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Social Commerce Authors: Tatsiana Levdikova, Liz McMillan, John Ryan, Maureen O'Gara, David M. Adler

Related Topics: Marketing and Sales, Web Analytics, Marketing Automation, CRM, Social Commerce, Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence: Article

CMOs: Your Website Can Be the Silent Killer of Your Job

It can be a point of pride or embarrassment for CEOs

Your Job is at Stake
As the head of marketing, your most important internal client is the CEO.  It is often said that the CEO has to identify with the brand messaging.  The brand messaging needs to be in harmony with the CEO at the end of the day.  It needs to match the CEO in quality and narrative.  Buyers have gone digital and the company's website is the core brand communicator.  Does your website have the ability to sell your company's purpose like your CEO has?  Does it communicate the strength of your CEO's convictions?  Does the website look like it is pulling toward the future like your CEO?  If you're the head of marketing and it doesn't,  your job is in danger.  it is just a matter of time before an inferior website translates into dirty looks in the boardroom.

Competitive Embarrassment
Your CEO would probably feel comfortable walking into any situation against a competitor and talking about how your company is better for the buyer.  The CEO can discuss your company's solutions that have been carefully considered.  Your company's leadership exudes state of the art and tells inspiring customer stories.  Does your website?   If your competitors are outpacing your website, that means your company is inefficiently spending more money grasping for the attention of buyers and suffering longer sales cycles which also translates into less profit.  Imagine if your CEO attended a prospect meeting and rambled incoherently without any relevancy to the buying organization.  Your account manager will feel the air being sucked out of him and will have to work extremely hard (add costs here) to turn things around.  An inferior website could be doing the same thing to you everyday.  It has turned into a silent killer of revenue growth.

Dinner Parties and Egg on the Face
You will never know what hit you.  The CEO of your company is at a dinner party with people in their neighborhood.  A neighbor introduces the CEO to a friend who asks about your company.  The new friend mentions he runs a complementary business and they should consider working together.  A few days later, he visits your website and rolls his eyes.  Functionality, design, and content expectations have changed from 10 years ago and he is not going to be in business with a company that doesn't make him look smarter or align to his brand values.  Your CEO reaches out to the guy and most polite people in this situation will probably come up with some excuse because they don't want to embarrass the CEO with something your company should take more seriously.  Eventually, a personal contact will spill the beans and that's when the CEO will connect personal relations with a shameful website.  Look out.

Buyers Research First
Before buyers do anything else, they research. Buyers will research long before they ever want to speak to a salesperson. According to a Forbes study, the C-Suite does this as well. Assume that your C-Suite and board members are comparing your website to your competitor's websites all the time. What do you think they are saying to each other about the comparison?  Probably the same thing the buyers are thinking. The core repository of research on your company is your website.  Your ability to get buyers to ignore your website and focus on your outbound interruption marketing is over.  Your website is the top place they will go to learn about your company.  Fail here and the buyer is lost.  It's the first step they will take and first impressions count. In addition, all along the buyer experience, the buyer will go back to the website to reinforce their progression.  What if every visit to the website is an inferior experience? Then the brand starts to scream risk.  Unnecessary risk in a land of many choices will not work for any brand.

Fight for your Website
CEOs want a website that makes their company look more successful than they actually are today. Sure, they have to listen to the CFO worry about expenses, but that's just part of the value of CFOs. The simple truth is, there is absolutely no excuse for an uncompetitive website in 2012. None. Guess what?  The head of marketing owns the brand and thus the website.  The CEO may try to nickel and dime your website, but you are going to have to remain stalwart in your goal to make it great. It costs less as a percentage of your corporate expenses than ever before to build a compelling website.  Your website and mobile experience is where buyers are and where they are headed.  Every time a buyer is turned off by your website is one more time you have to have to pray your competitors don't get there before you do.  Why can't you be the competitor that sets the pace for everyone else? Fight for your website.  In 2012, your job depends on a superior website experience that supports the buyer's steps.  Are you fighting for yours?

More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps