Here at Uncle Jake Media, we’ve been a part of more than 100 website projects over our 18 years in business. Some of our clients have even entrusted us with three or more iterations of their site!
One of the most common things we have noticed over the years is that marketing teams and even business owners can tend to put themselves in a bit of a silo when it comes to offering feedback on a site design or considering what content should or shouldn’t be included on the site. This can be a missed opportunity.
Your Site Represents Your Entire Company
You run a tight ship and you’ve learned over the years that a competent staff is the key to a successful business. You trust the people you hired and, though they are busy and probably would dread another internal meeting at first, most are pretty excited to be included in decisions that represent what can often be the first thing a new customer experiences about your brand.
Apart from that, there are very practical reasons for involving your entire staff both in the review of a new site and checking in from time to time on how your existing site presents to the outside world. You can think of your website as the lobby of your business. In normal times and in brick-and-mortar shops, your employees come in through the same door as your clients.
If you’ve ever been an employee in that type of business and you saw something amiss as you walked in the front doors – trash laying on the floor, a flyer posted with outdated information, a burned-out lightbulb, etc. – you’d likely bring it to your manager’s attention, right?
The same goes for your virtual front door. Even if you have staff come in through a different entrance primarily, encourage them to visit the office like a client would. Back in my college days, I worked in the restaurant industry and our manager would give each employee one free meal a month with the stipulation that they come in to eat with friends or family during the busiest hours. It’s not quite the ‘secret shopper’ type of review, but sometimes you get more value out of feedback from an ‘insider’ than someone who might be less sympathetic to your seafood restaurant being out of fish!
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Incentivize Employee Feedback
Your marketing team has a lot of responsibilities and the goal here isn’t to make it open season on criticizing the web site. For that reason, you should make it a fun internal campaign.
Consider doing a feedback form or survey that invites the employees to list not just 5 things they think can be improved, but also 5 things they love about the site. This gets your marketing team some well-deserved kudos as well as some valuable observations. Let all the participants know constructive criticism will earn them some sort of perk or put all their names into a hat and hold a raffle. You can then review all the submissions together as a team-building exercise.
Regular Reviews by Department Heads
Surveys are a great way to encourage staff to monitor your site for obvious issues, but you should also have scheduled formal reviews by department heads to make sure all the content on the site is up to date. Larger companies with dedicated staff are likely to make sure that their internal website teams attend company-wide meetings and update content on the site to reflect new initiatives or information.
However, smaller and medium businesses that may rely on a third-party to conduct their updates should make it a priority to have action items for managers to review the site for any necessary changes. It’s easier to remember to update your site when there are exciting product releases, hirings or new offices opening as there is usually a planned rollout, but it can be more difficult to maintain policing other more subtle aspects of your business if reviewing the website is not a dedicated action item on internal meeting agendas.
File It Away for the Next Relaunch
After all the effort to get the whole team involved in making your existing site better, be sure to file away any suggestions that weren’t an easy lift so you can leverage that data the next time you do a redesign or overhaul of the site. If the submitted feedback wasn’t anonymous, make note of which employee(s)’ suggestion(s) had the biggest impact on increased site traffic, conversions or real feedback from customers. You may discover someone who would be a perfect fit for a committee or even a lateral move in the company to a new role in marketing!