it take to create good user experience? Cool designs? Well-written content? Websites that load fast? Not quite! Let's find out what makes a startup website really effective.
If you're a software startup in 2021, you already know you need a website. You probably even have a vague concept of why you need one — to build awareness, to create an online presence, to provide an easy way for people to access your app. These are all valid reasons for wanting a new website.
But, if you want to build a successful website, you need to ask yourself why specifically. Why, specifically, do you need a website right now? How will creating a new website help your startup at this specific stage of its lifecycle? And what goals should you be trying to achieve with your new website?
Why Your Website Needs Goals
Emily Bauer is a content marketer for Optimist. In her article Strategic Content Marketing: A Recipe for Growth, she talks about what she calls a "spaghetti approach" to content marketing. The idea is to just throw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks, kind of like when you're cooking spaghetti. The same thing can happen with website building, too.
If you launch a new website without defining clear goals that align with your business needs, you shouldn't expect consisten results from your efforts. Sure, you'll have a website that looks fancy. Maybe you will even have some good content on it. But in the end, it won't give you a good return on investment because you'll have no way of measuring or optimizing those returns.
With web designers charging up to $30K for a single website, can you really afford that kind of a misfire? You need to have a game plan prepared in advance, so that when you finally launch your new website, you can expect to see some actual results. That's why you need SMART Goals.
SMART Goals - What Are They?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. This model was created by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham for an article that was published in Management Review in November 1981. SMART helps you set up clear short-term objectives and long-term goals so that you never lose sight of your management strategy.
So how do you set SMART Goals for your website? Start by evaluating what your business is struggling with at the moment. Are you having trouble getting users to download your new app? Maybe they aren't spending enough time using your software? Or perhaps you're just having a hard time seeing those free trials translate to paying customers? Now, think about how a new website can help you solve these problems. Everything about your website's structure, design, and content can then be organized to achieve that specific goal.
Here's a quick example: 51% of all users cite proper contact information as the number one thing that's missing from most websites. If you operate in B2B SaaS, a sector that thrives on one-on-one customer relations, this can lead to a serious problem. To maximize your conversion rates, you could start by developing a proper contact page with your email address and contact form, then placing it high up in your website's visual heirarchy so that it's easier to find.
Similarly, if you're struggling with new sign-ups, you could use a prominent button to advertise a free trial of your app on your website's landing page. Once you've managed to develop a steady stream of new users, you can use a killer email marketing strategy to keep them engaged and encourage them to become paid users.
SMART Goal Examples for Websites
What does a SMART Goal actually look like? Let's just say that I want to increase conversions for my SaaS application. Based on past data, I know that every 100 new form submissions on my website lead to an average of 20 subscribers. To get 100 new form submissions, I also know that I need to increase my website's visitor count by at least 20,000 pageviews a month. In this case, an example of a SMART Goal for my website could be to increase my monthly visitor count by 20,000 pageviews over the next year.
Depending on your needs, you may want to set one or more goals for your website to pursue at a time. There's some debate on how many SMART Goals you should set for your website at a time, but try to start with no more than one primary goal. For larger websites, you can then use multiple landing pages and calls to action to achieve other secondary goals. Let's take a look at some common SMART Goals a website can have per department.
- Marketing: Increasing product awareness through search engine traffic, keeping customers engaged with powerful micro-interactions, generating more conversions by increasing downloads for your software.
- Sales: Turning existing users into paid subscribers through strategic email marketing.
- Customer support: Developing an expansive knowledge base to address customer questions, making your contact information more accessible so that users can find adequate tech support.
- IT: Making website maintenance easier through an integrated CMS, meeting your company's privacy and security requirements.
- Operations: Increasing workplace productivity by developing a better way to manage employee workflows.
- HR: Attracting new talent using an attractive careers page.
- C-Suite: Furthering the company bottom line by increasing the number of paid users.
Andrew Kucheriavy at InTechnic does a wonderful job summing up all these different use cases in his blog post: Best Examples of Website Goals and Objectives. When all's said and done, make sure that your website goals align closely with your company goals so that you know you're on the right track.
Tips for Setting SMART Goals
Having trouble figuring out what your SMART Goals should be? Here are a few pro tips on how to set the best SMART Goals for your new website:
Coordinate and collaborate: When deciding on goals for your new website, make sure to include not just your marketing team but also your sales team, your customer satisfaction team, your human resources team, and your operations team in the process. Interview key employees at each department or do a general employee survey to identify points of interest.
Consider past data: If you had a website in the past, chances are that you already have a treasure trove of customer data sitting right at your fingertips. Always use analytics tools like Semrush or Google Analytics to measure and optimize your website performance. This data can come especially handy when you're considering a rebrand.
Share your results: Once you have come up with a set of SMART Goals for your website, share them with your entire team to get as much constructive feedback as possible. Having a few different sets of eyes can do wonders for your goal-setting process.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it ! Set concrete goals for your website prior to the launch window and make sure they align closely with your company's bottom line. If you're struggling with too many ideas at the same time, try streamlining them to no more than one primary goal and a few less-important secondary goals.
Leverage existing data on your customers and collaborate with key employees across company departments to figure out what your goals should look like. As a starting point, try checking out my free Website Goals Cheat-Sheet!
Finally, remember to share these resources with your web developer and content creator so that you can all be on the same page. For the best results, try working only with professionals who take a result-oriented approach to building websites.