I’ve heard it over and over:
Really? Your website isn’t important? Are you sure?
I decided to write this blog post because it’s easy for businesses to get tunnel vision when it comes to their corporate website. It’s easy to think “hey, our website doesn’t generate any leads for us, so it’s just not that important”. But thinking this way is a mistake. You need to get a bigger vision for your website.
Don’t think in merely cost and ROI terms because there are many things that are hard to measure but are still important. In other words, there are a lot of hidden costs to consider with an outdated website.
My goal in this post is to outline 3 of these hidden costs so you can have a more holistic view of your website. There are plenty more that I might outline in a future post, but these 3 are pretty crucial. So let’s get started.
Hidden Cost #1: Sales Frustration – “Aloof Albert”
Albert owns a commercial property management company in the San Francisco area called “Commercial Care”. He has a team of 20 property managers, an operations director, a bookkeeper and 2 salespeople. Business is going fairly well but Albert has noticed that lately, his pipeline isn’t as strong as it’s been in the past. He has good salespeople and they work hard, but it seems like they’ve been the “second choice” lately with the deals they’ve been working on. Albert is starting to get concerned that if something doesn’t change soon, he may have to let some of his property managers go.
Albert is a caring owner and he makes sacrifices for his staff, but many have noticed that he doesn’t seem to listen to feedback. It’s as if he discovered a few business principals a decade ago and isn’t open to trying new things. Many of his staff members have expressed concern that their website is out of date and hurting the business, but Albert doesn’t think their website has much to do with the situation. Because he doesn’t listen to feedback well, he’s missed some serious queues from his lead salesman, Charles. Charles has tried to communicate to Albert that their outdated website has been part of why they’ve lost some deals lately, but Albert doesn’t believe that prospective building owners even go to their website. He’s convinced that 95% of their clients come from referrals – other happy building owners telling their friends.
Charles and the rest of the team really look up to Albert and don’t want to make trouble. It’s much easier to just let Albert make the decisions and go on with their jobs. But there’s a serious problem. If they don’t get 3 or 4 more management contracts in the next month, 2 or 3 of the property managers won’t have jobs. This reality weighs heavy on the team.
What’s going on here? Well, Albert has missed something crucial. It may be true that their outdated website drives little new business into the company. But what Albert doesn’t realize is that 2 out of every 4 referral prospects are going to Commercial Care’s website to research the company. They didn’t find Albert on Google initially, but after being referred to him, they look him up on Google and end up on his sorely-neglected website.
Unfortunately, all of their services are out of date and many of the staff members on the website don’t even work at the company anymore. This is doing serious damage because:
- Albert’s company looks much smaller than it actually is
- Prospects are misled to believe that Commercial Care doesn’t do some of the vital services they need
To make things worse, the website doesn’t have any testimonials even though Albert has plenty of reviews on third-party websites like Yelp. Charles has told Albert that prospects have told him bluntly that their website looks archaic and that’s why they went with another company.
Here’s the bottom line: When your website is out of date, it makes it so much harder for your sales team. The last thing you want your salespeople thinking is “boy, I sure hope they don’t go to our website”.
Albert should have realized a long time ago that even if their website isn’t driving business from a search engine standpoint, it can still drive business indirectly. A prospect needs nothing more than your business name in order to land on your website.
Hidden Cost #2: Missed Marketing Opportunities – “Puzzled Patrica”
Patricia owns a management consulting company in southern Texas called “Visioncast”. Patricia’s firm helps companies discover their vision and then partners with them to get their day-to-day operations in line with that vision. Patricia’s firm has a great reputation in their area and they’ve won a handful of awards for their work. As the company has grown, Patricia has had to hire more team members and has noticed lately that their margins are slimmer than she’d like. To fix the issue, she’s discovered that they can handle about 15% more work if they had the contracts. She hired a marketing director, Tina, 3 months ago in order to beef up their PPC and outreach campaigns.
Tina had a fantastic work history and stellar references so when Patricia hired her, she felt excited and confident. Tina is doing well at Visioncast, but keeps mentioning to Patricia that their website isn’t very flexible and is hurting her marketing efforts. Patricia isn’t sure if she agrees with Tina because from the outside, their website looks amazing. She’s received many compliments and it seems to convert well. But what Patricia doesn’t realize, and Tina does, is that their website was built very poorly. They choose a developer who claimed that he was competent in WordPress, but his code was telling another story.
In order for Tina to succeed with her inbound campaigns, she needs a flexible WordPress website where she can create compelling landing pages. She feels like her hands are tied and Patricia doesn’t understand the issue. She fears that she won’t be able to do a good job with their current website and unbeknownst to Patricia, is actually looking for a different job.
What’s going on here?
Well, quite simply, as nice as the Visioncast website looks, it’s still 6 years old and super challenging to manage. Because of this Tina is very limited in what she can create for her AdWords campaigns and her conversion rates are dismal.
Here’s the principal: when you’re working with an outdated website, regardless of how it looks, your marketing efforts can be greatly hindered.
Patrica should listen to Tina’s concerns more. In fact, Tina found a web development agency who could rebuild their website at a very reasonable price. If Tina was able to get Patricia’s buy-in, she would be in a much better position and would halt her job search immediately. Unfortunately, Patrica finds to whole issue puzzling and doesn’t appear to be open to a rebuild.
Hidden Cost #3: Recruitment Woes – “Frustrated Frank”
Frank recently got hired on at a large, reputable CPA firm in Atlanta called “Bronson & Winkle”. Frank’s primary role is to recruit new talent and fill open positions for the company. He’s relatively new to the recruitment field so he’s working double time to make a good impression with his boss James who is head of recruitment. James is somewhat removed from the day-to-day experience of his recruitment officers so Frank is feeling somewhat isolated.
Day after day, Frank puts together solid listings and posts them on the B&W website and job listings sites. He’s starting to get a bit of traction but his biggest issue is a lack of applicants. When applicants do apply and make it to an interview, they’re surprised at how great of a company B&W is. Frank agrees and is passionate about the position but doesn’t understand why the drip of applicants is so low. He’s starting to get concerned that his performance isn’t going to be high enough for the position to last long term. He expresses his fears with James but doesn’t get much help there.
James is feeling some pain as well, as his department isn’t hiring nearly enough to keep up with the demand for their services. Both James and Frank are frustrated but not sure what to do. Frank has a feeling that some of this has to do with their outdated website, but doesn’t have the confidence to bring it up with James. James is oblivious and doesn’t even consider that their company website is 10 years old and says virtually nothing about their culture, employee benefit or awards.
So what’s going on here? On closer examination, B&W’s website has been terribly neglected. Not only are their services out of date, but pages aren’t even functioning correctly. Many times when you’re browsing the website it will give code error notifications that mean nothing to website visitors.
Search engine traffic has waned over the years due to the website not being mobile-friendly. James and Frank don’t know this but would-be applicants just aren’t interested because the company seems uninteresting and says nothing about employee culture or benefits.
Here’s the principle: When you neglect to invest in your online presence, your company can lose its attractional value with employees and vendors.
If James was more involved, he would discover that there’s little to no pull for potential candidates. If the company would realize the hidden cost of having an outdated website, they could fix this and a myriad of different issues.
I decided to do this post in fictional story form because stories are much easier to remember. Too many companies have missed crucial considerations with their website and in turn, are experiencing hidden costs. In these examples, the hidden cost comes from lost sales, lost marketing reach and lost talent. How do you measure these things?
Companies will do well to have an “always-be-improving” mentality with their website. Whether they’re using a web design company or doing all of the work in-house, making a continual investment in your website can have a long-reaching and expansive effect.