How to Secure Budget for Website Improvements (A Marketer’s Guide to Stakeholder Buy-In)

Nikole Rose of Mojo Media Labs

As marketers, we often intuitively know what improvements need to happen to get better results on our website. We know that if messaging is unclear, if navigation is confusing, if our visitors are getting lost, or if we are losing out on key opportunities to convert. We know we need mobile-responsive design because more and more visitors are on mobile devices. And we know that personalizing pages for specific audiences can improve conversion rate.

But many executives and other stakeholders have heard the same cry for a better website. For them, the website has been a drain of resources that don’t generate the promised ROI. Often, they’ll shoot down proposals for website improvements because they don’t want to waste time or resources.

If you’ve faced skepticism or resistance to website optimization, you need a battle plan to bridge the gap and make a convincing business case. Here are the three tips to communicate the need for change and secure the budget to launch your project:

  1. Understand You are in a Sales Negotiation
  2. Bring Hard Data
  3. Know What You Need

1.   Understand You are in a Sales Negotiation

If you’ve been throwing around marketing lingo like awareness, engagement, or sales-qualified leads, you’re probably missing your mark.

For CEOs and CFOs to lay down money, you need to talk to them in terms they care about: revenue and business growth. Other departments, like Sales and Service, may have other priorities like lead generation and customer retention.

Like a good marketer, you need to appeal to their pain points. Open their minds and their wallets by aligning website changes with their most critical KPIs, and the business’ bottom line.

Define your goals and your expected results. CFOs are more likely to be convinced with expected ROI, even if it’s estimated. While certain projects can get away with objectives like brand awareness, you’ll need to make a convincing case that your changes will make a meaningful impact.

Here’s an example. If you ask for $75,000 to make a new website, you won’t get the budget. You will probably be told that the website is fine and to focus your efforts elsewhere.

However, if you ask for $75,000 to optimize your website for lead generation to increase the number of qualified leads by 30% resulting in a projected increase in year-over-year revenue of 20%, you are likely to get the budget.

2.   Bring Hard Data

To justify the expense of website improvements, you need to identify what’s not performing well, and establish compelling ROI for certain efforts.

Use website analytics and website audit tools to find and quantify improvement opportunities.

Here are some of our top picks:

  • Google Analytics – Once configured with your website, you can start tracking website activity, like session duration and bounce rate, and information like traffic source.
  • Website Grader – A free and simple web-based tool that provides a high level website health check-up in performance, SEO, mobile, and security.
  • Technical Audit – A SEO audit that scans your website for technical and SEO issues like loading speed, crawlability, content issues, and metatags

To make sense of hard data, you’ll also need human interpretation. Many marketers have used our Website Self-Audit Kit to drill into their website’s performance through an easy-to-understand website checklist. By identifying strengths and weaknesses, you can set meaningful goals, tactics, and priorities.

To gain stakeholder approval, proven best practices must drive your tactics. Studies and statistics can give your executives confidence in your strategies.

Here’s a case for mobile responsiveness:

3.   Know What You Need

As you talk with stakeholders, make sure to identify what you need to start and finish the project. Without a plan for execution, your ideas may be rejected, postponed, or forgotten. Too often, half-baked website improvements get marked low-priority, or delegated as “something to look into later.”

Streamline the path from pitch to approval to project by laying out a roadmap:

  • What do you need to get started?
  • What steps and stages are involved in the process?
  • What is your timeline for completion?
  • Will you be working by yourself, with your team, with other internal departments, or with outsourced freelancers, or with an agency?
  • How will you measure and track progress and results?

In addition, you may also want to consider unexpected issues or what-if scenarios that could impact the project, like dependencies, delays, or scope creep. This can give you a bit of a cushion, as well as transparency, in case the worst happens.

Gain Stakeholder Approval

Convincing your boss to improve your website and getting other stakeholders on board can be tough. You need to convince money-minded executives website improvements are worth the investment.

You can set yourself up for success with the right planning, proof, and communication. By making a compelling argument and paving a clear path forward, you can secure a budget for website improvements that make your business more money.

Nikole Rose is President & COO of Mojo Media Labs, a marketing agency that has helped tons of businesses increase revenue through better website design and development.

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