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Create the Right Goals for Your Website

This is part of a new series of posts by Carrie Hane about rethinking how you approach your website.

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Pageviews aren’t the goal. Your goal is the goal. – Mike Powers

All too often, I hear about a website launch that is touted as being member-focused. I applaud every association that successfully creates a website that is not a reflection of its org chart. But that is not enough.

You have to set the right goals for your website. Otherwise, how do you know if it’s working? Your website is a reflection of your organization. If its goals are focused on increasing revenue, then that’s what you are focused on. Is it? Or are you focused on increasing member engagement? Do you want members to buy things from you would your rather have them get value from the products and services you provide so that they’ll become active members?

I’ll let you decide what your organization is striving for when it comes to business goals. But whatever those business goals are, your website goals should match them. Good website goals should:

  • Be measurable
  • Help your audience complete their tasks
  • Give you a return on investment
  • Help achieve business goals

Let’s address each one of those so you can compare to your goals and reset if necessary.

Measurable Goals

Good goals are measureable and specific. “More traffic” is not a good goal. What do you want the traffic to do? “Increase webinar registrations” is a better goal. “Increase webinar registrations by 10% by December 31, 2016” is even better yet. You could get 100,000 visitors to your website a month and have 100 of them sign up for a webinar. That means 99,900 visitors didn’t contribute to meeting the objective. Better to aim for 100 registrations per webinar, no matter how many people visit your site. If you add a deadline, you can track progress and make adjustments if necessary. Because ultimately, you want people to do something – to get value from your content. In this case, that content is a webinar.

Help Your Users

When was the last time you visited a website for no reason? Didn’t think so. And no one is going to go to your website for no reason. They come to it to get information or complete a task. Help them do that easily and you’ll gain their trust and loyalty. Make them hunt around for the thing they want and they’ll get frustrated, and probably leave to find it on Google – and probably another website.

There are two ways to find out what your members (and customers) want to do on your website.

Review your analytics – Behavior speaks louder than anything your members tell you they want to do. Find out which pages are most visited, what paths get them there, where they go next, what referrers are getting them there, what are top exit pages, which pages have highest and low bounce rates. Basically, ask your analytics tool questions, and then ask more questions. Optimize the tasks people are already doing, then move on to smaller tasks you want them to do. Trying to change behavior is much harder than supporting positive behavior that is already happening.

Do a top tasks analysis – It sounds like a survey, but this is a proven technique that asks your members to rank a list of possible website tasks for the 5 most important to them. The outcome is a list of top tasks – usually 3-5 – that are overwhelmingly the top tasks. You can then optimize your site so that it is easy for your members to do these tasks. When a website is optimized for the visitors’ top tasks, all tasks are enhanced.

When the Norwegian Cancer Society optimized its website for top tasks, they saw  a 70% increase in one-time donations, an 88% increase in monthly donor registrations, and a 164% increase in members registered. (See full case study) Focus on your customer and the rest falls in line.

Create ROI

Your website should pay for itself. That can come in many forms.

Increased revenue – Of course you want your website to help you sell things. You have education, publications, merchandise, member dues, and more. Set targets and timeframes for each type of revenue and measure the results. Analyze the performance and optimize the critical paths to each of your revenue-generating activities.

Increased self-service – You want to allow members to do high-volume, simple-to-do tasks on their own. This clears the way for customer service reps and staff to deal with the more complex questions that require human interaction. When you create a simple self-service environment, your cost per transaction decreases over time. Decide which transactions are best suited to self-service and simplify them for the best results.

Increased lead generation – You always want more prospective members and customers coming to your site. Those people have the same profile as your current members and customers. Provide value for members and you’ll provide value for potential members. Figure out where you get your best prospects from and optimize your website for that source. This might include search engines for a specific keyword, Twitter, or Facebook ads. Harness the power of what’s already working.

Increased life span – A full redesign every 3-5 years as is typical – and expensive. Allocating annual operational expenses for ongoing, smaller improvements will mean a longer time between major overhauls. This will decrease the cost of the website over time while also contributing to the growth of the association.

Achieve Business Goals

Your association has business goals. Your website should be helping you achieve them. Yes, that does include increasing non-dues revenue via online transactions. But that cannot be your only focus. People purchase more when they find value in a product or service, when they have a sense of belonging, and have a sense of trust.  

One goal nearly every association has is to “improve member engagement.” First of all, you need to define what engagement means for your organization. Once you do, then you can set goals for your website to support that business goal. Let’s say that better engagement for you includes more email newsletter subscribers. A supporting website goal could be, “Increase email newsletter subscriptions by 15% by December 31.” This meets all our criteria for a good goal; it’s measurable, creates ROI by increasing self-service, and is focused on a task. Of course, you can’t expect to put a big “SUBSCRIBE” button on your home and and expect that to work. But you can look at all your content (on the website as well as in email and other collateral) to see how it can support the goal of increasing subscriptions.

You spend too much time, effort, and money on your website for it to be lazy. Make it work for you by telling it exactly what you want it to do. At first, you’ll have to do a lot of updates to get the performance you desire. But after awhile, you can put some things on autopilot while you work on new efforts. As a bonus, you’ll be able to report to your executive or board specific, meaningful metrics.

Are your goals are good goals? Sign up for a free 10-minute chat to get a gut check.


As principal strategist for Tanzen, Carrie Hane untangles content by aligning people, processes, and systems so organizations are ready for what’s next. 


(photo credit)

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