I knew it would take me some time to get a feel for the organization so I focused on the technology first while I absorbed the dynamics and priorities of the different directors, the office politics, and the culture of the staff in general. The technology was pretty straightforward. Where it got messy is finding out who was in control of what and how many different people and accounts were in play. For example, we have at least 3 different Twitter accounts. All of them were started by someone that was no longer at LCMM. So I located the accounts and systematically gained control of them. Only one account required me to contact Twitter directly and prove who I was to get control. I did this for every single online resource we have - from social media, to website hosting, domain name registrar, and other services like Constant Contact.
While I was sifting through the resources we had available, I was listening to our EDs talk about their priorities. The strategic plan is outdated by 2 years or more. The current strategic plan is more like a wink and a nod because it's not written down or formalized in any way. We're all going on what the EDs (we have two of them) have given us as a directive - education. For me as the Dir of Mrktg and Biz Dev I needed something a bit more solid so I began looking for historic data on revenue generation from previous education programs, summer camps, professional development opportunities, and any other related revenue streams.With historic data I was able to sit down with the Education Director and talk intelligently about what her revenue projections were for this coming year. We both know some of it is guess work but she's hoping for a 200% increase in revenue over this past year. I think it's doable. Know this I also worked with her to organize the programs by those that would be easiest to sell and another list of those that would be most profitable to sell. Then I began researching our competition for these and came up with a plan for them both.
Right now is when I should be advertising for our summer camps and other spring/summer related education and fun programs. But I haven't had time to get the website finished. I am a firm believe in involving stakeholders in the website design process at key points but NOT in design by committee. The problem is I'm the only one working on all of this and nearly killed myself around this past Christmas. Suffice to say I was in the hospital for a week over the Christmas holiday. Soooo, now I'm even further behind on launching the website.Why is the website so important? Because it's the crux of everything I'm doing - all of my calls to action need to point to a landing page where the user can take action. I want to know if the user clicked through on this Facebook or that one. I want to know if they visited a few different pages before they took action and if so, which ones. I want to use retargeting in my website framework driven by where they came from to get to our website. There are at least 45 different metrics I am tracking to help me understand who our audience is and what gets them to act. Since I'm spending thousands on advertising I need to know what worked and what doesn't and how I can make it better. So the website is the all important data collector, the cornerstone in the framework.But I don't have time to port all of the content from the existing website over to the new website plus I don't want to do a simple copy. All of the evergreen content needs to be reviewed and rewritten, edited, or removed. I know I have new content needs as well. So what I've been pushing for and am in the middle of doing right now is to get a minimal amount of content into the new website so it can go live. This will take some of the pressure off and I can launch the ad buys and email campaigns. Then once the advertising items are in place and working (a few days work) then I can get back to porting content and continuing to build out the website.I'm not worried about people seeing our new website without all of the content we have right now. If you look at the site I think you'll understand why. The design is at least a decade old and from the stats I can tell most people arrive then leave. If they do try to navigate they give up in 2.3 pages. There is no search and it is far from intuitive. A user friendly and intuitive website - even if it has minimal content to start - would be far more useful to our membership and stakeholders.So that's where I'm at right now. I'm working my way through what I believe is the minimal content and getting key stakeholders involved as I need them. The issue is they're often very slow to respond with what I need so I may have launch with even less than I planned - providing I can convince the EDs. I'll share more as this story unfolds if you find this useful.
UpdateOn Feb. 23, the new website went live. It's not complete - we're porting content from the old website as we can. I prioritize what gets dealt with by watching analytics. When I see one or more pages or resources being requested and I know they haven't been ported yet, I work on them.For education related pdf downloads that have been super popular, I've created landing pages requesting an email address which I then use to send the pdf to the person - and add them to the education email list.Traffic has been going up - but that's normal for this time of year as people are looking for the summer camps we offer. What's better is that the bounce rate is slowly dropping. Most of last year it was around 75% site-wide. It's now down to 62% and dropping even more as I keep adding content and redirects.I've also added an ad system to the framework which allows me to place our own ads. There's only one in place right now - for a summer expedition. But over the next few weeks I'll be adding more and they will be automatically rotated. I can even match ads with content so they're more relevant to the user.The team seems to like the changes as we can now produce new content quickly - saving many hours and the long delays between concept and publication.