Data drives every decision in modern marketing. And if for some reason it doesn't, it probably should. But in the age of reach, engagement, clicks and conversions, why are so many companies still turning a blind eye to data for their websites? Why not use website analytics to continuously improve their user experience?
Think about how you develop your website. If you relied on a freelancer or web developer, you probably didn't connect your site to your business and marketing objectives. Even building it through your own development team can make you take some wrong turns.
So, digital marketing leaders like HubSpot are promoting an alternative. The moniker, "growth-driven design," puts your online presence in the hands of your marketing team. Instead of living on an island, all of your web design and development efforts become part of your marketing strategy—and your website analytics see results.
The results are clear. To illustrate, take in my ten reasons why growth-driven design works, and why you should be implementing it with your marketing team.
1) Embrace an Agile Approach to Web Design
Agile development comes from software development—something that's changed drastically over the past five years. Web design is just catching up.
The agile philosophy takes a lean approach to development. Instead of large projects, site builds are broken into small sprints that come with their own building and testing. As a result, bugs and glitches are detected early, the project can move forward faster and quality assurance becomes more important.
Okay, but I thought we were talking about design.
You're right! Growth-driven design adopts agile concepts for web development. Instead of a costly redesign and a static website in between, you get a website that's continuously improved.
2) Put the Focus on Your Audience
As I said, growth-driven design takes a data-based approach to web development and website analytics. That data comes from your audience. By leveraging tools like Google Analytics, you can better understand your audience and their preferences, which helps you build a better online presence to satisfy their needs.
Consider some of the metrics you can use to build and improve your site:
- Bounce rate
- Average time on page
- Landing page conversion rates
- Visitor demographics and geographics
- Average page views per session
- And much more.
All of these follow a theme: they put the focus on your audience. Put them together into a single report and you begin to build a picture of who your visitors actually are and what they prefer. Now, you can use that picture to build a website specifically designed for them.
3) Build for the Future, Not from the Past
One of my biggest problems with traditional web development is that it's inherently reactive. You find a bug, so you fix it. Your bounce rate rises because your site takes too long to load, so you address the issue. Errors and forced redirects start adding up, so you adjust them to minimize SEO penalties.
It's not that these issues shouldn't be fixed. But what if you didn't have to worry about them to begin with? Growth-driven design takes a proactive approach instead.
Because of better QA, you find technical errors before they go live. And because you build your website with your audience in mind, you account for visitor trends and preferences in every build. And, of course, more frequent builds help you make adjustments quickly if problems emerge.
4) Connect Marketing and Web Development
Take another look at the sample metrics above. If you know at least some marketing, they start to look awfully familiar. And that's another benefit of this type of design approach: it connects your website analytics with your marketing strategy and efforts.
Your website is your central marketing hub. It's where your audience goes when they see an ad or your content and want to learn more. That said, your site needs to aid the journey from an unaware target audience member to customer by offering relevant information and tangible next steps.
If you think of your website as a marketing tool, both sides will improve. Your ads will result in more conversions, improving their ROI. Your web metrics will improve too, as audiences stay longer and take more action. In drawing these connections, your site becomes part of your marketing strategy to grow your business in a sustainable way.
5) Save Short-Term and Long-Term Costs
Major web redesigns make a steep impact on your budget.
Is it really that bad, Jeff?
I'll let you do the math. Using traditional methods, you'll pay between $15,000 and $100,000 for a new business website. Compare that to $10,000-$20,000 for a growth-driven design alternative.
The reason is simple: more frequent, and therefore quicker, updates. Because it is more responsive to regular QA, you run into fewer major issues in the development process. And you STILL save in the long run.
Imagine paying $25,000 every three years for a new site. Now, compare that to $10,000 for growth-driven design. Even if you spend $5,000 per year on regular updates after the initial design, you still run even. Add the improved ROI because your marketing efforts hit home more frequently, and you come out way ahead.
6) Leverage Measurable Website Analytics for Continuous Improvements
You build your website with your collected metrics in mind. But don't forget about that data. After the initial build is complete, these metrics turn into the core factors driving your website strategy.
Once you start tracking metrics, you can optimize for them. A low conversion rate, for instance, might lead to changes to a landing page designed to drive more sign-ups and shopping cart adds.
Add strategies like A/B testing, and you can build a website that never stops improving.
7) Reduce Uncertainty in Your Digital Strategy
When I say that all marketing decisions are data-driven, I mean they really should be. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. So how can you decide whether or not your display ads have a greater ROI than your sponsored social media content?
The answer has to include your website analytics. As comprehensive as the analytics tools have become, the tangible action still happens on your site. Options like UTM tracking and setting goals help you understand exactly what happens after any type of content drives traffic to your website.
The clear benefit is reducing uncertainty. You can build your entire digital strategy with conversions in mind, understanding exactly which channel (and mix of channels) offer the best results.
8) Keep the Focus on Your Core Objectives
As your website gets more complex, it's easy to move out of your lane. That infographic or immersive video sure would look great on your homepage, wouldn't it?
Neither are bad ideas, but you have to make sure they fit into your larger strategy and messaging. When you do web development and updates in a bubble, the latest version won't match your overall strategy. So, another reason why growth-driven design works is because it keeps you on track.
Like other marketing initiatives, growth-driven design helps you keep your focus on measurable objectives instead of vanity projects. If a flashy video doesn't result in conversion, it might be time to invest your budget elsewhere.
9) Net Better Marketing and Sales Results
Consider everything you'll gain with the different elements of growth-driven design. It's simple: growth-driven design will net better marketing and sales results.
Because you consider your audience's journey to becoming brand loyalists, ads will tend to perform better. Along the way, your website turns into an essential sales tool in making the pitch on your behalf.
Meanwhile, you account for audience trends and projections, eliminating sticking points (i.e. lack of mobile-friendliness) in the process. The impact on your sales process and results is significant.
10) Account for Future Business Growth
Finally, don't underestimate the benefits of growth-driven design as your business grows. Growth is a major objective for almost every organization, and you have goals to achieve. But can your online presence grow with you?
With a traditional approach to web development, the answer might be 'no.' You'll at least need regular overhauls to account for increased traffic and site complexity.
Now, imagine making the same improvements in increments over time. In essence, you have a built-in scalability factor that gradually adjusts your website as your business and audience needs become more complex.
Drive Toward Growth-Driven Design
Your online audience is more sophisticated than ever. They need (and expect) your website to be part of a larger messaging strategy, helping them in their user journey.
At the same time, you can't afford to wait years every time your website needs an overhaul. That's why growth-driven design works for businesses. The agile approach helps you prevent time- and budget-consuming updates. So if you aren't already, it's time to jump on board. Growth-driven design is here to stay, and ignoring it might just mean losing a valuable share of voice online.