Making a Business Case for Your Website Project
The business objectives for your website should inform the priority, timing, and level of investment required for any related project. But drawing a line between your business objectives and the impact of your website isn’t always clear.
Our most effective and rewarding work happens in partnership with leaders who have clear objectives for their websites and the right level of investment to realize their goals. This article is for anyone looking to develop a business case for their own website, but especially:
Marketing leaders looking to measure impact
Executives trying to turn a website from a money pit to a revenue generator
Finance leaders interested in budgeting and planning for digital initiatives
In this article, we’ll explore common business objectives, how they might apply to your website, and outline a few common frameworks for making a business case for your website project.
What are the business objectives for your website?
External Business Objectives
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a marketing funnel. Many, but not all, of your website business objectives will exist somewhere within this funnel; but, the specifics will vary significantly depending on what your organization offers, your strategic plan, and your current strengths and weaknesses. For example, a nonprofit organization might be focused on attracting more high-value donors, while a brand may be intent on boosting the revenue that comes through the website.
Some common business objectives and related KPIs at different stages of the funnel can include:
Total revenue or donations from the website
Number of unique customers or donors
Average purchase or donation value
Value of recurring revenue or donations
Number of sign ups for product demos or learning more about a product
Quantity/value of products put into a cart
Number of visits to the donation page
Number of newsletter signups
Time on site for product pages or other content connected to purchase or donor conversion
Page views per user
Engagement time per session
Percentage of users who view strategic content
Average time on homepage
Percentage of users who click social icons
Internal Business Objectives
In addition to business objectives associated with user conversions and behavior, organizations can and should consider internal efficiency and quality when establishing business objectives for a website project. The vast majority of clients who reach out to Viget looking for help with their website cite pain points with their existing content editing, admin, or developer experiences—often all three. Inefficiency in these areas adds up to higher operating costs and lower quality outputs.
Updating your website is also a chance to improve the surrounding workflows and experiences for your in-house team, thereby freeing up money and time for higher-value, more strategic imperatives. Possible internal business objectives and related KPIs could include:
Number of days required to publish new content from concept to launch
Number of hours required to create a new landing page
Impact of new editorial content on external business objectives (e.g., is your team crafting high-value content?)
Amount of ongoing support costs vs. improvement to external business objectives (e.g., are you spending money on high-value enhancements, or merely keeping the site running?)
Number of hours required to publish or update serial content (e.g., is your staff spending a lot of time on manual data entry or similar recurring tasks?)
Average retention rates for your digital team, and/or average satisfaction levels (e.g., is the quality of your website and the work associated with it a factor in staff turnover?)
Average number and priority of tickets in the development backlog over a quarter or year
Average number of hours required to build a new component (e.g., do you have a design system that makes development efficient?)
Accuracy of estimates for new feature development (e.g., do your developers run into unforeseen issues related to the quality of maintenance or age of the site?)
Business Case Outline
The contents of your business case will vary substantially based on your specific circumstances, but could include some or all of the following factors:
- Project costs - expenditures that occur at the beginning of the project
Internal expenses / staff time
Hard costs (licensing, plugins, etc.)
- Operating costs - expenditures to maintain/improve the website over time
Internal expenses / staff time
Hard costs (e.g., hosting)
Return on Investment - how profitable you think the initiative will be
Internal Rate of Return - a way to analyze the value of an investment over time; particularly useful for comparing different initiatives being considered for investment
- Opportunity Costs - how much will it cost you to not make this investment?
Performance - what is the financial impact of a slow website? (Google’s case studies are a helpful starting point)
Longevity - what is the financial impact of redoing your website every three years instead of once a decade?
Team efficiency - what is the financial impact of inefficiencies associated with your current website, or staff turnover related to the current website / workflows?
I can honestly say it’s a real thrill to connect with clients who have a solid understanding of the internal and external business metrics they’re working to improve with their website. These types of metrics help to ensure that a website project has the organizational backing to fund high-quality work that will make an impact, and helps establish and maintain alignment on the priorities for the project. There’s nothing better than knowing that our efforts have an effect on the real world, and aligning project goals with measurable business outcomes is a great way to demonstrate the value of this work and take pride in a job well done.
How does your organization create and refine business cases for website projects? If you’d like to swap notes or discuss an upcoming project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!