4 (data-y) things to keep in mind when re-platforming your site

Re-platforming? It’s easy right?

Re-platforming? It’s easy right? Find the right provider, get some buy in at C-level, throw some resources at it and you’re there, surely?

From the outside looking in, sometimes it appears as though this really is the thought process that underpins some businesses’ decision to embark on a re-platforming project.

Now, this blog isn’t going to try and disassemble that first statement. Nor will it give you all the answers to make that statement a reality. If you’re interested, there are hundreds of articlesfrom various companies that endeavour to cover this from many different angles.

What this blog intends to give you is some practical tips to consider when re-platforming your site. There are 4 things that, from our collective experience at Station10, you should probably have in mind early on to ensure that the project doesn’t go wrong a few weeks after go live….

1) Get your analytics team involved early.

One of the strange things that has happened in business over the last few years is that, within siloed originations, analytics teams are often one of the best connected teams in the business.

Ever since web analytics and digital data started to be collected, everyone has wanted a slice of the ever-so-tasty data cake.

Customer Services is now eager to know the effectiveness of FAQ’s; Marketing departments are chomping at the bit for campaign performance results; Technical teams are desperate to know the business impacts of outages; C-suite people need access to KPI dashboards (more on that later).

Everyone wants their numbers and they know who to go to get them….

This strange phenomenon means that by having the analytics team involved from the get-go, you will uncover many different vested interests early on — rather than having them sprung on you post launch.

2) Are your tools working for you?

This question is fundamental.

Websites have now been around for nearly 26 years. Businesses have, for the last 10 years now, been expected to provide eCommerce as a service.

Anyone who’s anyone has some kind of web presence, and the speed at which web analytics is advancing is incredible.

This means that, although a lot of businesses looking to re-platform will have some sort of web analytics in place, there is a high chance those tools will need updating.

If your web analytics tools were implemented 18+ months ago, best practice has most likely moved on. Even a well-managed analytics system is still likely to have multiple areas that need to be (at the very least) ‘re-implemented’.

So before any re-platforming project begins, it’s good to step back and think ‘do my web analytics tools need updating’?

In the interest of future-proofing (a term I thought was just buzz word in my youth) your best bet is to work with a web analytics and data provider that is aggressively looking to develop its tools.

This partnership will be essential to your business becoming omni-channel and truly customer-centered.

Now, you may find that you need an entirely new set of tools to bring your website up to date. Tearing up your existing tool set and starting again with something new, can be a great thing. So don’t fear change.

But what if you have chosen well and you are using a great tool? Re-implementing that equipment may be the way forward.

Whichever avenue you take, the choices that are made here have huge ramifications later on. Yes, all the tools effectively ‘do the same thing’ (measure activity and behaviour), but how they do that has some significant impacts on the numbers that you will see and the insights you will be able to gain.

Choose wisely.

You will also need to make sure that C-suite stakeholders understand the impact of this decision. Change isn’t a bad thing — but it needs to be explained and understood.

3) Agree you KPI’s and then measure, measure and measure some more

Revenue? Profit? Diverted calls? Use of online rather than in-store returns?

All of these things are important and ‘may’ be linked to some level of KPI.

But with a program of this magnitude, such as re-platforming a website, you will need to clearly state:

  • What exactly are the KPI’s?
  • What do they mean and how they are to be measured?

You need to answer these questions unambiguously before you start. Once this is done, you then need to benchmark.

As mentioned above, there is a high chance that your measurement tools will need updating in some way. So your benchmarks may not be ‘the same’ before and after launch.

Again, enlightening C-level stakeholders is crucial here. This education needs to happen early on if it is to be effective, and will need to be re-visited regularly to ensure a smooth launch.

4) Understand your risks and mitigate for them

As with any project of this size, there will undoubtedly be a big expenditure involved. It takes time, energy, resources, research and money to re-platform a website properly.

This means that you will want to make sure that you model your ROI so that you can see and report on your first profit (this is almost another programme in itself!).

You also want to use the tools you have to hand, to mitigate the risk that is involved with any change. If you are re-designing a website, you need to test out options and see how they perform. I’ll leave one of my colleagues to go into much greater detail as to why AB testing your way to success is key.

The truth is while some re-platforming might look ‘easy’ to some — it’s also easy to do it wrong. A successful re-platforming programme can pay dividends down the line, but make sure you get the right teams involved, choose the best tools, agree your KPIs, and work to mitigate possible risks.

Working with an experienced data analytics partner can help make this as smooth a journey as possible.

For more tips on successful website redesign, see Bet’s blog “A/B Test Your Way to a Successful Redesign“.

Visit Station10 at http://www.station10.co.uk/