January is always a great time to plan out the new year’s activities for your website and other digital channels. You might be working on a fully-blown strategy, or putting more work into the details of some high-level plans which have already been agreed. You might also be thinking about doing things differently or even delivering on some new year’s resolutions.
Whatever you do plan, it’s always beneficial to have various inputs to help shape your thinking and stimulate ideas. Some of this will be hard data to help you work out your priorities, meet challenges and seize opportunities, but other sources could focus more on driving ideas and inspiration.
In classic “listicle” format, here’s our view of 21 sources to inform and inspire your 2021 website plans,
1. Site metrics
Obviously, site metrics is the big one, providing information on what content works, shining a light on customer behavior and revealing the intricacies of customer journeys. Taking a data-driven approach to strategy and planning is critical here. Google Analytics can reveal many insights about site visits, bounce rates, referral sites and more, and can often be combined with numbers from your Content Management System that may tell you more about customer engagement with content. If you’re not really using site metrics to inform your plans, start simple and then work to include more indicators as you go on.
2. Customer satisfaction metrics
Equally, customer satisfaction metrics are also important. For example, you may have a survey you carry out through your website, through SMS or by another channel. Here the Net Promoter Score (NPS) still remains a useful indicator. If your NPS and CSAT scores are flatlining, then there’s work to be done! Equally if you are not using customer satisfaction metrics, consider introducing a survey or poll to get this valuable data.
3. Customer feedback and VOTC data
Getting direct qualitative customer feedback about your website, content and other digital services can be a powerful way to drive your plans. Sometimes just one quote can say more than all your analytics. Customer feedback can come through a variety of sources; you may have a Voice of the Customer program that captures it already. Even better, go and speak to some customers directly to ask the right questions.
4. Social media and any other channel metrics
We operate in an omni-channel world, so social media analytics as well as any data collected from other channels is also going to help build up a more complete picture.
5. Customer buying behavior
Insights into customer buying behavior and the sales process (both online and offline) can reveal loads about different segments of your audience, providing cues to the changes you need to make or the areas to focus on in driving lead generation and sales. Sitting down with other sales and customer experience teams can also give you real insights into customer journeys.
6. Demographics and persona data and trends
Demographics and persona data provide important context for your plans. Information on wider demographics, consumer trends, interaction with technology and beliefs and attitudes can be really useful in influencing the choices you make going forward. There can be a tendency to think this data may not change from year to year, but given the highly volatile world we find ourselves in at present, attitudes and behavior patterns are changing more rapidly than ever before.
7. Digital customer experience trends for 2021
It’s good to have a view of some of the current major trends in digital customer experience to get a sense of the opportunities and challenges coming up in the year ahead. Thankfully, there are always plenty of experts, agencies and providers who have valuable outlooks. Here’s our overview of the headline trends for 2021 to get you started.
8. Input from your immediate team
An obvious source of ideas and input for your 2021 plan is your immediate team; this personal approach not only generates great ideas, but also helps to engage individuals, potentially with projects they want to get involved in. Having a specific team brainstorm or workshop session with explicit aims can work well here; consider using an external facilitator or starting with some draft suggestions to get reactions and kick off everyone’s thinking.
9. Viewpoints from other stakeholders and beyond
It also pays to go beyond your immediate team and seek input from your wider internal network. This could include people you work with regularly, key stakeholders in different teams, your wider group of content contributors and even all employees. A survey or poll asking for input into thoughts for your website can be invaluable.
10. Your digital agency and other providers
Well, we would say this, but your digital agency or implementation partner should give you strong input into your plans and provide you with feedback and ideas. They should have a thorough understanding of what you want to achieve with your website, the capabilities of your CMS and an appreciation of the wider trends in play. Having a conversation with your agency is a must for 2021 planning.
11. Your CMS or DXP product roadmap
The product roadmap for your Content Management System or Digital Experience Platform may open up opportunities to develop new areas of your website or kickstart improvements during the year, such as introducing personalization or starting out with marketing automation.
12. Your boss (and your boss’s boss)
We’re not saying you should always go and seek input from your boss just to get in their good books, but sharing ideas with them and getting their input early on in processes can garner their support and firm up your potential plans. You can also find out what they need to do to impress their own boss!
13. Experts and gurus
If you’re after a little inspiration, there’s plenty of advice from digital marketing experts, digital customer experience visionaries and content marketing gurus to dip into. Seth Godin, for example, has an uncanny knack of being able to inspire with a just a few words, and he has seventeen books to read! Then there are the blogs, the long reads, the podcasts…
Your peers in similar roles at other organizations are always an excellent source of inspiration. What are their priority projects for 2021? What are their views on the priorities for the new year? What do they think of your plans? Arranging a (virtual) coffee can help stimulate fresh thinking and give you the push to kickstart or refine your plans.
15. Professional communities
Professional communities usually have discussion forums and virtual meet-ups to share ideas and ask for input on plans. Here, “working out loud” can strengthen and broaden your professional network and be very productive.
16. Conferences and events
Professional conferences and events are always a strong source of brain fuel for your plans, with contributions from expert and peers alongside solid case studies showcasing the art of the possible. Here at Cylogy, we always find the Sitecore Symposium an important knowledge source. Although it’s unfortunate that COVID-19 has meant that most conferences and events have become virtual, it has the up-side that the sessions can usually be viewed on demand afterwards to allow for reflection.
17. Organizational values and purpose
External-facing digital channels should reflect and even demonstrate your organization’s purpose and values. In a difficult year when many organizations were active in helping the wider community, ‘purpose’ has never been more important. Simply considering whether purpose and values could be better reflected on your website is a good starting point for drawing out potential actions.
18. The competition
What are your direct competitors up to? What’s going on with their websites? Have they implemented something clever recently? These questions are always a useful reference point for self-reflection, particularly in some industry sectors. Analysis of competitors also gains the attention of senior stakeholders, so it can be good to cite in any business cases you need to make.
19. Your legal and compliance team
Your legal, regulatory and compliance team might not sound a very likely source of inspiration for your digital strategy, but their knowledge could influence your plans for 2021. It’s important to know any data, privacy and content compliance issues upfront and incorporate these into your plans. Sometimes you can even use these to your advantage, leading with data privacy and differentiating yourself in an area that is important to demonstrate to customers.
20. Friends and family
Okay, if the idea of getting your mom or dad to look at the website you’re responsible for at work fills you with horror, then skip to #21 now. This isn’t going to be for everybody, but sometimes – particularly if you are involved in B2C – asking a family member or friend to visit your website or digital channel can give you an idea of the impression it leaves to a visitor, and give you access to an alternative viewpoint.
21. Leftfield inspiration
Sometimes a bit of inspiration from something completely unrelated to work can spark ideas. A book, movie, person, work of art, news article, historical event, documentary, something you overhear in the street, something silly, something serious, even your pet cat. A completely different point of reference can be a surprising catalyst to drive fresh thinking.
Need help with your plans for 2021? Get in touch!
We hope you enjoyed our list of sources to inspire and inform your plans for next year. If you’d like to discuss your 2021 strategy, then get in touch!