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Expecting ROI on your Website? You Bet!
This article originally appeared in the Big Idea Book, 2003 special edition of Baltimore SmartCEO

Many business managers discuss return on investment (ROI) for IT or web services, but find it hard to measure. There are both quantitative and qualitative ROI measures for web design and services. Just a few of these measures will be presented here.

Outsourcing your e-business functions generates ROI through savings on the IT, security, e-business, and graphics design software, hardware, infrastructure, and hiring/staffing/continual

Expecting ROI on your Website You Bet
training that you would need to provide for in-house web services. We give our customers top-notch, responsive e-business and web development on demand so they don't have to support a full-time staff and expensive infrastructure.

In addition, selling online is the cheapest storefront you will ever have. The rent and maintenance are much better. Invoicing can be done automatically or with the click of an online transaction approval. Customers can buy anytime without you having to be open. Fulfillment and shipping can be efficiently handled amongst your supplier network, mostly through electronic communications.

Besides the savings you'll find between outsourced versus in-house, and online versus brick-and-mortar, you'll notice that your online sales numbers add to your bottom line profit. You will also be delighted by the international customers and other new markets that can find you and buy from you when you're online and visible to the world.

Association Membership Benefits and Events Management
- Savings with Improved Communications

Think online benefits aren't for non-profits? Think again. Our non-profit clients have utilized e-business to expand customer service with a positive ROI. Here are some ROI areas you might want to tap into. Many of the following online features are also important to businesses and commercial event planners.

  • Email newsletters and updates versus faxed and paper notices
  • Email discussion lists or web-based chat or message boards for "anytime" planning and knowledge sharing
  • Secure Members Only sections with 24/7 membership services and information
  • Membership applications and dues renewal
  • Class, meeting and conference advertisement and registration
  • Directories and public acknowledgement of members and sponsors
  • Collaboration between remotely located directors and volunteers

Web-Based Account Management and Data Management
- Efficiency Savings and Increased Customer Service Levels

Some of the greatest ROI results from web-enabling business operations and accounts management. Examples include online financial services and management, medical records and patient diaries, engineering analyses and design, and product test market monitoring. There are portions of your business to which customers would like as much insight and access as they have to their online banking accounts, and it's being accomplished. For example, when financial or medical accounts are managed with web-based applications, not only do customers have 24/7 secure access to their accounts, but the managing company(ies) can have secure, need-to-know access in order to act upon customer service requests. This increased productivity allows your staff to allocate more time for communications and value-added customer service. For the medical community, HIPAA compliance is easier to achieve in electronic communications because records and communications can be properly secured and controlled.

Other measurable ROI items include:

  • Reduction in support costs and turn-around time
  • Reduction in training costs, since training and an intuitive "best practices" process flow can be built into the web-based business application
  • Reduction in emergency "off-hours" support for standard services or information retrieval
  • Improved reliability and maintainability of infrastructure
  • Improved communications and service for your customers and partners

Web-Based Marketing
- Investment Savings

Whether it's filling your sales pipeline or actually fulfilling sales, there is no reason not to be online. In order to achieve ROI, it is important to define your goals and market expectations so that you neither over- nor under-invest for the return you desire. Online marketing is for everyone, but the best approach and investment will differ depending upon your business plan. For example, the best approach for a bagel shop that wants to be known as the friendliest provider in the neighborhood differs from the best approach for a biotechnology, technology, or business services provider who can supply to the world. A blend of online marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, and advertisement must be focused and budgeted to your idea of return.

by Connie Mazur
CEO, CyberVillage Networkers, Inc.

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