So you’ve just relaunched your website and everything’s looking good from a tech point-of-view. 

You’ve spent an unholy amount of time, money and resources fixing the problems you keep hearing about and are very proud of the new platform. 

But something’s not right. Revenue has dropped and you’ve lost 0.5% of your 4% conversion rate in the first month. 

Does this mean it wasn’t worth it? 

Let’s take it back a step and first look at why you made those changes in the first place...

Most changes made to an established website are iterative, they’re ideal for businesses that want to remain agile. We advise hundreds of clients a year to make small changes to their website in the most important places.

It’s less risky and easier to fix, costing less time, money and tears (the three crucial building blocks of business.)

But sometimes a website needs a complete overhaul. Whether it's changing the navigation framework, upgrading the ecommerce platform or revamping the site’s look and feel, or all three!

Whether you’re making design changes or functionality changes it’ll be more like flicking a switch than turning a dial, its effect is sudden and distinct.

A website relaunch is very successful at losing repeat customers. Nothing like changing the wallpaper to make somewhere feel less like home, eh? But they are a necessary step in growing a business and must be done right.

So how do you measure the success of your relaunch?

When measuring conversion rates you’re only taking on board 3-5% of your customers as a source of information. What about the other 95-97% that didn’t pay for anything? Why? What’s going on there?

Dynamic attitudinal analytics on your first time visitors is the way. First time visitors are a reliable constant, rolling in like a fresh wind to lift the sails, so you can use them to compare to how you were doing before.

Making the most of this measurable constant, and a decent methodology, it becomes easy to quick-fix the stuff that you’ve overlooked. Since actively listening to the people who don’t give you money will help you understand what will make them give you money. Or, if they plan to use you in a way you didn’t think they would.

How do I know if I’m making the right choices?

Option one is to ask a fortune teller. Option two is to ask your customers. By finding out exactly what they want from your website it takes out the guess-work and gives you a reliable answer.

Our data has advised different sites to focus on navigation, look and feel, security and product descriptions when looking at website re-launches. No two websites are ever the same, so it’s vital for a business to grow faster than its competitors by understanding the most important areas for change.

However, there are a few key areas which seem to be a constant:

Two different companies from the same industry saw a drop in customer satisfaction after their websites relaunched. Despite the fact they had only made design changes – nothing functional – customer satisfaction took three to six months to recover (before surpassing previous scores).

This is a trend we see where it takes visitors a long time to adjust when faced with a new website.

Adopting a one-size-fits-all policy across the website doesn’t work either. With one client it became clear the way people used the navigation menu to browse for a new kitchen was very different from the way they browsed for a single piece of furniture.

But the site didn't account for this, making the process far more cumbersome than the customers were expecting, leading to all sorts of problems.

What if it all goes wrong?

You fix it! Fix the right things, the things that matter to the customer. Prioritise the biggest issue by making sure you understand what the customer expects and where it’s going wrong. 

  1. When handling a digital re-launch its vital to know the most important areas you should improve. You won’t get it perfect with just an educated guess.
  2. Measure the experience and continue making iterative changes in the right place. Listen to what your customers want and measure first-time visitor satisfaction.
  3. Be patient as you let those changes take effect, confident you have made the right choices in the first place. With a reliable analysis of your customers you’ll hopefully see your new site soar.

With thanks to Chris Stroud at Foresee Results Ltd.

Ben Stroud

Published 19 June, 2015 by Ben Stroud

Ben Stroud is Marketing Coordinator at ForeSee and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (3)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Re: "you’ve lost 0.5% of your 4% conversion rate in the first month"

I know you're writing about content, but I've seen this issue several times and it usually indicates a simple technical error. For example you've changed your URL scheme and cocked up the redirects, so inbound links are 404-ing and your SEO rating is bleeding away. Or you've accidentally removed a script and your cart abandonment recovery has stopped working.

Your site's probably only "looking good from a tech point-of-view" because you didn't do the right testing, so (a) check your email to see if there's a message from some techie tearing their hair our because you are seemingly refusing to spend 5 minutes fixing the problem and (b) get a local Web expert to spend a couple of hours reviewing the site.

over 2 years ago

L.M.L. Beerthuyzen

L.M.L. Beerthuyzen, CEO at 1972

You didn't mention the most important 'tool' to my opinion and that is a/b testing. When you asking your customers, they don't know what should be better on your website. Most of the time, they only can tell you what they are missing. Why not a/b test some new elements? Then you have direct feedback from customers behaviour on the website.

over 2 years ago

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Darren Ward, Director of Product Marketing at User Replay Ltd

I think there are 2 big issues many companies face after a site re-platforming:
1. Identifying and understanding the issues their customers are having.
2. Quantifying these issues in terms of actual business impact i.e. which issues are costing them most in lost sales/bookings/sign-ups etc

Unfortunately, waiting for customers to respond to surveys, feedback buttons etc does not suffice for this. This is why many companies are implementing customer experience analytics technology such as UserReplay to see the truth about their customer's experiences.

I do agree on the iterative changes - but this needs to be driven by hard facts about the impact of not doing these changes. The only way to do this is to analyse the experiences of the total population of your website visitors and then use the right metrics to analyse them.

over 2 years ago

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