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Make sure you get payback from the web

Before a business invests in anything they will have a reason for doing so…effectively they will have identified a payback.

Sometimes this payback can be clearly quantified. For example investing in new equipment could mean saving so much in production costs each month, meaning the new equipment pays for itself in a given period.

Alternatively the payback is less quantifiable, but should be visible. For example improving work conditions, improves staff moral, which increases production for the same cost.

In either case the business is able to see, over time, whether the investment has been successful or not and possibly look at increasing or decreasing investment.

Why, then, should a business be asked to invest in a website and their web presence without having identified a payback. How many web providers approach is:

“We are experts at providing awesome websites…they are flashy like this…”

To which a business will more often than not respond, “So”, hang up and push the thought of the web to the back of the list. By doing this the web provider has not just lost a potential client, but possibly meant the business will delay or never look at how an investment (or reinvestment) in the web, could give a bigger, quicker payback than any other investment.

When looking at their base needs of reducing cost or increasing revenue, the web is rarely on the list of possible solutions that a business looks at. In some cases it should be the first. This is because few businesses, suppliers or users, have actually identified the paybacks that can be achieved using the web.

So, the starting point for looking at the web should be identifying paybacks. Businesses looking to improve their business should include the web in the solutions they look at. Additionally web-providers should be able to understand their (prospective) clients’ businesses enough to propose how the web can help meet these business needs.

In some cases the goal payback can be clearly quantified. A one off, annual and/or monthly investment in the web can lead to:

• Increased product/service sales
• Lower cost of sales/marketing
• Reduction in admin. costs

This could be achieved through increased national or global presence or more focused sourcing of enquiries. If the payback is not identified at the start, the web may not be used in the correct way, as opposed to giving quick payback.

So what does this mean for a business? Are they more likely to invest if told they can have a “really awesome website…” or:

• You will have 10 more enquiries for conservatories each month
• Your existing clients will buy 50% more of your portfolio
• You will sell 4 more cars each month
• You will reduce rekeying (and related errors) 400%
• You will have 30 more covers in your restaurant each month
• You will create a trading environment for £1m deals
• You will be able to take booking 24/7 without increasing staff
• Your sales team will always have 100% of your huge portfolio to hand

The figures are obviously subjective, but this shows how investing in and working with the web is an important business decision, based, like other business decisions on payback.