Companies that run informational business-to-business (B2B) sites are increasingly trying to quantify their sites' return on investment, according to a new poll by ForeSee Results. The poll examined the impact of websites on user attitudes, loyalty, actions, and overall satisfaction.
Those who run informational sites report that, while they have raw data such as traffic volume and page views, they lack insights on some critical dimensions of site performance. There were three commonly cited issues in the poll, forming a checklist to measure the success of web initiatives:
- Quantify the site's value to your organisation. Sites that are largely or purely informational in nature do not naturally include components that yield an obvious picture of how they contribute to achieving company objectives. Sheer volume of traffic, page views, and related metrics are not very persuasive to executives who control the purse strings.
- Determine whether basic "brochure" sites are a success. An information site does not necessarily need many 'bells and whistles', but questions concerning the right mix and quality of content are often difficult to answer.
- Obtain guidance on allocating site development resources. There is no shortage of ideas in the web world but site owners feel both a responsibility and pressure to separate the important from the marginal or cosmetic.
"B2B information sites have been evolving, but they're under increasing pressure to demonstrate and deliver ROI - lagging e-commerce sites somewhat in that regard," said ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed. "There's a whole generation of B2B sites that have grown up based on a fair amount of educated guesses and anecdotal evidence because there's not been much else to go on."
B2B sites face special challenges, according to additional analyses by ForeSee. The most important challenge is getting a handle on how sites with multiple audiences may inadvertently turn one audience on and another one off. The firm suggests B2B information sites have a long way to go before they come close to matching the positive impacts of consumer-oriented sites.
"In many cases, companies don't realise what their sites are doing to the enthusiasm, loyalty, and behaviour of customers, employees, and other audiences," said Freed. "It's an extremely powerful thing to know - and an extremely dangerous thing not to know."