Having let my new role as an undercover CMO set in, I began thinking about things I’ve encountered in my first month on the job. And one thing that came to mind was an idea I had during the holidays:
Working through the holidays gives you time you don’t normally have. Your day has fewer interruptions allowing you to catch up on things you previously didn’t have time for. For me, I spent time reading articles and blogs I had put on my “must read, when free” to-do list. One article on my list was ’Become an “Undercover Boss” on Your Company’s Web Site’, by Christine Pierpoint. This article discussed the value found by clicking around your own website and what you discover about your company’s online presence may surprise you. The idea is similar to that of mystery shoppers in a retail environment and begs the question of whether we should do the same with our online web presence?
The challenge we all have, however, is finding the time to click around our own sites and see it as our customers do. We start with great intentions. We put it on our to-do lists and know it’s a valuable exercise. However, our days and to-do lists quickly gets filled with a variety of tasks, meetings and priority projects.
Also in the back of our minds is the knowledge that by conducting an undercover site audit, it will ultimately lead to more work. If we find errors on the site such as broken links or product/brand spelling mistakes are we actually opening a can of worms and adding to our continually growing to-do list? Just thinking about taking screen shots, sending emails describing the problem to the right team, scheduling time to amend pages, checking again in a week to validate if the error has been fixed is frightening. It is easy to see yourself falling further behind in your day job, not to mention the fact you have now become the owner of this “project”. Maybe ignoring your web presence is the better option? Who has time for all this extra work?
A web-monitoring product, however, may provide a solution to this by looking through your web pages for any issues. Products and their capabilities vary and are usually dependant on whether they are freeware tools that check single pages for single types of issues, or paid for products or solutions which will look at every page, every day and pull together through a single portal all-important issues your site has.
Back to present day: By undertaking an audit strategy, you will gain insight into your website. The question is whether you have the time to perform manual page by page checks or do you employ an automated software solution that performs the checks for you.
As a CMO, I’m ultimately responsible for our entire brand and I can tell you that I spent the first 2 months in my new role terrified by the amount of errors I found on our web properties.