How to Secure Budget for Website Improvements. Or, How to Get Blood From a Stone.
Marketers often know instinctively what improvements need to be made to a website in order to get better results. We know that if our site isn’t well branded, for example, it can cost us dearly in lost opportunities. We know we need a mobile website because visitors are viewing our site from their smartphones, and without it our results will suffer. We know that personalization and targeting will increase conversions. Knowing these things and using them as arguments to secure budget from a CEO or CFO for website improvements, however, will never fly. Financially-minded executives don’t think like that.
If you’ve been using similar justifications or the words ‘awareness’ and ‘leads’ to try and secure funds for website improvements, you’ve likely met with resistance or little success. In fact, it’s probably easier to get blood from a stone than it is to get funding for your website projects. To get CFOs to gladly open their wallets, you need to speak their language—and that’s revenue and profit growth. Present them with a plan that demonstrates how your web project will generate cash flow and you’ve increased your likelihood of successfully securing funding.
Defining Goals and ROI
When planning for a website investment, you first need to determine expectations. What do you expect to happen if you use the money you’re asking for? Establishing project goals and expected outcomes is essential if you don’t want your CFO to file your proposal in the nearest circular bin. Too often website projects get pushed off for another year, or worse entirely. Skipping this step is why.
If you hand a CFO a proposal with numbers attached, you’ve gained instant credibility. Even if some of those numbers are noted assumptions. You won’t be able to quantify the ROI for all projects however. In these cases it’s ok to use the less convincing words such as ‘awareness’ or ‘leads’ or even ‘competitive advantage’ to justify the project, but you still need to make a convincing case. The better the case, the more likely your project is to be funded.
A few examples:
#1. Clearly calculated ROI case for website personalization development project
Businesses see an average 20% uplift in sales when using personalized web experiences. If you average 100 sales per month, and each new sale drives $5000 in annual revenue, a 20% increase in new business is expected to drive $100,000 in incremental revenues per year. Factor in the total project cost (including staff, vendor, technology, and travel expenses) of $20,000 and you have established a compelling ROI and justified the expense.
#2. Less clearly calculated ROI case for mobile or responsive design implementation project
25% of your website visits come from search engines. You currently rank in position 1 for all search keywords you optimize for. Effective in April, Google is penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly in search engine rankings. Statistics show that dropping from position 1 to position 10 in search results will result in a 30% decrease in website traffic. Furthermore, statistics show that half of all mobile website visitors will never return to your site after a bad website experience. If 15% of your business comes from people 30 and younger, 98% of which own cell phones and are using them to find you, you are ignoring this demographic. Based on these statistics, a 10% decrease in sales could reasonably be expected if you do not implement a mobile or responsive website design resulting in a $50,000 net loss in revenues.
A few additional considerations:
- Identify assumptions and ‘what if’ scenarios that may affect the expected outcome, such as dependencies, scope creep, delays beyond your control, cost overruns, and unexpected issues.
- Identify how you will measure and report on actual results.
- Identify best case, worst case, and risk scenarios that could impact the outcome.
If you include all of the above in your website project proposal, financially-focused executives will greet it with interest rather than skepticism getting you that much closer to funding.